Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fermented Black Bean, Octopus, Tapioca Thread Noodle Soup

This soup is very healthy and delicious!  This is a chopstick and spoon soup that is fun to eat.
     The broth is a Japanese dashi broth with fermented black bean paste.  The little octopus have a very mild flavor and are a fat free protein.  Sometimes I post a recipe with a plain English name rather than risking an incorrect spelling or meaning by using a foreign language recipe name.  Especially if it is a language that I am still learning.  This style of cooking is Vietnamese, but some of the ingredients are from other areas of asia.  Pho describes rice noodles, but it doesn't always describe tapioca thread noodles.  Tapioca thread noodles are commonly referred to as glass noodles.
     Recipe:  Boil enough water for a large bowl of soup. 
     Add some dried bonito flakes and some seaweed.
     Boil the dashi broth for ten minutes.
     Strain the broth and discard the bonito and seaweed.
     Return the dashi broth to the heat and bring it to a boil.
     Add a few pinches of minced ginger and garlic.
     Add a few drops of sesame oil.
     Add a splash of soy sauce.
     Add a small amount of fermented black bean paste.  (Fermented black bean paste is very salty, so don't add too much.  A spoonful is enough to flavor this recipe.)
     Add a pinch of five spice powder and white pepper.
     Add some sliced onion and celery.
     Add some large green onion pieces.
     Add some chopped red bell pepper.
     Add some baby bok choy that sliced lengthwise into quartered wedges.
     Before the vegetables are cooked al dente, add a few tentacle parts of very small octopus.
     Octopus cooks fully in just 30 seconds.  Add the octopus last and don't cook them too long of a time or they will become tough and rubbery textured!
     Pour the broth into a large bowl.  (A large soup or stew bowl is traditional for these kinds of soups.)
     Place and arrange the soup vegetables and octopus in the soup bowl so it is appealing to the eye.
     Place a small mound of cooked tapioca thread noodles on the center of the soup.
     Garnish the soup with a large Thai basil sprig.
     The vegetables should be cooked so they still have a little crisp bite to them.  (Al dente)  The flavor of this soup broth is soothing and complex.  The vegetables, octopus and noodles are eaten with chopsticks.  This soup entree takes only about twenty minutes to prepare.  Quick cooked soups like this are very healthy.  Yum! ...  Shawna

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