Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Sinigang Na Hipon - Filipino sour prawn soup


I reckon there is at least one sour soup recipe in every S E Asia country. I had Chinese hot and sour soup and Thai Tom Yum numerous times, tried the Vietnamese Cahn Chua not too long ago and last weekend I had the Filipino version of Prawn Sinigang which was very refreshing and tasty, not as herbal and fragrant as Thai or Vietnamese but is a keeper will try again with other combination.

Sinigang is a common sour soup in Philippines and there are numerous recipes, the souring agent can be tamarind, guava, green sour mango, local small lime called calamansi (or limau kasturi in Malay) or a sour fruit called camias (or belimbing in Malay) , with lots of vegetables, meat or fish including using pork, ribs, chicken and any seafood.

Here is my version, very simple recipe, low fat and tasty, worth a try:


Ingredients: (makes 2 large soup bowls)

3 cups of fish stock or chicken stock
200 g mooli/ daikon cut into chunks
150 g onion cut into wedges and split
200 g tomato cut into wedges
about walnut size wet tamarind or more if you like it sour + ½ cup of boiling water
1 – 2 green or red chilli, slit in the centre (optional if you like spicy)
180 g shelled prawns or 225g of large prawns with shell
100 – 125 g kangkong (water spinach) or ordinary spinach
About 2 tbsp of fish sauce or to your taste


Methods:
  1. Heat the stock add mooli, onion and whole chilli, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or till the mooli pieces are tender.
  2. Soak the wet tamarind with boiling water and loosen to extract the juice then sieve.
  3. Add tamarind juice to soup, simmer till boiling.
  4. Add tomato, spinach or kangkong simmer for about 1 – 2 minutes, add prawns and boil till prawns turned pink.
  5. Season with enough fish sauce.
  6. Serve with rice or on its own. Best serve asap, if left overnight the green vegetable will turn brown.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Shanghainese Red Braised Lion Heads 紅燒獅子頭


Shanghainese Lion heads are always stewed with Chinese leaves or nappa cabbage. These meat balls are called lion heads because the Chinese leaves covering the meat balls look like a lion’s mane.

Nearly every housewife in Shanghai is likely to tell you she has the best secret recipe for these stewed (red braised) meat balls. This is a popular every day dish as well as the more elaborate festival or feast version. Every day version just plain minced pork to more elaborate recipes with added delicacies like dried Shanghainese crab roes, dried shrimp roes, dried scallops (conpoy) or fresh crab meat.

Some recipe also add chopped shitake mushroom which I am not fond of. I like my meatball quite plain the only thing I will add is some chopped fresh water chestnuts to add texture to the meat.

Many people will cook these meatballs in four to symbolise four happy balls or 四喜丸子 in Chinese but you can make as many or as big as you wish.

But every Lion head recipe I had come across is always pork and never beef, don’t know where that woman on TV Ching He Huang get the idea from.

The secret to good juicy melt in the mouth meatballs is enough pork fat with the meat balls. Many people will insist on chopping the mince by hand only. Stewing the meatballs for quite a long time also will tenderise the meat.

This is my version.

Ingredients:

2 stalks of spring onion
1 walnut size of ginger


Meat balls:
450g of lean mince pork (I am too lazy to chop the pork myself)
80 - 100g of pork fat, chopped very fine
about 4 fresh peeled water chestnuts, chopped
1 portion of juice from above minced spring onion and ginger
1 medium size egg
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
pinch of ground pepper
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp of shaoshing wine


1/3 cup of corn starch (for coating)


1 cup of oil for frying


stewing ingredients:
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 small chunk of ginger about 10g, grated
1 tbsp of oil
1 ½ cup of good homemade chicken or pork stock
1/4 cup shaoshing wine
2 – 3 tsp light soy sauce
2 – 3 tbsp good oyster sauce
2 tsp of sesame oil


1 small head of Chinese leaves about 1lb or 500g


Corn starch and water for thickening.


Methods:

  1. First mince or grate spring onion and ginger and squeeze out as much juice as you can
  2. Mix all the ingredient for the meat balls together, the mixture is quite soft another way to ensure the meatballs will remain soft and juicy after long cooking. Form into 4 -5 large meat balls. Leave in the fridge to set for 1 hour up to overnight if you want to make in advance, covered.
  3. Then coat the meat balls with plenty of cornstarch (to keep the meat balls juicy and thicken the sauce too). Then shallow fried or deep fried in high heat for about 1 minutes each side till lightly brown but not fully cooked through. Take them out and drain on paper.
  4. In a clean wok or deep large claypot, fry the ginger and garlic in oil till fragrant.
  5. Add the wine and stock and remaining sauce ingredients let that simmer for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add in the meat balls, cover and stew for about 45 - 50 minutes very gently.
  7. Split the Chinese leaves leave them whole don’t cut.
  8. Then add the leaves to the meat stew and continue stewing for another 20 -25 minutes till the leaves are meltingly soft. The leaves will melt to less than half and leave a lot of juice.
  9. Finally thicken the sauce with some slackened corn starch.

