Thai Rice Soup (Khao Tom)

Guys! It's been so long. I know. I'm sorry. But I got so much done in the interim. In fact, making this soup and timing it with Matt's availability to photograph it on a weekend reminded me of how much effort it takes to bon appétempt. First, you have to find a new recipe (you have to make time to browse cookbooks and magazines). You have to seek out ingredients you usually don't buy (lemon grass, white pepper). You have to make the recipe (chop five shallots and slice eight cloves of garlic, ETC.), and then you must enjoy the recipe (someone has to convince Isaac to go watch Shaun the Sheep). But, I'm glad we did it. It was delicious and refreshing, especially for Matt whose been suffering from whatever kind of cold the kids had this past week (or three). I don't know if we'll make this exact soup again, though definitely a variation thereof. The meatballs came together so quickly and would be so good in a simple broth with some rice added to it.  

Speaking of broth, we may not have had the energy/bandwidth to try and document new recipes, but Matt has been making chicken stock on Sundays about twice a month with the carcass of a roasted chicken (plus veggies, herbs, and a bag of fresh chicken backs in a deal he's worked out with the egg guy from the Atwater farmers' market?). It's been quite special and also very Ina Garten of me to always have a freezer full of homemade chicken stock. 
When recipes call for white pepper, I usually use black anyway, but the meatballs in the Milk Street photo of this recipe looked so pale and white that I decided to get some. It was also a good opportunity to use my mortar and pestle. In the words of Patience Gray: “Pounding fragrant things—particularly garlic, basil, parsley—is a tremendous antidote to depression.” TRUTH.

OK, so what have I been up to, apart from chopping all these shallots? So much! 

1. I turned in a revised, respectable 307-page draft of my novel to my agent. I've hardly shared it with anyone. I have no idea what my agent will think/say. It kind of boggles my mind in a way, that I wrote another book without anyone asking me to / sans paycheck, and yet at the same time it makes perfect sense. Whether or not this book gets published, I needed to write it. I did write it. So there.

2. I'm starting a podcast with my friend Edan Lepucki. It's called Mom Rage. I hope you'll listen to it! We're aiming to air the first two episodes in mid-May. To read more about it, please go to our website. OR follow us on Instagram or Twitter

3. Yoga and gymnastics. Yoga and gymnastics are basically the new Bon Appétempt. When I started this blog, it felt so necessary and vital for me. Right now, yoga and gymnastics (i.e. feeling strong in my body) are the vital things. Maybe it's a mid-life crisis? Maybe it's not being pregnant or breastfeeding? Maybe it's just incredibly fun?
Thai Rice Soup (Khao Tom) slightly adapted from Milk Street
serves 4

8 ounces ground pork [next time I'll get closer to a pound b/c those meatballs were goooooood.]
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided, plus extra to serve
2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce, divided 
kosher salt and ground white pepper
3 tablespoons lard or coconut oil (or some sort of neutral oil)
5 large shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 a head of green cabbage, chopped (optional) [We had leftover cabbage in the fridge.]
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 lemon grass stalks, trimmed to bottom 6 inches, dry outer leaves removed, lightly bruised
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth (homemade, if you have a partner who makes some as his Sunday passion project)
4 cups cooked, chilled jasmine rice [Whenever I make rice now, I make a ton. We always eat it somehow. Usually via kimchi fried rice.] 
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice plus lime wedges, to serve
soft-boiled eggs, peeled and halved, to serve

In a medium bowl, mix the pork, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the chili-garlic sauce and 3/4 teaspoon white pepper. Form into 20 small meatballs. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the lard until shimmering. Add the hard-fought sliced shallots and cabbage (if using) and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened or maybe even browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon grass and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove and discard the lemon grass. Add the meatballs, stir gently and simmer until the meatballs are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in the remaining two tablespoons fish sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon white pepper, the cilantro and lime juice. Ladle into bowls and serve with egg halves, chili-garlic sauce and lime wedges. 


Matthew said...

Loved this soup and can't wait for mom rage! Also... I missed first-commenting. This is great!

Petrone said...

WELCOME BACK. Imma put those meatballs in some wonton wrappers and make a dumpling soup. Thanks for the inspiration!

And congrats on writing a new book!

Katherine {eggton} said...

You had me at the bag of chicken backs but YAY on the new book!!! I am super proud for you. I hope you tell us about what it was like to write a second book--whether it felt different. Did you feel more confident? Was your process different? We truly want to know.

Following all the Mom Rage sites now.

Sarah said...

I’m so glad to see another a blog post! And as a new(ish) mom juggling writing (er, “writing”), a podcast, a women’s group, and ideas for even MORE projects, I look to you as an example of someone who says “I am be more than one thing! I contain multitudes!”

-Sarah Woo

P.S. So excited for Mom Rage!

Sarah said...

*can (ugh phone thumbs)

Sara said...

Excited about this podcast!!

Kristen Iskandrian said...

YAY YAY YAY YAY! Excited for all of it!

Unknown said...

I’ve gotta lotta rage with this current “president” - my kids are grown so not too much rage there. I’m excited to listen to your new podcast and see if we have the same rage.

Jessicat said...

I made this soup and it's so good that I'm considering subscribing to Milk Street.

Thank you for sharing, it is a new favorite!