We owe David Thompson’s mastery of Thai food—and hence this recipe—to a long-ago, last-minute change of holiday plans that led him, unexpectedly, to Bangkok. As he says in the introduction to his encyclopaedic Thai Food (Viking, 2002): “I first went to Thailand by mistake, but it was a mistake I have never regretted.”
A classically trained chef born and raised in Sydney, Thompson is now recognised around the world and even in Thailand as one of the world’s great Thai chefs—some would argue he’s the greatest, even though it is not his native culture.
Within a year of his accidental holiday Thompson moved to Bangkok and immersed himself in the history and practice of Thai cookery—first, the food of the royal court and upper classes, and then the food eaten by ordinary people every day (Thai Street Food, Penguin Lantern, 2009). Somehow, he also found time to open a series of restaurants acclaimed for their authenticity and freshness; first in Sydney and then in London, Bangkok and Singapore. In 2015 he opened his first new Australian restaurant in many years, Perth’s Long Chim, meaning “come and try”. A Sydney outpost followed late in 2016, offering a taste of Thailand’s streets in a fashionably faux-industrial setting and now a Melbourne branch has opened; Hong Kong will be next.
There is nothing faux about Thompson’s Long Chim menus, which feature some familiar names (think pad thai and green curry) and many that are less so. Chances are you’ll find a hot-and-sour soup, often with seafood of some kind.
Here, Alyce Alexandra has adapted Thompson’s hot-and-sour soup with red snapper for the Thermomix. Her method of steeping the fish in the hot, fragrant stock cooks the little pieces of snapper gently, so that they emerge with perfect texture.
The finishing steps are important, with a splash of lime juice and fish sauce seasoning the dish, and a sprinkling of herbs, fried garlic (you’ll find it in jars in Asian food stores) and dried chilli. You should feel free to vary these as your palate dictates: as Thompson wrote in Thai Food, “you will experiment tentatively and then with increasing confidence, following your senses and employing intuition.”