Quick rice soup with meat balls


I love congee boiled from scratch but that usually takes at least one hour to cook. Sometime I just want some really quick. This is a super quick version. Great to use up some left over rice lurking in the fridge.

This recipe will make 2 big noodle soup bowls.

Boil 3 cups of chicken or pork stock (homemade or from stock granules), add in 1 ½ cup of cooked rice and simmer for about 12 minutes then add in about 150g tiny pork meat balls simmer for another few minutes. You can add seasonings to the the mince before making into balls with dash of soy, a bit of cornflour, pinch of pepper and dash of sesame oil. When the meat balls are cooked, add in big handful of chopped coriander with spring onion, flavoured the rice soup with enough light soy to taste, good dash of sesame oil, lot of freshly ground pepper. Ready to ladle into large soup bowls and sprinkling of deep fried shallots and Tianjin preserved vegetable or close up look

Better than any instant ramen or quick noodles!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Chinese Yogurt – Ginger curd 薑汁撞奶


Chinese is not a huge milk consumer and yogurt does sound very odd for Chinese. What I am talking here is ginger milk curd, a set yogurt or junket or tau fu far (Chinese soy milk curd) like sweet pudding very popular especially in Hong Kong or Canton in China.

The making of this milk curd is nothing like yogurt or even junket. The setting agent is a secret ingredient - ginger. Ginger contains enzyme which will set milk at certain temperature. Not heard of this theory or practice in the western world but Chinese has been making this curd for years when fresh or long live milk was available mainly imported.

I fell in love with this silky smooth pudding many years ago but never know how to make it. Excellent cure when you have a sore throat or cold, slips down nicely. Also great if you have gas problem or indigestion experience with dairy and like to take milk to increase your calcium intake.

Many recipes out there are not that reliable, I had quite a few failures but have now sussed it. Some said 1 tsp of ginger juice per bowl which is not enough and some suggested a much lower temperature which will not work. Other has suggested pouring the milk from one pan to the another and back again, this is to cool the milk but I find this is not really necessary.

This yogurt is suitable for vegetarians (if you take milk) or anyone who hates the slight sourness of yogurt and won’t use gelatine or rennet to set milk. The only thing is you got to love the flavour and spicyness of ginger. The ginger must be old, young ginger will not set the milk. Common ginger available in UK are old ginger so it is suitable.

Here is my version of the recipe if you like to try. Most recipes out there only use semi skimmed or full cream milk without additional milk powder, the curd is very soft. I prefer to use full cream milk find it more silky and the additional milk powder makes the curd much thicker. You do need some sugar for this pudding, without sugar the taste of ginger can be a bit harsh.


Ingredients: (for all measurements, use std measuring spoon, not Chinese soup spoon)

500 ml full cream homogenised milk
3 - 4 tbsp skimmed milk powder (make sure the milk powder contained no vegetable fat)
about 50 g ginger to make around 4 tbsp of ginger juice
4 – 6 tsp of sugar (depending on how sweet you like)

2 Chinese rice bowls or ramekins (that will hold 250 - 280ml liquid)


Method:
  1. Grate the ginger and squeeze out as much juice as you can. Pass the juice through a fine sieve. You need 4 tbsp of yellowish cloudy juice.
  2. Boil the milk till warm then stir in the milk powder. Continue heating the milk till around 80 deg C, or when you start to see small bubbles appearing around the rim of the pan on the top of the milk. Turn off the heat and stir in the sugar.
  3. Now stir the ginger juice to make sure any sediment is stir back into the liquid. Spoon this immediately into individual bowl.
  4. Pour the milk into the bowl from a height about 12 - 15 cm away so the ginger juice is mixed thoroughly with the milk while pouring. Pour the milk in one go only (very important), do not go back if you have any left over or you may find the curd separates.
  5. Cover the bowl with a saucer and let it sit without disturbing. The milk will set in around 3 – 5 minutes. Here is the test if the spoon does not sink you have done it right.



