This one is inspired by the rain, the pak choi in the recent delivery, a leftover roast chicken carcass, a craving for Chinese food and soup and a trip to actual China (but it relies on quite a bit more “gut feeling” than actual “knowledge of Chinese cooking” so there are no claims here to authenticity) ….but it turned out to be a pretty reasonable facsimile and either way a good soup.
Hopefully you have peanut oil (or butter), sesame oil, vermicelli, fish sauce, sherry and soy kicking around. If not, one quick trip to a Chinese grocer will get you all of these things – and they are handy to have around. Oh yeah, the garden’s peppers also aren’t ready yet, so hot sauce or chili flakes or cayenne will have to do for now.
Take a chicken carcass and boil it with a couple cloves of garlic and about 2 litres of water for about the time it takes to chop up the rest of the stuff and watch a few youtube videos about jellyfish reproduction or something.
Dice up a big handful of kale, a small handful of cilantro and a couple large green onions. Wash the pak choi and cut it length-wise in 4ish. If you want to get fancy or do some complicated mental math and angle calculations and stuff, go ahead and cut in 5 …its up to you! Nice big chunks though.
When you feel you fully understand the wonders of the invertebral ocean or the stock seems done, strain the chicken gunk into another pot temporarily to have clear broth. mmm. Put the large hot pot that is now empty back on the element, toss a generous amount of pepper right onto the hot steel for a few seconds. Drizzle in some sesame oil. After another few seconds, toss the now-strained broth back in. You can toss the kale in so it gets nice and soft. You can also add in some sherry (or wine, or vinegar, or lime). Some soy. Some salt. Peanut oil. Add a few drops of fish sauce. Fish sauce is amazing. Smells horrible, but in moderation, adds something. Anyway… Also some chilis or hot sauce to your liking. Experiment with amounts of the above. We did. Just don’t skimp on the salt.
Now quick, get two eggs frying.
Ok, back to the soup. Add a little bundle of vermicelli. It won’t take long. Lastly, drop in the pak choi. You aren’t going to cook very much at all. You can even turn the stove off now. When the pak choi softens…
Put it in bowls. Sprinkle fresh cilantro on everything. Top each bowl with a fried egg. Serve with chopsticks for full effect.
Anders Swanson, Guest Chef