Hot-and-Sour Shrimp Soup
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Credit: Su-Mei Yu, chef-owner, Saffron restaurant, San Diego, Calif.
The National Culinary Review, November 2003
11/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 shrimp shells, rinsed and dried
10 de árbol chiles
6 cups chicken broth
6 1/2-inch chunks galangal, lightly crushed
3 stalks lemon grass, green parts and hard outer layers removed, sliced lengthwise in half and bruised lightly
6 coriander roots and stems
12 kaffir lime leaves, lightly crushed
12 fresh bird chiles, lightly crushed
2 shallots, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 15-ounce can straw mushrooms, rinsed, halved, and patted dry
1½ pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, and patted dry
Juice of 1 to 2 limes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
Method: Heat oil for 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp shells and de árbol chiles, stirring until shells turn pink and chile pods turn black. Remove from heat, using a slotted spoon; transfer shells and chile pods to cheesecloth. Tie with twine and return bundle to saucepan. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add galangal, lemon grass, coriander roots and stems, kaffir lime leaves, fresh chiles, shallots, and garlic. Lower heat to simmer; cover and let spices infuse chicken broth for 25 minutes. Add sea salt and fish sauce. Add more spice or salt if needed, to taste. Add mushrooms, increase heat to high, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove cheesecloth bag and lemon grass, and add shrimp. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until shrimp turns pink. Remove from heat and add lime juice, to taste. You should have an equal balance of spicy, salty, and sour. Transfer soup to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves.
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