Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Favorite Thai Foods - Thai soups

Street Hot Pot
Street Hot Pot
Thai soups can be one of the tastiest part of a great Thai meal. There are many varieties of soups to choose from including tum yum, jum zap, tum zap and tum kha. My personal favorite is the tum yum style soups. All are made with a base of a broth made from boiling lemon grass, Thai ginger and chili (it would not be Thai without chili) and a few other herbs that varies by cook.

Nakhon Sawan Trip

On the street, the broth is then kept hot and they will make your soup to order by adding various types of noodle (my favorite of which is thin rice noodle said "sen lek" or dumplings and many different types of meat and vegetables. The meats on the street are mostly chicken and the entire bird will be available, including all the internal organs.

The tum yum in the restaurant is a lttle different, but still begins with the same flavorful stock. The restaurant will then add shrimp, seafood or chicken, depending on the restaurant menu. In the traditional style of cooking, the stock is placed in a "hot pot", which is round with an elevated base and a hole in the center, either made aluminum or earthen ceramic. Hot charcoal is then placed under the base and air is forced over coals and the soup is cooked fast. The video below shows the cook using a mechanical blower, turning the hot pot into almost a blast furnace, cooking the soup in less than five minutes. In less traditional cooking style, the soup is cook soley on the stove top but is often just as tasty.

The soup served on the street is nearly entirely eatable; however the soup in the restaurant will often be served with many things that are placed there for flavor and not to be eaten. This includes large pieces of lemon grass, green lemon leaf and ginger. I personally took a long time to learn which pieces are not meant to be eaten and have grown to be one biggest fans of all varieties of tum yum soup.

Jum zap soup is served with the stock broth described above with red onion and ground rice, but served in a hot pot served with raw meats and vegetables and is cooked by fresh by the diners.

The soups are all good and I suggest you try them all but just be careful some can be extremely spicy.

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