Call me boring but broth has to be my absolute ‘go to’ when it’s time to button down the hatches warm up and eat something that warms the soul. Nothing gets my taste buds tingling more than the fiery heat of chilli, ginger and coriander in a ‘Asian’ style broth stuffed full of vegetables and finished with udon noodles. This is part Vietnamese ‘Pho’, part Thai soup and part Japanese – I guess you could call it fusion. It’s a building block dish and not something that can be done instantly as it requires a few steps, none of which are complicated but all require a little time. Oh the luxury of that, but hear me out. There’s a bit of chopping involved and a lot of simmering, so all it really requires is a wee bit of that famous forward planning – easy!
Firstly one needs stock. It really has to be homemade, ideally chicken but pheasant and partridge will also do. Then one needs to infuse said stock with chilli, ginger, star anise, lemon grass, coriander, coriander seeds, lime leaves, carrots, a banana shallot and a few stalks of celery. After this ‘infusion’ of ideally 2 to 3 hours on a low simmer, sieve out the spices and vegetables and put the clear broth in a new clean pan. Bingo, now you’re ready to go. You can go meat, fish or vegetable based just depending on what you feel like. I went for the vegetable option being a ‘meat free monday’ (ignore the meat based stock) and added roasted butternut and brocolli and then udon noodles. After that there is a little tampering; additions of Thai fish sauce (very important), fresh lime juice, maybe a pinch of palm sugar, more fresh coriander, fresh slithered red chilli and some grated ginger, all topped off with roasted, chopped cashews. It should taste hot, sour and salty and from my experience be greeted with coo’s of gratitude and thanks.
YUM YUM BROTH
Serves 2 healthy portions
800ml of fresh homemade chicken stock (you can also use game stock but it can be quite strong)
2 organic carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped
1 banana shallot, finely sliced
1 large red chilli, roughly chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, skinned and roughly sliced
2 sticks of celery, washed and roughly chopped
3 star anise
8 coriander seeds
1 stick of lemongrass, roughly chopped
2 fresh lime leaves
1 large handful of coriander roughly chopped
Sieved Broth Additions:
Juice of at least 2 limes
4 table spoons of Thai fish sauce
1 red chilli very finely sliced
2 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander
2 tablespoons of cashew nuts, roasted in the oven and chopped finely
Freshly grated ginger
200gms udon noodles – cooked as instructed
Broth building blocks:
I used diced roasted butternut, a handful of brocolli florets and a handful of julliened mange tout. You could also add in prawns, squid for a fishy take on it or go for shredded chicken or duck. Pak choi works well as does shitake mushrooms, there are so many combinations you really have to play around to see what works for you.
1. Place all the ingredients for the infusion broth in to a large pan and bring slowly up to the boil. Turn it down to a very low simmer and continue at this heat for about 2 hours. Sieve all the ingredients out and put the Asian spiced broth in a clean pan.
2. Dice the butternut and roast in a baking tray for 35 minutes until soft to the touch and slighltly caramelised.
3. Cook the udon noodles as instucted. Add the butternut into the sieved broth, add in the brocolli and let it cook till it is just al dente, add in the cooked noodles. Now get your tasting spoon out, add in the thai fish sauce, lime juice, additional chilli and coriander. Taste the broth…. it may need more lime juice or more fish sauce, or a little more grated ginger.
4. Lift the noodles out of the sauce pan and place in soup bowls and then ladle the broth and vegetables over the top. Top with more coriander, a slither or 2 of chilli and the cashew nuts.