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
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Environment
A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
tech

Company decides to go for simply scary after criticising other sites for 'creepy and targeted' advertising

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
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

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past