February 17, 2013
Ginger Garlic Prawn Soup
I'm coming to the realization that my body might have a sensitivity to nightshades. Nightshades are potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and all sweet and hot peppers. This is infuriating. I'm in complete denial about it. But my gut yells and screams at me every time I eat them. I'm fine with omitting eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes. Heck, I'm even fine omitting sweet peppers. I have never loved these foods. Isn't that interesting? It's like my taste buds know that the rest of my body doesn't want them around.
But hot peppers?! No. Way.
I crave jalapenos, serranos and cayenne. I even love those ass-kicking little Thai chilies and habaneros. You should taste my grilled pineapple habanaro salsa. It's pretty incredible. I'll post the recipe this summer for you. The lining of my stomach must be in shreds.
I read somewhere that craving spicy food means you want to cool the body down. That makes no sense. Sure, perspiring cools you down, but it has to heat you up first! Why would you eat heat when you're hot? My body temperature tends to hover around 96 degrees (a little low because my numskull thyroid won't get it together) and I crave spicy food more than anyone I know. My hypothesis is that I want the spice to warm up my freezing cold hands and feet.
There are days when I all I want to do is blast my taste buds with a 4-star curry. I don't care if I can't taste the food and all I do is sweat through the meal. It's scary how much heat I can tolerate. I wonder if I am craving the adrenaline rush (and subsequent crash) that eating spicy food brings. Now that I think about it, I usually crave spicy food when I'm stressed. It kind of snaps me back to sanity.
My gut on the other hand, definitely has a threshold for too much heat. My gut is a total sissy. I wish someone could give me a new thyroid and a new gut. That would be awesome.
In my attempt to get more seaweed in my diet (my thyroid needs it apparently), I made this soup. You know this soup is good because it's getting posted at all. There are two reasons why I rarely post soup. First, soup is lame and boring. If I'm going to prepare a bunch of ingredients I'd rather not have them blended up into a pulp, or floating around in broth.
Asian soups are one exception. Asians know how to make great soup. They start with amazing broth and finish with simple fresh ingredients. Asian soups are cleansing and invigorating. They feel restorative and medicinal. Have you ever noticed how good if feels to eat a big bowl of pho broth or a miso soup? I've never had a bowl of split pea soup do that. Don't even try to tell me your split pea soup is good. I don't believe you.
The other reason I don't post soup is because it doesn't photograph well. Most of the time it looks like vomit. You have to work really hard at getting the ingredients to float to the top, or jazz it up with garnishes that you probably wouldn't use otherwise. It's the one time I have to pull out my mini tongs and strategically arrange pieces of food in the bowl. I don't like to manipulate the food that much; maybe I'm lazy, maybe I want it to look real. I also get really tired of eating all my meals cold. That's one downfall of blogging my meals; by the time I'm done styling the food and taking pictures it is cold.
I'll admit, I didn't put a lot of effort into these photos. This soup also gets an unattractive film on the top (that's dashi). I could have strained it, but it's supposed to be there. So there it is, floating there, looking all gross.
Other than looking like that weird build up that floats to the top of your fish bowl, dashi is awesome. Dashi is a stock made with seaweed and dried bonito (tuna) flakes. You can buy the instant dashi at your local Asian Market, in concentrated liquid or granule form. To make the dashi, just follow the directions on the box. Essentially you just put it in near-boiling water for about 5 minutes. For this recipe, convert the measurements so you end up with about 8 cups of stock. It's important to keep the temperature of the water below boiling so you don't end up with bitter stock. You can strain the resulting liquid if you want a clear soup. But for this recipe, it's not necessary because you're going to have shallots and other stuff floating around in there anyway.
It's quick to make and very flavorful. You'll love it.
If you live in Seattle, you can buy instant dashi at Ballard Market, Central Market, PCC, Whole Foods and just about any larger grocery store that isn't QFC or Safeway. I found it in the ethnic food aisle, not the soup aisle.
2 shallots, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 teaspoon of fish sauce
8 cups dashi
Juice from 1 lime
12 large prawns (or 12 ounces any white fish without the skin)
12 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 1/2 cups of carrots, matchstick cut
4 scallions, sliced
garnish of fresh cilantro, jalapeno slices, and lime wedges
Heat a large dutch oven, pot, or wok (with lid) on medium heat. Add your favorite cooking oil. Wait 2 minutes, then add shallot, ginger and garlic. Cook until softened and fragrant.
Add soy sauce/coconut aminos, fish sauce, dashi, and lime juice. Bring to a low simmer and then add your protein (prawns/fish). Cover and let protein cook through at a slow simmer. This will take 5-8 minutes.
Add mushrooms, carrots, and scallions. Cover and cook another 3 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro, jalapeno slices, and lime wedges. Serve!