During the festive season I often long for something light, spicy and dairy free to give my taste buds much needed respite from all the pastry-based nibblery. I devised this dish in response to Mr. F's request for an "Asian soup". It's probably more generic "Chinese" than anything else, but I used often to make Thai-inspired spicy soups, using chicken or pork stock, fish and soy sauces, chillis, garlic, ginger and sugar, as well as a generous squeeze of lime juice right at the end. These soups are delicious with prawns and with sliced grilled steaks or chicken breasts.
Salmon with crispy skin works well here, and gives the dish a much needed richness.
For two people you will need:
For the broth:
750ml of water
4 teaspoons of Marigold bouillon powder
Soy sauce to taste (start off carefully)
One red chilli (remove the seeds if you want a milder soup), sliced
Three cloves of garlic, sliced
An inch-long piece of ginger, sliced into slender batons
2 spring onions, sliced
2 pieces of salmon fillet with the skin on (about 500g)
Chinese five spice powder
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Egg noodles (one nest each or more if you are particularly hungry)
Bok choi, each head cut into quarters
2 spring onions, sliced
Small handful of coriander
Bamboo shoots (tinned ones are, in my experience, preferable to the ones in plastic pouches)
Boil the water in the kettle, and then pour it into a sauce pan. Add all of the broth ingredients, bring the broth to the boil, and then turn off the heat. Cover the pan and then leave the broth to infuse.
I generally cook the noodles for this dish by steeping them in hot water until they reach the requisite tenderness - this method makes it less likely that you will over cook them whilst concentrating on other things. Keep checking the noodles periodically. They should take between three and five minutes to reach al dente perfection.
Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Season the skin side of the salmon and sprinkle it with five spice powder. When the oil is hot enough place the salmon in it skin side down. Allow the salmon to do the majority of its cooking on the skin side down. Turn off the heat after you flip the salmon - this will ensure it remains coral coloured on the inside.
Whilst the salmon is cooking, arrange the sliced bok choi and mushrooms in two soup bowls. They don't need cooking: the hot broth that is poured over them will do the job. Place half of the chopped spring onions and coriander on top of the vegetables in each bowl.
The noodles should now be cooked through. Divide them between the two soup bowls and immediately ladle over the broth. Top with the salmon, skin side up. Serve with additional soy for those that want it, and ensure you have a plentiful supply of napkins!