Tom Yum Goong is spelled many ways, too many to keep track of (Dtom yum Gkoong is Kasma Loha-unchit's variation on the spelling - I assume it is the most phonetically correct). But that doesn't matter because it is one my favorite soups on the planet.
To me soup is a nearly perfect food; nourishing, warming, comforting, and great for almost any occasion. The origin of the word restaurant is found in restaurer, to restore, originally a hearty, flavorful soup to restore ones vigor.
My favorite soups are usually those which are identified with a certain place on the map, and which in a way identify a culture – at least in my mind. They are simple peasant blends that are wonderful, though many can be gussied up like a tart for the big city folks. Minestrone for
Tom Yum Goong is the perfect evocation of
That’s why I am married.
During the beginning of our official courtship (the unofficial part lasted 14 years) we ate a meal at a great local spot called Saigon Bangkok. We were there for the lunch specials, which include Tom Yum Gai - the variation with chicken instead of shrimp. The soup made us giggle so bad we could hardly talk. We were married not long after.
So, I make it a point to make Tom Yum Goong at least once a year. It warms our hearts and our souls. While I have made a pseudo Tom Yum with other, more readily available ingredients, the best results come from getting as close as you can to traditional. Being a whack job, what you see in the first photo is a pot of lemongrass that stays inside in winter and outside in summer. It started from a stalk I bought at Wegmans. I stuck the leftover one in water and it rooted. You can get Kaffir Lime Leaves fresh there at times, but I used dried, and bumped it up with some fresh lime zest.
I tend to start off treating this unusually, as more of a tisane than a soup - steeping the lemongrass and lime leaves to extract the flavors, then removing them ( yes, I know, educated eaters know not to eat them, but it's just easier).
So, then I float in the rest of the flavors, and at the last minute I add just enough shrimp for dinner a (reheated shrimp taste like erasers - I prefer to add more shrimp when reheating).
The result - delightful!!!