restaurant up the street. The Real Le Ahn is the one and only place to satisfy a very specific craving. When I started my current job, I was prone to sinus infections. Like 1 every 6 weeks prone. Like, boss pulled strings to get me to the best of the best in 2 days prone. Meanwhile, a coworker suggested I get an order of Le Ahn's lemongrass chicken soup. Long story short, I now credit Le Ahn (and the god of chronic sinusitis relief) with suffering only 1 sinus infection in the last 2 years. Just at the first inkling of a sore throat, I scrap the leftovers or previous craving I may have had for lunch and head right to Spruce Street, just west of 36th, for a generous helping of tom yum goong with shrimp (long ago I decided I love the shrimp version more than the chicken).
|Item in image may appear more delicious than item I made.|
I searched for a recipe and actually chose 2. I wasn't sure I could pull off the authentic one, so I kept the Americanized one on hand and had intentions of combining as I felt comfortable. I had to put in a request to Grace for her next trip to the Asian supermarket for nam prig pow and had an unjustified frustrating time looking for lemongrass (which can easily be found at Whole Foods). Once I had all my ingredients, I set aside an evening to make my first attempt (I'll refer to this in a bit).
I started with 8 cups of water in my dutch oven. While the water heated up, I chopped and pounded the lemongrass stalks to allow the oils to infuse the water. I also peeled a few strips of the lime peel to use instead of the kaffir lime leaves and added the peels to the water with a few dried chilis. I let that steep for about 15 minutes...
Ok, breathe. I can make this career move and not force my stomach and sinuses to give up their most favorite treat. It was definitely not on the same level as The Real Le Ahn, but for a first attempt, it was exactly what I was expecting. There are several things I will do differently next time; and I can assure you, in these cold winter months, next time isn't far off.
- I used shiitake and crimini mushrooms. The shiitake had a mushy consistency by the time I ate the soup even the first time and just got mushier with each serving of leftovers. Next time, only criminis and maybe some buttons.
- Hubby did eat a bowl (carefully ladled to avoid all specks of fungus) and noted that it was a little too lime-y. I'll put forth the effort to find the kaffir lime leaves next time. I'll put in the effort that I spent looking for the lemongrass that was sitting under my nose the whole time, to find the lime leaves.
- My Asian cooking source of knowledge suggested I cook the noodles separately from the soup and combine them at each meal time instead of cooking the noodles all at once in the pot with the soup. The noodles ended up breaking into many small pieces and seemed to suck some of the flavor out of the soup. Not in a good way.
- I will not plan my evening around the soup's creation. It took a total of about 30 minutes, but only took about 10 minutes of active prep time. Simple, quick, delicious.