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7 Soups in 7 Days: #5 Ginger Lemongrass Chicken Soup

Ginger Lemongrass Chicken Soup

This is a special soup for me and I always make it in my wok that my friend Celine bought for me. I always "bump up" my usual stock a little when making this soup [we'll get to that in a minute]. First you are gonna need to venture to your local Asian market. DON'T BE SCARED... JUST DO IT! So once you are there go to the produce aisle and marvel at everything!!! Before you touch a single thing enjoy the wonderment of all the crazy-strange stuff! So, know that "that" is out of your system [is shouldn't take long to get that weird root looking thing out of your mind: we aren't gonna use that anyway!] Select your ginger {if you read the Ginger article you should know exactly what to look for}, lemon grass, and peeled garlic. Yes, peeled garlic[I always stock up on peeled garlic because you can store it in olive oil in the refrigerator for long periods of time... besides I use garlic in everything!]. Obviously you are going to need to explore the rest of store as you gather the rest of the stuff you need. Take your time. I challenge you to buy something that you have no idea what the hell it is, and figure it out and use it in something!!! If any of you are brave enough to do that I would appreciate an email sharing your experience! Back to the soup.........

Shrimp, Fish
(or protein of choice)
Garlic, Shallot, Onion
6-10 Shiitake mushrooms
1 small can straw mushrooms
1 baby bok choy (per serving)
1 Small can bamboo shoots
2-3 stalks lemon grass
1 cake firm tofu
Mega Ginger
Bumped-up Stock
Bean sprouts
Thai Basil

Using the raw shells from a pound of shrimp which I use in another recipe, [I froze them in a separate bag to use in this soup: remember no waste!] add a large minced shallot, a few minced cloves of garlic in a table spoon or two of olive oil along with a thinly sliced onion and loads of ginger. Add a healthy glug of Chinese cooking wine, (Buy the good stuff) or a little less healthy of a glug of dry vermouth with a little stock. Less healthy of a glug of the vermouth because too much vermouth may add too much of a salty note late in the cooking process. If you do not have shrimp shells you can make this soup with any stock but, keep in mind that the next time you do make shrimp you can save the shells and make this soup then. Just a thought. Add more ginger, lemon grass, salt and white pepper [you can even add a dash of Chinese five spice at this time... you should have plenty left over from making Nick's cake!]. Simmer until the shrimp shell are pink and fragrant. Add the stock that you will need for the remainder of the recipe. Adjust seasonings and simmer.

If using dried shiitake mushrooms start hydrating them when you start the stock. Remove stems and slice. If using fresh shiitake throw the stems in the stock when you add the shells. Drain bamboo shoots, straw mushrooms and cut bok choy in half lengthwise. Cube tofu and set aside. Prepare garnish tray by piling bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, bias cut chili, and fresh wedges of lime. Cover and store in refrigerator.

Poach or steam protein. With the exception of beef and pork I steam my protein whole and cut or dice it before adding it to the broth. When using beef or pork I like to slice it very thinly and add it to the boiling broth just before serving [similar to how it would be prepared in a Vietnamese Pho].

While preparing protein add all ingredients into a wok or soup pot. Strain elements out of broth and add to other ingredients. Add cubed tofu and protein heat through. If you desire, this would be a perfect time to add prepared noodles of your choice. Serve hot in large bowls with **Chinese soup spoons [because you picked them up really cheap at the Asian market!]. Load up with fresh garnishes.

Garnish: bean sprouts, Thai basil, Cilantro, Thai chili or jalapeno peppers.

** seriously a Chinese soup spoon is designed out of materials that prevent you from getting burned while eating soup unlike Western utensils that are made of metals that usually retain heat.

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