LIVIN’ LA VIDA LOCAVORE: BANGRAK’S TOM YUM GOONG

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Photo by Janessa Gursky

This column is also featured in our monthly print product, available in restaurants and storefronts across the City Beautiful.

By Misty Heath

A “locavore” is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food. Along those lines, every month, local chefs welcome Orlando’s locavore, Misty Heath, into their kitchens to break down how to make some of their signature dishes for our readers to make at home.

This month we shine the light on Bangrak Thai Street Kitchen (Facebook). If you haven’t checked out Bangrak at pop-ups in local hot spots like Redlight Redlight, Swine & Sons, and The Heavy, you’re missing out. This team is magic and their flavors bold.

Bangrak is hosting two pop-ups this weekend including Redlight Redlight on November 3 at 6 p.m. and The Heavy on November 4 at 5 p.m.

I spent four amazing months in Thailand, embracing the food, comfort, and beauty in abundance. Thailand is close to my heart, and Bangrak’s food and hospitality bring me back to there with just a bite. I know you will enjoy the adventure this dish can bring you on; I also hope the flavors and new ingredients will help inspire your cooking.

Photo by Janessa Gursky

TOM YUM GOONG

(“Goong” means “shrimp” in Thai)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 quarts of chicken stock (substitute veggie or water as needed)
  • 8 stalks lemongrass, dried edges and outer layers peeled off, separated and sliced on a diagonal in 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup Kaffir lime leaves, whole
  • 1/2 cup galangal, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds and then julienned—it’s so good for you!
    (see note for selecting)
  • 1.5 cup fish sauce (Mega Chef brand is the best)
  • 1.5 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup mushrooms—straw, chanterelles, button—cleaned, roughly sliced
  • 1-pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved, multicolor preferred; charred lightly in the oven on broil; reserve 1/2 cup for garnish
  • 2 healthy pinches sugar
  • 1 lb shrimp with tails attached, reserve shells–get good fat ones, it’s something we can get locally
  • 3 tablespoons chili paste with soya bean oil (see pic)
  • 2 tablespoons shrimp paste with bean oil (see pic)
  • 2 tablespoons small Thai chili’s, bashed with a mortar and pestle or simply chopped—more for garnish if you love to sweat or need a cold or hangover cure) (see pic)
  • 1 cup of peeled shallots (see pic)—cut in quarters
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, trim, and chop stems 1/4-inch, reserve leaves for garnish
  • At least six cups cooked Jasmine rice prepared to package directions. Yes, it has to be Jasmine. Serve on the side.

Editor’s Note: You can buy all of these ingredients locally but if you’re lazy (or just super-busy) you can also buy most of them HERE in our Amazon Shop and have them delivered to your home. They just won’t be as fresh and you’ll be missing out on a fun adventure.  Dong—A Supermarket, located at 816 N Mills Avenue [GMap], is Bangrak’s preferred spot to get all Thai ingredients for this recipe.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Bring stock to a simmer. Once at a slow boil, add shrimp shells, lemongrass, kaffir, galangal, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove with a Chinese spider, or some kind of strainer and discard. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, lime juice, chili oil, shrimp paste, and onions, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cilantro stalks and turn off heat to avoid shrimp overcooking (they will cook in residual heat in 8-minutes).

To serve, ladle all of the lovely ingredients into a huge bowl, serve more chilis on the side and prettily add a few charred tomatoes and cilantro for sweetness and texture.  Serve with a small bowl of white rice.

Restaurant Trick: Steam the final veggies, shrooms, and shrimp in a smaller mesh basket; this allows for easier plating of the main ingredients and ensures the more delicate bits aren’t overcooked.

FUN FACTS:

  • The Bangrak team travels to Thailand several times a year to explore the regional cuisine and brings back specialty ingredients they can’t find in the United States.
  • When it comes to Bangrak’s food, freshness is key as they typically TRIPLE the volume of aromatics (galangal, kaffir lime, lemongrass, etc) required in most recipes.
  • Tom Yum or Yam? Confused? There isn’t a direct Thai transliteration. It’s between an “ahm” and “uhm” sound.
  • Galangal—ginger is not a substitute. If good quality isn’t available (no mold and light in color), you can buy frozen at Asian markets and add in frozen. Avoid if you see any dark, moldy parts.
  • Not into shellfish? Make it vegetarian by amping up the shrooms and veggies, or swap out for another protein like squid, lobster, fish, and chicken.

 

DRINK OF CHOICE: THAI AQUA FRESCA

Photo by Janessa Gursky

• 2 tablespoons of fruit. Just use what you have or like—even your frozen stuff in the back of your freezer
• 10 leaves or so of mint or Thai basil
• 1 oz lime juice
• 1 oz simple syrup or fruit juice
• 3 oz coconut water (I love Harmless Harvest—legit, raw, Thai; or there are tons at the Asian market)
• Ice (crushed is amazing)
• Muddle the fruit and herb in a glass.
• Add remaining ingredients, and give a quick stir. Top off with a little more ice.

Good mushrooms are key to a yummy soup 🙂 Make sure they’re happy.

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