Tom yum goong gazpacho (spicy Thai-inspired gazpacho with shrimp)

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One of the little quirks about my line of work is that I’m flooded with images of food almost constantly throughout the day. I’ve probably seen more pies, more asparagus, more artisanal grilled cheeses on my Instragram feed in the past day than you’ve seen in the past year. Constantly seeing all these food images (not unlike being over-exposed to violence in the media, or a plethora of suitors on Tinder) results in a slow erosion of my ability to feel anything about them.


But once in a while, a photograph or a recipe will still resonate with me so strongly that I know that it’s only a matter of time before I have to try it for myself. This tom yum goong gazpacho by Lady and Pups was one such recipe.


I don’t know if it’s because the heat of summer tends to make me nostalgic for Thailand (in the vein of the Thai green curry and spicy Thai mango salad from two years ago), or if I just needed an interesting way to up my gazpacho game, but as soon as I saw the recipe I knew that this cultural mishmash of a soup was going to be a winner.


What I didn’t realize, though, was how much the shrimp component was going to challenge me. I’ve never been squeamish when it comes to my meat, and in fact feel that it’s important for us to grapple a little with the animals we consume; it shouldn’t be easy, and the harder it is to break something down, the more we actually value the meat itself, and consider the animal that died so that we could eat dinner.

Boy, did that sort of righteous thinking really grind to a halt for a minute when I had to take apart these shrimp. I think the problem is the fact that they are essentially GIANT seafloor bugs. One of them happened to have a really long antenna, and seeing it just caused me to freeze up. I just couldn’t stop staring at it. I remember there being an almost singsong-like quality to how freaked out I was, my mind going: Ew ew ew ew ew ew EW, ew ew ew EW, I cannot DO this.


I tried reasoning with myself, Come on, you’ve already bought them and brought them home — not to mention photographed them! And then I thought, Maybe I can somehow make this with chicken instead. And I went back and forth in my brain for some time, frozen all the while, until I just forced myself to visualize the end goal — imagined tasting the soup upon its completion — and grabbed the first head, snapped it off into the pot, and that was that.


So, if dissecting giant water-dwelling crawler-y terrors isn’t exactly your idea of a great time, just know that:

a) you’re not alone, and

b) it’s worth it.

Because as soon as the pot of shrimp oil began to simmer, the smell that emerged was seriously heavenly. Would-it-be-wrong-to-wear-this-as-perfume heavenly. And when the oil was done, I also made a broth with the scraps (‘recipe’ of sorts included below in the note), knowing that it would be a long while before I ever broke down shrimp again.


I was a little worried that after all the prep, the tom yum goong gazpacho might not taste as good as I’d hoped it would. Thankfully, the first spoonful dispelled any fears I might have had. All of the classic tom yum notes — the galangal, the kaffir lime, the shallot, the shrimp oil, and the fish sauce — were enhanced by the tangy acidity of the tomatoes. And the coconut milk, a nod to another beloved Thai soup called tom kha, lent a creaminess that perfectly complemented the chilli’s spiciness.


Hope you love it as much as I do. And if there are any other summer hits you’d like to see here, drop me a note in the comments!


Tom yum goong gazpacho

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Just barely adapted from Lady and Pups -- a spicy, Thai-inspired gazpacho with shrimp.


    For the shrimp oil:
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried chili flakes
  • 1 small handful of fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 2 tsps fish sauce
  • 400-500g medium head- and shell-on shrimp
  • 1/4 cup water
  • For the gazpacho:
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk, plus more to drizzle
  • 796ml can of peeled whole tomatoes, divided
  • 5-6 (135g) white cores of the lemongrass stalks, cut into small chunks
  • 1 large thumb (~40 grams) galangal (also called Thai ginger), cut into small chunks
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 3 small red Thai chillies, diced
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp fish sauce, separated
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 small Asian shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 1/4 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


    For the shrimp oil:
  1. In a medium pot, add the coconut oil, chili flakes, mint leaves, lime leaves, and fish sauce. Twist off the heads of the shrimp and add directly to the pot. Peel the shells and legs off and add to the pot, reserving the shrimp meat. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the shells are almost browned, and there are brown bits forming on the side & bottom of the pot. Occasionally stir and break up with a wooden spoon. Add the water, and scrape down the sides so that all the little dark bits melt back into the sauce, and cook for another couple of minutes to reduce slightly. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Either discard the solids, or use them for a broth (*see note below).
  2. For the shrimp
  3. De-vein the shrimp and cook them in a hot pan with 1 Tbsp of the just-made shrimp oil. Cook them until they juuuust turn opaque. Remove from heat, season with salt & pepper, and set aside in the fridge.
  4. For the gazpacho
  5. In a blender or food processor, combine the 3/4c coconut milk, 200ml (roughly 1/4 of the can) of tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, Thai chillies, and 1 Tbsp of fish sauce. Blend for 2-3 minutes until mixture looks more or less uniform. Strain through a very fine sieve or cheesecloth, pressing down thoroughly on the solids, trying to extract as much liquid as possible.
  6. Give your blender/food processor a quick rinse, and add the tomato mixture you've just extracted back in. Also add the remaining 600ml of tomatoes, the lime juice, shallots, remaining 2 Tbsp of fish sauce, the brown sugar, and the black pepper. Blend for 1-2 minutes, until completely pureed, then drizzle in 1/4 cup of your homemade shrimp oil with the blender running, until combines. Adjust seasoning to taste, and set aside in the fridge for at least two hours (and up to overnight) for the flavours to meld. Give a good stir again before serving.
  7. Garnish with a generous drizzle of shrimp oil and coconut milk, with some torn cilantro or mint leaves, cracked black pepper, and the chilled shrimp.

*If you want to make a broth from your shrimp-oil solids, I threw in the tough outer-leaves of my lemongrass stalks and the skins from my shallots into the same pot I'd used for the shrimp oil. I covered everything with a generous amount of water (so that everything was covered by 1-2 inches of it), and simmered with the lid on for 45 minutes. I strained the broth through a fine sieve, and used it for congee a few days later.



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7 Responses to “Tom yum goong gazpacho (spicy Thai-inspired gazpacho with shrimp)”

  1. Amanda | The Cinnamon Scrolls September 3, 2015 at 2:27 PM #

    Sounds fantastic, Alanna. I totally get how you feel when dealing with prawns — they aren’t the most pleasant of creatures to prepare! But they definitely end up being worth it! 🙂

    • toughcookie September 7, 2015 at 9:22 PM #

      And they were especially worth it for this recipe!

  2. Jennifer Andrews June 19, 2015 at 4:02 PM #

    What a great “mashup” recipe – Thai meets Italian gazpacho. Glad to hear you overcame your fear of the shrimp, you’re right that it’s so worth it!

  3. La Cuisine d'Helene June 19, 2015 at 3:57 PM #

    Looking at your pictures and recipe I miss Asia. It looks so good.

  4. Florence June 19, 2015 at 12:13 PM #

    Your writing and photos are magnificent! Now I have to try some of the recipes.