In Thai, this soup translates literally as ‘broth with pork fat’, but if you’d rather not use so much saturated fat, you can just use vegetable oil instead.
Chicken stock (nahm cheua gai)
- 2 kg chicken bones (or a whole chicken)
- 1 tsp salt
- 20 g piece peeled ginger
- ½ onion, peeled
- 1 large head garlic
- 50 g spring onions
- 50 g coriander stalks
- 200 g peeled daikon (about 1 small)
- 3 well washed coriander roots, chopped (20 g)
- 2 tbsp peeled garlic (30 g)
- pinch salt (1 g)
- large pinch white pepper (2 g)
- 60 ml (¼ cup) rendered pork fat or vegetable oil
- 100 g peeled green prawns (about 4), coarsely minced
- 100 g pork belly, thinly sliced and finely minced
- 1 tbsp dried prawns (30 g) soaked in warm water
- 1 tsp rinsed dtang chai (see Note)
- 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
- 1 cup chopped Chinese cabbage (wombok) (40 g)
- 1 cup chopped bok choi (50 g)
- 1 cup chopped Siamese watercress (water spinach) (40 g)
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 large pinch white pepper
- pinch white sugar
- chopped spring onions, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the stock, rinse the bones and place in large saucepan of boiling water and return to the boil. Drain the bones and rinse under cold water, then return to a large clean saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover well, add the salt and bring to the boil. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. Skim any impurities from the surface and simmer for 2- 3 hours. Strain and discard the solids. You should have approximately 3 litres stock. Set aside one litre of stock for the soup, then cool and freeze the remaining stock in small portions for another use.
To make the paste, place all the ingredients into a mortar and pestle and pound into a coarse paste.
Heat the fat or oil in a heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add the paste and stir until just golden. Add the prawn and pork meat, dried prawns and the dtang chai and stir for 2 minutes or until the pork and prawns are almost cooked. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then skim any impurities from the surface. Add the Asian greens, then return to the boil. Add the fish sauce and season with sugar and pepper. Serve scattered with chopped spring onions.
• Dtang chai is preserved Chinese cabbage and is available from most Asian grocers. Rinse before using.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by O Tama Carey. Creative concept by Belinda So. Props: Deb Taylor handmade bowl (top right) by Little White Dish.