When I feel a cold coming on this is what I crave / make. A clear tom yam soup with aromatic Thai herbs, chilli and lime seems like the best medicine. Just the smell of it cooking makes you feel you are in a spa and straight away your spirits are lifted. Of course it’s great when you don’t have a cold too, especially if you have a hangover, but today I woke up with a could and will have this for lunch and dinner.
I started by putting 2 liters of water in a large saucepan and added 2 tbsp of mushroom soy sauce and began heating it up. Then I added 4 or 5 stalks of fresh lemon grass which I bashed with a pestle to help release their flavours and I added about a doves fresh kaffir lime leaves, stripping each half of the leaves from the bunch. I sliced about an inch or so of galangal and added it and sliced a large red onion and bashed about 8 chillis with my pestle added these to the pot. When the broth began to boil I added my mushrooms cut or torn into bite sized pieces. I used about three types, straw, oyster and small shiitake, about 200 – 250g of each. I then added a handful of ‘pak chii farang’ or culantro at type of coriander that has long flat leaves with serrated edges (this is optional but I like the flavour) and two tomatoes cut into segments. I the covered the pan and simmered it for about 10- 15 mins until the aroma fills the kitchen and the mushrooms are cooked. You can taste the soup half way to check if the chillis are spicy enough but you won’t really get the full tom yam flavour until you add the lime juice at the end.
Then I turned off the heat and added the juice of two medium sized limes, until I felt there was a good balance of flavour between, spicy, salty and sour. You can add more soy sauce or chilli if necessary. It’s best to add the lime at the end just before serving for the freshest flavour. Garnish with some coriander leaves. As part of a Thai meal I think it it goes well with Thai omelette, fried green veg and rice, but as a cold cure I just enjoy the soup on its own. For a hangover it needs to be extra spicy and is best eaten with rice and a Thai omelette.