Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up some energising summer Asian broths
Bill Granger has had a thirst for Asian broths ever since he went travelling in his twenties
Sunday 29 June 2014
Asian soups make the ultimate one-bowl meals, completely turning on its head the idea that soups are only for cold, winter days. Yes, of course they're restorative, thanks to their comforting and often fierce clear broths. But more than anything else I find them invigorating – a light, yet filling pit stop in the middle of a busy day, or the perfect meal to end it.
I first fell in love with them during a trip to Indonesia in my twenties, when I saw taxi drivers, students and businessmen slurping noodle soup for breakfast. I've since had them in Thai markets and ramen bars in London, Sydney and Tokyo; basically wherever and whenever I get the opportunity.
As with all food trends, some fans are probably taking it all too seriously – becoming almost fanatical in their search for the perfect broth. For me, it's all about a quick, cleansing, satisfying meal that can be enjoyed whatever the weather.
Hot-and-sour soup with curried fish cakes
I love those sinus-cleansing soups you get in northern China. Here I've been inspired by their use of sourness and tomatoes, but also looked to the flavours of Thailand for fragrance and heat.
For the fishcakes
500g firm white fish
1 tbsp red curry paste
3 lime leaves, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Juice 1 lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
Handful coriander, chopped
For the soup
3 tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp light-flavoured oil
1 litre chicken stock
3 slices fresh ginger
2 kaffir lime leaves
3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 baby pak choi, halved
Juice 1 lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
Small bunch mint
Small bunch coriander
Place all the ingredients for the fishcakes in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together, without becoming completely smooth. At this stage it might be too soft to shape, so chill in the fridge for 30 minutes if needed. Then, with wet hands, shape into golf-ball-sized fishcakes. Cover and keep in the fridge until needed.
For the soup, fry the curry paste in oil, add the chicken stock, 500ml of water, the ginger and lime leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fishcakes and pak choi and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until the fishcakes are cooked. Season the soup with lime juice and fish sauce. Ladle into four bowls and serve with fresh herbs, for everyone to add to taste.
Clam and brown rice miso
You often get a few clams at the bottom of your miso soup in Japan. They give a beautiful salty seafood quality to your soup. With a bit of brown rice and maybe some steamed spinach on the side, I'd happily have this clean, light broth as a weekday meal.
Clam and brown rice miso is a clean, light broth that can be served as a weekday meal (Tamin Jones)
30g of butter
½ tsp chilli flakes
2cm ginger, cut into thin strips
3 tbsp mirin
300g cooked brown rice
100g mangetout, shredded
3 spring onions, shredded
2 tbsp white miso paste
Melt the butter in a wide-based, shallow pan over a moderate heat. Add the chilli and ginger and fry until fragrant. Tip in the clams and pour in the mirin. Cover and steam over a high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the clams have opened. Discard any that remain closed.
Divide the rice between 4 bowls. Top with the clams and cooking juices, mangetout and spring onion. Stir the miso paste into a jug with 800ml of boiling water from the kettle. Pour into the soup bowls and serve.
Chicken curry soup
Comforting, yet light and summery, this cure-all broth is Asia's answer to chicken noodle soup.
Bill's chicken curry soup is comforting, yet light and summery (Tamin Jones)
1 tbsp light-flavoured oil
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 lemon-grass stalk, cut into thirds
1½ tbsp curry powder
750ml chicken stock
400ml tin coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp caster sugar
500g chicken-breast fillets
150g choi sum, cut into lengths
250g rice noodles, soaked in water, drained and rinsed
For the Onion relish
1 white onion, finely sliced on a mandoline
Handful coriander leaves
1 red chilli, cut in rounds
Juice ½ lime
1 tsp caster sugar
Combine all the ingredients for the relish in a bowl and set aside
For the soup, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon grass and cook for 1 minute. Add the curry powder and cook for another minute. Pour in the stock, 750ml of water, coconut milk, fish sauce and caster sugar. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Add the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the choi sum and remove from the heat. Leave for 3 minutes. Lift out the chicken and shred into large pieces. Divide the noodles between four bowls, top with the beansprouts and chicken. Ladle over the soup and serve with the relish.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, and 50 Sekforde Street, London EC1, tel: 020 7251 9032, grangerandco.com. Follow Bill on Instagram at bill_granger
Food preparation: Marina Filippelli; Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes
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