A fragrant blend of Thai aromatics, and the perfect base for hot and sour Thai soups
No need to buy expensive jars with questionable additives and ingredients in them, you can whizz up your own healthy, fresh paste in minutes from just six ingredients and the taste is incomparable!
This makes enough to make soup (or a meal) for four to six, in 800ml to 1 litre of stock. It is easily doubled or tripled (just blitz for a little longer), and will keep in the fridge for a day or two, or freeze for more long term storage to preserve the flavour, as it does not contain oil or salt to preserve it.
[Calories in square brackets, average 84 calories per quantity for 4-6]
- 2 lemon grass stalks (c25g, or 2-3 tsp lemon grass paste) 
- 5 small oriental red shallots, or 2-3 medium/large shallots (80g) 
- 5 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves (you could substitute the grated zest of 2 limes) 
- Stalks from 1 bunch of coriander (stalks from a 100g pack will give you 45g, you can use the leaves in and on the soup to serve) 
- 2-3cm knob of galangal (or ginger root) 
- 1-6 bird's eye chillies (or use 1-4 large red chillies, de-seeded)* [3-13]
Take off the outer leaves of the lemon grass if tough, and cut into 2cm lengths, discarding the very bottom. Cut the lime leaves into a few slices. Top, tail and peel the shallots, peel the galangal / ginger and cut into 'coins', and (after washing) cut the coriander stalks into a few lengths, 4-5cm.
*Chillies - bird's eye chillies are very small but pack a punch. Depending on whether you've chosen to use bird's eye chillies, or large red de-seeded chillies, I've left the amounts up to you - obviously if you only use one chilli, you'll get a mild dish, 1-2 mild to medium, and so on.
Blitz the ingredients to a paste in your food processor, scraping down as necessary. Thermomix: turn speed up gradually to speed 9 (go up about half a speed per second) and leave for a few seconds until the noise is constant (10-20 seconds). Scrape down, then blend again for 10 seconds at Speed 10, and repeat.
At this point, you can use the paste in its slightly rustic form, or if you want a much smoother paste then add water before blending further. If you do add water, it will be harder to fry off the paste when using, so I prefer to leave it as it is, cook it off in oil when I use it, and then when I add liquid I can blend it further if I feel it needs it.
Essentially, to make yourself a Tom Yum soup (aka Tom Yam), you need to fry this off in oil for a few minutes until fragrant, then add 800ml to 1 litre of light chicken or fish, or even vegetable stock (depending on what kind of soup you want - you can even make your own prawn stock, from boiling up the heads and shells for 20 minutes, if you're going for a hot and sour soup with prawns). Some people include coconut milk, but it's not really authentic. Tom Yum essentially means hot and sour, and after adding the broth to the paste, I also add 5-10g of palm sugar, add chicken or prawns, or whatever takes your fancy and vegetables, and right at the end before serving I add fish sauce and fresh lime juice (add it to taste, I use around 2 x 15ml tbsp of each - the lime juice is best added at the end so you don't lose the lovely, zingy sourness from it) and scatter with plenty of coriander to serve. This could be a really quick and simple dish if you throw in a packet of stir fry vegetables, use cooked chicken or prawns, and you could even make it into a tasty meal by adding the soup and vegetables etc. to a base of rice or noodles in a bowl!
This is the paste I used in my Tom Yum Chicken (recipe to follow)... we had it over rice to make it into a filling dinner!
For the conventional Tom Yum Chicken soup recipe and method click here, or for Thermomix instructions click here.