The greats of broth: Mark Hix's refreshing Asian soups

Asian broths make the most perfect comfort food, especially the morning or lunchtime after a heavy night. The depth of flavour of the broth, combined with the fresh ingredients added at the end, makes them truly re-energising. They're also quick to make, especially if you use dashi (dried bonito flakes) or kombu (kelp) as a base for the soup. It's funny that we sometimes go to extreme lengths to make a broth, when a piece of seaweed or dried fish can make stock that tastes equally as good.

Some broths, such as the Vietnamese pho, require long, slow cooking, but this week I have concentrated on giving you recipes for quick and easy Asian soups that you can knock up in an instant.

Scallop and seaweed broth

Serves 4

Don't throw away the scallop skirts surrounding the nut of meat once you have cleaned them, as they are great used to flavour a broth like this, or even deep-fried afterwards. If you're not a dab hand with a knife then ask your fishmonger to clean your scallops for you and reserve the skirts.

You can buy seaweed in Asian supermarkets, as well as seaweed salad mixes which are ideal for garnishing soups like this. Dashi is a soup or stock base that is made from dried kombu or kelp and dried bonito flakes and can bought in instant form; or you can simmer bonito flakes and kombu in water until the stock reaches the correct strength.

4 medium scallops, cleaned, with the roe and skirt reserved
1.5ltrs dashi (instant or fresh)
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
10g mixed seaweed for salad
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely shredded on the angle

Put the scallop skirts in a saucepan with the dashi, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and strain through a fine meshed sieve into a clean saucepan.

Add the dry seaweed salad mix to the strained soup and leave for 5-10 minutes. To serve, bring the soup to the boil, adding the spring onions and the roe, then cut each scallop into 4 thin slices and place in the bottom of 4 warmed soup bowls and pour the soup over.

Chicken and black fungus broth

Serves 4-6

I always keep a selection of Asian mushrooms in my larder, as it's so handy to be able to dig them out and soak them for soups such as this one. You can also buy most of the Asian mushrooms fresh these days; but remember that the good thing about the dried variety is you can use the soaking liquor in the broth when making soups.

For the broth

2 free-range chicken legs
1.5ltrs chicken stock
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, washed and roughly chopped
40-50g root ginger, roughly chopped
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
4tbsp light soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
The stalks from the coriander

To serve

30-40g dried weight of black fungus, soaked overnight in cold water
6 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
A handful of coriander leaves, torn

Put the chicken legs into a saucepan with all of the other broth ingredients and the liquor from the soaked mushrooms, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for an hour and strain through a fine meshed sieve, reserving the chicken legs and discarding the other bits. To serve, shred the black fungus, skim the stock of any fat and if necessary, add the mushrooms and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Remove the meat from the chicken legs and cut into even-sized chunks. Put the chicken, spring onions, black fungus and coriander into warmed soup bowls and pour over the hot stock.

Prawn and chive soup

Serves 4

This is one of those simple soups you often see in high-end Chinese restaurants. It's important to use good quality sea-water prawns, as the shells enhance the broth – I use fresh Red Sea prawns from Waitrose. And those thick Chinese chives with the flowers attached make an excellent garnish.

1.5ltrs fish stock
A piece of root ginger weighing about 30-40g, scraped and chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
The shells from the prawns (see below)

To serve

12 medium fresh Red Sea prawns, peeled and shells reserved
2 egg whites
8-10 Chinese chives, finely chopped

Put the fish stock in a pan with the ginger, garlic, onion and prawn shells, bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 30 minutes then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean pan and return to a low simmer. To serve, cool about half a cup of the stock a little and lightly whisk with the egg whites. Cut the prawns in half and simmer gently in the stock for 2-3 minutes until just cooked, then add the chives. Mix in the egg-white mix, and stir for a minute, then remove from the heat and serve.

Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all