Thai cuisine is known for its balance of five fundamental flavors in each dish or the overall meal - hot ( spicy ), sour, sweet, salty and bitter. Although popularly considered as a single cuisine, Thai food is really better described as four regional cuisines corresponding to the four main regions of the country: Northern, Northeastern ( or Isan ), Central and Southern. Southern curries, for example, tend to contain coconut milk and fresh turmeric, while northeastern dishes often include lime juice.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Recipe: Tom Yum Goong

2 quarts chicken broth
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, sliced on a bias in 2-inch pieces
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 piece fresh galangal or ginger, sliced
2 red chilies, sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 can straw mushrooms, rinsed and halved
1 pound large shrimp, peeled with tails on
2 limes, juiced
2 green onions, sliced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Bring the stock to the boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chilies. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth. Uncover and add the fish sauce, sugar, and mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes. Toss in the shrimp and cook for about 8 minutes until they turn pink.
Remove from the heat and add the lime juice, green onions, and cilantro. Taste for salt and spices; you should have an equal balance of spicy, salty, and sour. It's a good idea to tell your guest's that the lemongrass and lime leaves are for flavor only and should be avoided when eating the soup.

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