I love going to the grocery store with no plan and a bit of hunger. My best ideas definitely come out under those circumstances. I actually just needed some feta and dill and olives for a greek salad.
For a few months I've been on a very casual search for a certain vegetable that I have only ever seen sliced. So I had an idea that it was greenish and somewhat knobby, and dense, almost more like a turnip or something than a cucumber. It was clear as soon as I cut into it that bitter melon was not what i was looking for. It looked like the perfect shape, but when cut into there's all the red gloop and seeds, and upon tasting... well let's just say bitter melon is very aptly named. I threw some of it in the soup anyway. I liked it, Mike hated it.
I also chopped up some more lemongrass, ginger, garlic, scallions and sauteed them with a bit of wild squid. Little bit of oil and some dried chilis to start it off, of course.
So here's tom yum round 1:
Served with the sauteed squid on rice noodles:
Round one was pretty good apart from the bitter melon being a bit overpowering (though i thought it gave the broth a good flavor). The sauteed squid and rice noodles saved the meal though.
My readings in thai soup cooking make me believe what i did is more like something halfway between Tom Yum and Tom Khaa, but there's just so much more wordplay to be had if I call it Tom Yum, so i'm sticking to that.
Shared ingredients in both:
The differences were pretty vast:
Round 1 used chicken stock from the store; round 2 used homemade veggie stock. (Same stuff I use for my veggie pho.)
Round 1 had bitter melon and carrot; round 2 had baby bok choy, bamboo, and chayote. (Found the mystery vegetable that I had been looking for!)
Round 1 had coriander seeds because I didn't have cilantro; round 2 had fresh cilantro.
Round 1 had huge prawns; round 2 had wild squid and quartered jumbo sea scallops.
Round 1 had oyster mushrooms, round 2 had shiitake.
Round 1 served 2 people; round 2 served 10.
Here is tom yum round 2:
I'm very happy to add this to my soup repertoire.