A little ways back I took a Thai cooking class and this is my recreation of the recipe that we were shown. The soup has great flavors from making a homemade shrimp stock and from the fresh ingredients. Eammon and I really enjoyed this soup and the flavors were a great blend of savory, sour, rich, spicy and citrus. Thankfully for me the ingredients are easy to come by as I will be making this soup again and again, just that delicious.
My beautiful and helpful Maisie with all the ingredients for the soup. Pictured are only two cans of straw mushrooms but I used three and the white on the Thai red chili peppers is because I always have them in my freezer so it’s just some frost from coming into the warm air.
After straining out all the shrimp shells and heads, return the stock to the pot and if you have a pasta insert it’s a great time to use it. Add the galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves & Thai red chili peppers to the pot.
3 lbs. large uncooked, unshelled, heads-on shrimp
1/3 cup sesame oil
4 quarts water
12 stalks lemon grass, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 large knobs fresh galangal, sliced 1/8-inch thick pieces (or ginger if you can’t find galangal)
30 kaffir lime leaves, center stem/vein removed
12 Thai red chili peppers
6 TBS. fish sauce (Nam Pia)
9 heaping TBS. Roasted Chili Paste (Nam Prik Pao)
3 15 oz. cans straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
5 limes, juiced
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, more for garnish.
Wash and drain the shrimp and then remove the head & shells and devein. Retain the heads and shells for the stock. Set the shrimp aside.
Heat up a large stock pot and when it’s hot add the sesame oil. Once the oil is hot add the shrimp heads and shells and stirring occasionally cook on high until all the shells turn pink and get a little charred and crispy sounding when you stir. Once the shells are all toasty add the water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow the stock to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Pour the shrimp stock though a chinois or a colander lined with cheesecloth to remove all the bits and pieces from the stock. Quickly rinse the stock pot to remove any lingering bits and then pour the stock back into the pot and return the pot to the stove over medium heat. If you have a pasta insert for your pot this is a great time to use it. Either into the pasta insert or directly into the pot, add the lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, Thai red chilies, fish sauce and Roasted Chili Paste. Mix well and bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the solids from the soup. Discard the solids and return the stock to the pot.
Add the straw mushrooms and return to a boil. Once at a boil add the shrimp, lime juice and chopped cilantro. Stir to mix and then remove from the heat, cover and allow the shrimp to cook for 5 minutes until they turn pink.
Check the balance of sweet, sour and spice and adjust as needed with more fish sauce, roasted chili paste or lime juice as needed.
To serve, pour into bowls and garnish with cilantro.