Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mushrooms: Tom Kha Soup with Chanterelles and Boletes

The mushroom fest continues. Yesterday I went for a walk down to Golden Gardens to see if I could find a madrona tree that was currently shedding its bark. No dice. (Hopefully it will be a future post, however.) But on the way I couldn't help noticing that there were mushrooms everywhere.

I've lived in Seattle for years but until I started seriously foraging mushrooms this year I never really noticed them. Now it's like I have The Sight, and I see them everywhere. Just a couple blocks walk and it's "Oh, Fairy Ring mushrooms. Yep, there's some more. And some more." Yes they're edible (and I like them) but I'm not sure what's been sprayed on that median strip. Also, this is where we walk Ase (and everyone else walks their dogs too...) I kept walking and found some small boletes popping up out of someone's alleyside. Not sure which kind. Further on, I swear there's a huge crop of Augustus popping up in another yard. Only two were past the fence line, obviously growing on the roots of a huge Doug Fir on the corner of their property. They were still late-button stage, in a day or two I'll check again (and possibly abscond with them). Further on in someone's lawn there are some large white mushrooms similar to my A. nivescens from earlier, maybe campestris (Meadow Mushroom).

I guess what I'm saying is, it's amazing that all these edible and delicious things are popping up all over the place, and the only thing that keeps people from eating them is ignorance and fear. And I think that's what I love most about foraging. It's the thrill of discovery, like an Easter Egg hunt, coupled with learning more about your environment and a hint of 'You dead yet? Nope. Ok, have some more.'

On to a recipe for a cold rainy Fall day.

Tom Kha Gai with Chanterelles and Boletes

Tom Kha is, without any doubt or reservation, my favorite soup. Maybe there is some soup made in the highlands of Papua New Guinea that I would like more, but until I try it Tom Kha reigns supreme. Normally you use chicken breast and button or straw mushrooms. Well I decided to make my recipe using a chicken thigh we had and some Chanterelles and the mystery bolete from our last expedition. The base of this recipe is from Quick and Easy Thai Cuisine Lemon Grass Cookbook. It's short, it's cheap, it has lots of pictures, and minimal ingredients or fuss. And I have not made a bad thing out of it. I have made many different recipes from many cookbooks for this soup, this is how I make it now.
  • 1 can coconut milk, we like Chao Koh.
  • 1/2 lb chicken, sliced thin. Easier if it's frozen a bit first.
  • 5 slices of galangal. Either fresh, dried or frozen. It's a rhizome similar to ginger but essential to this soup. Ginger won't be the same. If you use fresh you can slice it and then freeze it before it all goes bad. Frozen it is almost impossible to slice without a bandsaw...
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass. Cut the dry ends off, slice into 2" pieces, then bruise a bit with the back of your knife or a mallet.
  • Five Kaffir lime leaves, bruised a bit too.
  • Mix together: 3 T Fish Sauce, 3 T Lime Juice, 1 T palm sugar. (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms. I used Chanterelles and a bolete for this, but you could use many kinds of mushrooms. You could also skip the chicken, which would make this vegetarian (unless you're uppity about fish sauce), and increase the mushrooms. The soup would then be Tom Kha Het.
  • Cilantro and "Rooster Sauce" (Sriracha, we use the one with a Rooster on it.)
In a pan cook the coconut milk, chicken, galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves until the chicken is almost done. In goes the mushrooms and fish sauce/lime/sugar. Bring back to a boil a minute or two and serve. Garnish with cilantro and add burn to your heart's content with Rooster Sauce. It's really good, but it is Thai and I wouldn't use any really delicately flavored mushrooms here, they'll get spiced out. I think one of the almondy agarics would go very well with this.


Trish said...

Mmmmmm my favorite too! Maybe tomorrow night's dinner!

Trish said...

Made some tonight! The house smells like fish sauce... can't complain about my Chinese roommate's cooking anymore eh?

Russell Hews Everett said...

Yeah, fish sauce can do that. Best advice for keeping the stink down is add it as near to the end as possible.

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