Half Scottish, Half Japanese. Tempura Mars bar?

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I began writing this blog in October 2010 as a new father documenting food in his family. Before I knew it, I was in the final of MasterChef 2012. Now cooking is no longer just a hobby.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Stone soup

Dtom Yam gung (Tom Yum soup)

As a child I loved the folk tale of stone soup. It is the story of a hungry tramp who knocks on the door of an old lady asking for some food. She turns him away, so he pulls out a large, polished stone and sets off to make stone soup in a pot over a fire. The old lady is curious and comes to see how he is getting on. The tramp persuades the old lady to add vegetables and garnishes one by one until he has created a delicious potage.

Yesterday, Jemma was upset with me because I trumped her pasta, pesto and roast vegetables with a Thai version of stone soup. I have monopolised the kitchen for the past several months while I've been practising for Masterchef and it is fair to say that her cooking has got a little rusty.

When I arrived back last night, she had carefully cut up red onions, mushrooms, carrots and bell peppers, dressed them in olive oil, herbs and salt and was about to put them in to roast. There is nothing wrong with pasta, pesto and roast vegetables on a Monday night and I do like to have one or two vegetarian dinners each week, but on this occasion, I had other plans. It was a little mean of me, then, to pull out some ingredients and invite her brother James, who is staying with us, to make Thai stone soup in the time that it took to roast the vegetables (about 10-15 minutes).

This Thai stone soup I speak of, is in fact, just Tom Yum soup. 'Dtom' means 'boil' and 'yam' means 'mix together'. It is a wonderful soup to make in January, especially if you are on a post-Christmas diet, because it is healthy but surprisingly filling, detoxifying but pleasantly invigorating! And it's very quick - only the speed of your chopping will hold you back. If it's all chopped and ready to go, it can be ready in less than 10 minutes.

Dtom yam gung (Hot and sour soup)
Serves 2

1. Take 2 bowls that you are going to serve the soup in.
2. Fill them full with water and pour them into a saucepan. Switch the heat on full.
3. Add a thumb of fresh ginger or galangal (peeled, preferably).
4. Add a stalk of lemongrass (bruised and chopped into 4 pieces). You're essentially making a ginger and lemongrass tea, so bring it to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.
5. Add one small onion or a leek (sliced).
6. Add one red birds eye chilli (sliced, with seeds).
7. Add three mushrooms (sliced).
8. Add three cherry tomatoes (sliced in half).
9. Add one large handful of raw, peeled prawns (about 75g). You could also add one small chicken breast (sliced into thin strips) instead of, or as well as the prawns.
10. Add 100ml of coconut milk and switch off the heat. Now it is time to season it so that it is SWEET, SOUR, SALTY and HOT!
11. Add one teaspoon of palm sugar - SWEET!
12. Add one teaspoon of tamarind paste (optional) and the juice of one lime - SOUR!
13. Add one teaspoon of fish sauce (nam pla) and a large pinch of salt - SALTY!
14. Add one teaspoon of red chilli paste and stir in well - HOT!
15. Thai stone soup. Delicious, healthy and quick. But it will taste even better with a handful of roughly chopped coriander, sweet basil and spring onions.

One technique is to put the raw prawns in the bottom of the serving bowl and marinade them quickly in the sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and chilli paste. The prawns will cook with the heat from the soup and the seasonings retain their vibrancy. And remember the golden rule of seasoning - you can always add more.

If this takes your fancy, here is the ingredient list.

2 full bowls of water
1 thumb of ginger, peeled
1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised then chopped roughly
3-4 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
1/2 leek or onion, sliced thinly
1/2 red birds eye chilli, sliced thinly (leave the seeds in)
2 mushrooms, sliced
1 chicken breast, sliced into thin strips
50g of raw prawns, peeled back to the tail
3 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
100ml of coconut milk (optional)
1 tsp of palm sugar (though any sugar will do)
1 tsp of tamarind paste (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp of red chilli paste
1 tsp of fish sauce (nam pla)
1/2 tsp of salt

1 comment:

  1. So happy to stumble upon you blog as I just finished watching Masterchef Finale part 1!! I love Tom Yum Kung and it goes well with Fusilli pasta. A good compromise if the wifey wants pasta. Just add the pasta to the soup. It will thickened it as well.

    No coconut milk (otherwise its called Tom Kha Soup).



    hope you'll win!