Ready to eat straight away warm or cool in the fridge and eat it cold. The curd is quite soft and should be very silky. Do not stir the curd or it will return to liquid milk again.


If the milk does not curdle after about 8 minutes as it should be, here is a trick you can try if you have a microwave, put the bowl into the microwave set it at the lowest setting and ping for around 1 minute you should see the milk set.

Not sure if ginger will work with soya milk. Many say won't work. I will try and keep you posted.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Taro (yam) Cake - Woo Tau Koh 芋頭糕


This cake is available in most dim sum restaurants. Similar to Chinese Lo Bak koh or but using Taro instead of mooli or daikon. The taro is not grated but usually cubed.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

700 - 750g of taro (fresh or frozen, if using fresh peeled if using frozen defrost before use)
1 cup of oil for frying

150 g minced pork
40 g dried shrimps*
50 g shallots (about 2 shallots)
2 cloves garlic
1 rounded tsp Knorr chicken granules
2 tsp of light soy sauce
½ tsp of ground pepper
1 tsp of salt

250g of oriental rice flour 粘米粉
50g of tapioca starch 菱粉
600 ml cold water
400 ml boiling water

1 x large (about 2 litre) Pyrex dish or a 22-23cm aluminium cake tin (not loose bottom) or a 19 - 20 cm aluminium square tin (not loose bottom)
a little cooking oil for greasing the dish or tin.


Garnish:
2 - 3 stalks of spring onion, chopped
1 large red chilli, chopped
small handful (about 5 strips) of preserved radish or this (choi bo in Chinese菜脯), chopped

Method:
  1. Soak the dried shrimps with a little warm water for few minutes then chopped very fine.
  2. Cut the taro into 1 cm cubes. Heat the wok with the oil till hot then fry the taro cubes till lightly browned and dried on the outside for about few minutes. Take the taro out and leave to drain on kitchen paper. Frying the taro gives a much nicer flavour to the cake, if you really want to be lean with the recipe you can steam the taro cubes but don't overcook them or they will be mushy soft.
  3. Remove most of the oil and leave about 1 - 2 tbsp in the wok. Add in chopped garlic and shallots and fry till fragrant. Add in the minced pork and chopped dried shrimps. Stir fry till the meat is browned and no more moisture in the pan then stir in the fried or steamed taro cubes. Add chicken granules, salt, soy and ground pepper. Stir and turn off the heat, leave the mixture in the wok.
  4. Meanwhile mix tapioca flour and rice flour with cold water then pour at the same time stir in the boiling water. Mix well then pour the mixture into the wok and stir into the still warm mixture. Turn the heat on to low and stir the mixture till it begins to thicken. Heat off and pour/spread the mixture into a lightly grease pyrex or aluminium tin. Spread the mixture evenly.
  5. Steam for about 1-1/2 hour. Take it out of steamer, cover and leave to cool till warm before cutting, I normally make this at night and have it for breakfast next morning.
  6. Decorate the cake with the garnish. Slice and eat while it is warm (or ping in the microwave) or fried with some oil till nice and crunchy outside. Serve with chilli sauce, soy sauce or Cantonese XO sauce also very nice with this cake.
* If you don't like dried shrimps, use 1 to 1-1/2 stick of Chinese sausage (lap cheong), finely chopped.
** The cake will keep in the fridge up to a week or freeze till you want to eat again.



Monday, 9 March 2009

Why nobody likes pineapple upside down cake anymore?


Most of the time when people ask for a classic English cake it is always a Victoria sponge. Numerous versions had been published at least few times a year in those glossy food magazines. But why haven’t I seen many pineapple upside down cakes. It is easy and very pretty, much healthier than slathering a cake with large amount of fresh cream.

I love this cake, so easy to make.

For this recipe, I used a 23cm cake tin, lined with paper then arrange the pineapple slices and cherries on the bottom then whip up a cake mix with 4 large eggs, 8 oz of butter, 8 oz of sugar, 9 oz of S R flour, 1/2 tsp of baking powder and a little vanilla essence. Spread the mix on the fruits. Bake for around 1 hour or till done at 165 deg C fan oven. When done leave to cool,invert the cake and remove paper, brush the fruits with pineapple jam or golden syrup then put under the grill very quickly just to give the cake a nice colour.

That's it.


I would love to know if anyone still makes this regularly.

Pandan Chicken


Pandan leaves are not just excellent for S E Asian sweet cakes and puddings, it is also great for some savoury recipes like this popular pandan chicken. It is quite easy, the method of wrapping with the leaf is up to you as long as you can secure a piece of the leaf round the chicken to give it the unique flavour. Great as starter or serve with a meal.



