Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hot Sour Good

Obviously there were good intentions. There always are. Home by 10, up early, that kind of thing. And, as is often the way with good intentions, their blithe little voices were soon drowned out by louder, bolshier characters - temptation, jollity, the first glass of wine...

I did have a good excuse for overindulgence though, having just finished the monster exams which brought an end to my recent intensive stint at college. Still, that didn't do anything to lessen the equally monster hangover which took hold of me the following day.

By about mid-afternoon I started to fantasise about soup. In my experience it's a surefire ameliorator when plagued with a hangover. A little while later, the thought of chillies slipped into my soupine daydreams. Guaranteed to clear out a foggy head, and packed full of vitamin C.

As if that wasn't enough, the idea was cemented when I started googling for hot soup recipes and came across this article . Hot and sour soup it was...

This is my take on hot and sour prawn and scallop soup then. It's fantastically easy and it did the job to perfection. It just tastes like goodness. And the chilli-effect (watering eyes, streaming nose - the birdseyes were stronger than I anticipated) you can imagine (if you so desire) is tantamount to purging all those excesses of yesterday. The broth is deliciously spicy and flavoursome and comforting. Scallops, pearly and smooth, are - without wanting to be hyperbolic - heavenly, and meaty prawns, crunchy sugarsnap peas and mushrooms add enough interest for it to be like a whole meal in a bowl.

Scallop and Prawn Hot and Sour Soup

(serves from 2 very hungry people to 4 polite people)

6 scallops (no roe)
8 raw king prawns
150g sugarsnap peas
150g chestnut mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1/2 red chilli
2 to 3 green birdseye chillies
2 sticks lemongrass
Juice of 2 limes
tsp Thai fish sauce
about 600g good chicken stock (sorry, I don't know the liquid measurement as I bought it in pots that measured in grams, not litres)
3 spring onions - finely sliced
Handful of mint - sliced

  • Chop and crush together the garlic and red chilli

  • Put in a pot with the chicken stock, fish sauce, lime juice, lemongrass, sliced birdseye chillies and mushrooms

  • Bring to boil and simmer until mushrooms are cooked (add more boiling water as necessary according to your desired liquid:solids ratio

  • Add peas, scallops and prawns and cook for just a minute or two until the prawns have gone pink and the scallops are cooked through

  • Serve topped with a handful of chopped spring onions and mint

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