Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Hot and Sour Noodle Soup

Sometimes, when you're feeling under the weather - stressed, over-worked, hungover or just plain old tired - you need food that actively makes you feel healed with every mouthful. Something fresh, zesty and spicy enough to make your tongue burn just a little.

I found myself in such a position last night - a big weekend full of friends, gigs, pizzas, work and late nights had left me feeling a little jaded and it was only Monday. A whole week still to get through. Drastic food action was needed, and so this delicious bowl of health was called into play. It was mainly made up as I went along, using all the flavours and ingredients I craved - whatever I had in the house. It did the job: the warmth of the chilli defugged my brain, at least temporarily, and the fresh umami of the broth seemed to undo all the bad work of the pizza and chips from the weekend. That's what I'm telling myself anyway...

Try this next time you're feeling in need of a restorative lift.

Hot and Sour Noodle Soup with Tofu
Serves 2


For the broth:
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tbsp soy sauce (more to taste)
1 tsp chilli flakes
Juice of 1 lime
Dash fish sauce
Dash sweet chilli sauce
Dash sesame oil
Sprinkling dried ginger

For the stir-fry bit:
Mix of sunflower and sesame oil
1 sliced onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
A good mix of sliced veg - carrots, peppers, courgettes, mushrooms, baby corn - whatever you fancy really
1 pack marinated tofu chunks (the kind that doesn't need additional cooking)

3 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
4 tsp lightly toasted sesame seeds
1 block of dried noodles per person

1. Place all ingredients for the broth in a large saucepan, cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the flavours are good and mingled.
2. When the broth is almost ready, heat the oil in a wok and fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the vegetables and tofu; stir-fry for about 5 minutes until cooked but it still has bite.
3. Meanwhile, boil the noodles as per packed instructions. Place each serving in individual bowls. Place stir-fried veg on top, followed by generous ladles of the hot and spicy broth. Garnish with a sprinkle of spring onions and sesame seeds and serve immediately.

1. This could work equally well with stir-fried chicken or even pork instead of tofu.
2. If saving leftovers to trasnsport to work next day, store all components separately and construct and reheat at the last minute to avoid soggy noodles.

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