Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tom Yum or Cahn Chua Ca (sort of)


tasty soup
Originally uploaded by elizajanecurtis

I've fallen in love with the tiny Chinatown of Buenos Aires, which is about 3 blocks in Belgrano next to the train station, on Arribeños and Mendoza. Most stores in Buenos Aires have a limited variety of food, so Chinatown is the only place to buy lots of the things that I miss from home. My favorite markets right now are Casa China on Arribeños and a bigger place (I think it's called Asia World Market?) around the corner on Mendoza. Both places have everything you can imagine in packets and jars and boxes. Casa China has more bulk dried goods and homemade cookies and herbal remedies and on the weekends they sell *really* tasty vegetable buns and some kind of fried balls and noodle soup and other delicious vegetarian street-eats, from a window facing the sidewalk. Asia World Market has a bigger selection of fresh veggies (6 kinds of mushrooms, lemongrass, galangal, fresh herbs and greens, lots of fruits that I can't identify) and a huge meat-and-fish market in the back with tons of slimy tentacles and fish heads and fresh everything on ice. They also have bulk frozen dumplings in big wooden barrels and some fresh bakery goods.
A craving for some Hot & Sour soup gave me a good excuse to go to Belgrano. I was remembering the soup I used to get every day from LaGuardia Grill in New York, plus some really tasty soup I used to eat with Emily at Da Lat in Worcester. I'm not really sure what's the difference between Vietnamese or Thai Hot & Sour soups(?) so I looked up recipes for both and mixed them together with some other stuff I remembered from my favorite soups. I just used whatever ingredients I could find, and it tasted SO steamy and spicy and good!
* around 1/2 chicken on the bone, with skin
cut off the white meat and chop it into little bits and set aside. drop the rest of the skin/bones/carcass into a pot of water (around 4-5 cups of water), add plenty of salt, a bit of pepper, and simmer. Add all the vegetable scraps (onion skins, celery top, etc) as you cut the veggies. Add to the broth:
* two cloves garlic, chopped in half
* sprig of cilantro
* 1 tablespoon tom yum (hot pepper) paste
* 3 or 4 quarter-inch chunks of fresh ginger
meanwhile, cut into small peices:
* medium sized filet of white fish
mix in a small dish:
* 2 Tablespoon fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
* ½ teaspoon black pepper
* juice from one lime
pour 1/2 of this over the fish, stir it up, and put it in the fridge to marinate. pour the rest over the chicken pieces, stir it up, and put it in the fridge.
cut up all the vegetables while the stock simmers. After 1/2 hour add to the stock:
* 3 stalks lemon grass, crushed and chopped coarsely
* 2 chunks of lime rind (just the dark green part)
* 3 tablespoons fish sauce
after all the vegetables are chopped, taste the broth, add salt or more hot pepper if necessary. strain the broth and toss the bones and stuff. Then add:
* ½ teaspoon grated lime zest
* 1 teaspoon chopped green chile pepper
* 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
* 3 tablespoons lime juice
let it cook another 5 mins, then add:
* 1 small or 1/2 large onion, sliced in wedges
* fresh pineapple chunks
* sliced bamboo shoots
* 1 stalk celery, sliced
* kernels from 2 ears of fresh sweet corn
* 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
cook it another few minutes and add:
* 1 fresh tomato, seeded, cut into thin wedges
* 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts
serve hot! on the side, serve as toppings:
* 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
* 1 sprig fresh basil, chopped
* 2 green onions, thinly sliced

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