Tom Yum Noodle Soup

Tom Yum Noodle Soup
Or as a dear friend of mine calls this, sick soup. It’s perfect when allergies are high or a cold is settling in. We like ours a bit on the hot and sour side, so if you don’t feel the same way, make sure you adjust the spices. A good rule of thumb is you can add spice easier than you can take it away. Like the last recipe, J found the base on RasaMalaysia.com and with a few modifications, it is thisclose to our favorite Thai restaurant in town. If only we could get our hands on fresh ingredients…

Ingredients:
1 roll packaged soba noodles (We used rice noodles because we had a hard time finding soba noodles)
1 1/4 cups water
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, pounded and bruised (we finally found dried lemongrass from Thai Kitchen at our local grocer. If only we could find fresh…)
5-6 kaffir lime leaves, bruised (just like with the lemongrass, we could only find these dried from Thai Kitchen, but dried is better than none!)
4-5 slices fresh galangal (if you aren’t already noticing a trend, this is also only available in our area dried from Thai Kitchen, if you can’t find anything fresh ginger root will do in a pinch)
1/2 small tomato, cut into 3 to 4 wedges
6 medium-sized shrimp, shelled and deveined (we just used a whole bag of frozen, shelled, deveined ready to use. But we like shrimp)
one can straw mushrooms pieces (pieces were the only kind available)
1 1/2 tablespoons Nam Prik Pao (Thai roasted chili paste, we couldn’t find this so we just used Thai chili paste, it was a bit sweeter than we expected)
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce (we ended up using at least 1 and 1/2 tablespoons)
3 dashes chili powder (we used three squirts of Sriracha sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
Cilantro leaves, for garnishing

Directions:
Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water and set aside. At the same time, bring the 1 1/4 cups water to boil in another small pot. Add in all the aromatics, follow by the shrimp, mushrooms and Thai chili paste.

Tom Yum Noodle Soup

Keep boiling until the shrimp is cooked through. Add the fish sauce and Sriracha. Turn off the heat, add in the lime juice. Stir to combine well. We opted to remove the lemongrass stalks and the kaffir lime leaves because they didn’t taste very good on their own. We added the cooked noodles and stirred to combine.

Tom Yum Noodle Soup

Top with some cilantro leaves and serve immediately.

My opinion:
This was one of the fastest dinners we’ve made in a long time. I’m sure if we had let it simmer a little longer, the flavors would have been even better, but we were hungry. Next time, we will add more vegetables like zucchini and onions. I was surprised at how much the noodles absorbed the broth, which I think is the best part. By the time we got around to a second bowl, there wasn’t a drop of broth left. To remedy this, we plan to add at least a cup  more water at the beginning.

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Cha Ca Thang Long (Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill)

After watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations for Vietnam, J and I have sought out Vietnamese dishes to prepare. And as we’ve mentioned before, we are always looking for more  ways to eat fish . J found this recipe from the Ravenous Couple and it didn’t disappoint. Easy to prepare, delicious and fragrant, we’ve added this to our dinner rotation.

Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill.
Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill.

Ingredients:
1 lb of white fish fillets (We used tilapia fillets)

Fish Marinade
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (this gives the fish the beautiful yellow color)
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (The original recipe calls for galangal powder, but we’ve had a hard time finding it around us)
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce

Additions
1 large red onion, sliced (we only had a white onion on hand)
1 cup of green onion cut lengthwise into 1.5 inch segments
1 bunch of fresh dill coarsely chopped (thick stems removed)
1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed (we didn’t use this because we didn’t have any)
12 oz. bag of vermicelli noodles (boiled and drained, we used white rice because we didn’t have vermicelli on hand)
Fresh mint

If you’re ever interested in making your own fish sauce, the original recipe has instructions on how to do that. We opted not to for time purposes, as we made this on a weeknight.

Directions:
Combine olive oil, turmeric, galangal, garlic, shallots, salt, sugar, and fish sauce in large bowl and mix well. Cut the fish into smaller fillets and gently mix, and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour.

You’ll need two skillets for this, one large and one medium. In the large skillet, saute the red and green onions with a bit of oil under medium low heat. At the same time have the medium non-stick skillet heating on medium high.

While the onions are cooking, cook the fish fillets about 3 minutes on each side until you get a nice golden opaque color and a light brown crust. A minute or so before the fish is done, turn the large skillet with the onions to high and place the cooked fillets on top of the sauteed onions and scallions. Remove from heat and generously top with fresh dill and roasted peanuts (if desired). Serve immediately over vermicelli noodles, fresh lettuce and herbs.

My Opinion:
The dill, fish sauce and mint make te flavors really pop. If you’re skeptical like we initially were, try just a little of each on one bite. I promise, you won’t regret it. The only change we’ve made is to use a bit of a firmer fish. Tilapia was just what we had on hand the first time and worked fine, but cod, halibut, or the recommended catfish would be easier to sear. You won’t feel bogged down by this dish. It’s light and filling. We served it with rice, but that was almost unnecessary, the onions were enough.