Smalt narrow boats, fitted out like mini soup kitchens, work the khlongs (waterways), dishing up soupy-noodle variations on a theme. Subtract ingredients you can’t get and add those you have - it’s one of those flexible jobs. Shredded cooked chicken, beef or pork, or boiled quails’ eggs, can be substituted for fish balls or prawns. Remember, Thai soups are all about balance and play. So think: soft and crisp, sharp and sweet, hot and bland, and all making an appearance together. Prawns are to be eaten in the shell here.
Put the fish, plus a sprinkling of salt,
When ready to serve, bring the stock to a gentle bubble and another pan of water to the boil. Cook the noodles in the water pan, according to the packet’s instructions, then scoop out with a sieve and distribute between four bowls. Put the beansprouts, fungus (if using) and greens in the sieve and dunk into the hot water for about 1 minute, then drain and divide between the bowls. Ladle over the hot stock and fish balls. Scatter with the sticky crisp prawns toasted crushed peanuts and crispy shallots, and alongside serve the chilli rice vinegar, some fish sauce and sweet chilli sauce or ground chilli, for all to pick, choose and add.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.