Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lemongrass – coconut chicken soup

3 cups chicken stock
2 cans (about 13.5oz each) coconut milk
1/2 cup minced lemongrass
1 piece (3 inches long) fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 serrano, or jalapeno pepper, sliced
1.5 tsp Asian chilli garlic sauce, or 1/2 tsp dried pepper flakes
4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 tbsp thai, or Vietnamese fish sauce (optional)
2 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, sliced (optional)
1 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 12 oz), cut into 1/2 inch cubes (or 12 oz peeled and deveined shrimp, or 12 oz extra firm tofu)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt (optional)
1/4 cup strips of fresh basil, for garnish
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Place the stock , coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, Serrano pepper, chile sauce, garlic, fish sauce, and lime leaves, if using, in a large sauce pan, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce to low and let simmer, uncovered, until the flavors release, about 15 min. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the soup base steep for 30 min.
Strain the soup base through a sieve into a clean saucepan or bowl and discard the solids. It can be refrigerated covered for up to three days.
Reheat the soup base, uncovered over medium heat, until it begins to simmer. Add the chicken, shrimp or tofu and simmer gently until it is cooked through, about 5 min for chicken, 1.5 to 2 min for shrimp or tofu.
Add the lime juice, and season with salt as needed. Pour the soup into warm bowls, garnish each and serve at once.

This soup was gorgeous, it was wonderful, it was exactly what I hoped it would taste like.

It was also the first time I used fresh lemongrass, I usually use dried, but the supermarket started carrying the fresh lately, so I figured I’d give it a go. It’s really tough to cut. It’s like mincing small trees, but the smell when you cut it up is great, and they do add a great flavor. I’ll keep using it when I can get a hold of it (and I’ll always have dried in emergencies).

I thought this was a fun cooking method too. It’s much more like making tea then making soup. You boil very briefly, then steep, then strain. It sounded like it might be kind of weak, but it wasn’t at all.

I made some Chinese rice noodles to go with it (mostly because I’ve had them lying around for ages). They were a nice touch if you are a person that doesn’t really consider a broth heavy soup to be enough of a meal, but I wound up feeling like they were a bit of an overkill for us.

This soup is another big winner from Food to Live By. I love this book!
The spiciness was just right, and the flavors were really well balanced. In the future I would love to try it with shrimp or tofu, I think it would be great.


Knit One said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Knit One said...

You will find that if you are going to eat lemon grass, the inner stalk is the best part to use. It is more tender. If you have to use the leaves you can make a bouquet garni, tied with string and remove it after cooking. You get the flavor without all that fiber. This is a great plant to grow if you can get a plant with roots. It has to come inside for the winter but does well outside in the good weather. The leaves make a great tea.The soup sounds great!

7:40 AM

AteThat said...

wow, I bet that tea made from the leaves is amazing. I love the smell of lemongrass. The kind they sell in the store is just the inner stalk, a couple of inches of it. Maybe I should try to grow it, though my thumb is far from green.

By the way, thank you for sending that recipe along to me the other day. The photo was beautiful. What a pretty food.