Monday, 13 January 2014

Simply Tom Yummy!

Zuppa "Tom Yum" con Polpettini & Verdure
Tom Yum Soup with Meatballs & Greens

I am surprised that I felt so surprised at the cold weather today- considering I was telling everyone just yesterday that our Winter is set to begin in ernest this week- but there you go! It did catch me unawares and I am not too proud to admit it! Sigh!

So, as I shivered all the way home from work, in- worse still, a light and freezing drizzle, my thoughts moved to supper and to something warming of course as I was pretty much chilled to the bone. And of course, by the time I got home, I had a plan... and it was a good one... but it was not the dish you are seeing here!

And the reason that I changed my mind was, that when I opened the door of my fridge- there were the few little left over bits and pieces of my previous 2 meals this weekend staring straight at me. So despite having planned on making a risotto- which I think may still happen this week- or something similar... I decided to make the most of those last 3 baby bok choy, that last handful of bean sprouts and the handful of ground meat I had left over. I was suddenly inspired- inspired to make something else entirely and to warm me up much more this cold dark night... but more importantly- something I could prepare more quickly!

As you can see- I made a soup... and as you will have gathered, the main flavor-giver of the soup was "Tom-Yum" paste- one of my absolute favorites! That mix of rich shrimp flavor, the chili and the tangy lime make for a wonderful broth and a great base to many a soup. I combined it with the meatballs, fresh ginger and the sweet and tender greens- and boy was it good! Of course there were a few more ingredients and goodies in there- so let me tell you all about them...

I started off by bringing the water to the boil that I wanted to transform into this wonderful soup- a bowl full. Don't ask. I don't know how big the bowl you are intending to use is! The bottom line is this- I had one handful of ground meat to use, to make those mini meatballs, ok? So the way to go about it is to use a handful of ground meat per person and to simply roll the meat into little bite-sized balls. No egg, no bread crumbs, no seasoning, just meat. I managed to make 8 little balls which is plenty for a single, meal-sized serving. So how do you get the amount of water right? Ok- I have just been teasing... I boiled up plenty of water in my electric kettle, put the meatballs into the saucepan, turned on the heat and then poured the boiling water over the top of them. Ta-da! Rocket science it ain't!

I then added about a 2" slice of fresh ginger which I chopped into really thin strips.  I brought the broth up to the boil, then added a good tablespoon of tom yum paste and a teaspoon of tomato paste, stirred them in well and then reduced the heat to a gentle simmer. I added a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce for seasoning and let the broth simmer away for the next 10 minutes, whilst I prepared the other ingredients- giving the meat time to cook and to give lots of flavor to the broth.

I had 2 baby bok choy left, which I simply cut into slices, a Spring onion- I used just the white end, cut into this slices, a handful of bean sprouts and a mild red chili pepper which I cut into a very fine dice.

After 10 minutes I added the bok choi and the chili, as well as the juice of half a lime. 5 minutes later, I added the bean sprouts and the Spring onion. And 5 minutes after that... I was ready to serve!

The finishing touch was a sprinkle of those wonderful shrimp-flavored chili flakes that I discovered at Mrs. Wong's stall at the market on Saturday- haha! But of course just some regular chili will be a nice touch- if you like it spicy that is!

As I had only used fish sauce to season the broth so far, I added some rich, dark soy to round off the flavor to my taste. Of course the tom yum paste is full of flavor too- but the greens are sweet and the meat does need a little something... I would say a tablespoon of soy per serving are more than enough.

And there you have it! Pretty quick, pretty simple- totally delicious and comforting in a way that only an Asian soup can be... even if this is a dish created purely from my imagination! But bearing that in mind... I would say that the result is pretty delicious all the same!

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