Because I go to work and don’t always have the time to cook things from scratch, I compromise and utilise lots of ready made sauces. One example is Tom Yam paste. There are plenty of pre made tom yam paste in the market that tastes really nice. All you need to make a pre mix into a ‘super’ dish from an ‘okay’ dish is to improvise. To make it tastier, just add extra ingredients to the paste, in addition to the ingredients stipulated on the jar to concoct the dish.
As I have been eating out for the past few days and haven’t received my weekly quota of rice, I was going through ‘rice’ withdrawal and by hook or by crook, I was going to get some today (rice, I mean). Also I have been wanting to make tom yam for the past week or so and I thought today is as good a day as any.
So, to make around 6 cups of Tom Yam, I used:
6 cups of water
2/3 jar of pre mix Tom Yam Paste (Mae Ploy, Valcom or any Thailand made tom yam paste)
8 bird’s eye chillies - mixture of red or green chillies – halved lengthways (you may use large red chillies if you don’t want this hot. Slice each chilli into 4)
1 tsp chicken stock powder (optional)
2 lemon grass – bruised
1 large onion – sliced thickly
2 to 3 coriander plants – cut into 2 cm lengths
1 tin of whole champignon or straw mushrooms.
4 kaffir lime leaves – torn into pieces
1 tbsp fish sauce
Lime juice to taste (around 1 to 2 tbsp) HINT: I always keep a bottle of Berri Fresh Lime Squeeze in the fridge. It comes in handy if you don’t have fresh limes or when they are too expensive in the market!
Prawns and Chicken (you can also add in squid, fish, fish balls etc).
Salt to taste (I did not add any)
Bring water to the boil in a pot. Add in paste, chicken stock powder, fish sauce, chillies and lemon grass. Bring to a boil again and simmer for a minute or two to blend all the ingredients.
Add in chicken and simmer till chicken is nearly done. Then add in prawns and cook for around 2 to 3 mins (you don’t want to over cook the prawns – it will be tough if you do).
Now add in mushrooms, onions and coriander. Lift, add in lime juice, check taste and season with salt if required.
Serve in individual soup bowls, accompanied by rice and side dishes.
FYI: Soups in Asian meals are used to moisten the rice or as a rice ‘chaser’ (instead of drinking water or wine with a meal, you drink soup!), not as a starter to a meal. It is eaten in conjunction with rice and an array of side dishes. We had ours with THAI STYLE CHICKEN FRIED WITH CASHEW NUTS (KAI PHAD MET MA MUANG).