Sunday, 10 August 2014

Tangy, Terrific- Tamarind!

Minestra Asiatica con Chayote, Pak Choi, Germogli di Soia & Tamarinde
Asian Hot-Pot with Chayote, Pak Choi, Beansprouts & Tamarind

What started out as a sunny day ended-up being rainy and stormy in the afternoon... which wouldn't have bothered me, if I had not been out and hadn't ended up getting soaked on my way home!

So I got home cold, wet and shivering and needing something warm and hearty and came up with this little idea, using some of yummy ingredients I picked up at the Asian supermarket yesterday- a little hot pot for a little cold guy!


With tangy tamarind, 5-spice powder and tomato paste, these simple greens were swiftly transformed into a light and delicious, warming and healthy soup... just what the doctor ordered!

To make 2 portions of this soup I needed 1 chayote squash, 2 pak choi, about 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 1 Spring onion, abour 1" of ginger, a good handful of bean sprouts, some fresh cilantro, soy sauce and the juice of 1 lime.


After just 20-25 minutes cooking time, I had this delicious vegetable hot-pot to feast on- and it was the perfect thing to warm me through and through and to put a smile back onto my face.


I diced the chayote into cubes of around 1" in size, finely chopped the ginger and Spring onion and cut the tamarind paste into small pieces so that I could sort-out any remnants of the stones or skins, of which there are always quite a few. It's not that much work and it is a whole lot less unpleasant than having those things in your soup later!


I stir-fried the chayote and ginger together in my saucepan, in a little peanut oil, until the chayote began to turn slightly transparent, then added the tamarind paste, tomato paste and a good tablespoon of 5-spice powder.


I stirred everything well, made sure everything got coated with aromatics and then added the juice of 1 lime, swiftly followed by enough boiling water to cover everything.

I let the chayote simmer away for 5 minutes and then added the pak choi along with a little soy sauce, fish sauce and a little more hot water, before returning it to a low simmer for a further 5 minutes. After 3 minutes or so, i carefully turned over the pak choi, just to make sure it was boiling evenly.


Between 15-20 minutes later, my soup looked like this- but of course that is going to vary according to the size of your chayote and pak choi.


I let the soup sit and continue to simmer gently under its own residual temperature and in the mean time, prepared a bowl, ready for serving, by adding a few bean sprouts, ready to be covered with the other steaming hot ingredients.


I added the chayote first, then the pak choi and at the end, topped the bowl up with the remaining hot broth... this was more than adequate for the cooking of the bean-sprouts down below. I sprinkled the soup with plenty of coarsely chopped cilantro and a handful of sliced onion, added a last hint of lemon juice and grabbed hold of my spoon!

Lightly spicy but tangy and vibrant, this was a great little soup, which was perfect as it was, but would be great with maybe some ground pork meatballs or even shrimp... but you know what? I was more than delighted in this version! So there!


Not authentically Asian, as usual, but totally tasty all the same! And I am sure you will like this quick and easy meal too- because it's always nice to try something different! Isn't that so?

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