Night fisherman’s soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

The boats go out at night from Ngapali Beach to snare squid, prawns and tiny fish by light bulb and net. The horizon twinkles like some ghost promenade until dawn, and then the boats are gone - back to the village up by the creek. The catch ends up at the market, alongside the baskets of veg. This is one-pot cooking, and an easy, delicious, comforting end for a squid.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 sticks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed
  • 2 chillies, split and deseeded
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or 3 tbsp tamarind water
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • salt
  • 250 g mixed chopped vegetables, such as cauliflower, Chinese greens, carrot, green beans, calabash gourd or chayote
  • 250 g fresh shelled prawns
  • 250 g prepared and skinned squid tubes, cut into rings
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • handful of shredded long coriander (saw-tooth herb) or regular coriander leaves


Put the onion, garlic, lemongrass, chillies, fish sauce, lemon juice and sugar with 1.5 litres water and a sprinkling of salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a bubble and gently simmer for about 10 minutes. Add all the prepared vegetables, making sure they’re cut to a size that will allow them to cook through at the same time. Once they’re almost tender - about 5 minutes “ add the prawns and squid and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and taste, adding a dash more salt if it needs it. Remove, discard the lemongrass and serve lavished with shredded coriander.