When we honeymooned in Thailand, I was blown away by how such delicious food could be made with such simple ingredients. Everything was so fresh and clean, so quick to prepare (if you discounted the seemingly endless hours – or so it felt to our western-arms – of bashing things in the mortar and pestle to make curry pastes), and so delightful for the tastebuds.
The Thai ability to balance the flavours – sweet, salty, sour and spicy – has been something of an enigma to me; something I will always strive towards perfecting. This broth is my attempt at creating something reflecting this – but has made me realise that what tastes balanced to my palate, might not to yours.
If you try this recipe, start with a minimal amount of the four flavours, and add more to suit your own tastes. The measurements given here are approximations, and are my maximums, but as with all cooking, you have free reign to make it the way you like it!
Thai-Style Chicken Broth – serves 4
300g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1-2T vegetable oil
4c chicken stock (preferably homemade, but if you do use bought, it will be a bit saltier)
2T soy sauce
1T lemongrass (either freshly chopped, or from a jar or tube)
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1-2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, finely sliced into batons
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2-3 dried noodle “nests”
1T fish sauce
1T lime juice
2T palm or brown sugar
1 small handful coriander leaves
Heat oil in a frying pan, and brown the chicken quickly, without cooking completely. Set aside.
Place water, stock, soy, lemongrass, ginger and chillies into a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Add chicken, garlic, carrots, spring onions (and any other vegetables you fancy – I added red capsicum, which was lovely, but the mushrooms went a bit chewy so I’d leave them out!) and noodles; simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar; taste and adjust seasonings to your palate.
Add coriander and serve immediately.