TOM YUM GOONG (Thai Soup with Prawns)

Ingredients:

• 1/2 lb. prawns, or medium- to large-size shrimps, shells removed and butterflied
• 2-3 stalks fresh lemon grass
• 3 cups water, or mild soup stock
• 3 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves (bai ma-gkrood)
• 8-10 whole Thai chillies (prik kee noo),
• 1-2 Tbs. roasted chilli paste (nahm prik pow)
• 3-4 Tbs. tamarind water:
• 1/2 cup cilantro leaves or short cilantro sprigs

Method:

1. Cut the bottom tip off the lemon grass stalks and discard the loose outer layer(s). Then cut each stalk into 1-inch sections at a slanted diagonal all the way up to the greener end, near the start of the grass blades, exposing the inner core. Smash each piece with the side of a cleaver or the end of a large knife handle to bruise, releasing the aromatic oils.

2. Place the cut lemon grass along with the prawn or shrimp shells and the water or stock in a soup pot.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer with a lid on for 15-20 minutes to draw out the flavors.

4. Strain out the shrimp shells and some of the lemon grass.

5. Add the sliced galanga, kaffir lime leaves, bruised Thai chillies (or substitute) and sliced onion.

6. Simmer a couple of minutes, then add the roasted chilli paste (nahmm prik pow), tamarind water.

7. Heat stock to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.

8. Stir in the tomato wedges and prawns or shrimps.

9. After 20-30 seconds, turn off heat, add lime juice to the desired sourness. Do not let the prawns or shrimps overcook. Serve immediately.