Thursday 7 January 2010

Thai Seafood Noodle Soup

'Detox' is a filthy word in my house. I envisage shots of wheatgrass, advertised on brightly coloured billboards outside organic 'food' outlets that litter the streets of Soho, promising health and vitality but in reality make you retch. TV ads tell us to eat sugar-laden cereal twice a day of our miserable lives for two whole weeks to drop a jean size and for our tastebuds to take mutiny. People keep smirking at me: "not resolving to give up smoking this year then?" as if it's any of their business.

I'll have to be honest though, by 2nd January I felt like I needed to do something close to a detox. I had food fatigue; usually an idea of dinner is planned as soon as lunch is out the way, but instead I found myself standing in front of the fridge, agape and unable to figure out what to put in my over-indulged face.

But there's always something. There's Tom Yum soup; a spicy, salty, sour broth that wakes you up a bit. I knew this would be the very thing to cure me.

With the addition of some slurpy noodles, some flavour-soaked Chinese lettuce & turnip and a handful of prawns and squid, a light yet hearty dinner was made and my desire to eat returned to its rightful owner.

The key to the soup base is nam prik pao, a mild, smoky chilli sauce. I made a jar of it from this recipe over a year ago - I'm only half way through the jar and it's still going strong, kept in a dark cupboard (take THAT, use-by dates!). It's well worth making your own, though you can also buy it in Asian supermarkets. The beauty of Tom Yum soup is that you can keep galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves and even chillis in the freezer. If you need an emergency fix, coriander and limes are all you need to trek to the shops for.

Thai Seafood Tom Yum Noodle Soup

Serves 1

300mls water or light fish stock
A handful of raw prawns
2 squid tubes with tentacles
1 inch of galangal, sliced
1 stick of lemongrass
2 birds eye chillis (or less, if you're sensitive)
3 lime leaves
1 clove of garlic
1/2 a lime
1 tsp palm sugar (or just regular sugar)
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 leaves of Chinese lettuce (alternatively you could use pak choi, or Chinese / tenderstem broccoli)
A few slices of daikon or turnip
1 spring onion, sliced on the diagonal
A handful of coriander, chopped
A sprig of mint, leaves removed and sliced finely
100gr rice noodles (I used fresh hor fun, but dried also work)
1 1/2 tsp nam prik pao

Set the water or stock on to simmer and add the galangal. Chop the lemongrass roughly and add with the chillis, halved, the garlic lightly bashed and 2 of the lime leaves, torn. Simmer this for 20 minutes. Cut the squid into rings.

Meanwhile, set a pan of water on to boil. Add the turnip or daikon and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and set to one side. Add the Chinese lettuce and rice noodles, simmer until cooked and drain and add to a deep bowl.

Drain the soup stock into another saucepan and add the turnip / daikon slices with the last remaining torn up lime leaf and the sugar. Simmer for a few minutes for the vegetable to absorb the flavour of the soup, then throw in the prawns and squid. When they're cooked, add to to the noodles and lettuce. Squeeze the lime juice over the dish, add the fish sauce (or to taste) and garnish with coriander, spring onion and mint.


catty said...

mmm that's perfect for this cruddy cold weather too. looks divine, except for the coriander hehe..

Anonymous said...

I guess we're all on a detox mood at the moment. Can't even face a chocolate anymore! Thanks for the recipe, best option at the moment!

Mr Noodles said...

Looks great as always but you need to show more 'noodle' in your photos ! I reckon rice vermicelli (mai fen) or mung bean vermicelli (fensi) would go great with this.

S said...

lime leaves and lemongrass in the freezer? (!!!) i am such an eedjit. i had no idea. this would have saved me many trips to the grocer's. this soup is what i would have needed on Jan 1st- my brother in law gave me glass after glass of fresh pomegranate martinis on new year's eve in karachi- you can imagine what it did to me the next day. some of this soup would have been therapeutic. great one lizzie, as always. x

Food Urchin said...

I love tom yum soup especially when it has a hefty kick, this looks laaverly. Also liking your appreciation of(or lack of) use-by dates!

Greedy Diva said...

I love soups like this - also handy for hangovers!

Greedy Diva said...

I love soups like this - also handy for hangovers!

Helen said...

Just the ticket to wake up those tired taste buds! I am now craving hot and spicy and sour. Christmas belly, I purge you of your sins!!

Caitlin @ Roaming Tales said...

Tom yum soup is tasty and healthy. Now that's detoxing in style!