My family has been sick or traveling so we have not had a Dad cooked Sunday dinner in a while. My wife and daughter Miriam are both “off” onions and garlic, so anything I do has to be adapted to their needs. At the moment, my wife does not trust any meat but fish. Taking all of these issues into account I thought a fish stew would fir the bill. A Thai soup—with coconut, lime, and Thai seasonings—was but another small step.
Karl’s Thai Fish Stew
1 lb. shrimp
1 Tbs. peanut oil
¼ cup fresh cilantro stems, minced
3 cups water
3 coins, fresh ginger
2 Tbs. Consome de Cameron
2 Tbs. fresh lemongrass, sliced
1 can (14.5 oz.) coconut milk
32 oz. fish stock
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Steamed Thai Jasmine rice
Thai fish sauce
1. Peel the shrimp and put the shells in a pot with one tablespoon of oil over medium heat.
Tip: Put the raw peeled shrimp in a bowl—covered—in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them.
Note: Start steaming your rice before starting your soup. If you do not have a rice steamer, you may use a pot to cook your rice. However if you make rice more than twice a month it is really worth the connivance—set it and forget it. You may buy a small one for less than $20.
2. Fry the shrimp shells until they are bright pink, about two minutes.
Note: This precooking enhances the flavor of your broth.
3. Add the cilantro stems and sauté them for two minutes
4. Add 3 cups of water to the shells and cilantro.
Tip: Scrape off any of the shells that stuck to the pot as you fried them.
5. Add the ginger coins, Consome de Cameron, and lemon grass to the pot and bring it to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat and simmer the broth, covered, for 20 minutes.
7. While the broth is simmering, prepare all of the other ingredients.
8. Measure the lime juice, zest, ginger, soy sauce, roasted red chili paste, fish sauce, and turmeric into a cup, reserve for later.
9. Cut the bok choi stalks into one inch pieces and slice the leaves into shreds.
Tip: Keep the stalks and leaves separately.
10. Remove the gai lan leaves from the stems and slice the leaves into shreds.
Tip: Save the stems for another dish.
11. Remove the dirty base of the mushroom clump and separate them into individual mushrooms.
Note: Beech mushrooms come as a solid round clump grown from a round growth medium. it usually has some of the dirt still clinging to the bottom when you buy it.
12. Cut the fish into one inch pieces and reserve it in the refrigerator.
13. Strain the solids from the broth and return it to the pot.
Tip: Consome de Cameron is basically ground up whole dried shrimp. As a result the bits of shells settle to the bottom of the pot. If you prefer a clear soup you may strain out this “sand” by filtering the broth through a couple of layers of cheese cloth set in a strainer.
14. Add the coconut milk, fish stock, and the contents of the seasoning cup to the shrimp broth.
15. Bring the soup to a boil, over high heat, and add the cod and the stalks of the bok choi.
16. Simmer the soup for three minutes and then stir in the shrimp, scallops, and shredded vegetable leaves.
17. Simmer the stew for another 3-4 minutes.
18. Serve hot with the steamed rice, chopped cilantro, Thai fish sauce, and Sriracha on the side.
Tip: Some people never think a dish is spicy enough.
Note: Diners put as much rice as they please into their bowls, pour the stew over it and garnish the stew with the cilantro.