Saturday, 22 February 2014

Yes, I Can...

Zuppa di Sardi "Laksa" con Fogli di Limone "Kaffir", Soia, Zenzero & Vermicelli
Sardine Laksa with Kaffir Lime Leaves, Edamame, Ginger & Mung Bean Vermicelli

That's right, Dear Reader, those are indeed little fishies swimming around in that bowl of soup- just imagine that, on my little blog of all places! What makes it even more curious, is the fact that I used canned sardines of all things to make this! But the fact is, I have been reading about and seeing more and more recipes from Asia in which canned sardines are used and was simply eager to find out for myself, what all the fuss is about...

The dish I made is a "kind-of Laksa"- a type of soup popular all over Asia, but especially in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It is based on Chinese and Malay traditions of the Peranakan culture... at least that is what Wikipedia will have you know! Basically, these soups are made of something- some kind of meat, fish or vegetable- or a combination thereof, which is placed on a bed of noodles and then covered in a piping hot broth and some fresh herbs... and which is absolutely wonderful!

So apart from the sardines, the other ingredients I needed to make this delicious, improvised soup was about 50g of Mung bean vermicelli, a good handful of edamame (frozen in this case), celery, shallot, ginger and a 5-6 frozen Kaffir lime leaves- all down to Earth, simple and good stuff!

The first thing that needed doing, was to prepare a broth to pour over the noodles and I made this from about 2" worth of very finely sliced ginger, 1 small stick of celery, very finely sliced, 4-5 Kaffir lime leaves and of course spices! I made a mixture of 1 tablespoon of Tom Yum paste, 1 tablespoon of 5-Spice powder and about 1/3rd of a teaspoon of fine chili powder. 

I added the Edamame to the broth and let them bubble away for 10 minutes or so and in the meantime I popped the sardines very carefully onto a frying pan, added a good sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper and let them come up to temperature, whilst I prepared the other ingredient- the noodles!

The great thing about Mung bean or "glass" noodles, is that they simply need to be submerged in boiling water and allowed to soak for 4-5 minutes- don'tcha just love that about them? :-)

So, what you can see here, are the sardines, hot from the frying pan, set out on top of the noodles, with the shallot, very finely sliced and some tender celery leaves and parsley. It could have been coriander if I had, had any- but today I didn't- and anyway, there is hardly anything "authentic" about this anyway... it was purely my own creation and that is just fine by me! As far as I am concerned, if you want authentic and traditional Asian food and are of Asian decent- you can go to a restaurant or even fly away on vacation to do so. If you aren't- then whatever tastes good works!

The next thing to do, before adding the broth and serving up the soup, was to fish out the edamame and to pop them out of the shell- fortunately a total easy affair! So out of the shells they came and straight back into the broth they went!

All that I needed to do now was to add the broth basically, which I carefully poured in, making sure to get all of the goodies into the bowl... the ginger and edamame and the celery leaves- all things with loads of flavor and now that they had all boiled together, so rich and delicious!

I added a little extra lime juice, just to make things a little tangier, as well as a hint more "heat" in the form of a dash of Sriracha chili sauce. There was a little seasoning missing, of of course a little sesame went in rather than salt- and the soup was now absolutely perfect and totally delicious, even for someone who is not a great fan of fish!

As long as you are careful with the sardines, they will remain intact and retain a nice consistency and bite- I must say that I was rather surprised! And very, very happy with the result!

So my final words to this posting here are that it may not be traditional, it may not be authentic, the spices may be a little too basic and the ingredients very simple. But oh yes- I can! And you can too! This is a great quick, economical, healthy and tasty meal! And definitely one NOT to miss!

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