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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Szechuan Scallop Tom Yum Goong Pho Noodle Bowl

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?  My biggest food orgy dilemma when Michael is out of town is what to eat..  I usually can't decide between  my favorite spicy seafood Asian dishes, hemming and hawing the whole time I'm deciding.  Enough of incoherent indecisiveness.  Last night I combined all of them into one spectacular orgy of food.
I started with shrimp stock made up of  bagged shrimp shells stashed in the freezer combind with garlic, galangal, ginger, peppercorns, and fresh cilantro. I covered everything with water, brought it to boil, reduced it to a simmer, skimmed the scum,  let it go for 20 minutes, and then strained it to use for the soup base.

Tom Yum Goong is a salty, sour, spicy Thai shrimp soup. I brought the reserved shrimp stock  to a simmer with split cherry tomatoes, fish sauce, shrimp paste, galangal, garlic, ginger, lime zest (no Kaffir leaves), lemon zest (no lemongrass), and lime juice.  As it simmmered, reduced, and concentrated, I occasionally added additional stock to maintain the desired soupy consistency.

While the soup bubbled away, I soaked  rice noodles in very hot water for 25 minutes, drained, rinsed, and tossed them liberally with Korean Red Chili Paste (gochujang).

Just before dinner, I scored beautiful sea scallops, dusted them with freshly ground Szechuan peppercorns, seared them in a screaming hot skillet, delgazed the pan with black bean and Ponzu soy sauce, and set them aside to rest.

I plated the red chili jeweled rice noodles in a large pasta bowl,  ladled the Tom Yum soup over the noodles, placed the pan-seared  Szechuan scallops onto the noodles, poured the skillet juices over the scallops, and garnished everything with traditional Pho garnishes: bean sprouts, sliced jalapenos, shaved red onions, sliced carrots, fresh cilantro, fresh basil, lime halves,  hoisen, and Sriracha.


Flavor explosion. All the ingredients really worked together, to my surprise.  The pungent sharp Thai soup swirled into the Korean chili paste which bled into the Chinese black bean sauce, creating  a hybrid Asian fusion sauce....of sorts.  It was a spicy, sour, salty, and savoury spice bath for the scallops and noodles.  The toothsome bounce back bite of the rice noodles gave a welcome chew that offset  the soft mouthfeel of the pepper crusted scallops while the Pho garnishes provided needed freshness, crunch, and blazing heat relief. Tart fresh sqeezed lime juice was certainly a mouth saver.

It was not a timid dish.  Lip numbing, even.

I packed the few remnants into the refrigerator in anticipation of a late night sleep eating rampage.

Mission accomplished..

Szechuan Scallop Tom Yum Goong Pho Noodle Bowl. Faux? Fusion confusion?  Maybe, but total food orgy.

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