Life Life

25/06/2020 - 08:06

Chili leave soup with shrimp

Chili leaves which seemingly have no chance to be present at meals suddenly become a kind of soup for people to slurp despite sweating on hot summer days.

Chili leave soup with shrimp makes meals enjoyable 

At weekends, we dropped by a colleague’s house by the river of Bo in Huong Tra Town for a change. No sooner had we settled down in the shady garden than we heard the sounds of chickens and the rattling of knife and cutting board. 

After an while, seeing us admiring the chilies of different colors: white, green, orange and red with excitement, he suddenly patted his thigh: “Oh I remember now. This time I'll let you guys taste chili leaves. Chicken and fish are so familiar.”

While we were surprised at his idea, he immediately plucked chili leaves with one hand while the other picked out the cell phone, ordering some shrimps and fiddler crabs. “Remember I want shrimps from the lagoon. I will return shrimps from elsewhere,” he kept reminding.

Shrimps and fiddler crabs arrived when he had just finished washing the chili leaves. Making this soup was not very complicated. Just be careful not to overcook the shrimps. After that the shrimps were peeled then marinated with some fish sauce, pepper, and shallot. Shrimp heads were pounded in a mortar.

While waiting for the shrimp to absorb the spices, the crushed shrimp heads were filtered for juice which was then stewed with fat and shallot. “This way, there is no need to add monosodium glutamate,” said he.

Everything was ready when the sauce got boiled again. After the foam was removed, the chili leaves and shrimp were dropped in at the same time. Wait until it got boiled again, the soup was poured into a bowl in time for his wife to finish with her boiled yellow-colored chicken. However, all the eyes just focused on the hot soup.

During the meal, someone questioned about boiling shrimps in their shells. He thought that shrimps processed that way would smell. But that did not happen. “That’s why I wanted shrimps from a Tam Giang Lagoon only. Shrimps living in the lagoon have thin shells and give sweet and firm flesh. Boiling that way, we can keep the sweetness,” explained he.  

Instead of shrimps, any type of chili leaves can be cooked with fiddler crabs. Crab roe is stewed with fat, pepper and shallot, then set it aside. The fiddler crab flesh is pounded in a mortar or ground in a food processor. Remember to add some salt, then sieve it. Fry shallot with fat, then pour everything into a pot and wait until the mixture get boiled; continue to cook it on a small fire until it becomes firm.

When the crab floats on the soup, drop in the chili leaves. When the mixture get boiled again, add spices to taste, then the soup is ready. “But I save this for my family,” he explained why he ordered fiddler crabs too besides shrimps. 

Sweet, cool, not hot, chili leave soup with shrimp or fiddler crab can be eaten in any season by anyone. Besides delicious, this soup is quite good for health because chili leaves are rich in antioxidants. It boosts the immune system and prevents cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. It also fights infection, reduces joint pain, and protects stomach. It also cures ulcers, ringworms and supports digestion.

Story and photo: HAN DANG