Date Night @ Home: Lemongrass Chicken and Coconut Soup
We have been making more Asian food at home than usual. As much as I try to expand my repertoire into new culinary directions, somehow I keep gravitating back to the foods of the Sub-continent and South-east Asia. This soup is no exception – it caught my eye in the Steamy Kitchen cookbook by Jaden Hair. There are several recipes that seem appealing in this cookbook and I plan on trying a bunch of them.
This dish could have been made milder and I am pretty sure my little munchkin who has been trained to eat a moderate amount of spice/chilli would have enjoyed it. However, I was not in the mood to make this milder and more palatable to kids. I wanted fiery hot and tangy and actually added more chillies that the recipe called for while making the soup. Sometimes, I get tired of “dumbing down” spices, so I can make one meal that everyone can eat. I remember as a child, I could eat a fair amount of chili and always was in awe of my mother who ate “numbing” amounts of chilli. I wanted to be more like her in that regard and I think I succeeded. Ria unfortunately holds no such aspirations, which is very disappointing.
I used a vegetarian tom yum paste that I bought from an Asian store (New May Wah on Clement Street & 8th). I used to swear by making my own pastes (kid friendly green curry) but have somewhat eased up on that front, especially now that I have found some pastes that work well. Making your own pastes is more important if you want to make the dish more kid friendly, and also preferred if you want something fresh and without preservatives or have allergy issues. In a pinch, store bought pastes make your life so much easier and get dinner on the table in a jiffy.
We savored our tangy Thai soup with some steamed rice and Tiger Beer. Forget the takeout – for an at-home date night, this stuff is good!!
Lemongrass Chicken and Coconut Soup – adapted from Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal but 2 as dinner
3 cups store bought or home-made chicken stock
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced into thin coins
2 stalks lemongrass (use the bottom 6″ of the stalk, smash with side of cleaver or cut in half lengthwise)
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
1 fresh chilli pepper of your choice, sliced
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons tom yum paste (or to taste), divided
1 tablespoon fish sauce (I used soy sauce)
2 tsp sugar
6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast thinly sliced (can substitute with shrimp)
1 cup straw mushrooms, sliced in half lengthwise (I used shitakes and some others)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
Small handful of fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- In a pot, add the stock, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and chilli pepper and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in coconut milk, half of the tom yum paste, the fish sauce and sugar and let that return to a boil, still on low heat. Taste the soup and add the remaining tom yum paste per your taste. (if you like you can use a skimmer and fish out the ginger, chilli, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and discard)
- Turn the heat to high and add the chicken and mushrooms
- When the soup returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4-6 minutes (I cubed my chicken so it took longer)
- Stir in the lemon juice and garnish with the fresh cilantro and slices of chilli pepper