Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tom Yam with Muscle

Think Asian food, and Thai is definitely one of the cuisines that come to mind. Indeed, in the past 30 years or so, Thai cuisine has established itself as one of the most popular in the world.

I love Thai food, especially because of the flavors that arise from its play of fresh herbs and spices. Some of my most memorable eating experiences have come from Thailand – be it the back lanes of Bangkok, or a feast in rural Udon Thani where the entire village gathers to celebrate Thung Si Muang Festival in the town square…

Among Thai dishes, Tom Yam Soup is almost a cliché; yet this clear spicy soup is probably the first introduction to Thai cuisine for most people. It’s still one of my favorites, although the version I like most is not the typical combination of prawn, fish and squid, but this mussel variety.

 Tom Yam Mussels

Oil                               1 tbsp
Garlic                           1 clove, sliced thinly
Mussels                       1 kg, washed and beard removed
Water                          2 cups
Light beer                   2 cups
Galangal                     6, sliced
Lemon grass               2, bruised and sliced
Kaffir lime leaves        2, bruised
Chilli padi                   6, bruised
Fish sauce                  4 tbsp
Thai limes                   2
Coriander                   2 stalks, cut

1.    Sweat garlic with oil for 30 seconds.
2.    Add mussels and quick-stir for another 1 minute.
3.    Add water and beer, and boil. Once the liquid hits boiling point, turn down the heat and simmer for 8 minutes, or until the mussels are cooked.
4.    Add galangal, lemon grass and kaffir leaves and continue to simmer for another 30 seconds. Add chilli padi and season it with fish sauce.
5.    Turn off the heat, add coriander.
6.    Just before serving, squeeze lime juice onto the mussels.

Rules of Thumb:
For every 2 cups of water:
Kaffir leaf : Galangal : Lemon grass     = 1 : 3 slices : 3 cm
Fish sauce : Water                               = 1 tbsp : 1 cup