Zuppa Thailandese con Tofu, Gamberi, Funghi, Mini-Melanzane & Piselli
Thai Soup with Tofu, Shrimp, Oyster Mushroom Mini-Aubergine and Sugar-Snap Peas
The temperatures get colder, the Winter lingers on and the need for hot and satisfying food doesn't fade away... it just get's stronger! And the one thing that is always good is a hot and spicy soup to warm you through and through.
This week will quite possible end up being a little Asian by persuasion... you see, I bought the biggest bunch of cilantro on Saturday- and I intend to use it! I also bought a block of firm, organic tofu from my local Asian supermarket, as well as some spices... I just couldn't resist! And why should I?
Ok- this was a simple affair and the only real work was in preparing the spice paste for flavoring the broth... but even that was not difficult! I took about 1" each of ginger and galangal, a clove of garlic, a small chili pepper (without the seeds- unless your name happens to be Rambo), a handful of cilantro stalks, 1 shallot, a little turmeric and a pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar. That all went into my blender with a little sesame oil and lime juice and got whizzed together into a paste- easy so far, no?
Next, I shelled the shrimp and put the shells into a saucepan with the paste and turned on the heat. I toasted the shells and paste together with a little tomato paste and then deglazed the pan with some Sambuca (!) and added hot water. Hey- this is MY recipe, ok? And I'm Sicilian! I added a piece of star anise and some sliced celery and let the broth simmer for a good 20 minutes. So that is why I chose to add a splash of aniseed flavored liquor- just to up that flavor a little. And of course, the shells came out at the end of that time- they had done their part by infusing the broth with some excellent rich flaor too.
Before I turned my attention to the other ingredients, I soaked a couple of dried king-oyster mushrooms in some warm water for 10 minutes until soft. In the meantime I diced the tofu and sliced the baby aubergine- those little ones are SO cute! Oh- and tasty too!
Ok- so now it was time to add the tofu and mushrooms, which I let simmer for 10 minutes. While that was happening, I shredded a small handful of sugar snap peas lengthways and a small shallot. I added the peas, shallot and aubergine together and they took up the last 10 minutes of the cooking time. So... it wasn't that difficult after all, was it?
I seasoned with a little fish sauce, a splash of soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil... together with a few fresh leaves of cilantro, a few chili flakes and a last squeeze of lime... and supper was ready to be served! And the result doesn't really look all that bad... although it is nothing near as good as it tasted...