To make Asian fusion soup-stew for four chilled and chilly diners, you will need:
• 1 supermarket broiler complete
• 3 onions
• 5 cloves garlic
• (or 10 or 20 – see text)
• 50mm fresh root ginger
• 2 carrots
• 10 prawns
• 200g pork neck steaks
• 15ml fish sauce (nam pla)
• Juice of 2 lemons or
• 3 limes
• Bunch of fresh dhania (coriander)
• Black pepper
• A couple of dashes of
• Red Tobasco
• 1 cup basmati rice
• Canola or peanut oil
Regular consumers of South-East Asian food will note a couple of non-traditional items on this list, such as basmati rice instead of noodles, Tobasco in place of a living chilli. See these as artistic licence.
Moving on: butcher the fowl by cutting it into drumsticks, thighs, wings, breasts and back. Rip off and discard the skin. Or don’t. Some people love the fatty flavour and believe that Banting is a minor prophet in the Old Testament. Cut the meat off the thighs, drumsticks and breasts, and reserve under cover.
Crush, peel and coarsely chop the garlic, noting that few people can distinguish between five or 10 garlic cloves in a soup. More is good. Peel and quarter the onions, scrape and chunk the carrots. Chop the ginger. Add all the bones from the chicken, plus the wings and back.
Drop in four or five whole black peppercorns, cover the solids with water and bring this to a brief rolling boil. Immediately cut to a slow simmer, partially fit the lid and let it convert itself into a flavourful consommé over the next 45 to 55 minutes. Drain and strain, rejecting the solids. Return the consommé to the pot under cover.
Cut the chicken meat and the pork into bite-sized sections. Peel and clean the prawns. Squeeze the lemons or limes.
Pour a little oil into a large frying pan, and sweat a chopped onion and some garlic until the onion is soft and translucent. Remove and reserve the onions, raise the heat and stir-fry the chicken and pork for ten minutes or so. Add the peeled prawns for the last minute only. An overdone prawn is a dry and melancholy thing.
Pour a cup of basmati into a saucepan and rinse it with cold water three times. Pour in two cups of lightly salted cold water and bring this to a boil, then immediately cut the heat and fit the lid. After 15 minutes or so, the rice will be ready.
Pour the contents of the frying pan plus the onions into the consommé within the original large cooking pot. Bring this to a rolling boil, then remove from the hob. Add lemon or lime juice, 15ml of fish sauce, and a dash or two of Tobasco. Serve in deep bowls over the rice, with a sprig or two of fresh dhania leaves as a garnish. A perfect winter warmer.
David Basckin is a freelance journalist and videographer.