Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup

From Andrew Zimmern – it really makes a difference when you use good quality coconut milk, tamarind, Thai chili paste and Asian fish sauce, even if you have to order them online.  Add more chicken and mushrooms for a heartier version. Time is about 45 minutes and it is 6-8 appetizer portions.

 

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, sliced crosswise into 2-by-1/4 inch pieces

¼ cup Asian fish sauce

3 cups chicken stock

2 1/2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Thai red chile paste
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves or 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 stalk lemongrass, tender inner white part only, minced (about 2 Tablespoons)
Two 14-ounce cans coconut milk
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 red or green Thai chiles, very thinly sliced on a bias
1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the fish sauce.
In a large pot, combine the stock with the sugar, chile paste, tamarind, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and fish sauce along with the mushrooms and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the lime leaves. Stir in the lime juice and chiles. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

Make ahead: The soup can be refrigerated overnight.