Clear Soup

Clear soups (gaeng jood ) are a favourite at the curry stall. Contrary to any impressions you may have about Thai cuisine, it's not all about heat. A Thai meal is a balance between spicy, salty, sweet and sour. Clear soups provide the perfect middle ground when there are other highly seasoned dishes on the table.

Clear Soup

Clear Soup (<em>gaeng jood</em>)

This is a very basic recipe for clear soup. The pork, which will usually be chopped rather than ground is typically added for flavour rather than fill. The tofu and the glass noodles are the real fillers.

The tofu preferred by Thais for this dish is called 'chicken egg' tofu in Thai. It comes in a plastic tube, so that when sliced it looks like a slice of hard-boiled egg.

If you use a chicken soup powder for the stock, you might want to leave out the salt or fish sauce, since the powders are often quite salty already. These days, it seems that most Thai cooks use the powders, and since the soup is expected to be 'clear' the powders actually produce the more 'correct' result for this dish.

Glass noodles usually come in a small packet that makes a single serving. There's usually no point in trying to divide a packet into a smaller portion. Contrary to their name, and unlike Italian pastas, dry glass noodles aren't that brittle. They tend to bend rather than break, so the only way to actual divide up a tangle of noodles is by cutting it with kitchen shears.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

Ground pepper a>½ tsp
Garlic2 cloveschopped
Coriander roots4
Vegetable oil2 Tbl
Ground pork200 g / ½ lb
Chicken stock880 ml / 4 c
Cloud ear mushrooms25 g / 2 Tbl
Tofu100 g / ¼ lb
Chinese celery25 g / 2 Tblcoarsly chopped
Fish sauce2 tsp
Salt1 tsp
Glass noodles50 g

Preparation Method

  • Soak the glass noodles in warm water to soften, about 10 minutes.
  • Grind together the coriander roots, garlic and black pepper in a mortar and pestle to form a smooth paste.
  • In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil and stir-fry the paste until its fragrance is released. Add the pork and continue cooking over medium heat until the pork is cooked through.
  • Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add in the remaining ingredients. Simmer until all items are cooked through. Sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves over the soup just before serving.
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