Clumps of oyster mushrooms, their bone-white gills as delicate as porcelain, are lovingly arranged and displayed in baskets by the ladies of Luang Prabang’s Talaat Naviengkham morning market. Their silken slipperiness is the stuff of broth dreams. Whack in some herbage on serving.
Put the stock, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, shallots, tamarind water and a dash of salt into a saucepan and bring to a bubble, then simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Fish or strain out all the flavouring ingredients, discard them, then taste, adding more salt if the stock needs it. Add the chopped pumpkin to the stock and allow to gently bubble until the pumpkin is almost tender. Next, throw in the mushrooms and gently poach for about a minute, then add the tomatoes and the garlic chives. Bubble up, then ladle into four bowls. Flore herbs can be added at the table - doled out in help-yourself little bowls.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.