Tom Kha Het (includes Fried Tofu recipe)

Tom Kha Het

This soup is so flavorful.  It is not truly vegetarian because it contains fish sauce, but soy sauce can be substituted to make it so.  This soup can be made with chicken, by adding about 1/3 pound of sliced chicken and using chicken broth instead of vegetable.  I really like the fried tofu version.  I recently figured out the secret of fried tofu…..dredging in flour before frying.  Such a simple thing really makes the difference, creating a crunch coating, yet keeping the interior moist.  The fried tofu served with a dipping sauce (sweet chili sauce, a soy-cilantro sauce, or nuoc cham) is a great appetizer.   The galangal should not be eaten, it is for flavoring only.

Tom Kha Het

1 T. vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 T. finely minced lemongrass
1 tsp. dried red chili flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp. ground chili paste (or to taste)
1 1-inch section frozen or fresh galangal, thinly sliced and bruised with the back of a knife
3 cups vegetable broth
2 T. fish sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp. sugar
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups fried tofu cubes (instructions at end of recipe)
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/2 T. fresh lime juice
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly julienned
handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot, garlic, lemongrass, chili flakes, and chili paste and cook, stirring about 30 seconds.  Add the galangal, vegetable broth, fish sauce, sugar, and coconut milk.  Bring the soup to a boil and add the tofu and mushrooms.  As soon as the soup comes to a second boil, turn off the heat and add the lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro.  Serve immediately.

Fried Tofu

1 package extra firm tofu
vegetable oil for frying
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Remove tofu from package and drain off any liquid.  Carefully slice into 1/2-inch cubes by cutting tofu
lengthwise in half, then widthwise into thirds, and then into cubes.  Place cubes on paper towels and cover with a few more paper towels.  Press gently to remove excess moisture.  The process may need to be repeated with different paper towels if there is a lot of liquid.

Heat oil in a pan. Lightly coat tofu pieces in flour, shaking off excess.  Carefully place in hot oil.

Fry tofu for about 4 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on paper towels.

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