Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chicken coconut soup

The stock:

Boil a chicken in enough water (about 6 cups) to completely cover it for 40 minutes.  Remove chicken.  Cool.  Pick the meat off the carcass and place in the fridge.  Return bones and skin to the pot.  Add a chopped onion, six cloves of garlic, a thumb sized hunk of ginger, zest of one lime, two or three chopped lemon grass stalks, one or two chili peppers,  stems of one bunch of cilantro, stems of one bunch of basil, a stick of cinnamon, one anise star.  Simmer for at least two hours.  Cool.  If you have time to refrigerate, you can skim off the fat more easily. Strain out all that stuff and discard.  Taste.  Add lime juice, soy sauce, and fish sauce to taste.  For me, it's juice of 3 limes, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Plus a pinch of sugar and a teaspoon of sambal alek- -that really hot chili garlic sauce.  Just keep adding and tasting until you like it.    Now you can add your soup ingredients to this base, or you can dump in a can of coconut milk and then add the ingredients.  When I add coconut milk I increase the chilis and skip the sugar, as the sweet creaminess allows for more spice and eliminates the need for sugar.

The stock will freeze or keep in the fridge for a few days,  When you're in the mood for soup, add any of the following:

Basil leaves
chopped chicken (cooked)
pork (cooked)
green onions
chopped tomatoes
bean sprouts

Serve very hot, with rice and extra sambal alek, lime wedges,  and soy sauce for your guests to add.  It's fun to make a vat of the soup stock and prep the additions, and then let everyone put the things they like in their bowls and pour the hot stock over.

I like to have this with rose, and maybe some mango sorbet for dessert.  If you can talk your guests into bringing over pot stickers or salad rolls, it's even better.

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