A light fish soup
Summer holidays are coming to an end. School starts again tomorrow and I am slowly getting my head around resuming the “back to school” routine: alarm clock set for 6.30am-check, new school stationery-check, uniforms washed and ready-check, school shoes polished- not quite I am leaving it to the kids, lunches organised-working on it…
To be honest, we are still in a holiday mood and are stretching the feeling to the very end: sleep-ins, lazy afternoon by the pool, weekend escapes on the boat, house and boat pottering,… the weeks have flown. All this indulgence was reflected in the cooking, where I am embarrassed to report that the excesses of Christmas somewhat spilled over into the New Year. I called them culinary experiments, you know, the recipes you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time to or the audience for. Like this glazed ham
or that carrot cake
both of which need perfecting before I contemplate posting the recipes.
We did have some lighter meals and one of my favourite was a fish soup. It caught me by surprise, not the least because the fish I was given was australian salmon, which has a reputation for being quite strong smelling and turning mushy, thus not the greatest tasting fish in the country. But I like a challenge and never knock back an offering of free fish so I set out to trim all the dark flesh and signs of bloodlines ( that’s where most of the unpleasant taste stems from), made a fragrant stock of lemongrass, shallots, chili, fish sauce and lime juice in which I poached the salmon for a few minutes. It was absolutely delicious, flavour was actually very mild and the fish held it shape. Even the kids thought it was chicken!
I definitely will have it again on these “my body is a temple “ days when feeling like something light but not wanting to miss out.
Light Fish Soup
Serves 4-6 as an entrée or a light main
1 kg white fish fillets (I used australian salmon, but snapper or blue eye cod would be perfect too)
200g packet of rice vermicelli
2 lemongrass stems
1.5 litres chicken stock
3 green shallots, finely sliced
1 long red chili, halved and seeded
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
200g bean sprouts
2 tomatoes, chopped
Small handful of basil, mint or coriander leaves ( I used mint from my herb garden )
1. Trim and cut the fish into bite sized pieces and toss with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Trim the lemongrass to inner, tender white part and finely slice. Put chicken stock, shallots, lime juice and lemongrass in a pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir in fish, fish sauce and sugar. Simmer for another 3 minutes, covered.
3. Add vermicelli (straight from the packet, no need to soak them beforehand) and cook for 1 minute over medium heat. Finally, add bean sprouts and tomatoes, simmer for another minute or so until hot, making sure the noodles don’t overcook.
4. Divide among soup bowls, scatter with the herbs and serve piping hot.