Hot sour lobster soup
- 500g small, very ripe tomatoes
- All of the lobster body juices, broken-up head shells and any scraps
- 250g brown onion, roughly chopped without peeling
- 1 stem of lemon grass, roughly chopped without peeling
- Small knob of green ginger, roughly chopped without peeling
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 1/2 tsp whole white pepper
- 1 birdseye chilli, finely chopped
- 1/2 of the lobster legs and joints
To finish the soup
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 5g sweet pickled julienned ginger (available from Chinese grocers)
- 10cm piece of taro stem, peeled and cut into eight pieces
- About 50g palm sugar
- 1 slice of very ripe fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and finely sliced
- 10 mint leaves
- 10 rau ram leaves (Vietnamese coriander)
Select the three best tomatoes, seed and skin them, julienne the largest pieces and put them with the ingredients used to finish the soup. Reserving the seeds and skin, roughly chop the remaining tomatoes. Put the tomatoes, body pieces, onion, lemon grass, ginger, lime leaves, pepper and half of the chilli into a saucepan, add two litres of cold water and place it on very low heat. Bring the stock to the boil, skimming any scum that rises to the surface, then simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Turn the heat off, add the legs, pushing them under, and allow them to remain in the stock just long enough to change to a bright red. Remove with tongs, then, when cool enough to handle, remove the meat and return the shells to the stock. When the stock has stood for an hour, carefully ladle off 600ml and strain it through your finest sieve into a clean saucepan. Strain the remaining stock through a course sieve and set to one side. This, plus half of the leg joint meat, is reserved for the soufflé.
Just before serving the soup, return the stock to the heat and on low heat bring it to a simmer, but do not allow it to boil. Add the vinegar, ginger and taro stems, then add sufficient palm sugar to give it a pleasing sweet/sour taste. Add more chilli if necessary. Divide the reserved tomato julienne, pineapple and half of the leg and joint meat between two large bowls, then add the soup, garnish with the leaves and serve immediately.
To truly appreciate the flavour of this style of soup, it should be warm but not scalding hot, as extreme heat masks the intense and diverse flavours.