There is something to be said about the coconut and red curry paste, combined as one. Flavors so wonderful that by mixing, and bringing up to temperature, over white rice can sell me. If you have never tried the combination, I beg of you. This soup alone not only has some really excellent ingredients that you would probably never knew existed, but it is a special soup, that some in the Asian culture would classify as a soup that might be served at a birthday party, or other type of celebration. This soup is typically known as Khao Bune; a fish soup with red curry and coconut broth, ladled over a bed of vermicelli noodles, and topped with bundles of basil, chilies, and bean sprouts, and other wonderful things. This recipe is really simple to make, but you will want to visit your local Asian market to pickup a few ingredients (and to take in the culture of the market).
- 2 inch of galangal, or 1 inch of ginger (skin removed, flattened with a knife)
- 4 quarts of water
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 4 inches of lemon grass
- 1 tbsp salt
- 6 fillets of white fish (I use tilapia filets, but you could use catfish (skinless, boneless)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 3-4 tbsp Thai red curry paste (add more if you want it spicier)
- 2 cans of coconut milk
Ingredients – Garnish:
- Shredded green cabbage
- Bean sprouts
- sliced green onions
- thai basil
- vermicelli noodle bundles
Begin by making your broth. Get your soup pot ready and add the water, galangal or ginger, kaffir lime leaves, salt, and your lemon grass. Put in the fish fillets, and cook on medium to high heat. Note that when the water comes to temperature, you will see foam rising to the top of the water. You see this if you are making chicken stock, or other items. Simply skim the foam off and discard. Continue to do this while the broth boils for nearly 25 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove the fish and set aside in a bowl to let cool. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the broth, keeping the leaves, and roots in there. Once the fish cools, use a fork and mince the meat. This will basically just fall apart for you. Add back into the pot and continue to cook on low.
In the meantime, bring a skillet to temperature on medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil. Toss in the garlic, and cook, but do not let it brown. Toss in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes. Next, add in the Thai curry paste and coconut milk, stirring and cooking for about 5 minutes. Taste this mixture and ask yourself this question. Is it too hot? Keep in mind that this curry mixture is going to go into the fish broth so it will thin about a bit. If you want more spice, add in a bit more paste, or come to the reality that you can add a nice Thai chili as a garnish. You decide.
Add the curry mixture to the broth. and continue to cook on low.
In the meantime, cook your vermicelli noodles as recommended. Once cooked, drain, and rinse with cold water.
Take a pinch of the noodles, and wrap them around your index finger to make bundles. Continue this process, and place them in a bowl.
You are all set to bowl up. Bring the temperature of the broth up, and get a nice rolling boil going. While this is happening, get your favorite soup bowl ready. To the bottom of the bowl, add a few noodle bundles. Top with your favorite garnishes, and ladle in about 2-3 ladles of the fish broth. Stop and smell. It is amazing. You know what to do now, dig it. The texture from the noodle, the crunch of the cabbage, and the flavors of the lime, basil, and cilantro are out of this world with the softness of the fish.
A truly amazing dish that is worth celebrating any day of the week!