This was a very interesting, and even amusing process for me. Marta got me away from my comfort zone and introduced me to new flavors! Many of you know I cook mostly Italian, or American food. I had NO ingredients for this recipe on hand, except the onion and garlic. My recent post on wontons made from leftovers is the first and ONLY Asian recipe you have ever seen on my blog (or in my kitchen).
The desert is not a mecca for Asian food. We have NO Thai restaurant (the one that was here, recently closed). I went to four grocery stores to find the ingredients, and was able to get everything except the kaffer lime leaves. I decided to use shrimp, as we have had a LOT of chicken lately, so I splurged on some beautiful, huge prawns. I began to think of this as "the $30 soup".
The kitchen island was filled with "mysterious" (to me) ingredients. Brad was mincing, I was chopping, and we were ready to make soup. I followed the recipe exactly, except for leaving out the lime leaves, and the cilantro garnish ( I HATE the smell and taste of cilantro!) The broth was done, the prawns were gorgeous, and we were at the point where you boil the noodles and add the garnishes. I asked Brad to turn off the burner, as we were not going to have the soup until dinner. He walked over to the stove and turned the knob. I meant to refrigerate the soup as soon as it had cooled down a bit. We went about our day...
Four hours later, the strong scent of curry brought me into the kitchen! The burner was still on! The soup had reduced to 1/2 an inch, and the huge prawns now looked like salad shrimp. I said a few words I will not repeat here.
After Brad cleaned the pot, he returned to the store for new shrimp and more coconut milk. We did it all again. The "$45 Soup" was really good, and hot enough for me. I really liked the crispy shallots on top! I am not sold on the noodles, though.
During the "soup incident" I realized how little I eat ethnic food (anything NOT Italian).
I have eaten in a Thai restaurant TWICE (in my life).
I eat Japanese food less than once a year. (non-sushi that is)
I have eaten in a Vietnamese restaurant ONCE.
I have eaten Indian food twice in my lifetime.
We eat Chinese food about four times a year.
I may eat Mexican food twice a year (not counting an occasional quesadilla for lunch).
I may eat in a French restaurant twice a year.
Today we're having...PASTA!
Here is Marta's delicious soup recipe:
Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup (Curry Mee)
Time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemon grass or pale green cilantro roots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dark red chili paste, such as sambal, more for serving
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast meat, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Malaysian, Thai or Vietnamese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste
About 12 kaffir lime leaves or curry leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)
8 ounces dried thin rice noodles (bun or vermicelli), or other Asian noodles such as udon or lai fun
Salt to taste
1 cup bean sprouts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 scallions, cut into thin rings
2 shallots, thinly sliced and deep fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)
Quartered limes for serving.
1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and lemon grass and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary. Add garlic and chili paste and stir until fragrant. Raise heat, add chicken and stir-fry one minute. Add curry powder and paprika and stir to coat. Then add coconut milk, half-and-half, chicken stock, turmeric, fish sauce, sugar and lime or curry leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 7 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook rice noodles in boiling water according to package directions (about 4 minutes). Rinse and drain.
3. Taste broth and adjust seasonings with salt and sugar. Divide noodles into large soup bowls. Bring broth to a boil, then ladle over noodles. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions and fried shallots, if using. Pass limes and sambal at the table.
Yield: 4 main-course servings.