Thai Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup
from the kitchen of Sharmagne Leland-St. John

2 cloves garlic
1 red hot chili pepper
1 1/2  tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
3/4  teaspoon black pepper corns, coarsely ground
50 grams Enoki mushrooms (1/2 a 100 gram package)
2 large lemon grass stalks
1 knob of ginger thinly sliced
2 tablespoons anchovy oil ( see below)
2 shallots thinly sliced
4 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest (approximately 1 whole lime)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 of a 2.5 oz tin of anchovies blended (do not blend with the oil, reserve it)
1/2 tablespoon palm sugar or dried persimmons chopped
1/2 pound (250 grams) shrimp peeled and deveined
1/8 cup each fresh shredded cilantro and Thai basil

Put the peppercorns in a mortar and break into pieces add the chopped garlic, chili, and cilantro stems. Grind together with pestle to form a thick paste.

Trim, smash and thinly slice the lemon grass on an angle.  Peel the ginger and slice it then crush with the flat blade of the knife.  Separate the mushrooms into single stems. 

In a sauce pot or wok over high heat, heat the anchovy oil add the mushrooms and stir for approximately 2 minutes.  Stir in the slices of lemongrass, ginger, and shallots and stir for another 2 minutes or until fragrant.

Add the broth, then the lime zest and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the chili paste mixture.  You may need to put some broth into the mortar to get it all out.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Add the anchovies*, lime juice and palm sugar or dried persimmon pieces.  Stir to mix well. In order to allow the flavors to develop simmer the soup for at least 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp.  When they begin to turn pink and are opaque, remove from heat.  Ladle the soup into 4 bowls and garnish with the shredded basil and cilantro.  Serve immediately.  This soup tastes best served with deep bowl Chinese spoons.

* You may want to use a prepared fish sauce.  If so, use canola or peanut oil in place of the anchovy oil.

You should remove the outer dry layers of the lemon grass and cut off the grassy top, then crush before slicing.

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