Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pork and Noodle Broth with Prawns

To start, let me put you into the context of my Asian food exposure. I grew up in an isolated lumbering town where everyone was snow white except 1 African-Canadian family who was a doctor and 2 Asian families who owned the Chinese restaurants. No Greeks or Ukrainians or Mexicans or Arabs where I'm from. The first time I saw a black person speak French - which is basically the primary language all over Africa - I was amazed. Shows how much I knew.

Long story short, food was basically limited to the usual Canadian and French Canadian fare. So you can say that I was pleasantly surprised when I made this soup and found that my chopsticks smelled like authentic Asian food. Not to mention that I actually found Kaffir lime leaves at my local Asian food market. I mean, for all of you big city folks living on the American west coast or anyone in a larger city of the world, finding these ingredients might be as common as finding carrots. But when I tasted this soup I got an appreciation for the delicious, not too overwhelming flavours of Asia. This particular soup is supposedly of Vietnamese origin.

Like a good spaghetti sauce, I find soup is always better the day after when it's reheated. The flavours have come together and things are all beautiful and stuff. And your chopsticks can be sniffed for hours afterwards.

Finally, I find following a recipe to the T is not any fun. This one calls for 12 ounces of pork. Do you think I really went out there and measured 12 ounces of pork? No. I cut up the pork tenderloin and stuffed it into the soup. Recipes are made to be altered. But I found that when I was starting to cook that it was better to stick to the recipe. So, rule of thumb, you can depend less and less on recipes as you practice more and more. Like anything, really.

Pork and Noddle Broth with Prawns

350g / 12oz pork tenderloin
225g / 8oz raw shrimp tails
5oz thin egg noodles
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame oil
4 shallots or 1 medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp finely sliced fresh root ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp sugar
6 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 kaffir lime leaves
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
4 sprigs of fresh cilantro and 2 green onions (scallions) chopped for garnish

1. Remove fat of tenderloin and slice as thinly as possible. A good trick is to put the thawed pork in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm the flesh up. It's then easier to slice thinly.
2. If using raw prawn tails, peel and devein the prawns.
3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and simmer the egg noodles until softened, or according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Set the noodles to one side.
4. Pre-heat a wok. Add the vegetables and sesame oils and heat through. When the oil is hot, add the shallots or onion and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until evenly browned. Remove from the wok and set aside.
5. Add the ginger, garlic, sugar and chicken stock to the wok and bring to a simmer. Add the lime leaves, fish sauce and lime juice. Add the pork, then simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Add the prawns and noodles and simmer for 3-4 minutes, or longer if using raw prawns to ensure that they are cooked. Add the shallots or onion.
7. Serve garnished with cilantro and the green onions.

Definitely a 4 out of 5.

P.S. Sorry the pork looks purple in the photo. My camera sucks. I do not like green eggs and purple pork. I do not like them Sam

No comments: