Adding lime…

OK, so today I kick off my 4 part ‘Asian Cooking Tutorial’ series (sorry, couldn’t think of a better name). Most of my friends and family are exceptional cooks, but the ONE thing I MIGHT be able to ‘beat’ them on is Asian Style cooking! Hence my little series, you know, to give them a helping hand and all (hehe, only kidding)! Anyways, after living in Sydney for a year (in the heart of China Town), I picked up not only the taste for all things Asian but also a couple of cooking tips. And so we begin…

A while ago the Elle Deco team got together for a soup swap. I bet you’re thinking why I am talking about soup when it’s nearing Summer but trust me, this soup I made is THE perfect Summer dish! Since then I have made it numerous times and have gotten many a compliment on it (yes, I did just brag but that means peeps will compliment you when you make it too).

This recipe was originally found on Taste.com.au but here I’ve added my own twists to ‘my’ Chicken & Coconut soup:


Ingredients (serves 4)
4 stalks lemongrass, white part only, bruised
12 kaffir dry lime leaves, crushed
5cm piece fresh galangal thinly sliced
2 x 400ml cans coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock
2 (about 400g) chicken breast fillets
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbs real lime juice
1 tbs finely chopped palm sugar
1 carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks
2 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
2 red birds-eye chillies, thinly sliced diagonally
A bunch of coriander

Method:
1. Place the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, coconut milk and chicken stock in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook, covered, for 1 hour to  develop the flavours.
2. Add the chicken to the stock mixture and cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken to a heatproof bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Shred the chicken with your fingers.
3. Pour the stock mixture though a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Discard the lemongrass mixture. Place over medium heat and add the chicken, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated though.
4. Ladle soup among serving bowls. Top with the spring onion and chilli slices and a healthy dose of coriander leaves.

Cooking tips:
If you don’t have or can’t find galangal (Pick n Pay does sell it already crushed), you can easily substituted it with FRESH ginger
The same goes with palm sugar – substitute with brown sugar.
Kaffir Lime leaves can be bought from most grocery stores in a bottle. If you’re like me and shop at your local Chinese store and buy a bag – check the quality of the leaves. If they don’t smell instantly like lime then you are going to need to double/triple the quantity stated above to get the desired taste.
Fish sauce should also be available at your local grocery store. I strongly advise going to a Chinese store and buying the big 750ml bottle with the green lid and squid pic on it. Tastes much better and is cheaper too.
I find one can lite coconut milk mixed with one regular is good, otherwise it can get quite rich.
I tend to cut the chicken breast into thirds and then under cook the it ever slightly because it cooks further when shredded and placed back into the soup. This way it prevents it from drying out and getting chewy.
I found this soup lacking a bit of substance (for a main meal anyways) so I throw in some vermicelli noodles in the strained soup while the chicken is cooling. I put in a small bunch and add a little bit of water as they tend to absorb a lot of the soup.
make sure you use real limes – it really does make a difference. I even serve the soup with an extra lime wedge.
Be careful about your chili encrusted fingers. Do NOT rub your eyes – this gets me EVERY time and it seems the only solution is lots of washing (although, I am sure there is a better one I just don’t know of yet).

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