This is a very laissez-faire recipe actually: the aromatic broth can be made days ahead and can be frozen too. Packed full of flavour, it offers a cornucopia of delectation and does so persuasively that I use it as the base for many recipes.
If you can’t get bok choy, don’t be put off making this; baby spinach, napa cabbage, red cabbage, celery, sorrel or mustard greens could be substituted. Similarly, replace rice with other cooked grain or millets. And this recipe is worth bearing in mind even when your starting point is not meat: if you were to bung in some prawns or leftover chicken at the end, this would make for a fabulous dinner for omnivores.
What you will need – (for 4 servings)
For the broth:
- Shiitake mushrooms – 6-7 dried (roughly 80g)
- Peanut oil – 2 tablespoon
- Red onion – 1 medium (roughly 60g), quartered
- Carrot – 2 medium (roughly 120g), chopped in large chunks
- Lemongrass stalks – 2, bashed with the back of a knife and trimmed to 1 inch pieces
- Galangal root – 2 inch, sliced thick
- Garlic cloves – 5-6, unpeeled, smashed
- Bird’s eye chillies – 3-4 (1 gram), slit
- Kaffir lime leaves – 4-5, torn
- Water – 5 cups or as needed
- Spring onion – 2 stalks, white parts removed
- Soy Sauce – 3 tablespoon
- Rice Wine Vinegar – 3 tablespoon
- Coconut Sugar – 1 tablespoon
- Black peppercorns – 6-7, roughly crushed
- Star anise – 3
- Sea Salt flakes – 1/2 teaspoon
For add on:
- Rice – 1/3 cup, uncooked (I use unpolished sonamasoori, but any brown rice should work just as well)
- White button mushrooms – 7-8, sliced (roughly 80 g)
- Shiitake mushroom tops – 6-7 (reserved from the broth)
- Carrot – 1 small, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- Baby Bok choy – 1, stems and leaves chopped into 1 inch chunks
- A few sprigs of fresh coriander and some chopped spring onion
- Chilli oil and toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- Soak Shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup hot water for atleast an hour. Once rehydrated, separate stalks from the tops and reserve everything, soaking liquid included.
- Heat oil in a heavy pan on medium heat and add quartered onions. Leave untouched for 2 mins or till the onions are lightly browned. This golden carapace helps build flavour, careful not to burn it to a blackened crisp.
- Now add garlic, lemongrass, galangal root and carrots. Sauté for 5 mins.
- Once the carrots have lightly brown edges, add in soaking liquid and stalks from the shiitake mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, chillies, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, coconut sugar, black peppercorns, star anise, spring onion and sea salt. Top with 5 cups water or more, enough to cover everything.
- Bring to a boil on medium high heat, then reduce to low and simmer for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, cook the rice, sauté white button mushrooms and bok choy stems. Set aside.
- Once the broth is done, strain with a fine mesh strainer.
- Add to a bowl and top with add ons as desired. I prefer to add 1/4 cup cooked rice per serving and lots of bok choy.
- Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, chilli oil and serve
Storage notes –
Broth can be made and kept for 4-5 days in the fridge or frozen for up to a month.
If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!