31 October 2015

(Serves 6)

So it seems that I have been going back to California a lot this year, like every 7-8 weeks! And of course, being a typical Vietnamese mother, my mommy would always send me back with a large care package filled with some kind of fruits, veggies and other edible delights! Hey, no complaints here. I get great treats that are hard to find where I live and also new ingredients to create more recipes for my blog; win-win. Well this last trip home I was able to convince most of my family to do a road trip back to New Mexico for a mini-vacation and to see what life is like outside of California. Let’s just say my parents are not huge fans of traveling…

Recently, I had told my mom that I’ve been craving this Vietnamese soup that we used to eat all the time when I lived at home, Shrimp-Malabar Spinach Soup (Canh Rau Mồng Tơi) so she brought 4 pounds worth of the stuff with her on the road trip here (amongst other things)! What can I say, my mom has a soft spot when it comes to food with me. Once everyone left, the house felt extra empty and more quiet than usual with just Evie and I so I hit the kitchen to whip up some comfort soup with California goodies.

Once I got the stock going the aroma wafted through the air like a comforting embrace. It’s been ages since I’ve cooked this dish! The smell just brought me back to my childhood, being in the kitchen with my mother as we made dinner for the family. I was constantly fighting the urge to “taste” the soup straight from the pot! The deep green color from the spinach just makes the pink cooked shrimp pop in the clear broth. The soft texture of the cooked leaves pairs well will the crunchy quality of freshly minced shrimp. A great side dish to accompany this soup is the Pickled Vietnamese Eggplant (Cà Pháo). With each bite it releases an array of flavors: sweet, sour, spicy and has a wonderful crunch to boot! And on a major plus side, this meal is a high protein, low calorie meal! I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. Until next time!

14 oz shrimp

1. Peeled and deveined.

2. Wash and pat dried.

1/4 tsp salt

3. With a heavy cleaver, coarsely chop the shrimp.

4. Sprinkle seasoning on the shrimp and proceed to finely mincing the shrimp until it becomes almost paste-like and set aside.

(NOTE: Do not mince the shrimp in the food processor. The shrimp will have a rubbery quality once cooked. Using a knife will yield a crunchy texture once the shrimp is cooked.)

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp msg (optional)

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 lbs Malabar Spinach

5. Wash by gently agitating it in several water baths to remove dirt and sand and prevent bruising of the leaves.

6. Let dry and slice into 1/3 inch strips.

(NOTE: Do not re-rinse the sliced leaves. The spinach is a very mucilaginous plant so the leaves will release a thick, gluey substance that acts as a natural thickener for the soup.)

10 cups water

7. In a large 4-quart pot add the water and seasoning and bring to a boil.

8. While the broth is coming to a boil, slowly add about 1/2 tbsp balls of the shrimp mix into the pot until done.

9. Skim the scum from the broth as needed during this process to create a clear soup.

10. Once the pot has come to a boil, reduce to medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes and skim the broth until clear.

11. Bring the pot back to a boil and gradually add in the Malabar Spinach stirring it gently to incorporate into the broth. (NOTE: Don’t worry if you think there is not enough space. The spinach shrinks significantly once cooked.)

12. Once all the spinach is added, skim the soup as needed and bring it back to a boil for about 6 minutes to cook the spinach.

13. Turn off heat and adjust to taste.

14. Serve immediately with jasmine rice and other side dishes if desired.

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp msg (optional)

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