Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Prawn and udon noodle soup

I am trying to get back into the swing of things. Things being working. I was so spoilt during my holiday, almost two weeks off work, don't know when that is ever going to happen again. Back to getting up ridiculously early. It used to be the Culinary Consultant who had to get up early, now I leave him snoring for another hour and a half when I get up. And I spend those one and a half hours commuting to work. I've always been very lucky, I have had reasonable commutes, so my current commute of over three hours each day is feeling a tad overwhelming. But it's only been two days, I'm hoping it will get easier once I get into the routine. Obviously, now it's not too hard to get up really early as mornings are already light, but I'm dreading what will happen once the summer has gone and it starts getting darker again. But no point worrying about that, as it's many moons away. It's rather ironic that I'm now working really close to where I used to live in my tiny little penthouse studio.

I really need to figure out what to do during my long commutes, so far I've just been sitting there, staring out the window, wasting all that time. The annoying thing is that the buses are usually completely packed by the time I get on, so I can't really do much as I have to stand all the way, desperately clinging on to one of those poles trying not to fall over the other passengers. I've always read all my electronic books on the iPad, but now I'm actually considering getting a kindle as the iPad is simply to big and heavy to hold onto with one hand when standing on a bus. Coming back home is a bit easier as my work is near the start of the bus line, so I should be able to grab a seat most days. I'm thinking downloading a bunch of stuff on the iPlayer, and watching that. And I might finally get around to reading all those Game of Thrones, I've been working on them for at least two years now, and am only a third through the second volume. I would love to use the time productively and blog, but most of my trip is through the rural areas of in-the-middle-of-nowhere, so there is no 3G. The bus supposedly has wifi, but I can't make it work. It's simply so overcrowded by users that it doesn't work at all. I've only ever managed to use the wifi if I'm on the bus in the middle of the day with no other passengers around. I guess I could also take up knitting again, with over two hours of knitting time a day I should be able to produce oodles. We will have to see what happens.

Today's recipe is something I just threw together after reviewing several recipes for prawn and noodle soup online. Let's just say it's an... eclectic... mix. Not really identifying with any country, it's just a mix of whatever I happened to have around along with some things I just wanted to put in the soup. It turned out really delicious. You can obviously use any noodles you like, I like udon just because then you have a lot of noodle in there.

Prawn and noodle soup (serves 4):
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 onion
1 stalk of celery
2 cloves of garlic
thumb sized piece of ginger
2-3 large mushrooms
1 green pepper
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp hot chilli sauce
2 pak choi
200 g mung bean sprouts
300 g noodles
225 g king prawns
large bunch of fresh coriander

The howto:
Finely chop the onion, celery, garlic and ginger. Peel and slice the mushrooms and chop the green pepper. Add the sesame oil to a large saucepan and sautee the onion and celery until starting to soften. Add garlic and ginger and sautee for a few more minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Add the coconut milk, water and sauces and let cook for about 10 minutes. Chop the pak choi, and add to the soup, but don't add the green tops yet. Add sprouts, noodles and king prawns and let cook for five minutes or so. Finally, add the pak choi tops and plenty of chopped coriander. Serve immediately. 

The verdict:
The soup turned out really great, lots of healthy greens all cooked only until crisp and starting to soften, but not mushy or limp. The oyster and fish sauce bring that asian flair to the soup, along with the sesame seed oil. And of course the coconut milk. You could even replace the water with a second can of coconut milk for a more creamy soup. And feel free to adjust the level of hotness to your liking, I have to say I could have added some more chilli sauce as this turned out to be a very mild soup. If you are a friend of hot food, you could also add some sliced chillies in with the garlic and ginger at the start for a bit more kick. The bean sprouts add nice crunch, and if I could afford it, I would double the amount of prawns. I love prawns, and combined with this tasty soup and the lovely noodles, this makes a perfect lunch.

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