Vegetarian Tom Yum Shrimp Soup (Tom Yum Goong Je Nam Khon)
Vegetarian Thai Recipe for Tom Yum Soup with Roasted Chili Paste
Thailand “lacks a strong indigenous vegetarian tradition” notes Nancie McDermott in Real Vegetarian Thai, and cookbook author Vatcharin concedes, yet there are many modern Thais that practice vegetarianism today and the number is growing. In the last 30 years, vegetarianism in Thailand has become more widespread, because of an increased interest in a sect of Thai Buddhism, which reveres Kwan Yim, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, according to the cookbook Thai Vegetarian Cooking.
Tom Yum SoupFood blog WorldonaPlate.org struggled with “having to cook a vegan (Thai) dish” when “just about every dish has that essential ingredient, fish sauce (nam pla). Truly this is the single most important flavoring for authentic Thai.” This makes it especially tricky to recreate the flavor balance of the classic Tom Yum Soup, which is usually finished with a good dose of fish sauce to achieve a satisfying umami flavor.
This recipe for Tom Yum Soup from the recently published cookbook, Thai Vegetarian Cooking, solves that problem by employing a combination of soy sauce and sea salt balanced with Thai roasted chili paste, coconut milk, lime and the essential fresh Thai herbs (galangal, chilies and lemongrass) for Tom Yum. Thus a savory flavor is created without the addition of meat or seafood. Fortified with frozen vegetarian prawns (if available) and straw mushrooms, a full palate of flavors and satisfying textures is achieved without sacrificing the goal of remaining a vegetarian dish.
* 2 cups water
* 7 slices young galangal
* 2 stems lemongrass, diagonally sliced
* 3 kaffir lime leaves. torn
* 1 bulb pickled garlic, bruised
* 10 straw mushrooms, halved
* 1 tablespoon roasted chili paste (homemade vegetarian or purchased non-vege)
* 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
* 1/4 teaspoon sugar
* 3 tablespoons lime juice
* 5 vegetarian prawns
* 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
* 7 hot Thai chilies pounded
* 2 coriander plants, cut into 1/2″ slices
* Kaffir lime leaves, coriander leaves, diagonally sliced lemongrass and hot chilies for garnish
1. In a soup pot, pour in water or stock and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and pickled garlic. When it boils again add straw mushrooms and cook until just done. Season with roasted chili paste, light soy sauce, salt, sugar and lime juice. Stir to combine. The taste should be sour and salty. Add vegetarian prawns and cook for further 3 minutes until they are done. Add coconut milk and cook until boiling. Add hot chilies and coriander, turn off the heat.
2. Dip out into a serving bowl garnish with kaffir lime leaves, coriander eaves. lemongrass and hot chilies. Serve hot.