For a while there, soup was just not going to happen in the Kensington Kitchen. No way. No how.
When I woke up to a legitimately chilly breeze and grey overcast sky on Friday morning, though, my thoughts drifted towards this month’s Kulinarya challenge: sinigang.
Sinigang is yet another of those foods I neglected to learn the name of when I was a kid. I ate it happily and referred to it vaguely as “that soup with bok choy.” The association between the two things – bok choy and soup – is strong. The first time I saw bok choy at a farmers’ market in New Mexico I bought a whole pound for soup – sinigang, as it turns out.
That was the first and last time I made sinigang in the last eight years.
This week, I called my mom for a refresher course. We went through the list of ingredients: pork or fish (essential), bok choy (essential), tomatoes (optional), ginger (essential), tamarind (optional), green onions or scallions (essential).
One of my favorite things about “bok choy soup” is that it’s a delicious meal filled with veggies that could easily fit into even a Food Stamps budget (I wish I’d remembered to make it when I was on the government dole). I made a special run to the Hong Kong Supermarket in Chinatown on the way home from work on Friday, spent $8 and got enough food to make sinigang for 10 people.
I went with mom’s deluxe version – fish, bok choy, tomatoes, ginger, green onions, tamarind, sea salt – and added some dried mushrooms and soy sauce to round out the broth. The ginger is what makes the dish sing. For me it hit home on a rainy night – I inhaled two bowls with rice. Raphe proclaimed the broth “too fishy” and stopped after one.
Oh, well. More for me.
Serves 4-6 over rice
|1/2 lb. white fish||Hong Kong Supermarket|
|3 medium bok choy||Hong Kong Supermarket|
|2 plum tomatoes||Hong Kong Supermarket|
|3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped||C-town|
|1 4-5inch ginger root, coarsely chopped||Himalayan Grocery on Cortelyou|
|3 scallion stalks, diced||Hong Kong Supermarket|
|2 dried mushrooms||New York Mart on Avenue U|
|Tamarind paste/concentrate to taste (I used 2 T)||Hong Kong Supermarket|
|Sea salt to taste||Trader Joe’s|
|Soy sauce to taste||New York Mart on Avenue U|
- Wash bok choy very well. Separate stems and leaves. Chop both stems and leaves coarsely, but keep separated.
- Briefly sauté garlic, ginger and bok choy stems in oil.
- Add about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat. Add fish, tomatoes and bok choy leaves. Simmer 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add half the scallions then soy sauce, salt and tamarind concentrate to taste.
- Serve over steamed rice. garnish with remaining scallions.