The best part? You get to shallow-fry a bunch of garlic. It’s not scary, it doesn’t waste a ton of oil, and it tastes delicious. Think of it as deep-frying for beginners (and skinny people).
Spicy Fish Soup with Turmeric and Lemongrass
Buy a whole fish, get it cleaned and keep the head and vertebrae to make a fish broth (simmer it very gently with 5 cups of water for 30 minutes, strain and reserve all the meat from the head and toss the rest). I usually do this a day in advance, then use the fish fillets in the soup itself along with the reserved meat. No whole fish? Just use chicken broth, or water in a pinch.
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup oil
1/2 package rice noodles
2 lb whole fish or 1 lb turbot, haddock, Pacific cod or red snapper fillet (any white-fleshed fish that’s sustainable), cut in 1-inch cubes
4 cups fish broth (or chicken broth or water)
1 tsp fish sauce or salt
2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer and upper bits removed
5 dried or fresh kaffir lime leaves
2 small Thai birdseye red chili pepper, seeds removed and sliced thinly lengthwise
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
Cilantro to garnish, optional
Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic slices and fry, stirring frequently, until golden, about 4 minutes. If the garlic starts burning, turn down the heat. If it doesn’t turn golden after a few minutes, turn up the heat and cook a little longer. When done, remove the garlic with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towel. Let cool. Strain the garlic oil and use for cooking later. Store it in the fridge and it’ll last for months.
Make the fish stock if using a whole fish (see notes in the recipe header).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the rice noodles. Reduce the heat to the lowest point for 10 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water.
Combine the broth ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the fish and simmer 3 minutes more, or until the fish is no longer translucent and is almost flaking when you touch it with the tip of a fork. It shouldn’t be falling apart. Remember that the fish will keep cooking in the hot broth as you get ready to serve.
Divide the noodles between four bowls, scoop the fish over top, pour on the broth and garnish with the fried garlic slices and the cilantro.