Monday, December 15, 2008

Hot & Sour Coconut Soup - for Little Tash



I've had a few things bubbling on the back burner of late and not much time to post. I'm making vanilla vodka - so simple I have to find something more to say to justify posting about it! I've also had the following hanging about waiting to be shared, SCD pizza - and an SCD, low salicylate version (bear in mind that tomatoes are the holy godfather of salicylate content), green bean and home cured beef salad - which is now unseasonal because I've left it so long! Little caramelised leek tarts, spiced beef shin and roast cherry tomatoes, Garlicky aubergine soup, pork and apple dumplings and banana cupcakes with coconut frosting. I guess they'll get an outing at some point. If there's one on the list that you love the sound of then pop a comment at the end of this post and I'll try to get around to it over Christmas.

But today, just for my sister Little Tash, I'm posting, Hot & Sour Coconut Soup because she asked nicely and I love her.

I'm currently having a small love affair with coconut. I couldn't digest it for a long while and now it seems I can - I just want to throw it a parade for being so creamy, sweet and satisfying! When me and Fin fancy a little something decadent I mix up some melted creamed coconut, a smidge of honey, hazel butter and bourbon vanilla, ease it lovingly into an ice cube tray and then 15 minutes later - voila, coconut bites, toothsome and moreish. I only make a few at a time on  demand, for obvious reasons.

With the snap of cold we've been having lately I want my coconut spicy and hot, augmented with some lip puckering lime juice. I think of hot and sour coconut soup as a kind of medicine. Does that sniffly cold need kicking to the curb? Double the garlic, cayenne and ginger and maybe add some raw finely minced garlic to your bowl for a real sucker punch.

The soup is simplicity itself once you have arranged all your little bowls of ingredients like a TV chef. Because SCD does not allow Nam-Pla, or fish sauce, due to its high sugar content, I use anchovies in oil to get that authentic deep umami flavour. If you want to use fish sauce instead then leave the anchovies out and add the fish sauce with the coconut milk, tasting as you go. The base of the soup is made in a blender too, so no tears before supper. Once you are prepared it should take no longer than 15 minutes before you can sit down to a bowl of creamy, hot and sour soup and chase the winter temporarily away.

Hot and Sour Soup 3-4 portions



Now this isn't that hot or that sour - it's medium. If you want it hotter just increase the ginger and cayenne/chili powder and add more lime at the table to taste. One person's just right, is an other's 'eek I can't eat that!', so let people improve their soup at the table by offering minced raw garlic, hot pepper sauce, chili flakes, toasted sesame seeds and lots of lime quarters.

This is a medium advanced SCD dish. If you are new to the diet, don't try it. Make sure you can tolerate, spices, citrus and coconut first.

Spice Mixture

1 small onion
3-4 large cloves of garlic
1 large handful of washed coriander leaves
slosh of oil
2 fat anchovies in oil
1/2-1 tsp cayenne or chili powder
pinch of anise seeds
1/3 tsp ground turmeric
large walnut sized piece of fresh ginger
pinch of fresh sea salt


Whizz all of the above ingredients together in a food processor until a bright green mush forms. Add enough oil so that it is a loose paste, but not too much or the soup will be oily - a slosh should be enough. This can be done a few days in advance and kept in the fridge in a sealed jar with a little oil poured over the top. But it is best fresh.

Remaining Ingredients

1 large courgette(zucchini)
mug full of frozen peas
300g frozen king prawns
2 medium bok choi
juice of 1 or 2 limes
300ml full fat coconut milk (watch out for xanthan gum if you follow SCD)


Peel the courgette and slice very thinly using a mandolin - or as best you can by hand. I use the mandolin on my box grater.

Slice the bok choi into smallish slices (about 2cm across) and set aside.

When you are ready to make the soup, get the peas out of the freezer and put the frozen prawns in a separate bowl. They do not need to defrost.

Put a medium saucepan on the heat- big enough to hold four bowls of soup - and just barely coat the bottom with vegetable oil. Scrape all of the spice mix into the pan and fry over a highish heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn. If you start to get a whiff of burning garlic, take it off the heat and keep stirring until the pan loses some of its heat - you had it up too high.

Add courgette to the pan, stir to coat evenly and cook for 2 minutes over a medium heat, stirring frequently, but not constantly.

Add coconut milk and 300ml of water and bring to a rolling boil.

Add the prawns and 30 seconds later the peas. Bring back to the boil.

Add bok choi and bring back up to the boil for 1 minute.

Take off the heat immediately and add lime juice to your taste, add salt if you think it needs it. Ladle into bowls, sharing out the prawns evenly, or there will be squabbling.

Put the following on the table and allow people to add their own.
small handful of washed coriander leaves
small handful of holy basil or regular basil (optional)
hot pepper sauce
chili flakes
quartered limes
toasted sesame seeds (optional)