Vegan Domme Kha

I say this soup is boss.

Thai coconut curry dishes should take no prisoners. My most frequent complaint is that they’re wayyy too sweet when they should be tarted up and spicy in at least equal measure. The complex of contending elements (tangy, creamy, hot, sweet) should commandeer your taste buds as soon as they hit your tongue. This is one instance where stevia is perfect because it thrusts just the right touch of light sweetness into the potent lime-coconut-curry triangle without all the sugary overkill.

Tom Kha soup is a favorite of mine – it’s often made with chicken or shrimp, but this is a vegan tofu version with a faux-chicken option (aka Tom Kha Gai) to seduce the omnivores. It’s guaranteed to dominate the dinner table and theoretically serves a healthy portion to 4, but all bets are off if a particularly insatiable guest goes back for thirds.

Ingredients

  • 1 14-oz block of water-packed tofu, prepared per Make-You-Like-It Tofu (if using)
  • 1 qt. low sodium vegetable stock (or “no-chicken” broth, if going that route)
  • 1 14-oz. can coconut milk or lite coconut milk
  • 1 14-oz. can green jackfruit (aka “chicken”), drained and rinsed
  • 4 slices fresh ginger (or galangal, if you have access to a specialty store)
  • stalk lemongrass, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 T tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 T Thai red curry paste (this will make it medium)
  • juice and zest of 2 limes*
  • 1 packet stevia (or the equivalent of 2 tsp sugar)
  • 3 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 T rice bran oil
  • 4 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 head baby bok choy, chopped, or other crunchy mild asian vegetables like water chestnuts or bamboo shoots, even a cup of sliced zucchini or broccoli – experiment
  • 1 serrano pepper, sliced into thin rounds with seeds**
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Thai basil (regular basil will work in a pinch)
  • bean sprouts for garnish
  • cilantro sprigs for garnish

Pull apart the jackfruit into small chunks of “white meat” ahead of time and marinate it in a cup of the no-chicken broth in the fridge for several hours or overnight if you want it to stand in for chicken and are using the whole can. (Even if I’m making it with tofu and vegetable broth, I’ll throw in half a can – the restaurant where I was introduced to this soup put some in, causing my vegetarian friend and me to freak out over the “chicken.”)

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, saute the shallots over medium heat in a little rice bran oil and water until they become soft. Add the veggie or no-chicken stock, ginger/galangal, lemongrass, tamari/soy, red curry paste, lime zest and juice, coconut milk, and stevia and stir to combine. Bring the pot to a boil. Add the vegetables (mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, bok choy etc.) and the jackfruit (with its marinating stock, if applicable), and simmer until the vegetables are cooked but not overcooked (about 15 minutes, zucchini needs less time). Add the oven-fried tofu (if using) and let it heat through, then stir in the basil and chili rounds just before serving. You can fish out the ginger/galangal and lemongrass, or just tell your guests to leave it behind… it won’t hurt them, but it’s really fibrous and hard to chew!

Serve Domme Kha on its own, or lording it over a scoop of rice in a bowl. Make it fancy with the sprouts and cilantro.

*Lime zest is used here as kaffir lime leaves can be hard to find, but use 4-6 if you’ve got ’em. Steep them whole like bay leaves. they’re not to be eaten. If you don’t have a zester, use a fine grater and grate off just the green part of the peel.

**Thai red chilis are traditional here, but again, you tend to have to find them in specialty markets and they’re usually sold in larger quantities. Use no more than 2 for a medium-hot soup, but feel free to use more if you get off on exit burn.

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