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Vegan Tom Kha …sort of? [recipe]

There is literally no better excuse to cook something warm and delicious than an evening of friends and wine. Don’t try to find one.

Vegan Tom Kha

Things You’ll Need

  • 1 can of coconut milk/cream (usually around 14oz)
  • Veggie broth (5-6 cups) – can be the cheap powdery stuff
  • Galangal: 4 inches or so.
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass. Maybe 3. Be brave.
  • 1 lime (better: keffir 3 lime leaves)
  • Vegetables (pick an arrangement of these…I usually do all of them but veggies are mad cheap here. Pick 5?)
  • Button mushrooms (small package)
  • Eggplant (one small one, about a grapefruit in quantity), cubed
  • 3 tomatoes, cubed
  • A bell pepper
  • Snap peas
  • Babycorn
  • Two white potatoes, cubed
  • A bit of cilantro
  • One tiny little red Thai chili (they’re like 1 inch long)
  • Red curry paste…I have two options for this. If I’ve been to Bangkok recently, I use the amazingly delicious red curry paste from the Nittaya Curry Shop. Game changer. If I haven’t been to Bangkok recently, and I want to be a bit of a badass…I make my own, approximating this recipe here.

What You’ll Do

  1. Put 3 cups of broth and the can of coconut milk in a big soup pot (everything will end up in here, so choose something substantial). Bring it to a low boil.
  2. While that’s heating, cut the ginger into thick slices. ¼-1/3 inch, big things you’ll be able to fish out later. Make sure it’s clean, and then there’s no need to peel it.
  3. Cut the lemon grass down the middle, longwise. Put the flat side down on the cutting board and hammer the meaty part down by the bottom with the heel of the knife like a badass cooking pro. Peel off the outside leaves or anything that looks old/dry.
  4. When the brothy stuff is bubbling, toss in the lemongrass and galangal, and then let it go for about 10 minutes, the kitchen should start to smell AMAZING. Stir occasionally to keep the milk from making a film, and make sure the boil is a low boil, or you’ll lose a lot of liquid.
  5. Squeeze in all the lime juice…but not the seeds. Obv.
  6. Throw in a big scoop of red curry paste. I’m guessing…1.5-2 tablespoons. If you’re worried, start with 1.5, and then after 5 minutes give it a taste. It should be spicy and awesome and not boring, even at this point. If your parents can handle spice, add in the two. Chop up the chili and throw that in too, careful not to touch your face after. Turn it down so it’s not boiling, just medium-low.
  7. In a sauté pan, cook up the potatoes, eggplant and mushrooms. SEPARATELY. That’s right. No really. You’re going to cook each individually and then add them to the pot. A bit of olive or veggie oil, cooked until they’re slightly browned, and then into the soup. Eggplant will absorb whatever oil is in the pan, but don’t worry about that…don’t add more oil. Just keep stirring it so they don’t stick.
  8. Everything else can go directly into the soup pot.
  9. Basically…cook the things individually, toss them in, and then give it another 10 minutes all together. You should have 2-3 cups of broth left, use these to add in as you go, the liquid tends to boil off and you want to have enough liquid.
  10. In the last minute, toss the chopped cilantro on top, stir it in. Unless your houseguest is one of those absurd people who don’t love cilantro. Then serve separately. This needs to be done less than 2 minutes before serving, since the green will only stay bright while it’s being cooked for…a minute. You want it to be bright green, so I usually stir in the cilantro and then turn off the heat.

Serving: big soup bowl. Here we eat it with a bowl of rice, taking a small amount of rice on the spoon, then dipping the whole spoon into the soup. If you have all the veggies, this isn’t 100% necessary, and it’s pretty filling. For Hanoi people…I’ve also thrown a dish of bun noodles on the table, and they’re pretty damn good in here too.


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