So, what's in that Asian soup anyway?? I'm just calling this Asian soup because I got so excited about having things to make this that I sort of went...bi-country. Japan and Vietnam, two of my favorite regional cusines (along with too many more to mention, but they are the base of so much excellent food), both with amazing histories...yeah yeah, you feel a tangent coming on but no, not tonight. Really. I'll leave the French influence on Vietnamese food for another time or never. All I can say is...if you haven't had a truly well done soup from either country, it's time to get out there and find someplace to have one and chat up the owners (because for the best of those kinds of places it's Mom & Dad and family running the show) about what is in your favorite.
My aunt, who is 94, or 1035, I'm never sure, is allergic to a few things. Fish, of any sort. Not shell fish, just fish fish. And mustard. Either of those will send her to the emergency room (ok, it will send her into a long saga of why she should be in the emergency room...trust me, I've been there and done that). Upshot being, she'd never...in her whole globe trotting life, eaten VietNamese food, due to too much potential for contamination from oils or other ingrediants. One time when I was living in Florida and she came to see me (she was young then, probably in her early 70's), I asked her if she'd like to go eat Vietnamese food. This is a woman who washes EVERY SINGLE THING that is to be recycled. And gets mad if I don't. So she let me know that there was no way she could EVER eat this food. I asked her to trust me, with the proviso that she'd had a fine, full life and if she dropped dead, I'd be sorry but I'd take care of everything. She agreed to trust me. I took her to my favorite spot where I probably ate three times a week - it was cheaper (and more delicious) than eating at home, and they knew me well. Skipping lots (me making Kai swear he'd not kill my aunt, etc), she ate her first Vietnamese meal, didn't die and still is surprised. How, she wondered, did I get to know those people so well? Ah, grasshopper...in my family, one doesn't get to know the owners of restaurants, but I'm Daughter-Rebel San...it is okay. Luckily, my brother is the same, so my dear Auntie just trembles in her love for us and bears it.
Good thing I didn't tangent, eh?
Ok, MJ's Asian soup:
2 cups of water/chicken broth (natch, broth is better, low or no sodium broth better yet...make your own!)
Leftover bits of chicken cut into slivers 1/2 cup? - you don't need much, really, it's almost more for flavor than substance.
Handful of chives cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Tofu - (truthfully? I love tofu, but I should have used lo mein noodles - stick rice noodles in the real world would be even better: however, we have lo mein by Roland, and I use them & love them) cut into squares
Ginger - pinch of fresh, grated
Hot pepper - one or two of any kind, I used jalepeno and Chris's peppers - if you don't have fresh, a teaspoonful of rooster sauce (found in the Asian market of your choice...it is the red hot sauce with a green rooster on it) will work
I also added some racao (which would be like cilantro) some mint, some lemon balm and some lemon grass from the garden. It all worked well, but I especially liked what the mint did for the soup, though I've never seen this in any recipe for ...well, there is no recipe for this.
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
So what you end up with here is my Culebra bastardized version of hot & sour soup, and pho made with chicken. Sort of. The tofu was okay (not like in miso soup, which is where it belongs), and I'll use the noodles next time. But...it was GOOOOOOOOOOOD!!! And I ate it all up.
And, because in my fondest dreams the garden will continue to take a bigger and bigger place in these recipes, a few shots from this afternoon. I'm sparing you the redux of Hitchcock II, a rather startling screaming, cawing, diving weird moment much closer to my little dock (though I did get some great shots and if someone begs nicely, I'll provide). Every time I look at this, and think of the tiny seeds...Oh! great veggie guy moment today. I told the veggie guy I'd planted one of those little onions and it was growing beautifully (should have a pic of this, maybe tomorrow) and he said, No no! Our job is to grow, yours is to buy! But I bet they try it this week! I love those guys.
The tomato plants continue to renew and re-give. One day you only see a bunch of tomatoes and the next, some red beauty is shining.
Aji Cabellero...oh the pique! Like Thai peppers, these little peppers are small yet powerfully hot
I had to include this frigate, who is black black black but by some trick of light appears pale. He was very close to me, much closer than this looks...he'd been diving and wheeling from overhead, snatching snacks and generally ignoring or intimidating me....what a glorious flighter.