Originally posted on April 25, 2012
TOM Yam Goong is one of the first Thai dishes that I learned to love. Right on my first visit to Thailand, on a culinary tour of Bangkok and Pattaya with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Philippines’ marketing representative Dave de Jesus and a few colleagues in media, I tasted authentic Tom Yam Goong, which is Hot and Sour Prawn Soup with Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves and Fresh Coriander, and felt an instant affinity. It’s because, as lovers of Thai food know, Tom Yam Goong is very similar to our own Sinigang na Hipon or Sugpo. In both soup dishes, the flavors of sweet and sour are in a constant tug-o-war, not of the negative kind, but the flavors kind of meld together very harmoniously to achieve a unique flavor profile. The stark difference between Tom Yam Goong and Sinigang comes from the use of lemongrass, Kaffir lime and coriander in Tom Yam Goong. These staples in Thai cooking make Tom Yam Goong very Thai.
Time was when it was difficult to source Kaffir lime leaves in the Philippines, but now the major supermarkets carry them in the fresh herbs section, and even galangal, which is a kind of ginger with a distinct taste that Thais love to use in their cooking, is readily available – on instances when the major supermarkets don’t have it, the bagsakan markets, such as Farmers Market in Cubao, definitely have it.
Recently, when my husband Raff and I visited the 4th Thailand Trade Exhibition at the SMX Convention Center, I was pleasantly surprised to bump into Chef J Gamboa of El Cirkulo, Milkyway, Tsukiji and AzuThai while checking out some bottled Thai sauces in a booth. He said that AzuThai was going to conduct a cooking demonstration a few minutes later, so could we stick around? So we, of course, did. Chef J is not only a good friend and a great chef; AzuThai also happens to be one of the best Thai specialty restaurants in town. Learning a recipe or two from AzuThai definitely wouldn’t hurt!
So we waited for Chef J Gamboa to take center stage with AzuThai’s authentic Thai chef, whom Chef J fondly calls Chef Watee, and, together, they whipped up two Thai recipes that are the most absolute favorites of Pinoys – Tom Yam Goong and Pad Thai – with Chef Watee doing the actual cooking and Chef J annotating. I shall be sharing the recipe of the Pad Thai later on, since it’s another big favorite of mine, but now, please enjoy the recipe of Tom Yam Goong. It cannot get any more authentic than this.
2-1/2 cups shrimp stock
1 cup button mushrooms, quartered
4 pcs. oyster mushrooms
1 pc. Kaffir lime leaf, torn
2 pcs. lemongrass, 4 inches long, bruised by pounding
3 slices galangal, about 1/3-inch thick
3 tbsps. Thai fish sauce
3 tbsps. dayap, calamansi or lemon juice
1-1/2 tbsps. Nam Prik Pao (Thai chili paste)
1-1/2 pcs. tomatoes, quartered
3 pcs. prawns, split
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
1. Pour shrimp stock into a stockpot. Bring to a boil.
2. Add mushrooms, Kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass and galangal. Simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add fish sauce, dayap juice, Thai chili paste, tomatoes and prawns.
4. When prawns are cooked in about 1 minute, ladle into bowls, top with fresh coriander leaves, and serve.
(AzuThai can be found at the Milkyway Bldg., 900 A. Arnaiz Ave. cor. Paseo de Roxas, Makati City. Contact numbers are 817-6252 and 813-0671.)