RECIPE: SAFFRON AND SEAFOOD SOUP WITH SALTED PORK LEG, PARSLEY AND ABORIO RICE

BAZAARSAFFRONSOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 celery, finely chopped
  • 2 -3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 350 g Pollock
  • 2 lbs of bone in pork leg, with skin. Thais use the front legs, not the hams, for this dish.
  • 8 to 10 fresh Thai bird chilies, split in half (this will make a moderately spicy soup, use less if you don’t care for very spicy food, but don’t omit entirely, as without the heat this dish may seem a little heavy.)
  • About 7 cups of water
  • 2 plum tomatoes, each cut into quarters
  • 5 or 6 thinly sliced rounds of galangal root
  • 3 sticks of lemon grass. Smash each stalk flat with the side of a cleaver and then cut it into 1 or 2 inch sections
  • 5 lime leaves
  • ½ lb of white mushrooms (optional)
  • 3 Tbls of fish sauce
  • 2 Tbls of lime juice
  • ¼ cup of cilantro
  • A little oil for sauteeing
  • 250g medium green prawns
  • 750g mussels, cleaned, de-bearded
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish saffron threads
  • 1 red capsicum, de-seeded, chopped
  • 300g Calasparra rice
  • 750g squid, cleaned, cut into rings

METHOD:

  • Add the olive oil in a sauce pan and fry on low heat the onion, garlic and celery.
  • When the onion becomes golden, add the tomatoes and the glass of white wine, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add the bay leaf, stock and saffron, bring to boil, reduce the heat, cover with the lid and simmer during 25 minutes.
  • Cut the pollock in pieces of approximately 2 cm, peel the scampi leaving the tail and making a shallow cut along the back. Add the pollock to the soup and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Cut the pork leg into 1 inch thick segments. You’ll have to use a heavy cleaver to cut through the bones here. The size of the pieces doesn’t matter so much, as long as no piece is larger than can fit in a serving bowl.
  • To make the stock, shell the prawns and place the heads in a saucepan; reserve the meat. Add 750ml (3 cups) water and a bay leaf and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, then strain and reserve the stock. Discard solids.
  • Place mussels and wine in a saucepan, cover and cook over medium heat, checking every couple of minutes and removing mussels as they open. (Discard any unopened mussels.) Remove three-quarters of the mussels from their shells, discarding shells and their liquid. (Reserve remaining mussels in their shells to garnish.)
  • Heat a heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add saffron and dry-roast until fragrant. Add the reserved stock, cover and set aside to steep.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and capsicum and saute for 3-4 minutes until the onion has softened. Add rice and saffron stock, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Check and cook longer if necessary until rice is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the squid, reserved prawns and the herbs and cook for 5 minutes until seafood is just cooked. Add the mussels and serve hot, garnished with the reserved mussels in the shells.
  • Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy skillet, and once hot add in the pork pieces, working in batches if necessary, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Brown the pork pieces well on all sides over medium heat. Take a little time with this step to get a nice browning all over, as this browned meat creates a lot of flavor and once you add the pork ato the soup – it will brown no further.
  • Put your 7 cups of water into a sauce pot and bring it to a boil, and then add in the lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal route, and let it boil for about a minute before finally adding in the pork pieces.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the pork for about an hour, or until it is reasonably tender. The water will have reduced somewhat – but that’s OK, you want to end up with about 5 cups of liquid in the end.
  • While the pork is cooking, toast the dried chili by sautéing it for a minute or so in a little vegetable oil in a fry pan set over medium. Once the chili takes on some color and starts puffing up, remove it from the heat, or it may start to burn.
  • After the pork is tender, add in the onion, the tomato, the mushrooms, the fish sauce, the MSG (if using) and the fresh chilies.
  • Simmer the soup for about 5 minutes, just to soften the vegetables somewhat and then add in the lime juice and the dried chilies.
  • Taste for seasoning and add more lime juice, fish sauce, or even salt, if necessary.
  • Serve in individual bowls, making sure everyone gets a good chunk of meat to work on in their spicy broth. Garnish each bowl with fresh cilantro on the top.
  • Serve with parsley on top season with salt and pepper according to taste.