A Nautical Asian Cream of Mushroom Soup

Rummaging around H-mart (my local Asian market) the other day, I happened upon a nice price on a big bag of dried shiitake mushrooms. As mushrooms go these are practically indestructible and have a strong flavor. They are often considered medicinal in East Asia. I have been hungering for a nice rich bowl of mushroom soup. So, let’s put these guys in a hot liquid to rehydrate them and cook them in some fish stock for a nautical cream of mushroom soup.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

 

  • 4 ounces dried shiitaki mushrooms
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 quarts fish stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley (optional)
  • 2 cups light cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper

 

Combine mushrooms and hot water in a large, heatproof bowl. Let stand 1 hour. With your fingers, work mushrooms to release any grit. Let stand until very pliable, about 1 hour longer. Then, lift the mushrooms from the liquid and cut them into large pieces and set aside. Reserve the bowl of soaking liquid.
 

Dice the two large onions. In a 5- to 6-quart pot, sauté the onions in a little olive oil. When they are translucent add the stock and chopped mushrooms. Pour the reserved soaking liquid into pot, taking care not to disturb grit in bowl. Make sure that stays behind. Then, rinse and drain barley and add to pot, if you’re using it. I tend to like the barley in the soup to give it a bit more body. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender to the bite, about 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, mix the cream, or half and half, with the flour and temper by whisking in a little hot soup. Pour contents of bowl into hot soup, whisking constantly on medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. This is where the thickening of the soup occurs. Adjust seasonings and heal t through.

Serve this up in nice deep bowls and serve with crusty bread, like a baguette.

Shiitake-Mushroom-Soup-1024x575

Cod Fish Pie

An old English tradition, a fish pie is nutritious, easy and can be cheap to cook. Look for a nice seasonal sale on cod, but this recipe works well with any number of firm fleshy fish, pollock salmon, sea bass, even blue fish. You can see in this recipe fish, leeks, milk, butter and potatoes, a Fish Pie is an all-in-one supper dish. Some like to sprinkle a fish pie with grated cheese but this is optional.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 8 ½ fl oz fish stock
  • 8 ½ fl oz milk + 2 tbsp for the potatoes
  • 12 oz of cod cut into chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 to 4 cups of mashed potatoes
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 medium sized leek, the white, washed and finely sliced
  • 2 oz all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 350 °

Pour the fish stock and milk into a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the fish pieces and bay leaf and poach for 5 minutes. Remove the fish pieces with a slotted spoon and keep to one side. Reserve the liqueur. Now, melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and cook for about 5 minutes until the leeks are soft.

Whilst still hot, add the flour gradually and stir well with a wooden spoon, making a bit of rue here. Then, pour the fish liqueur into the pan and stir again, raise the temperature and cook for 3 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Turn the heat off. Remove the bay leaf. Add the fish, chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper. Leave to one side.

Place the fish and sauce into an ovenproof dish, cover with a thick layer of mashed potatoes fluffed up with a fork.

Put the dish onto a baking sheet and cook in the center of the preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling beneath the potatoes. Serve immediately.

codfishpie

A Classic Fish Chowder

Soup’s on! Its been a while since I’ve posted any soup recipes here. I suppose its all the warm weather we’ve been having lately. But, getting back to basics, here’s a Cod fish chowder that can also be made using haddock or pollack, or any light, firm-fleshed fish.

here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound cod fish cut into pieces
  • 2 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 1 russet potato diced
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 3 cups of fish stock… you do have fish stock yes?
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 garni boquet of: thyme and parsley
  • 1 bayleaf

melt a little butter in a large pot and start browning the bacon. Add the fish stock, garni, potato and cook a few minutes until the potato starts to soften. Then add in the celery and carrots and let them cook a few minutes. Then, add in the fish and cook until the fish just cooks through and firms up becoming opaque.

Gently stir in the milk, add a touch of salt, and remove from the heat.

Let stand until the milk heats up then ladle into nice heavy bowls and I like to garnish with oyster crackers.. and a blue point lager.