Recipe: Lemon grass and rice noodle fish soup
The ingredient list for the recipe is rather long, but don't let that be intimidating. Most of the items are just the aromatics, which simmer...
The New York Times
The ingredient list for the recipe is rather long, but don't let that be intimidating. Most of the items are just the aromatics, which simmer together to give the soup its bright, complex notes, and they achieve it in well under an hour. The soup base can be prepared and the rice noodles can be soaked ahead of time as well. Adding the mussels and squid takes mere minutes just before serving.
The most important part happens at the table. When you serve the big, steaming bowls of fragrant soup, pass a dish of finely slivered red or green Thai bird chilies. They are diminutive yet potent. Whether you add just a tiny bit or opt for extra spicy, the chili flavor is essential. A big squeeze of lime pulls it all together.
2 teaspoons unrefined peanut oil or sesame oil
1 large onion, in thick slices
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced lemon grass
1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
4 small dry red chilies
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
8 cups fish broth or chicken broth
Salt and pepper
8 ounces thin rice noodles (vermicelli)
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
1 pound squid, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish
Leaves from 1 small bunch Thai basil, for garnish
6 fresh green or red Thai bird chilies, slivered, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish
Place a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the peanut oil, and swirl to coat. When oil is hot, add the onion and cook for five minutes, stirring, until softened and lightly browned. Add all the aromatics (ginger, lemon grass, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, coriander, fennel, dry chilies and turmeric) and stir to distribute. Add the sugar and let everything fry lightly, until sugar begins to caramelize, about two minutes.
Add the soy sauce, fish sauce and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding solids. Season to taste with the salt and a generous amount of pepper. (May be prepared several hours ahead.)
Soak the rice noodles: Put the rice vermicelli in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water. Stir noodles as they soften. Soak for about 20 minutes until tender. Cool in a colander under running water and drain. Reserve at room temperature.
To serve, bring soup to a brisk simmer. Add the mussels and put on the lid. Cook two minutes, until mussels have opened. Add the squid, stir to combine and cook 30 seconds more. Turn off heat.
Divide rice noodles among 4 large soup bowls. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the cilantro, scallions and Thai basil. Pass the fresh chilies and lime wedges separately.