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Thai-style Gazpacho

The tomatoes for this Thai-d-up “Gazpacho” recipe should be ripe heirlooms such as Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Aunt Gerties’s Gold, Green Zebra, White Wonder or Ananas Noir. I like to make two colours and serve them in a yin-yang pattern in a shallow soup bowl. Form the dots with a small dollop of the opposite colour or a dollop of unsweetened coconut cream. Yin and yang describe the polar effects of phenomena.

This basic recipe for Thai Gazpacho can be adapted to fit the flavor of the tomatoes. For instance if using Green Zebra tomatoes, use green minced chiles in place of the sriracha, and Thai lemon basil (bai Mengluk). If using Aunt Gertie’s gold replace the galangal with fresh turmeric root grated.
Using Thai Holy Basil (bai Kaprao) in place of the Thai Sweet Basil and mint will give a totally different fragrance and taste.

I like to use contrasting colours of tomatoes a cream with green, or red with yellow, or a green and red.

Thai Gazpacho

4 to 10 ripe heirloom tomatoes (10 if using small tomatoes, 6 if medium size, 4 if large)
1 1/4 cup rice vinegar
12 (6 pair) Kaffir lime (bai Magroot) leaves (fresh or frozen, not dried)
4 lemon grass stalks, outer leaves removed, sliced then chopped, and pounded in mortar with pestle
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1 medium red onion, diced
1 Asian or English cucumber, diced (If using a cucumber with seeds, remove seeds and peel)
2 cups green papaya, peeled and diced
20 mint leaves, julienned
20 Thai basil leaves (bai Horapha), julienned
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, rough chop
2 tablespoons Sriracha (Thai chile sauce)
1 piece galangal, 1 inch piece

Garnish: Thai Chile flowers-holding Thai Dragon chiles by their stem, cut into quarters leaving section attached at the stem. Carefully remove seeds. Place slit chiles in a bowl of ice and ice water for 20-30 minutes. The chiles will curl forming flowers.

Cut tomatoes into sections and pulse in food processor. Process the tomatoes through a food mill or press through a "Chinoise" or fine strainer to remove seeds and peel. You also can use a Pomodorino (Italian tomato press) to remove the seeds and peel. The tomato product should appear as a tomato juice.

Place a medium pan over medium heat and add the vinegar, Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass bring to a low simmer. Remove from heat and let steep for about 45 minutes until cool.
Strain into the tomato juice.
Add remaining ingredients, except for the galangal. Put over ice and chill about three hours, allowing the flavors to develop. Before serving, grate the galangal into the soup using a fine micro-plane.
Serves 4
Tips: Use a good quality brand of fish sauce such as Golden Boy or Dragon Fly from Thailand.

To learn to grow heirloom tomatoes:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TomatoMania

To view photos and buy Heirloom tomato seeds:
http://www.tomatofest.com

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