Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Autumnal Thai

Have I told you all just how much I love pumpkins?

I LOVE pumptykins!
This south-east asian inspired pumpkin and coconut soup blends sharp and hot flavors with a sweet and rich mouthfeel. The end result is savoury yet not to the point of being cloying. And some recipes which include intense flavored ingredients like thai fish sauce, and shrimp paste can definately go overboard and make dishes so intense that only a bite or two will put you over the edge.

But not so with this soup! It's perfect for all that extra pumpkin you've began freezing. Well, at least I've been freezing every pumpkin I can get my hands on for the upcoming winter, spring, and summer without those delicious squashes.

The only drawback to this recipe is grinding the lemon grass, dried shrimp and a few other things into a paste. I either needed a much larger mortar and pestle or some other high tech means of turning all that tough cellulosic material into a paste. For the record, I don't own a liquid nitrogen hammer mill, so I guess that's out of the question.

The shrimp paste can be a little overwhelming straight out of the jar, but it's worth it in the end. Don't be put off by it's... intense odor. Shrimp paste, which is made from fermented ground shrimp in brine, is used to give foods a savoury flavour.

I threw this soup together with some simple flat rice noodles tossed with some sambal chile puree, sesame oil, and some sauteed mushrooms.

Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

2 Garlic cloves, crushed
4 Shallots, finely crushed
1/2 tsp Shrimp Paste
1 Tbsp Dried Shrimp, soaked for 10 min in hot water and drained
1 Lemon Grass Stalk, chopped
2 fresh Green Thai Chiles
2-1/2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 lb Pumpkin, skinned and cut into thick chunks
2-1/2 Cups Coconut Cream
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Sugar
4 oz. Peeled Prawns
Salt
Pepper
2 fresh Red Thai Chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
fresh Basil leaves

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, dried shrimp, lemon grass, green chiles and a pinch of salt into a paste.
Bring the chicken stock to boil in a large pot. Add the paste and stir until dissolved.

Lower the heat, add the pumpkin, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
Stir in the coconut cream, bring to a simmer. Add the fish sauce, sugar, ground pepper to taste.

Add the prawns and cook until they're heated through.
Serve garnished with the red chiles and basil leaves.

1 comment:

Yvette said...

OMG you are killing me! How do you have time to cook? Marry me and make me food every night. :)