Traditional shrimp tom yum uses unshelled shrimps, heads attached, which when simmered make a richly flavored broth. With limited trips to the market these days as the bug continues find more human hosts, keeping frozen shelled shrimps in the freezer is more practical. We combined them with homemade broth for our hot and sour shrimp soup.
What are those tiny specks in the soup? Those are pieces of dried herbs from the herb salt we use at home. You don’t need to use herb salt for this recipe. In fact, I’d recommend patis (fish sauce) to give the broth more seafood flavor and aroma.
Is this a starter soup or a main course? Non-Filipinos might find that question strange, so, I’ll go ahead and pre-empt misconceptions. In the Philippines, there are soups that are so chunky that we eat them with rice. Picadillo (it’s different from its Mexican sibling), tinola and sinigang are just some examples.
If you’re not a Filipino, you’ll probably want to serve this hot and sour shrimp soup as a starter course. If you’re a Filipino, you can go either way. I have to mention though that the broth is so delicious that you’ll want to pour it over your rice and let the grains soak up the flavors.
Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup a la Tom Yum
- 6 cups broth (see notes after the recipe)
- 3 slices galangal (dried is fine)
- 2 whole stalks lemongrass tied into a bundle
- 2 shallots peeled and halved
- 2 pairs kaffir lime leaves center ribs removed and discarded
- 2 bird's eye chilies slit
- 2 tomatoes cut into wedges
- 24 shelled shrimps (why shelled is explained in the first paragraph of the post)
- patis (fish sauce)
- lime juice (see notes after the recipe)
- torn cilantro to garnish
- Pour the broth into a pot and bring to the boil.
- Drop the galangal slices, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilies and tomatoes into the broth. Lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the shrimps to the broth.
- If the broth is unseasoned or underseasoned, add fish sauce.
- Cover the pot once more and simmer for five minutes, or just long enough to cook the shrimps but without overcooking them.
- Taste the broth. Add more fish sauce, if needed.
- Drizzle in the lime juice, a tablespoonful at a time, tasting and adding as you go along until a good balance of salty and sour is achieved.
- Ladle your hot and sour shrimp soup into bowls, sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.
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