For the marinate I have 3 recipes, one Chinese, one Malay and one Thai.

For the Chinese flavour:

450 – 500 g of chicken breast or 600 – 700g of chicken pieces with bones (I like thighs and legs), cut into chunks
2 tbsp of oyster sauce
2 tsp of light soy
2 tsp of sesame oil
2 tsp of grated ginger
1 fat clove garlic, grated
1 tbsp of brandy or shaoshing wine (I like the flavour of brandy better)
1 level tbsp of cornflour
1/2 tsp of five spice powder

Mix everything together and leave to marinate for about 1 hour to overnight


For the Malay flavour:

a. Spice paste
a small piece(about 6 -7 g) ginger, cut into small pieces
a small piece(about 6 -7 g) galangal, cut into small piece
1 fat clove of garlic
40g of shallots (about 2 small shallots), peeled and cut into small pieces
1 stick of lemongrass (use only the lower 3 inches, remove the outer fibrous layers and cut off the hard part at the root end, then slice into very paper thin rings)
Some water if necessary for blending

b. Other ingredients:
1 tbsp of Malaysian kari ayam curry powder or any other curry powder mix of your choice
1 tbsp of kecap manis
1 tsp salt

Put spice paste ingredients in a small blender and blitz till very smooth, if the blender is a bit struggling add some water and continue blending till you get a smooth paste.

Mix everything together and leave to marinate for about 1 hour to overnight


For the Thai flavour:

2 - 3 tbsp of green or red Thai curry paste, preferably homemade if not use shop bought paste but reduce qty a little as it is more concentrate and much spicer (chilli hot)
1 clove garlic, grated
1 walnut size shallot, finely minced or grated
1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp of palm sugar
1 tsp of grated kaffir lime zest or if not use lime zest
450 – 500 g of chicken breast or 600 – 700g of chicken pieces with bones (I like thighs and legs), cut into chunks

Mix everything together and leave to marinate for about 1 hour to overnight



Other ingredients:
Pandan leaves
cooking oil


Once the chicken has been marinated then prepare the wrapping. You will need quite a few pandan leaves, do use fresh not frozen.


This picture showed two different flavours, one Chinese and one Malay qty as recipes above using a mixture chicken thighs and drum sticks about 10 pieces per recipe.

To wrap like this go to the bottom of this link for the technique and secure each with a cocktail stick. You need one full length of the leaf to wrap one piece of chicken like that.

If you can’t do it, just wrap it round like a band and secure with cocktail stick like those two pieces showing in the front of above picture.

Once you have wrapped the chicken then deep fried, shallow fried or baked. I normally use 1 cup of oil and fried in a wok few pieces at a time till all done. To bake, brush the wrapped pieces with oil then baked at 190 – 200C for around 30 -35 minutes depending on size of chicken pieces. Chicken breast takes a lot less time, chicken with bones will be longer.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Bubur caca



Read as bu-bur-cha-cha, sounds a music rhythm doesn't it? It's a Malay style sweet pudding soup with sweet potatoes, yam and chewy gummies, all flavoured with coconut milk, pandan leaf and sugar. Very easy pudding probably not a Westerner idea of pudding but if you are from Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia or had sampled this sweet soup before you probably will crave for it every now and again like I do.


Bubur caca always comes with some gummy like chewies, some people love them and some don't. It's optional if you like them here is how. Some people add colouring to the gummies to make them look interesting, I never do that.

60g of tapioca flour
2.5 tbsp of boiling water
2 -3 tsp of sugar

Method:
  1. Put the tapioca flour and sugar in a deep bowl, pour in the boiling water and mix with a spoon till it becomes lumpy and there are still flour not mixed in. Leave it to cool enough so you can knead it with your hand and the more you knead the more flour will be absorbed till you get the bowl clean and a stiff non sticky dough formed.
  2. Roll the dough into 5mm thick and cut into tiny little squares around 5-6mm wide.
  3. Boil the little squares in plenty of boiling water till they float and continue boiling for another 10 - 12 minutes or so. The longer you boil the more transparent they become and softer they become. I love them very chewy.
  4. Drain and leave them in a bowl of cold water till you are ready to add them to the bubur caca.


