Sunday, April 6, 2014

spicy salmon broth

We like to think of Nick Nairn as our resident Scottish genius. His book, New Scottish Cookery, sits on the bookshelf in our living room and we're constantly pulling it out to cook or look for ideas.

He came up with this spicy salmon broth, and my half-Scottish husband Scott found it there.

Scotland, I thank you. Even though this is pretty much as Asian a recipe as you can get.

Whatever nationality it truly is, it's brilliant because it comes together quickly say 30 to 45 minutes and is an excellent way to stretch salmon when you're on a budget.

You start by softening ginger, garlic, hot chillis and lemongrass in a bit of oil. Then you stir in the stock, fish sauce and fresh lime juice.

Then, for a mere two minutes, you add the shallots, green onion, cilantro and thinly-sliced pieces of salmon. The salmon cooks in a flash, and stays tender and aromatic in the soup, while the herbs stay fresh and the shallots keep their crunchy goodness.

Ladle it into bowls with some tattie scones on the side and you're in fusion heaven.

Now, a couple of notes.

I used to be afraid of fish sauce because it stinks. Then Mark Bittman told me that it only smells like old socks until you cook it. This is true and it's a flavour not to be missed. Don't be scared of fish sauce.

If you live in Edmonton, most grocery stores don't carry fresh lemongrass. However, I have found it at Save On on 109th St. And, of course, the Asian stores would have it. If you live in Victoria, Thrifty carries lemongrass. Otherwise, you could try peeling a lemon (just the yellow, not the white pith) and chopping it finely for a similar effect let me know if you try it and how it works.

one year ago: chocolate peanut butter mice with licorice tails
two years ago: zeppelin pancakes
three years ago: gumdrop cookies
four years ago: red lentil coconut curry soup

spicy salmon broth
slightly adapted from new scottish cookery by nick nairn
serves 6

2 tbsp. neutral oil
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
4 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 large green jalapeño chilli, seeded and minced
1/2 1 red jalapeño chilli, seeded and minced*
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layer removed and minced
about 10 c. (2. 5 litres) chicken stock or fish stock
6 tbsp. Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce (light if you've got it)
juice of 2 3 limes
2 shallots, minced
6 green onions or chives, sliced finely
400 g. (scant 1 lb.) salmon fillet, cut into 5 mm (1/4 inch) slices
6 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped
freshly ground pepper

Set a heavy-bottomed soup pot over low medium heat. Heat the oil. Add the ginger, garlic, chillies and lemongrass. Stir often for about 8 minutes until softened.

Stir in the stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, and the juice of 2 limes. Once it boils again, simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the shallots, green onions, salmon and cilantro. Simmer for 2 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. Taste and season with pepper. If needed, add more lime and possibly more stock.

*Nick's original recipe calls for a fresh red chilli and a bird's eye chilli, seeded and cut into matchsticks. I am a heat wuss, so adapted it to use the more moderate jalapeños.

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