I crave Tom Yum Goong, which is a delicious spicy, tart shrimp soup that's offered at most Thai restaurants. It seems complicated to make and has a lot going on, but it's really quite easy. Here's a quick and tasty version of the soup that uses duck instead of shrimp. When I'm really in a hurry I make the broth from Oriental-flavor Ramen packets (they're not bad in a pinch). I either buy Peking duck already cooked from the Oriental market, or I use frozen confit (duck legs) left over from my twice-yearly cassoulet extravaganzas. You can also use chicken, scallops or shrimp, or just vegetables instead of duck—it's all good.
Tom Yum Goong
6 cups chicken stock (see below)
4 stalks fresh lemongrass, bruised and cut into rounds, or 2 tablespoons chopped frozen lemongrass
16 fresh Kaffir lime leaves
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into thin rounds
2 tablespoons of lime juice (about one large lime)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 fresh scallions, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms (your choice), I like fresh oyster mushrooms
2 fresh plum tomatoes, diced
3/4 cup duck meat (breast or leg, cooked or raw, your choice)
1 tablespoon of chili paste with garlic (or to taste)
3 tablespoons of minced fresh Thai basil and 1 cup mung bean sprouts (for garnish)
1) Bring stock to a slow simmer; add lemongrass, ginger and 10 ripped lime leaves. Simmer 10 minutes, then remove ginger, lemongrass rounds and lime leaves.
2) Add mushrooms, scallions, duck, tomatoes and chili paste and simmer until heated through.
3) Garnish with freshly chopped basil, sprouts, lime leaves and lime slices.
4) Adjust seasoning so there's a balance of salty, sour and spicy.
Excellent Chicken Stock
1 chicken carcass cleaned of all meat
8 cups of cold water
1) Roast several chicken carcasses in a 400 oven for one hour until browned.
2) Add 8 cups of cold water per carcass.
3) Simmer on medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half.