imma confess something to you: i'm a terrible asian cook. what i mean by that is that i don't mess around with most asian ingredients like galangal, whatever animal blood, the various million varieties of curry pastes, fermented random stuff etc. yeah i enjoy me some asian foods but my pantry is well stocked with western ingredients. i stand in Hmart's condiment aisle and i have mini anxiety attacks. don't judge me.
and so i have made a goal this year to try my hand at a few asian techniques and ingredients. you guys get to watch me make an ass of myself. aren't you lucky?
first up, tamarind paste. i'm familiar with the taste but i never ever ever touched the stuff. until this weekend. refer to leela's method of preparing tamarind pulp.
this particular khmer soup has a spicy sour taste to it that is so pleasant. i have a huge pot of it on my stove & this is what i'll be tucking into for the week. nuria doesn't like leftovers. more for me.
Samlaw Machou Kroeung ~ Spicy Beef & Aubergine Soup
adapted from the complete vietnamese cookbook by Ghillie Basan
the cookbook does list measurements but i didn't really follow it, and as it turns out, i didn't follow the ingredient list very well either.
5 TBL kroeung, or in my case, Kaeng Kua Curry paste (it started with a K & well, i was overwhelmed!)
5 TBL tamarind extract
1-2 TBL fish sauce
2 TBL palm sugar
12 thai aubergines/eggplants, halved
1 bunch of watercress, trimmed & chopped
1 handful fresh curry leaves
salt/pepper to taste
1 kg beef shank or brisket (i used brisket)
2 large onions, quartered
2-3 carrots, cut into chunks
3.5 oz fresh gingger root, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
1 tsp peppercorns
2 TBL soy sauce
3-4 TBL fish sauce
3 Litres water
make stock with all the ingredients except for the soy and fish sauces. cover, bring to boil. reduce heat & simmer, covered, for about 2-3 hours. (this was done the night before)
take lid off and stir in remaining two ingredients, simmer, uncovered for an hour, until stock has reduced to about 2litres. skim off fat, strain stock & put aside. lift meat onto plate, tear into thin strips & put aside.
geat oil in a wok. stir in the paste along with the chillies. stir as it sizzles, until it begins to darken. add the tamarind extract, fish sauce, sugar and reserved stock. stir to mix well & bring to a boil.
reduce heat and add the reserved beef, aubergines and watercress. continue to cook for about 20 minutes, until the eggplants are tender.
meanwhile, in a frying pan, dry fry the curry leaves until they begin to crackle. set aside.
season soup to taste (i found i didn't need to). stir in half the curry leaves and ladle the soup into individual bowls. garnish the remaining leaves on top & serve.