Saturday, June 8, 2024

Tom Yam Temptation: A Taste of Thailand

Life without Tom Yam feels like a story missing its climax - a culinary journey left unfinished. Visualise the lively Thai flavors awakening your taste buds as you savor a hot spoonful of Tom Yam soup. My love for Tom Yam knows no bounds; during my adventures in Thailand (KRABI/PHUKET), I couldn't resist its tempting allure (BANGKOK). Though not every bowl was perfect; some packed a spicy punch that left me reaching for tissues. But those truly delicious ones - each sip brings the comforting and satisfying taste of authentic Thai flavors, warming both the mouth and the soul.

Let's Bring Tom Yam Home 
Now, I am going to share with all you foodies how we can make Tom Yam in our homes.

Tom Yam Paste: A Shortcut to Flavor
For an easy cooking journey, you can opt for the ready-made Tom Yam paste. With countless choices from Thailand or even local Malaysian brands, securing your supply of Tom Yam is a breeze, no matter where you are in the world.

Tom Yam Cubes: Convenience in a Box
If Tom Yam paste isn't your preference, fear not; you can still capture the essence of this beloved soup with Tom Yam cubes. Simply drop one of these flavor-packed cubes into your simmering water, and voilĂ  - the base of your Tom Yam soup is ready.

Home-Made Tom Yam Paste (Blend/pound these ingredients together)
Essential Ingredients 
Red chilies (choose between fresh or dried chilies, or a combination of both, to suit your spice level. For an extra fiery kick, don't forget the bird's eye chilies- GROWING CHILLIES). 

Additional Ingredients
Roasted shrimp paste/belacan 
Kaffir lime leaves - 
can be blended together, or tear and add into the soup for its burst of citrusy freshness.

This tom yam paste lay the groundwork for a classic Tom Yam soup. However, stay tuned for upcoming recipes, where we'll explore how to infuse your own creativity into crafting unique variations of this beloved dish.

Tom Yam Goong Look Chin Pla 
Tom Yam Goong Look Chin Pla embodies the essence of Thai cuisine with its humble yet rich blend of prawns (Goong) and fish balls (Look Chin Pla). This timeless soup, renowned for its spicy and sour flavors, offers a delightful taste of the sea in every mouthful. 

Care to experience my take on this beloved dish?

Tom Yam Goong Look Chin Pla/Prawn & Fish Ball Tom Yam Soup
6-7 medium-sized prawns – heads and shells removed, deveined
5 fish balls
1/4 cauliflower - cut into florets
1 lemongrass stalk - bruised
1-inch piece of galangal - smashed
1 large red onion - chopped
2 tomatoes - sliced
3-4 red/bird's eye chilies - smashed
1 tbsp fish sauce
Calamansi lime juice - as needed
Water - as needed
5-6 kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2 tbsp oil
Salt - to taste

Heat oil in a pan and sauté lemongrass, galangal, and onion until fragrant.
Add tomatoes and chilies, stirring until they form a mushy paste.
Pour in water, add cauliflower and simmer.
Season with fish sauce, calamansi lime, and salt.
Simmer to soften cauliflower.
Add prawns, fish balls, and lime leaves.
Turn off the heat and allow the residual heat to cook the prawns and fish balls.

Tom Yam Talay 
Tom Yam Talay stands out as a unique twist on the classic Tom Yam soup, renowned for its bold fusion of spicy and sour flavors. The term Talay, signifying seafood, encompasses a delightful medley of ingredients including prawns, squid, fish, and optionally mussels, offering a customizable seafood indulgence. 

Dive into Ms. Nava's interpretation of Tom Yam Talay, where her personal flair transforms this beloved Thai dish into an unforgettable culinary adventure.

Tom Yam Talay/Seafood Tom Yam Soup
For the Stock
2 cups prawn shells
1 tbsp oil
3/4 liter water

To Blend/Ground (Paste) 
1 large tomato
1 lemongrass stalk
1-inch piece of galangal
5 shallots
7 dried red chilies (or as needed)

Other Ingredients 
4 small green brinjals - quartered
10 medium-sized prawns - deveined, tails left on
5-6 fish balls
1 medium-sized squid - cleaned and cut into rings
1 tbsp Mae Pranom Thai chili paste (store-bought)
1 tbsp fish sauce
5-6 kaffir lime leaves - torn into pieces
1 tsp crushed black pepper
Chopped coriander leaves (as needed)
Chopped spring onion (as needed)
Thai basil leaves (as needed) - optional
3-4 bird's eye chilies/chili padi (optional)
4 tbsp oil
Palm sugar and salt for taste

For the Stock 
Fry prawn shells in heated oil until crispy and fragrant.
Add water and simmer on low heat for about 1 hour.
Drain the broth and set aside.

To Complete 
Heat 4 tbsp oil and add the blended/ground paste. Cook until aromatic.
Pour in the prawn stock, stir, and simmer.
Once the stock is heated through, add brinjals, Thai chili paste, fish sauce, lime leaves, pepper, sugar, and salt. 
Simmer until brinjals are cooked.
Add seafood - prawns, squids, and fish balls. 
Simmer for another 1-2minutes. 
Before serving, garnish with chopped coriander, spring onion, basil leaves, and add bird's eye chilies for an extra kick.

Tom Kha Pla
Tom Yam Pla, also known as Galangal Coconut Milk Tom Yam Soup, offers a delightful departure from the traditional red Tom Yam. Infused with the creamy richness of coconut milk and the aromatic essence of galangal and other Thai spices, this variant introduces a new dimension to the classic soup experience. 

Tender fish gently simmered in a fragrant broth, creating an amazing blend of creaminess and exotic flavors. It's a refreshing twist on a beloved Thai favorite.

Tom Kha Pla/ Galangal Coconut Milk Fish Tom Yam Soup
1 inch galangal
1 lemongrass stalk
4 shallots
1/2-inch ginger
Bird's eye chilies (as needed)
Pound/blend to a rough paste

Other Ingredients 
1 large piece (about 400g) threadfin - cut into bite sizes
5-6 kaffir lime leaves - torn into pieces
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 packet oyster mushrooms
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 cup of water
3 tbsp oil
Salt for taste

Heat oil and fry paste over low heat to release the aroma.
Pour water and drop in lime leaves.
Add fish and allow it to cook.
Once the fish is cooked, add the rest of the ingredients.
Stir gently and simmer.
Remove from heat once it's fully heated through.

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