The intermingling of hot and sour with citrus
1 pound medium shrimp
5 tablespoons lime juice
4 teaspoons nam pla (bottled Thai fish sauce)
1/4 cup minced green chilies (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped lime zest
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro roots and stems plus 2 heaping tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
heaping 1/2 cup straw mushrooms
2 teaspoons minced scallion
1 tablespoon nam prik pao (optional)
1. Shell the shrimp, reserving the shells. Devein and butterfly each shrimp. Place the shrimp in a bowl, and mix with 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, 2 teaspoons of the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the minced green chilies, and 1 teaspoon of the grated lemon zest. Set aside.
2. Add the vegetable oil to a soup pot over high heat. Add the shrimp shells, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the shells have started to brown. Immediately add the chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of the minced chilies, the chopped lemon zest, the chopped lime zest, the cilantro roots and stems, and the shallots. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Strain the soup into a clean pot over moderately high heat, pressing liquid out of the solids in the strainer. Discard the solids. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of lime juice, the remaining 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, the remaining 1 tablespoon of minced chili, the remaining 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest, the straw mushrooms, the fresh cilantro leaves, and the minced scallion. Stir well. Just before serving, add the shrimp along with the shrimp marinade. Warm until the shrimp are just cooked (about 30 seconds), and serve immediately. If desired, top the soup with nam prik pao.
In case you can't find kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galanga root, and tamarind, this version of the classic soup calls for more readily available ingredients -- without sacrificing authentic flavor. Serves 4