Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spicy seafood soup


...and continuing the theme of spice and broth, yesterdays freezing rain just sealed the deal when deciding what to conjure up for lunch. Feeling a bit low with the world always has me turning to soup, as many will testify, it must simply be the 'Mothers warmth factor' in soup that makes most things seem better all of a sudden. Funnily enough I called my Mum after lunch and endured a tortuous but hilarious thirty minute walk through of receiving and replying to an email I'd just sent her! There will be a time, in the not too distant future when I'll be exasperating my own kids over some new fangled technology.

I don't have a blender at home, so more often than not, my soups tend to be chunky anyway, this seafood number is a good example of bunging it all in, getting your timing right, and serving straight from the pot. The recipe below is tried and tested, but really should only act as a starting point. 

Serves 2

2 large shrimp (prawn)
2 boneless fillets from a sea eel
2 pen shell clams
2 ounces (60g) prepared squid
2 large mussels
2 asari clams
2 large clams
½ young corn cob
¼ chingensai (bok choy or pak choi)
15 fluid ounces (440ml) dashi
1 sea bass fillet, cut into chunks
2 tbsp light soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 tbsp sake
1 teaspoon chilli garlic sauce
Coriander leaves

Prepare the main soup ingredients: insert a knife into the back of the shrimp and de-vein. Pour boiling water over it to change partially the surface colour. Plunge the eel into boiling water, immediately drain and plunge into iced water. Extract the pen shell clam from its shell and cut it and the squid into thin slices, about 1/16 in (3 mm) thick. Rinse well the mussel, the asari clams and the clam. Briefly blanch the young corn and the chingensai.

Pour the dashi into a cooking pot, add the main soup ingredients (including the sea bass) and bring to a boil. When the shells open, add the soy sauce, sea salt and sake to taste, and then add the chilli garlic sauce.

Transfer to a soup dish and sprinkle with coriander. I have this little jar of bonito, seaweed and sesame at home which I scattered over too - remarkable flavours.

Make sure that the fish, young corn and chingensai are all cooked and ready to eat at the same time. The shellfish are ready to eat as soon as the shells open.