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Description There is a show on Thai TV every week called "Yam Yai" in which a distinguished food writer, who also edits the Shell Guide to Thailand (an excellent source but unfortunately only available in Thai), visits a different restaurant each week. The show specialises in the small restaurant/food shop style of business that abounds in Thailand, in which the owner is the chef, and the family help out. The show generally features a demonstration of the preparation of one or two of the business signature dishes, though as no detailed recipe is provided it is often difficult to reproduce the dishes shown. This week the main dish prepared was tom yam pla (fish soup), and I watched as the chef, preparing a soup for one diner, placed two handfuls of chilli on the board, and chopped them, then after cooking the soup added a handful of dried chillies as garnish. I was still gasping as the presenter added some nam pla prik (chillies in fish sauce) to make the dish still hotter! The preparation also differed from the norm of today in that it didnt include any nam prik pao (the roasted chillies in bean oil that is often called tom yam sauce). This in fact is the traditional preparation of this soup, and it is quick and easy to do. It can be made (as on the TV show) with fish, or as here with pork, or indeed with most meats, poultry, or vegetables. Note that I do sincerely advice caution about the amount of chilli in this recipe. It is phet makh mah ("very hot") as the Thais say, though this preparation (as an accompaniment for a dinner for 4 people) is not quite as hot as that on the TV. The main reason we made it with forest pig was that a friend donated one to us recently that had been predating his sugar cane plantation... Method Trim the fat from the pork, and slice it into eighth inch thick slices diagonally to the grain of the meat, then cut the slices into bite sized pieces. Crush the garlic with the side of a cleaver, discard loose pieces of skin, and then chop coarsely. Crush the fresh chillies with the side of a cleaver, and coarsely chop. Slice the mushrooms, and then bruise the lemongrass with the cleaver and slice it (either into 1" pieces if you intend to discard it, or very thin slices if you intend to eat it). Place the meat in a saucepan or wok, over medium heat, and briefly stir fry, then add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped chillies and garlic, and simmer, covered until the meat is tender. Add the mushrooms and heat through for about 1 minute. Serving & Storage Transfer to a serving bowl, and add the dried chillies. Garnish if desired with basil, coriander/cilantro and mint leaves. Serves 2 as a soup course or 4 as an accompaniment to a meal. Colonel Ian F Khuntilanont-Philpott Posted to EAT-L Digest 26 Feb 97 by Walt Gray
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