© Copyright 1995-2020, Clay Irving <email@example.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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There are two staple soups in Thai cuisine: tom yam is a hot spicy clear soup with elements of sweet and sour flavors added. Tom kha is a milder soup with coconut milk and galangal (kha) dominating rather than the fiery phrik (chili) of the tom yam.
Because it is milder tom khas are often made with chicken or pork, but most common in Thailand are varieties using seafood (especially shrimp, squid, or fish such as red snapper or catfish) or vegetables (especially medleys of mushrooms, tom kha hed)
The catfish can be "crisped" by quickly, and briefly, deep frying it in very hot oil, but this variation is based on simply poaching the fish in the soup.
In Thailand the fish is cleaned, and then poached whole (with the head), then removed from the soup, and cut into bite sized pieces which are returned to the soup for serving. The method here is a little simpler, in that it doesn't involve handling the hot fish.
Thais eat the galangal, which is cut into thin matchstick pieces. However I have noticed that many western diners prefer to discard the galangal and so it may be wiser to leave the galangal in thin slices.
Similarly the lemon grass is eaten, but you may prefer to cut it into 2 inch lengths, and crush them with a mallet. These may then be discarded by the diner.
1 catfish, about half a pound prepared weight
2 cups of fish stock
1 cup of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of kha (galangal), julienned
1 tablespoon of takhrai (lemon grass), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon bai phak chi (coriander/cilantro leaves)
1 tablespoon of phrik ki nu daeng (red birdseye chilis), thinly sliced
4 tablespoons of fish sauce
4 tablespoons of lime juice
Bring the stock to a simmer. Add the galangal, lemon grass, coriander, chiles, fish sauce and lime juice, and bring back to the simmer.
Clean the fish and cut it into 1 inch steaks, then divide them, removing the bones. Add the fish to the soup, and the coconut milk and bring back to a very
gentle simmer, and poach the fish for 3 to 4 minutes (until just cooked).
Special thanks to - Muoi Khuntilanont.