Make the soup
In a 4-quart pot, simmer 1/2 cup of the coconut milk over medium heat, stirring often until it reduces by half and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Wisk in the curry paste until dissolved, about 1 minute. Add the remaining coconut milk, chicken broth, lemongrass, and ginger. Raise the heat to medium high, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Strain into another 4-quart pot. Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Season to taste with more salt. Add the mushrooms and cherry tomatoes and set aside.
Smoke the shrimp
Soak thirteen 8-inch bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.
Put the tea, rice, and sugar in the center of a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. (If using thinner foil, use 2 or 3 layers.) Fold the foil loosely to form a flat packet.
Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire. Clean and oil the grill grate; set aside. Set the tea-smoking packet directly on the hot coals or on top of a metal burner shield. Put the grate back on the grill and close the lid. On a charcoal grill, leave the vents partially open and wait for smoke to rise from the vents. On a gas grill, wait 10 minutes, then open the lid to check for smoke. If there is none, close the lid and check again in a few minutes.
Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Thread three shrimp onto each skewer, season with salt, and sprinkle with the cilantro stems.
Arrange the shrimp skewers on the grill grate so they’re not directly over the packet, and then close the lid. Smoke the shrimp, flipping once, until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes total. Remove the shrimp from the skewers, cut them in half lengthwise, and set aside.
Assemble the soup
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the soaked noodles and cook, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain well and divide among 8 large bowls (about 1 cup of noodles in each). Reheat the soup and pour about 1-1/2 cups into each bowl, evenly distributing the mushrooms and tomatoes. Divide the shrimp among the bowls and garnish with the cilantro leaves and wild lime leaves (if using).
nutrition information (per serving):
Photo: Romulo Yanes