Friday, February 13, 2015

The Ultimate Home-Made Valentine's Day Dish - Mediterranean Fish Soup

Valentine's Day happens to be tomorrow 
When restaurants laugh to make our pockets hollow
So what do we do to avoid this scam?
Make something great at home? 
Of course you can!

Pardon my lameness to start yet another blogpost with some poetry. Anyway, after at least 3 separate requests for the recipe to my Mediterranean Seafood Soup last night, and considering it's a perfect dish to impress your loved one (as long as he/she is not vegetarian and likes seafood), I shall rush out the cooking instructions with some of my random pictures taken under poor lighting.

No home-made stock on hand, so used some decent store-bought ones

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • 8 large shrimp, around 500g
  • 200g of boneless fish fillet, skinned and cubed (picture below, I used wild sea bass)
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 can of chopped Italian tomato (I used chopped as they are skinless and seedless, you could use the full tomatoes as well but remember to remove the seeds if you don't want your soup to be too sour)
  • 200ml of chicken stock
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic (for shrimp stock)
  • 1 large handful of parsley (preferably flat-leaf, but curly ones will do too), finely chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)

Cubed fish fillet
Diced onion

Cooking Procedure:

  1. Shell and devein the shrimp. If you like the heads, leave the heads on, if not, remove the heads and set aside with the shell for the shrimp stock.
  2. Fry 2 cloves of garlic in a small pot till fragrant, add shrimp shells and heads, fry till the entire house smells of hae mee (prawn noodle) then pour in around 2-300ml of water to simmer into a nice shrimp stock.
  3. In a separate soup pot where the whole dish will be put together, sweat the onions in some good olive oil. This will take some time on medium heat, till the onions become sweet but do not take up too much colour.
  4. Deglaze the pot with a cup of white wine and wait for the alcohol to boil away.
  5. Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil, add bay leaves.
  6. At this point add in shrimp stock and chicken stock and bring the soup to a boil again.
  7. Add in fish fillet cubes.
  8. Before adding in the shrimp, make sure you are well prepared with chopsticks or tongs to remove them once cooked and prepare your serving plates/bowls.
  9. Once you are ready, add in the shrimp and remove them immediately onto your serving bowls once they cook through, we do not want overcooked rubbery jumbo shrimp on your Valentine's Day.
  10. Finally, while the soup is still bubbling hot, stir in your parsley and season the soup to your preferred taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve.
My Mediterranean Fish Soup

How can I sign off without leaving you with some important tips?

Number 1, this soup is exceptionally versatile. It can be cooked with any kind of seafood you prefer, so mussels, clams, squid, even crab will work beautifully. Just put in anything you can find. Just keep in mind that the most vital point is that every element needs to be extremely fresh, we don't want to take chances with anything that might spoil the whole pot of soup!

Number 2, this is a main course, not a starter. You eat this together with some nice bread or baked potato to complete a good meal. You need a lot of seafood in the soup (also to make the soup delicious). If the amount makes you feel that it might be slightly excessive, it's perfect.

Number 3, you can add some chopped fresh tomato as well, to spruce up the taste a little, but I still recommend you to use a can of tomatoes as the base, because unless we use those expensive imported tomatoes, it's unlikely the standard ones we find in our markets can provide enough flavour to the soup.

Number 4, Do not overcook the seafood!

Number 5, Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Belated Birthday Letter for Noah's 3rd Birthday

Dear Noah

We just had your birthday gathering yesterday with a small group of neighbours, and Daddy has to apologise for nearly forgetting to put the customary yummy Foochow chicken soup on the table for you. It was really comforting to see you chomping it down during dinner though, and to know that you enjoyed your little birthday 'party'.

Our very different birthday picture this year, with 4 of us instead of 3

In view of you reaching the ripe old age of 3, Daddy has 2 precious words for you, 2 words that I hope you will hold dear to your heart and execute in the very near future.

1. Unbind

Your have been bound by diapers virtually 24 hours a day for 3 full years already. So long, that you know all different models of diapers by heart and tell me which kind you want to wear during different parts of the day.

This can be partly due to Daddy and Mummy, who want to give you time and freedom to decide when you are ready to go to the toilet by yourself. We are still standing by that decision and will continue to give you the time and space your require. BUT the amount of diapers Daddy has been pulling off the shelves now with Ellie's arrival is nothing short of insane, and honestly I have more than once attempted to wrap Ellie's tiny butt up in your ginormous undies.

SO, I hope 2015 is a good time for you to finally unbind. You will not regret the decision.

I am 3 years old from now onwards!

2. Unwind Unwhine, yes seriously, unwhine

Don't be confused. Yes, the word is not even in the Urban Dictionary, but that's what you've given me since I've become your Daddy. Unlimited bouts of creativity and inspiration, so much so that I have come up with new words that are destined for parenting blog greatness.

Ok, back to the point.

Noah, please stop whining, because whining does not get you anything, well not in my house at least, or in any house with me around. I always pray for more patience, but my patience runs out whenever you start whining, mostly without reason at all!

I promise you I will tell you, in a nice manner, to stop when you whine, but please do everyone a favour and stop!

My 2 words for you seem harsh, but I love you very much Noah, I really do. So much so that I am dedicating my blog's 200th post to you.

What a birthday means to a child, and thank you everyone for the gifts!

My day starts with sending you to school, and ends with putting you to sleep in my arms, there's nothing much left in my world if you're not in it.

So happy birthday Noah, one last time, till the clock strikes 1st of February again in 2016.

Noahdaddy aka Stranger in Bangkok

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