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I’m not the only one who reads cookbooks in bed at night, right?  Nope, I’m pretty sure I’m not, as I’ve spied out my fifteen-year-old daughter doing the same thing on more than one occasion.

One of our favorite cookbooks is a bizarre one, chock-a-block full of mostly things we’d never dream of actually eating.  Things like Yak’s Penis and Cane Rat and Palm Weevils, I kid you not.  It’s one of the best books I own; ask me to borrow it at your peril.  It’s called 101 Dishes to Eat Before You Die, by Stefan Gates.  You can find his ever-interesting website here.

For my lunch today, I made one of his more orthodox recipes.  I use the term ‘orthodox’ rather loosely.  Today I made myself a delicious bowl of Thai Tom Yum Soup with Fish.  For those more adventurous eaters among you, here you go, with my hearty compliments.  It’s fantastic.

5 1/2 cups light chicken stock

6 lemongrass stalks, crushed to release their flavor

3 T very finely chopped cilantro roots

10 kaffir lime leaves, central stalks torn off

1 red chilie, seeded and finely chopped

1 inch piece of galangal or fresh ginger

3 T nam pla (I substituted fish sauce, which did very nicely, I thought)

1 T sugar

1 lb shrimp

1 lb firm white fish, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I used Basa, and it was perfect)

8 oz can of either bamboo shoots or water chestnuts

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

the juice of two limes

a handful of fresh cilantro and a handful of either fresh basil leaves or even better, Thai basil if you can find it

Method:  Pour the stock into a large saucepan and add the lemongrass, cilantro roots, chile, galangal, nam pla and sugar.  Cover the saucepan.  Bring to  a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the shrimp, fish and bamboo shoots and simmer for an additional 4 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and lime juice and check the seasoning, adding more fish sauce and/or sugar if necessary.  Remove and discard the lemongrass stalks and enjoy your solitary lunch with no kids around to tell you how gross it is!

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