Like I mentioned yesterday, I had a stab at making hot and sour soup. Moonface had been going on about Viet Hoa on Kingsland Road and their hot and sour soup for about a year, and it wasn’t until I had to to go to a ’90s Summer of Reggae party (don’t ask, or do, I wore Palladiums + drew on tadpole eyebrows) after a stupidly bad bout of insomnia left me with about two hours of sleep that I finally tasted their hot and sour soup. It totally cured me of the badtimes, and left me with a willingness to bogle that saw me right through the night.
Now Viet Hoa is pretty much a fortnightly experience, when Rachael, Laura, Sam and I go there for a quick bite before the fashionable pub quiz. This Monday though I fashionably came down the LFW cold which seems to be striking everyone down even Mark Fast and Lily and Ben from LPGB. OMG, I’m so BOT. So I tried to recreate it at home, and although it needs a little refining, it worked out pretty well! I also came across some rice paper pancakes stuff, so we made summer rolls too, woot.
I kind of made up the recipe from an amalgamation of ones I found on the internet, and just went by the rule that if it tastes like at Viet Hoa, then it must be good…
From left: Spring roll wrapper, making the summer rolls, voila! Tamarind paste, essential. The veggies, tamamrind and lemongrass bubbling away, soup taking shape, the finished product.
Tamarind is absolutely essential for this, I saw one recipe that called for sherry vinegar… Don’t bother! Go to your local effnic food market and buy a block, I used about a third for four hungry people.
Bash your lemongrass and chuck in the pan, I like to reserve some fo the more tender parts to slice into the soup but you don’t have to bother. Add soy sauce, nam pla/fish sauce if you’re not veggie, and the juice of a lime. Also chuck in some big chunks of ginger, to flavour without heat.
While that bubbles, chop up whatever veggies you want to use, I bought enoki mushrooms as a treat but you can use any. Some of the veggies you can use are okra, bamboo shoots, celery, and tomato at the end. This recipe also requires pineapple, and it’s the only time I will happily use pineapple in a savoury dish. Yeah I’m talking about you sweet and sour chicken. I used tofu, because I was cooking for veggies but try prawns, pork or chicken, it doesn’t really need it though and you might as well go meat free.
Strain your stock, I might strain mine through muslin next time to get all the tiny bits of tamarind pulp out, but you don’t have to. Gently fry shallots and then chuck the stock back in the pan. If your stock is too weak dissolve some more tamarind in a mug of hot water and add to taste. I also added a bit more soy at this point.
Throw in your vegetables, but it really doesn’t need to cook for long especially as okra becomes slimy. Garnish with coriander and a bit of mint, and voila! Perfect hot and sour soup!
Click through for the ingredients, plus the easy peasy summer rolls.
1/3 of a block of tamarind
bit of ginger
3 x lemongrass stalks
big handful of okra
packet of enoki mushrooms
1/2 packet of fresh tofu
1 stick of celery
mint + coriander
soy sauce + nam pla
The summer rolls are so easy, just chop up cucumber, mint, carrot, chinese leaf, tofu into batons and add some beansprouts. Dip the pancake into warm water to soften and lay about 2 tbsps of stuffing onto the pancake and wrap as if you were wrapping chips. That probably only helps if you worked in a chip shop once, so fold over top, then sides, then bottom to make a parcel.
I found a recipe for a dirty ‘vietnamese style’ dipping sauce with peanut butter, hoi sin, lime juice and soy but I’m going to try something more authentic next time. Can’t wait to make these as the ultimate packed lunch soon.