Of all the basic cooking lessons for beginners, “choosing the ingredients” is the most important. It requires the ability of complex measuring & estimating, which brings out many hard questions that only a very careful housewife can give the quickest answers to, such as what to cook that is not only flavorful but also suitable with the weather conditions and for the taste of every family member; which ingredients to choose that are not only fresh and tasty but economical as well; and what to prepare when there are special diners. For a chef, it is necessary to have good relationships with food suppliers, who may provide fresh and high quality ingredients. Sometimes these suppliers even provide the foods that most suit the dish. Chef Do Ngoc Cong has lots of such relationships; moreover, he manages to raise animals and grow plants himself to make sure that the ingredients are of the best quality. Still he claimed that the most valuable thing he had was the “brotherhood” with many fishermen in Hai Phong: “They always keep the best ingredients to sell to me; whenever I need a special ingredient, all I have to do is to ask them for help. To me this is the best way to have special ingredients to create a fantastic menu,” he joked. The dish he introduced to The Golden Spoon Awards 2013—Fresh Squid Soup of Fishermen—is named after his friends, the fishermen. The dish was also his way to show that his dish was made from the freshest ingredients of the ocean.
FRESH SQUID SOUP OF FISHERMENPrint This
- 400g fresh squid
- 40g dried artocarpus tonkinensis
- 1 liter fish broth
- 100g straw mushrooms
- 100g green & yellow zucchini
- 30g ginger
- 10g red cayenne pepper
- 10g salt
- 15g sugar
- 15ml fish sauce
Preparation: Clean the fresh squid with 20g smashed ginger then drain them. Cut away the eyes of the pineapple and cut them into bite-size pieces. Cut off the roots of the straw mushrooms, soak them in salt water for 10 minutes, take them out and cut them in half. Clean the zucchini and cut them into pieces, about 5mm thick. Cut the remaining 10g ginger into strings, cut the red pepper into chunks and roughly smash them, clean then soak the dried artocarpus tonkinensis in water until soft.
Process: Put the pot on the stove, add 1 liter of fish broth and bring it to a boil, add soaked artocarpus tonkinensis, ginger and red pepper, cook them on low heat for about 15 minutes until the artocarpus tonkinensis has thoroughly secreted its sourness. Then take out the artocarpus tonkinensis; continue to boil the broth on high heat, tip the zucchini and mushrooms into the pot; add 10g salt, 15g sugar, then add the squid and boil it. Season it with 15ml fish sauce and turn off the heat.
Ladle the soup into serving bowls and eat with fresh rice noodles and spicy chili fish sauce.
The broth should be clear and slightly golden, the ingredients should be barely cooked through, the soup should be elegantly sour and the squid should be crusty and naturally sweet.
The zucchini can be replaced by other vegetables such as neptunia, “keo neo” or fresh lotus roots.
The dried artocarpus tonkinensis can be replaced by garcinia cowa, dracontomelon or “doc”.
EFFECTS OF THIS DISH
This dish combines the nutrition of squid, zucchini, straw mushrooms and artocarpus tonkinensis; therefore, it is very useful for people with asthenia, neurasthenia, damaged immune systems, weak body resistance, and those who are susceptible to inflammation, anemia, insomnia, diabetes and weak eyesight.
DO NGOC CONG Hai Dang Hotel Tourist Joint Stock Company (Hai Phong City) Runner-up in the Northern regional semifinal round of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013