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Quick Thai Dinner: Soup and Salad

January 2, 2008

I had six shrimp and not a clue what I wanted to do with them. When I think of shrimp I always think of various Asian cuisines first, and tonight’s Thai Soup and Salad menu was a perfect way to use them.

The Soup was the most time consuming, but only because there was a lot of prep work to complete. The salad was a simple mix of mango, jicama, and red onion. Recipes to follow, but first the pictures!

Sadly I don’t think these photos do justice to the meal, but at least they give you an idea of what you’re after if you try to recreate it later.

Mango and Jicama Salad
1 medium sized mango
1 medium sized jicama root
Scant 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
Juice from 1/2 a lime
A pinch each kosher salt and pepper
2 pinches sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (optional)

Julienne equal parts mango and jicama and place them into a bowl. Precision slicing here would make for a more beautiful presentation, but certainly is not required. Anyone looking up at the photos above can see that.

Next, squeeze half a lime over the top of the mango and jicama. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and sugar over the top and toss gently.

Thinly slice 1/4 of a small red onion. You want to be really careful here to keep your slices thin or the red onion will overpower the rest of the salad. You need about 1/4 cup red onion, but can do with a little more or less, as desired.

If you’re not serving this alongside a rather spicy soup, I’d add crushed red chili peppers at this point.

Let the salad sit for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Tom Kha Soup with Shrimp
This is a standard soup in Thai restaurants. It’s my favorite of the Thai soups and is really easy to prepare. A bit of chopping in the beginning, but then you essentially throw the whole bit into a pot and stir.

1/2 medium brown onion, sliced course
1/8 cup finely minced garlic
1/8 cup finely minced galangal or ginger
1/8 cup finely minced lemongrass root or lemongrass puree
2 teaspoons Green Thai Curry Paste
3 cups chicken broth
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1/2 cup shiitake or straw mushrooms (or use whatever mushroom you have available)
1/2 cup bell pepper (any will do, but green bell peppers are disgusting and shouldn’t be used…pretty much ever), sliced.
1/2 cup chopped carrots (in a pinch, use those bagged baby carrots!)
Two small gold or red potatoes, chopped
The juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1/8 cup basil leaves
1/8 cup kaffir lime leaves (if you can find them, otherwise substitute a bit of lime zest)
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a dutch oven, sauté onion over medium-low heat until translucent (about 8 – 10 minutes). Add garlic, galangal, and lemongrass and continue to cook for two minutes more. Add curry paste and stir until it coats the onion mixture. You’re probably going to sneeze…more than once, I’m guessing.

Add chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, carrots, potatoes, lime juice, fish sauce, basil leaves, and kafir lime leaves. Cover.

Simmer for 10 minutes or so, or until vegetables are tender. Add shrimp (or chicken, or pork, or tofu), and cook an additional 3-5 minutes to cook the meat, depending on how big the pieces are.

Garnish with cilantro and serve!

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