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Friday, December 14, 2012

Cari Chay Vietnamese Soup


With the winter weather here, soups, stews, and casserole are on the menu pretty much every day. Most of the time, there is no particular recipe to follow - I simply add a bit of this a dash of that, a fusion of flavors, tailored to my taste...

For a while I've been leaning towards South East Asian cuisine - Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Myanmar... subtle differences in local ingredients and flavors make these unique, but many of them have similarities as well. If I am able to find the specific ingredients at the local Asian store, I am pretty excited to use it, else I try to substitute as possible.

Now, not having visited many of the SE Asian countries, I don't quite know the native aromas and presentation other than what I see in restaurants and books, so, no claim to authenticity here.

Curry leaves is an acquired taste - it is not quite bitter like the Neem leaf, but, has a mildly bitter flavor and some subtle undertones. Curry leaves and curry leaf powder (not the generic spice mix sold as "curry powder") are available at most Indian stores.

Any favorite combination of vegetables would be fine - I like eggplant and tofu typically, but also find that soups are a great way to use up the broccoli stems I save up after using the florets in other dishes.

Ingredients
Cari Chay Spice Mix:
2 tsp Madras curry powder
1 tsp Curry Leaf powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Annatto seed seasoning (Achiote) powder
1 tsp lemongrass powder
2 tsp brown sugar (less if preferred)
½ tsp turmeric powder
4 to 6 curry leaves

1 Tbsp finely chopped or grated ginger
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic

Vegetables— broccoli stem, potatoes, carrots, jalapenos, onions, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, tofu

14 fluid ounces coconut milk
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
salt to taste

Preparation

  1. Combine the Cari Chay Spice Mix and keep handy; chop the vegetables and keep ready
  2. Heat the oil in a pot, add the onions, ginger and garlic, sauté, then add the Cari Chay spice mix and sauté till aromatic
  3. Add the chopped vegetables, some salt, a splash of water, cover and cook till vegetables are cooked through yet firm, not mushy
  4. Stirin the coconut milk, simmer on medium low heat for about 4 to 5 minutes; off heat garnish with curry leaves
  5. Serve warm with Bánh mì or plain rice




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