For our recent Thai-themed night, I made this fabulous tom yum soup to go with my almost vegetarian pad Thai. This soup has wonderfully fresh, spicy, sour, herbal and earthy flavors; and it’s incredibly easy to make. I learned the recipe in the 1990’s while living in UK. There I worked for a few months in the kitchen of The Blue Elephant, a popular Thai restaurant in Fulham – South West London. There I assisted with pretty much everything except for the actual cooking. When I was not super busy doing stuff, I loved watching Madam Too prepare dishes like fried rice with fresh crab meat, pad Thai, various soups and vegetable dishes like snow peas, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage with oyster sauce among many, many other dishes. It was exciting because most of the ingredients they used were unknown to me at that time. Brazilian cuisine focuses more on salt and less on herbs and spices. To me, this Thai place was at first dreadful, because the flavors seemed so alien, but gradually, as my senses were awakened, it offered me a doorway into a new, thrilling eating world!
I bought all the ingredients for this soup in the Sunset district. There is an Asian supermarket a few blocks west of Irving and 22nd Market that carries most of the products that I needed. That store is a cultural food experience! Besides a lot of canned, jarred and dried ingredients, they have an exciting selection of sushi grade fish and other Japanese delicacies. That’s where I got this appetizing king salmon.
Unfortunately, my guests, Steven and I were so excited by this soup that we gobbled it down completely before taking a picture. Besides being completely delicious, it was quite photogenic, too. Oh well. So admire my artistic rendering of empty bowls while you enjoy your own…
Poached King Salmon Spicy Thai Tom Yum Soup
5 & 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
1 inch of galangal root, cut into a few pieces
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 stalks lemon grass, cut into approximately 5 inch sticks and flattened with a cleaver
2 dried chili, cut roughly and crushed
¼ tsp of garlic chili paste or chili oil
5 tbsp of fish sauce (or more)
½ tsp sugar
¼ lb button mushrooms, thickly sliced
¾ lb king salmon, cut into 4 pieces
Leaves from 2 sprigs of mint
Leaves from 2 sprigs of Thai basil
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
Bring water or vegetable broth to boiling. Add kaffir lime leaves, galangal root and lemon grass. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, sugar and mushrooms. Stir then taste to adjust flavors. Add salmon and poach it for about 3 minutes. Add fresh herbs. Transfer to individual bowls and serve at once. It really is good!