Simple and moving, this seafood soup will rejuvenate you from the rainy day blues | Eat Drink

Bursting with seafood, this soup is a perfect comfort food for a rainy day. – Photos of CK Lim

KUALA LUMPUR, December 18 – The nights are getting colder. Many evenings it rains. We want to be wrapped up in a thick blanket, to snuggle up against our faithful bolster. We want to be warm and to be comforted.

A large bowl of hot soup would do that too. Wouldn’t that be beautiful right now?

Recently, I thought of the sea. From the beach of Nai Harn where I spent a bouilabaise instead of tom yam talay one would expect in Thailand, more Provencal than Phuket, full of squid, prawns and fish.

I remember the centollas chupe I had in Chile, a hearty stew made from grated king crab meat. Sapporo’s creamy and funky ramen broth with niboshi (small dried sardines).

The ultimate in Chinese cuisine in the form of a half-day simmered chicken soup in Taipei, evoking the finest ingredients – free-range hens, premium scallops and dry cured meats jīnhuá huǒtuǐ.

In each memory, the sweet and brackish scent of the sea. From squid to scallops, the sea calls out to me. Mare in Italian, talay in Thai. The sea, the sea.

I want to recreate that flavor, color and cacophony in a bowl, but on my own terms.

This is what I found.

Bursting with fish and scallops, squid and shrimp, this soup is a perfect comfort food for rainy days. A touching bowl of seafood goodness.

Adding tomatoes and pickled mustard leaves or hmm honey (literally “salted vegetables” in Cantonese) add a mild acidity to the simmered broth; partly fresh and partly fermented acidity.

It is the taste of home cooking in its simplest form, with the best ingredients and the best intentions. A bowl full of love, to share with family or to savor alone while waiting to be reunited with loved ones.

It is above all a bowl that will chase away the rainy day blues and fill you with the warmth of the summer sun that will return.

A SIMPLE SEAFOOD SOUP

With enough seafood, you can just use water for your broth. However, if you happen to have some stock on hand, such as a homemade dish shiong pliers (“Superior stock” in Cantonese) prepared earlier and frozen for such occasions, use them.

Besides fish, the assortment of seafood can include squid, scallops and shrimp.
Besides fish, the assortment of seafood can include squid, scallops and shrimp.

Besides the fish, which is the basis of the broth, the assortment of seafood can include squid, scallops and shrimp. Whatever you want; Frozen works just as well here as fresh, and could be more convenient.

Get rid of fishy smells with green onion and ginger.
Get rid of fishy smells with green onion and ginger.

If you are worried about fishy smells, eliminate them by adding green onion and ginger. These aromatics also perfume the final soup and give it a more balanced taste.

Marinated mustard leaves or
Marinated mustard leaves or “hum choy” (literally “salted vegetables” in Cantonese).

Don’t forget to rinse your pickled mustard leaves or hmm honey properly before using, otherwise the soup may become too salty.

In season, ripe tomatoes are full of flavor.
In season, ripe tomatoes are full of flavor.

In season, ripe tomatoes are full of flavor. If you find the tomatoes to be a bit bland or runny, one trick is to squeeze out as much liquid as possible before adding them to the soup. Half a teaspoon of tomato paste can help you get the acidity you want here.

Cut a tube of Japanese tofu into thick pieces like these.
Cut a tube of Japanese tofu into thick pieces like these.

Typically, I would use blocks of soft white tofu in soups like these. However, using Japanese tofu (which gets its golden hue from the addition of eggs) can mix things up a bit. Cut a tube of Japanese tofu into large pieces and add them at the end of cooking to prevent them from crumbling.

Ingredients

200g marinated mustard leaves (hmm honey)

3 liters of superior broth (or water)

500g of fish of your choice, sliced

2 ripe tomatoes, sliced

1-2 stalks of green onion, cut into sticks

4-5 slices of ginger

100 g of sliced ​​squid

4-6 whole scallops

6-8 whole shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tube of Japanese tofu, sliced

Salt and white pepper to taste

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Method

Rinse the pickled mustard leaves (hmm honey) in advance to make sure they are not too salty. You can also soak them in water for an hour before draining and rinsing them. Coarsely slice the rinsed vegetables.

Add broth (or water), sliced ​​fish, pickled mustard greens, sliced ​​tomatoes, green onions, ginger to a large pot or skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once it has boiled, reduce to a simmer.

A touching bowl of seafood goodness.
A touching bowl of seafood goodness.

Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes. Towards the end of cooking, say five minutes before turning off the heat, add the calamari, scallops, shrimp and Japanese tofu. You don’t want to add them too early to avoid overcooking them.

You may want to serve from your pot or pan straight to the table.
You may want to serve from your pot or pan straight to the table.

Taste and season with salt and white pepper accordingly. Pour into smaller bowls; you may want to serve from your pot or pan straight to the table. Decorate with coriander leaves and serve immediately while still hot.

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