For the bubur caca,

Ingredients (approx weight only, more or less to your taste)

400g peeled sweet potatoes (any colour you can get white, orange or purple, if you use a mixture that will make a interesting looking soup)
400g chinese yam or taro (peeled if using fresh, or use frozen cut after defrosted)
1 portion of chewy gummies (see recipe above) - optional if you like them
250 -300ml tin coconut milk (depending on how rich you like)
3 fresh pandan leaves
few dessertspoons of sugar to taste
1 litre of water
pinch of salt - optional, some people love to add some salt I never find it necessary

  1. Cut the sweet potatoes and yam into large chunks around 2 - 2.5cm.
  2. Tight the pandan leaves into a knot. Boil the water and pandan leaves till hot, then add in sweet potatoes and yam and bring it to a rolling boil, then turn the heat right down to simmer and continual boiling till the both sweet potatoes and yam are cooked and not falling apart too much.
  3. Remove pandan leaves add in coconut milk, chewy gummies, enough sugar and salt (optional) to taste, simmer a bit more till the soup is hot again. Ready to eat. Can be eaten hot or cold is lovely too.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Mee Rebus


Read as 'mee re-bush' not 're-bus'(as the big red bus). This is a Malay-Chinese influenced street food. It is a colourful noodle dish with a sweet potatoes and ground peanuts spicy gravy garnished with all sorts like fried tofu, cooked prawns, hard boiled eggs etc... delicious comfort food and very filling. To make this noodles first is to make the gravy, once you have done that everything else is easy, to make life easier I always double the quantity and keep the other half of the cooked paste in the fridge will keep for few weeks and I can have this noodles within half hour prep. Try to find ready cooked thick yellow Chinese (Hokkien) noodles from the chiller section which look like spaghetti if you can, if not use normal spaghetti or supermarket ready cooked egg noodles. I find supermarket egg noodles too soft, kind of mushy.

For the recipe:

a. Rempah - spice mix
75 -80 g shallots
2 - 3 fat cloves of garlic
20 -25g fresh turmeric or 1 heap tsp turmeric powder
30 -35g galangal
about 12 -15 large medium hot dried chillies
2 sticks of lemongrass
30g of dried shrimps
1 rounded tsp belacan or shrimp paste
1 heap dessert spoon of fermented yellow beans (tau cheong) whole beans in pickled liquid or paste, I normally used Yeo's
a little water for blending (optional)
about 1/3 cup of cooking oil, use less if you like a slimmer gravy

Method:
  1. De-stalk and de-seed the dried chillies, then soak in hand hot water till soft.
  2. Soak the dried shrimps with warm water till they are slightly softened leave the soaked liquid for the gravy.
  3. Cut off about 10cm of the top of lemon grass and about 1 cm of the root part, then remove 1 - 2 layers of the fibrous outer layers. Then cut the lemon grass into paper thin rings.
  4. Cut all the other spices into small pieces.
  5. Put all ingredients into a mini blender and blitz till you get a very smooth paste. If the blender is struggling add some water and blitz again.
  6. Heat the wok or deep pan with oil, then add in the spice paste and stir most of the time to prevent paste sticking. Fried the paste for about 10 minutes or till the paste has changed to dark brownish red and thickened.

b. Gravy and preparation of the noodles dish - this recipe enough to feed 3 - 4 persons.

300g peeled sweet potatoes (use orange type if you can)
1 portion of rempah as above
1/3 cup dried roasted peanuts (non salted), if you are too lazy to fry the peanuts use ready to eat salted peanuts
1 tbsp of kecap manis
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp salt (or to your taste)

150g shelled raw prawns
2 large squares of chinese firm tofu + cooking oil for frying (if the tofu is very thick cut into half before frying)
2 - 3 boiled eggs
fresh and cooked Chinese (Hokkien) yellow noodles or spaghetti - about 150 - 200g cooked noodles per serving
1 stick of celery finely shredded into long thin strips
handful of beansprouts
a little chopped spring onion
some crispy fried shallots
sliced chillies
lime or lemon wedges (nice if you can get limau kasturi)
sambal belacan (optional) - see recipe


