I know, I know….another Chinese soup…
Look, I really wasn’t going to post this.
It came about due to a not-very-frequent alignment of the culinary planets, a weird set of circumstances that 9 times out of 10 would result in an abomination that even the dog would turn his snout up at.
This was supposed to be just a throw-together that would use up a few stray bit and pieces that wouldn’t quite fit anywhere else before they had to be slung, as well as being a crafty way to make two ingredients a bit more appetising after a third was unintentionally forgotten about during the afternoon shopping run.
You see, I was planning on eating lamb sausage, cauliflower, and sauerkraut. Mrs. Paleovirtus and Paleovirtus Jr. were in LCHF mode, so were having their sausages “a la gratin”, i.e. thinly sliced, and then oven baked with a cream and cheese topping. Nice, if you like moo-cow juice products, but not quite my scene, man.
They were also having their cauli mashed, which for them means jacked up with a good sized splash of cream. Non, merci.
So, forgetting to buy sauerkraut didn’t exactly constitute a disaster for them, but left me with the prospect of just sausages and cauliflower. Oh.
Hang on…don’t I have an inch-long bit of ginger left in the fridge? What about those 3 cloves of garlic that need using up? When do the last 3 spring onions from that packet go out of date? Ditto those remaining few chilli peppers. Hmmmm.
So, rather than having just a sausage and a few cauliflower florets with only a dollop of Dijon mustard to keep them company, I decided to dunk them into a Chinese soup base.
Even though I’d eaten a similar soup the night before, I took comfort in the fact that at least this evening’s version would be a slightly more sophisticated affair, using fresh ingredients.
As it happened, it was one of those occasions when something that should have been OK at best, turned out fantastically well.
Chalk one up for desperate experimentation….
Chinese Hot and Sour Lamb and Cauliflower Soup
- 250g frozen cauliflower florets
- 1 large lamb sausage – see Notes
- 1 tsp 5 spice powder
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tsp, Tianjin preserved vegetable
- 3 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
- 3 hot bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fish sauce – see Notes
- Coconut oil
- Sesame seed oil
- Place the frozen cauliflower florets in a large saucepan, with salted, cold water to cover. Bring up to a boil, drop down to a simmer, and then cook for 6 minutes. Drain, refresh, then set aside.
- Fry the lamb sausage in a little coconut oil until nicely browned all over. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, thinly slice on the diagonal. Set aside.
- Half-fill a 2 Litre sized saucepan with cold water. Add the 5 spice powder, ginger, garlic, spring onions, chillies, fish sauce, Tianjin preserved vegetable, and the Sichuan peppercorns. Stir well. Bring up to a boil, then drop down to a low simmer. Continue to simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or so.
- After the soup base has cooked for a good half hour or so, add the cooked cauliflower florets. Allow them to simmer for about 3 minutes or thereabouts. The idea is to not only re-heat the florets, but to cook them to the point that they will not be overly mushy or soggy, but can still be pulled apart with chopsticks.
- Add the sliced lamb sausage. Simmer for a further minute. Add more boiling water if you feel that you need more soup base, then remove from the heat.
- Ladle out the soup into bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of sesame seed oil. Serve.
Use a fish sauce that contains only fish, water, and salt. You’re probably best looking in an Asian store for genuine Thai fish sauce, although if you’re in Britain Tesco’s own fish sauce fits the bill. I currently use Thanh Ha Phu Quoc.
I use quality lamb sausages from a local producer, Åke P. They are high meat content – 92%, with the rest taken up by a variety of spices including but not limited to cumin, marjoram, garlic, and black pepper, curing salt and water.