The basis of all good noodle soups such as ramen, pho and laksa is unquestionably a rich and tasty stock. Good quality stock cubes are a store cupboard staple and bone broth is easy to make - the addition here are the prawn shells, which are gently fried in oil first. Not only do they supply a depth of flavour, they give the stock a wonderful rich colour. Use a large pan for this and gently build up the stock to your own taste. You can make your own curry paste using chilies, dried shrimp, shrimp paste, garlic and ginger, but I use shop bought Tom Yum which has plenty of lemongrass, lime leaf, chili and ginger, along with that unmistakable Thai taste. I know I’m mixing my Asian soups here, but there are so many possible components that you can make the perfect one for you simply by layering up the flavours.
Nutritionally, a good stock with plenty of ginger, garlic, chili and limejuice to finish it off is great immune system booster. Prawns are a ‘complete’ protein and contain good amounts of healthy Omega 3 fats too. A good source of iron, selenium, copper and immune essential supporting zinc, as well as B12, B6 and niacin, prawns can support the nervous system and help replenish red blood cells. The pink colour of cooked prawns comes from Astaxathin, a potent antioxidant that, with selenium has a significant role to play in cellular health. They are of course low in calories and totally delicious too!
For this simple broth you will need:
10 + large raw prawns, shell on
1 bunch of fresh coriander with stalks
1 heaped dessert-spoon of Tom Yum or Laksa paste
additional ginger, garlic, lemongrass, fresh green chili
a little sesame oil
500 mls chicken stock
500 mls water
1 can coconut milk (400ml)
egg or rice noodles
spring onions, shredded veg, sliced fresh chili etc to garnish
Remove the shells from the prawns and lightly fry them in a flavourless oil until they are starting to caramelise. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add the curry paste and check the heat and flavours. Add more sliced garlic, coins of ginger, fresh chili, bashed lemon grass and all of the coriander stalks as you see fit. Simmer for 30 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, cook your noodles in boiling water and set aside with a drizzle of sesame oil to stop them sticking together.
When you're happy with the stock, strain it and return it to the pan. Bring back to the boil and then drop in the raw prawns. Add the coconut milk.
Put a portion of noodles a bowl. Sprinkle with sesame oil and add a little fresh chili and a good helping of fresh coriander leaves. Ladle in the hot stock with prawns. Garnish with shredded spring onions, mange tout or any other veg you fancy, plus more coriander leaves. Slurp to your hearts delight!