Spicy and Sour Shrimp Soup

| Next >>

Title: Spicy and Sour Shrimp Soup
Yield: 6 Servings
Categories: Vietnamese, Soups, Seafood

Ingredients:

Stephen Ceideburg
2 oz Lump tamarind, or 2
-tablespoons tamarind
-concentrate
1/2 c Boiling water
8 oz Raw shrimp, shelled and
-deveined
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 c Plus 1 ts nuoc mam
-(Vietnamese fish sauce)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tb Vegetable oil
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
3 Stalks fresh lemon grass,
-white bulb crushed and cut
-into 2-Inch sections
1 lg Ripe tomato, cored, seeded
-and cut into wedges
2 tb Sugar
1/4 Fresh ripe pineapple, cored,
-cut into 1/4-inch slices
-and then cut crosswise into
-small chunks
1/2 c Fresh or canned bamboo
-shoots, drained and thinly
-sliced
1 ts Salt
2 Fresh red chili peppers,
-minced
1/2 c Fresh bean sprouts
1 Scallion, thinly sliced
2 tb Shredded mint


This soup has become a staple on my table. It's relatively quick to make
and absolutely delicious. I've made it with chicken as well as shrimp and
have some red snapper in the freezer to try out the next time. Squid's a
natural for this dish. It's from Southern Vietnam. You can make it as sour
or spicy as you want by juggling the amounts of the ingredients that give
those qualities. It makes a complete meal as is and is excellent with
salad rolls or cha gio (fried "spring" rolls).

Soak the lump tamarind in the boiling water for 15 minutes, or until the
tamarind is soft. Force the tamarind through a fine sieve into a small
bowl. If tamarind concentrate is used, dilute it with only 1/4 cup of warm
water. Cut each shrimp lengthwise in half. In a bowl, combine the shrimp,
garlic, 1 teaspoon of the fish sauce and pepper to taste. Let stand for 30
minutes. Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the shallots and lemon
grass and saute briefly, without browning. Add the tomato and sugar and
cook over moderate heat until slightly soft. Add the pineapple and bamboo
shoots and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add 5 cups of water and
bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the tamarind liquid, salt and the
remaining 1/4 cup fish sauce. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer the
broth for 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp, chiles and bean sprouts and cook
for 30 seconds more. Add the scallion and mint. Remove from the heat.
Remove and discard the lemon grass. Ladle the soup into a heated tureen and
serve at once. Note: Do not overcook the shrimp or they will toughen.
Catfish, red snapper or any other firm white-fleshed fish can replace the
shrimp. From "The Foods of Vietnam" by Nicole Rauthier. Stewart, Tabori &
Chang. 1989.

NOTE: I've been pushing Vietnamese cuisine long enough here that the
ingredients shouldn't be too unfamiliar to regulars. Some of this stuff
will probably have to come from an Asian market, but you can make some
substitutions. Tamarind is made from the interior pulp of a tree seed pod
and is quite sour. It has a subtly sweet taste too. I've never done it, but
I imagine that you could substitute lemon juice for the tamarind and still
retain the essential character of the soup. Lemon grass can be replaced by
grated lemon zest with a bit of juice--it's the lemon taste rather than the
sourness that's wanted here. Dried lemon grass is available and is
virtually as good as the fresh stuff. It's inexpensive and keeps well on
the shelf. (I grow my own lemon grass--it's a really easy and pest free
plant to grow. If you manage to find some fresh lemon grass, whack off the
bottom couple of inches and stick it in a flower pot full of good potting
soil. Don't water the cutting too heavily until it starts to grow. Chances
are that it will take off and then you can transplant it into the
ground--it likes rich, well drained soil and full sun.) There's NO
substitute for fish sauce. The soup would probably be good without it, but
it wouldn't be the same. Since there's not that much difference between
canned and fresh pineapple (at least here on the mainland) I use canned
stuff, drained and chopped. If you're ever in a market and see fresh Thai
pineapple, grab some. The stuff I had in Thailand made our Hawaiian
pineapples pale in comparison.

From Gemini's MASSIVE MealMaster collection at www.synapse.com/~gemini