Thursday 13 June 2013

5 minute asian fish soup

Many foods in Asian cuisine inspire me greatly. Growing up, my best friend at school, Asako, was Japanese. When I'd call over to her house, there would be foods in jars, wrappers and packages of all shapes and sizes containing food that I had no idea how to begin thinking how it would taste, how you would go about cooking it or where it's key components even orginated from. Despite this complete lack of knowledge, I would stand transfixed as Asako or her mum opened the fridge or a press door and in a matter of minutes would have something unusually delicious ready to eat.

I remember her explaining tapioca pearl pudding to me, the different dipping sauces and which thickness of noodle went with each sauce. I have a funny feeling my interest in non-traditional preserves came from that house too since I couldn't get enough of pickled ginger slivers and soy plum preserve.

What initially looked like watery soup with a few noodles and greens thrown in, transformed once I tasted it into an aromatic, flavourful stock with exactly the right type of noodle for the type of fish or meat or vegetable that went in with it. Whenever I asked Asako "what the hell did you put into this to make it so good?", she'd always look surprised and answer with a few simple ingredients. I was hooked. When I went to visit her in Tokyo after I finished college, I went on a Japanese noodle soup binge and loved every minute of it, trying out new foods everyday. I grew up in a family that always experimented with food and would always ask if I wanted to try a new ingredient or dish when I was a kid. I am so thankful for that background of trying things out, especially when it came to food. I wasn't afraid of any of the 'strange' foods Asako presented me with when we were still at school, then came the Japan trip and I said yes to all foods, just to try. I was always happily surprised.

The weather in Ireland last week was amazing. 25 degrees, sunshine and blue skies. I was never happier and after the longest winter in the world, it was a welcome change for my body to want fresh salads, juices and smoothies rather than curries, wholegrains and roasted vegetables. This week, the weather gods have changed their mind and at 13 degrees, a salad wasn't going to cut it today. I wanted a warming soup that would warm my little soul up so that I could keep going throughout the day, despite the miserable weather.

It was then that I remembered the soups Asako would make. I was craving greens and a noodle salad but also some type of warm broth. Also, since I am temporarily back at the parent's house as I'm moving to the big smoke again, I miss the sea massively so some fish was definitely on the cards. Freshness and multipurpose of ingredients is paramount in Asian cooking. This recipe for my fish soup is inspired by the desire for sunshine, healthy eating that nourishes the soul and to hold onto that memory of Asako and our food adventures.

For those who are confused or even sceptical that a full meal for one can be made in 5 mins, be confused no more. Not only is this very nourishing but the freshness of the fish makes the soup into a stock. Fresh greens are only mildly cooked by the heat of the soup once you dish it up and any greens from silver beet to cabbage, leeks, kale and spinach can be used. I also topped mine up with some sprouts. The addition of dilisk seaweed is very beneficial for health sodium intake as well as iron while the fish and the stock soup it makes is a mineral rich cocktail. I could go on about the other nutrients and benefits of all the miso, soy sauce, mushrooms and sprouts but basically, it's all very good for you.

Most importantly, it's very very tasty. This soup has so many things going for it. Freshness, comforting warmth, nutritious broth, nourishing meaty fish, vibrant greens and melting garlic and ginger fragrance. It's become a staple of mine. Hopefully you'll be encouraged after making it to make it a staple in your own home.

I invested in a garlic plate at Christmas after breaking too many garlic crushers. It has been a godsend and I recommend you get one. It turns garlic and ginger into a paste-perfect for curries, dressings and sauces and is the easiest thing in the world to clean. Good buy pain in the arse garlic crushers! Have a look here.

This recipe feeds one for dinner but adding a greater portion of fish and another portion of noodles with some extra water will double the quantity easy-thankfully, it's not rocket science.

1 clove of garlic (double if doubling recipe)
1 chunk of fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb nail
2 tbs miso paste
100g fresh to wok noodles, I prefer thick udon for this
1 portion of fresh white fish (hake or trout are best, with skin on)
3 tbs soy sauce
4/5 strands of seaweed (dillisk works well hear but kombu or nori would work too)
10 small dried mushrooms/fresh mushrooms thinly sliced
1 large handful of greens, washed and drained.
5 cups boiling water.

Peel garlic and ginger and grate to a paste
Add to medium pot with miso paste and soy sauce
Pour in water and noodles, mushrooms and seaweed and bring to the boil (1 minute)
Turn heat down to simmer and place fish gently, skin side up into soup.
Cover with lid and set timer for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, wash and rinse greens and cut/pull to size you like and place in large soup boul
After 5 minutes, check fish. If it is opaque and falling slightly apart then it is done.
Using fork/chopsticks, take out noodles and place onto greens, then pour over your stock.
Place fish on top, dress with herbs/chives/sprouts or leave as is.
You can peel the fish skin off at this point but I love to eat it as it's been scraped by my fishmonger already and tastes great!

That's it. I timed myself for cheekiness sake and the soup took 5 mins to cook while it took 4 minutes to prep, 2 to serve and about 5 minutes of arsing around with my new camera to take the photos I was happy with.

Hope you enjoy it.
In the next few posts, I'll be making food for the festival season! Body and Soul is a week away and I have homemade almond butter, hemp
energy bars, bliss balls and banana bread to get through so visit again and please tell me what you think of the blog, the recipes and your food likes.

Grace :)

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