Method:
  1. Cut sweet potatoes into chunks and measure around 600 ml of water and boil the potatoes till cooked. Take them out and mashed.
  2. Using the same potato boiling liquid, poach the shelled prawns for till cooked or wheen they turned pink and opaque. Remove the prawns, covered and leave aside.
  3. Measure the cooking liquid and add in the dried shrimp soaking water, you need around 800ml in total if not enough top up with water.
  4. Blitz the peanuts in a blender till quite fine but not turning into peanut butter.
  5. Boil the liquid in a stock pot or wok, add in the fried rempah and mashed potatoes, add in kecap manis, soy sauce and enough salt to taste, let this simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add in finely ground peanuts. Stir till all combined and heat till just boiling. The gravy should be ready to use. The gravy should not be too thick or the noodles could look gloopy. Let this keep warm.
  6. Boil the eggs (hardboiled), shelled and cut into slices
  7. Season the tofu with a pinch of salt then coat with a dusting of plain flour and shallow fried till brown and crispy. Cut into bite size.
  8. Quickly blanch the noodles, bean sprouts and celery. Put them on noodle bowls. If you use spaghetti cook as per instruction.
  9. Pour in enough gravy. Top with tofu pieces, boiled egg, cooked prawns and a sprinkling of spring onion, chillies and fried shallots. Put a wedge of lime/lemon and a dollop of sambal belacan on the noodles or in a small sauce dish to go with the noodles.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Vietnamese sour fish soup (Canh Chua)


Looking at the plateful of ingredients above, isn't that colouful and tasty combination? This is more or less the typical ingredients for the popular Vietnamese sour fish soup called Canh Chua. It's very refreshing similar to tom yum but less spicy (unless you throw in lots of chillies). I was reading up on this when writing the last post on S E Asian Ingredients and found many different recipes. Typical recipe always has a Vietnamese citrusy herb called padi field herb or ngo om in Vietnamese and taro yam stem sometime called elephant ear stem or bac ha in Vietnamese. I could not find both or I left them out, and sub the herb with coriander and mint. If you hate okra because of its sliminess don't fear, the slim actually dissolves in the soup no trace of slim at all, very nice. Also if I remembered taro yam stem (had this many million years ago), it also has the same sliminess as okra so beware okra hater, but I guess if okra slim does dissolve in the soup so will the taro yam stem.

For the fish part, any fish will do as long as it is superbly fresh, with or without bones. Catfish is common with the Vietnamese. I wanted something with lots of flavour all I could get was some nice looking cod fillets. It's a bit bland for fish soup so I thrown in a handful of raw shelled prawns so can't really called this soup Canh Chua Ca as Ca means only fish, don't know what seafood word for Vietnamese so I just left the Ca out of its title.

The soup was very tasty indeed and more refreshing than tom yum. I made a big pot I ended up having nearly half the pot on its own without anything else for dinner.



This was what I used for the soup, all ingredients are in approx. weight, you can use any proprotion you like. Once you have prepared the ingredients it takes only 5 -10 minutes to cook, very very easy recipe.

Ingredients:
500g cod fillet, leave as large chunks
2 - 3 tbsp of cooking oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, bashed with a cleaver
125g of raw shelled prawn
125g of okra, cut into pieces
1 large handful of fresh pineapple chunks
3 small cooking tomatoes, cut into quarters
handful of bean sprouts
5 - 6 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
2 - 3 hot chillies, slit in the centre and leave whole
1 lump of wet tamarind (a bit bigger than a walnut), soaked with 1/2 cup of boiling water and extract juice using a sieve
some herbs like coriander or mint if you can't find padi field herb, chopped
if you can find taro stem use a big handful too, peeled and cut into chunks
1.25 litre of diluted fish stock (homemade or from stock cube)
some sugar to taste - optional
around 2 tbsp fish sauce or enough to taste

garnish - more herbs, a few raw beansprouts, chilli and some deep fried crispy shallots


Method:
  1. Heat a non sticking wok or frying pan with oil till very hot and fry the fish and garlic on high heat very quickly for about 1 - 2 minutes till the outside is lightly brown. If the garlic beginning to burn take them out first. Frying the fish gives the soup a nice flavour but if you really want a slimline soup you can leave the frying, just add fish pieces straight into the hot broth. Once the fish is fried take them out and leave the garlic pieces in the pan.
  2. Add stock, kaffir lime leaves and chillies to the same wok or pan heat till boiling, add vegetables and pineapple chunks and bring to a gentle boil till vegetables are tender about few minutes. Add in the tomatoes at the last minute.
  3. Add in tamarind juice, tasting as you add that in bit by bit till you like the amout of tartness, then season with enough fish sauce and maybe a tsp of two sugar to taste.
  4. While the broth is boiling hot, add in the fish, prawns and bean sprouts and just cook it for around 1 - 2 minutes till the prawns have gone opaque pink and the broth is hot.
  5. Turn the heat off add in chopped herbs.
  6. Dish up and sprinkle on more herbs, beansprout and few crispy onion rings. Enjoy