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Coconut and galangal soup with banana blossom, or tom kha hua pli

Little known outside family circles, this soup will surprise you with the delicacy of its flavours. The taste of banana blossom is reminiscent of artichoke.

Serves 2.

2 lemongrass stalks, flattened all the way through

2 kaffir leaves, crumpled

60 g galangal, sliced

25 g shallot, sliced

2 bird's eye chillies, sliced

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coconut sugar

2 tablespoons tamarind juice

200 g banana blossom

250 ml coconut cream

10 g spring onions, chopped

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil, add lemongrass, kaffir leaves, galangal, shallot, bird's eye chillies, soy sauce, salt, sugar and tamarind. Simmer over a low heat, covered, for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the banana blossom. It oxidizes and turns brown in a few seconds. This does not alter the taste but it doesn't look nice. Therefore, prepare a large bowl of water with a few tablespoons of rice vinegar or lime juice. First remove the outer leaves and the first rows of bananas (the small white/yellow stems that appear at the base when the leaves are removed are bananas). Then quickly cut the flower lengthwise into 4 pieces and immerse all the pieces in vinegar or lime water. Remove a piece, slice it widthways (slices of about ½ cm), then put it back in the water. Proceed in this way with the rest of the blossom.

Add 200 g of blossom, drained beforehand, to the soup and cook for 5 minutes. Remove lemongrass, kaffir and galangal. Carefully stir in the coconut cream (the soup should no longer boil) then taste to adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle with spring onions and serve immediately.

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