I adapted this from a very complicated recipe my friend gave me, that involved, among other things, shelling raw prawns, using the shells to make a stock and saving the meat for the actual soup. It took ages and was very messy and stabby (those shells are sharp).
This version isn’t quite the same, but it’s way quicker, cleaner and cheaper. Also, it freezes fine, whereas I’m always disappointed with reheated seafood.
500ml fish stock*
Six kaffir lime leaves, torn (if you don’t have any handy, use the leaves off a regular lime tree or even a lemon tree — some nice young ones, nothing too old and tough)
Two big stalks of lemon grass (or four thin ones, if, like me, your home-grown lemon grass refuses to get big and fat) bruised up and bashed a bit, either in your mortar and pestle or just with a wine bottle or similar, against a chopping board
Two tomatoes, cubed
Two or three big fistfulls of mushrooms, sliced (I get one of those tubs of mixed exotic mushrooms from my local grocer, they usually have some enoki and some oyster mushrooms in there)
Half a bag of bean sprouts
A tablespoon of fish sauce
Pepper, chilli flakes, lime juice, coriander leaves and fried shallots** to taste (I usually use two pinches of chilli, a whole lime, about a tablespoon of coriander and another of shallots)
Boil the stock, then add four of the lime leaves and the lemon grass. Keep boiling for a good five minutes until the lemon grass starts looking a bit worse for wear, then remove the leaves and the lemon grass.
Return the pot to medium heat and add the mushrooms, tomatoes and the last two lime leaves. Cook for another five minutes or so, then add the fish sauce and the bean sprouts. Give it another three or four minutes, then add pepper, chilli flakes, lime juice, coriander leaves and fried shallots to taste.
Serves two 🙂
* Obviously, skip these if you’re vegetarian; use some vegetable stock and … um … I have just googled and vegetarian fish sauce exists. Weird, but whatever.
** If you don’t know what these are, you’re seriously missing out. Head down to your local asian grocery and buy some. Great on top of all sorts of soups.