Salmorejo: the lesser known cousin of Gazpacho

You wouldn’t be in the minority if you think that Gazpacho is just a cold tomato and vegetable soup consumed on hot summer days. However, there is actually more to Gazpacho than meets the eye; its family is far larger and older than most people realise.

It is thought that the primitive Gazpacho was just a mixture of stale bread, olive oil and vinegar consumed in Pre-Roman Spain; to this other ingredients were added and others were changed. Throughout time this Gazpacho evolved especially after the Columbian Exchange when tomatoes were introduced into Spain; can you imagine a gazpacho without tomato? Well, there are actually many that still survive such as Mazamorra (mixture of bread, olive oil, vinegar & almonds) & Ajoblanco (practically identical to Mazamorra but hailing from Malaga instead of Cordoba). On the other side of the spectrum there is Gazpacho Manchego (from La Mancha in central Spain) which may seem totally different as it is more of a hot stew made with meat and unleavened bread (click here for recipe).

The full name of the Gazpacho that most people recognise is Gazpacho Andaluz (Andalusian Gazpacho, from Andalusia in Southern Spain) and as established is a cold tomato and vegetable soup. Salmorejo, from Cordoba (also in Andalusia) is very similar but it uses more bread so it is thicker and only tomato is used instead of other vegetables (yes, I know technically a tomato is a fruit…). Traditionally it is topped off with hardboiled egg and Serrano Ham but if you are vegan you can easily skip the garnish and just enjoy the soup.

N.B. I always use a splash of vinegar in my Salmorejo but many Salmorejo purists believe vinegar has no place in Salmorejo. If you are a hardcore traditionalist, skip the vinegar but if you frankly don’t care, do whatever your heart desires. Remember, there is always more than one way to skin a cat.

Ingredients

Main:

1kg ripe tomatoes, quartered (you can remove the seeds and peel but it’s not necessary)

1 stale baguette, broken into pieces

1 clove garlic

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as much as needed (we Mediterraneans tend to go overboard)

Splash of vinegar

Salt, to taste

1 tsp cumin powder (optional)

Garnish:

Hard boiled eggs, cubed

Serrano Ham, diced and lightly fried

Method

1 Place the quartered tomatoes into a bowl and add the garlic, bread, salt and cumin. Drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Combine well, cover and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour. You can leave it overnight, if you wish. salmorejo12 Using a hand immersion blender (or high-speed blender/food processor such as a Thermomix) blend all the ingredients together and then add more olive oil until your desired consistency is reached. Bear in mind that it should be thick. Optionally, you can also strain the Salmorejo is you want it to be more velvety and without any trace of the tomato skins but it’s not necessary. salmorejo2Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and prepare the garnish just before serving. salmorejo34 Pour some Salmorejo into a bowl and top off with the egg and Serrano Ham garnish, if you wish. salmorejo4

 

Pork & Shiitake Wonton Soup

The base of this soup utilises the leftover stock from my Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly.

First you need to make the wontons and then you can either boil them in the leftover stock like in this recipe, make a fresh batch of stock or fry in oil and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice such as Nuoc Cham.

Pork and Shiitake Wontons

Ingredients

Wonton skins

250g pork, minced

5 Shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated & minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2cm fresh ginger, minced

1 spring onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Method

Mix together all the ingredients except the wonton skins.

Place a small amount of the filling in the centre of a wonton skin. Moisten the edges with water. Fold over and then using a chopstick gently press the centre of the filling inwards bringing the two sides together. Pinch the sides together to close (use a little water to help the ends stick together). Repeat process. You can also scrunch the sides together to form moneybags fold them into simple triangles or form into a myriad of different shapes.

Pork & Shitake Wontons

For the Pork and Shiitake Wonton Soup

Ingredients

Leftover stock from Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly

1 Tbsp. Chinkiang Vinegar

Pork and Shiitake Wontons

2 handfuls bean sprouts

1 Carrot, julienned

1 spring onion, sliced

Method

1 Heat leftover stock. If the stock is too concentrated and intense you can water it down with some water.

2 Add wontons cook for 5 minutes or until they have floated to the top of the soup.

3 Add carrot and spring onion and cook for 1 minute if you like crunchy vegetables or longer if you don’t.

Pork & