Bowl of Beef Soup
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Beef Soup - Northern Thai
Thailand
  -   Jin Hoom Neua
Makes
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
3 quart  
****
3-1/3 hrs  
Yes
This soup presents an intense complex of interesting flavors that will be unfamiliar to most Americans, quite different from the Thai "standards". Chili heat is distinct, but not overwhelming. This recipe takes some shopping and some pre-prep (see Note-12) which can be done well in advance. This dish is usually accompanied by steamed sticky rice.



2
6-1/2
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1
1
1-1/2
1
4-1/2
12
1/2
1-1/2
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8
6
4
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2-1/2
1-1/2
12
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1/4
1/4
1/4
#
oz
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oz
t
oz
oz
oz
cl
oz
T
---
c
T
oz
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t
t

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c
c
c
Beef, lean (1)
Onion
-- Seasoning Paste
Lemon Grass (2)
Salt
Galangal (3)
Turmeric (4)
Shallots
Garlic
Puya Chilis (5)
Kapi Kung (6)
--------
Water
Soy Sauce (7)
Prik Phon Khua (8)
-- Finish
Salt
Pepper, black
Kaffir Lime Leaves (9)  
-- Herbs
Cilantro
Culantro (10)
Scallions
Prep   -   (20 min   (exclusive of chili flake and shrimp paste))
  1. Make your Toasted Chili Flake (Prik Phon Khua) and Shrimp Paste (Kapi Kung) if you don't have them on hand.
  2. Trim BEEF of any excess fat. Cut across the grain about 1/4 inch thick, then into strips about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long - or whatever you like or whatever works with your hunk of beef.
  3. Place Beef in a pot with plenty of water to cover. Bring to a rolling boil for about 1 minute. Dump it all out into a clean sink. Wash the pot. Rinse the Beef and set it aside (this is to keep your soup fairly clear).
  4. Slice ONION lengthwise into wedges about 1/2 inch wide.
Seasoning Paste   -   (50 min)
  1. Prep these items and smash to paste in a big granite mortar in the order given here - hardest first, stickiest last - BUT, do read Note-11 for hints on how to make it easier. Prep LEMON GRASS per Note-2. Peel GALANGAL and slice as thin as you can get it, then slice into small pieces. Peel TURMERIC and slice thin. Cut SHALLOTS in half lengthwise, then slice thin crosswise. Crush GARLIC in your Garlic Press and chop to break up fibers.
  2. Break PUYA CHILIS and pour out seeds. Discard stems and caps. Run them to small flake in your Mini-prep Food Processor or Spice Grinder. Mix into the Paste
  3. Mix Kapi Kung into Paste.
Run   -   (2-3/4 hrs - 15 min work)
  1. In a pot, put 8 cups of cold water. Stir in Seasoning Paste Soy Sauce and Toasted Chili Flake Bring to a strong simmer.
  2. Stir in Beef and bring back to a strong simmer. Cover tightly, turn down to a low simmer and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Stir in Onions and continue to simmer until Beef is tender, another 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile:   Tear up Kaffir Lime Leaves (not too small) and crush them lightly to release flavor.
  5. Chop Cilantro coarse, Slice Culantro thin. Slice Scallions thin. Mix all (measures are all lightly packed after chopping).
  6. When Beef is done: stir in Salt, Pepper and Kaffir Lime Leaves. Simmer for a couple minutes and turn off the heat. Allow to cool just slightly.
  7. When ready to serve, liberally sprinkle Herb Mix over and serve hot.
NOTES:
  1. Beef:   Tougher cuts are fine here - in Northern Thailand, Buffalo or Oxen too old to work the fields end up in the soup pot.
  2. Lemon Grass:   You'll need about 3 good size stalks. Peel off hard outer layers - the last layer you pull off should be distinctly purple on the inside. Cut off exposed core. With your kitchen mallet smash the bottom 5 inches well (a slug of hard core will be ejected). Slice crosswise as thin as you can manage. For details see our Lemon Grass page.
  3. Galangal:   This member of the Ginger family is available from markets serving a Southeast Asian community. It is an essential ingredient, and can be found fresh or frozen. It is very hard. For details see our Galangal page.
  4. Turmeric:   This member of the Ginger family is available, fresh or frozen, from markets serving a Southeast Asian or Indian community. You want the yellow version, not the white. For details see our Turmeric page.
  5. Puya Chilis:   These are a substitute for unavailable Thai Prik Kaeng dried red chilis. They are available from some markets serving a Mexican community. For details see our Chili Page.
  6. Kapi Kung This is the shrimp paste of northern Thailand. It is not currently available in North America and must be faked up. See our recipe Thai Shrimp Paste - Northern.
  7. Soy Sauce:   Preferably this will be light Thai Soy Sauce, which is a little different from Japanese.
  8. Prik Phon Khua:   This is Puya chilis (substitute for Prik Kaeng) very slowly toasted until nearly black and with a smoky aroma. You can make it per our recipe Toasted Chili Flake.
  9. Kaffir Lime Leaves:   Fortunately, this very important ingredient is becoming much more available from markets serving a Southeast Asian Community. Strangely, they come 2 leaves to a stem. For details see our Kaffir Lime page.
  10. Culantro:   [Saw Tooth Herb (Southeast Asia)]   This herb is native to Mexico and South America, but is now used throughout Southeast Asia. It can be found in markets serving a Southeast Asian or Caribbean community. For details see our Culantro page.
  11. Method   I am strong and in good health, but I am not Hercules, so I have made changes in procedure that greatly reduce pounding in a big granite mortar with a 3 pound pestle. Unfortunately, no machinery available in even a well equipped kitchen can produce the results of pounding in a mortar, so a fair amount of pounding is still needed - just not as heroic an amount.
    1. Prep all Seasoning Paste items as given above, as if you were going to pound them in the mortar.
    2. Run the Lemon Grass in a mini-prep food processor until it is as fine as it will get. Add Galangal and process until it is as fine as it will get. Add Turmeric and process until it is as fine as you can get it.
    3. The contents of the mini-prep will now be rather sticky due to the Turmeric, so empty the contents into the mortar and give it a good pounding.
    4. Since the mini-prep already needs cleaning, go ahead and run the Shallots in it, then transfer them to the mortar.
    5. Add the crushed and chopped Garlic to the mortar, and pound everything as best you have stamina for.
    6. Stir in the ground Puya Chilis and Kapi Kung. Pound some more until everything is evenly mixed.
    The pattern recipe has you soak the Chilis and pound them in the mortar. I've done enough Mexican cooking to know this takes a lot of pounding, because the skins are tough - so I always just grind chilis dry - it works fine.
  12. Preparation:   The final "Run" step takes little attention, but some of the preparation is more involved and best done well in advance. The Prik Phon Khua and Kapi Kung are pretty easy and can be done when you have time, even weeks in advance. The "Seasoning Paste" is most of the work, and is best done a day or two in advance and refrigerated until needed.
  13. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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