malay infused seafood soup
This is my all-time favourite winter soup recipe. It lies very close to my heart for two reasons – I was introduced to this recipe by my wonderful chef friend, Louis Verwey (the recipe was very different then and I developed it as I went along into what it is today) and secondly this recipe took me through to the Top 50 of Masterchef SA and earned three overwhelming and resounding yes’s from judges Andrew, Bennie and Pete. My Masterchef journey was an incredible experience, it was an amazing roller coaster ride of emotions, nerves and sheer excitement but the best part was meeting all the fantastic people who all share a common passion – cooking! This adventure re-ignited in me the fire and a burning desire to learn and share in the fun, frivolity and sheer pleasure that comes with cooking and everything culinary. I am very proud to have made it into the Top 35 only to be booted out on the potato challenge. Needless to say I have not cooked or peeled a potato again – but that is a story for another day…enough about me…back to this exquisite soup …
Preparation and cooking time: +- 45 minutes
For the stock:
1 celery stick, chopped (with the leaves)
1 onion, cut in half (I keep the skin on – I only peel the onion if I want to make a clear stock)
1 carrot, chopped (…again keep the skin on – didn’t we learn that all the nutritional value lies in the skin?)
5 black pepper corns
2 cardamom pods
1 clove of garlic cut in half
1 small bunch of parsley
350g white fish – I use small whole hakes which I cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, finely grated
24 mussels in ½ shell
400 g kingklip (or any other firm white fish), cut into cubes of +- 2.5cm x 2.5cm
12 de-veined prawns with shells – I love to keep heads on – if you do take the heads off, don’t discard these….add them to your stock
45 ml flour
10 ml masala (I mix my own from the following ground ingredients: 15 ml turmeric, 15ml cumin, 10 ml coriander, 10 ml fennel, 15 ml hot “curry powder” this you can get from your local spice shop or supermarket)
30 ml tomato paste
1 ½ chicken stock cube, crumbled
2 large tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
Juice of ½ small lemon
For the gremolata:
30 ml chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Zest of one lemon
One big squeeze of lemon juice
30 ml olive oil
1. Prepare your stock by adding the first 9 ingredients in a pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Take the mussels and place them in a sieve and then put it in the stock to cook for 2 minutes. I do this to infuse the juices in the stock (and to defrost if still frozen). Take out and leave aside.
3. Repeat the same process with the prawns – leave to simmer for about 3-4 minutes in the stock. Take out and set aside
4. Take the stock and strain through a very fine sieve. Set aside. (You can discard the stock ingredients but it does make for a very nutritious and fishy treat for my two canine children!)
5. Add the finely grated garlic to this stock.
6. Now, melt the butter in a pot. Add the flour to make a roux. Stir for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and masala. Stir well.
7. Add the warm stock – ladle by ladle – whisking briskly to make sure it does not form lumps. Once you have added the stock, bring it up to simmer – you will see that it has now thickened.
8. Add the stock cube and the chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir well.
9. Now add the raw fish and let it simmer for +-3 minutes, then add the prawns and mussels.
10. Add the lemon juice and stir lightly – be careful not to break the fish! Season for taste by adding salt and pepper, lemon juice.
11. Simmer for a 5-10 minutes.
12. Lastly, mix the last 4 ingredients together to make the gremolata and set aside
13. To serve – in the bottom of a soup bowl put a dollop of the gremolata. Take the prawns out of the soup and place 2 prawns on each plate, add 3 or more pieces of fish. Strain the fish soup through a sieve and pour in the bowl around the fish and prawns. Add 3-4 mussels on top.
14. Garnish with a few drops of gremolata on top.
15. Serve immediately.
Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.