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Lawan's Heavenly Shrimp Soup

This wonderful and exotic soup recipe comes from my friend and hairdresser, Lawan, who is from Thailand. It calls for a number of hard-to-get ingredients. I think it is well worth the trouble! Read about the Kaffir lime tree, whose leaves have a savor that no substitute can replace, and tamarind, which is part of the base for the stock. Galanga root and lemon grass can be found fresh in some Asian markets in Austin, and sometimes in Central Market or Whole Foods.


Shrimp, heads and shells on
Lemon grass
Galanga root
Tamarind liquid
Red and green Thai hot chili peppers
Kaffir lime leaves
Thai basil

Make the tamarind liquid in advance. Clean the shrimp, reserving the heads and shells, which you can boil for about 5 minutes in just enough water to cover to make a shrimp stock. For 3/4 to 1 lb. shrimp, use a cup or two of water. Fish out the shells and heads. Add a couple of cups of the tamarind liquid, Thai peppers (cut up maybe 3-4 red and 1-2 green chilis) and 2-4 Kaffir lime leaves, and boil them on medium temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.

Very finely slice and mince the lemon grass (maybe two 4-inch pieces), a piece of galanga root (I think Lawan calls this "cha" or "gha") about the size of a walnut, 2-3 shallots and a couple of large cloves of garlic. Saute the minced shallots, lemon grass, galanga and garlic on low heat in a small amount of oil. I use peanut oil, but Lawan uses olive oil. When the shallots are transparent, you can add the soup and the shrimp. Cook just a couple of minutes so the shrimp is just done and slightly crisp. Throw in the Thai basil when you shut off the heat. Serve. You can add rice noodles (a little, cooked separately) if you want.


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