Food tragedies come in many forms. Ingredients can be so elusive they are never found. The soufflé stays flat and undercooked. Favorite restaurants close. Sometimes we need to accept these facts, make the best of what we have or know, and move on.
Despite being a vegetable that grows in all the different US Hardiness Zones, rhubarb is not readily available in the Caribbean. I’ve never tried it, but wish I had based on what I’ve read about it (and the onslaught of strawberry rhubarb goodies popping all over the food blogosphere). This week, instead of joining the French Fridays with Dorie crowd in their roasted rhubarb experience, I decided to play catch-up with one of the recipes completed before I joined the group – the spicy Vietnamese chicken noodle soup. Dorie Greenspan’s award winning Around My French Table is a book that doesn’t shy away from modern influences in French cooking, as you can tell by this and last week’s rib recipes.
A couple of months ago, our favorite Thai restaurant in Condado closed. At the time, I focused most of my energies in recreating their red curry dishes but forgot to give the Tom Ka Gai soup a shot. While reading the recipe for the Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle soup, I couldn’t help but compare it to the flavors in the Thai Tom Ka Gai. The AMFT version is closer to a pho because the base is chicken stock, accented by coconut milk. Tom Ka Gai – based on our experiences at Thai restaurants – has a higher ratio of coconut milk, but is also combined with lemongrass, lime juice, galangal or ginger, chicken, basil and lots of cilantro. We used a wider rice noodle than the suggested vermicelli, and topped the soup with fresh basil and cilantro and generous squirts of sriracha.
This recipe is a keeper for us – we loved the bright flavors and poached chicken, despite of the summer humidity and heat. Next time I might cut back on some of the chicken stock to try to achieve the richer texture of the Tom Ka Gai.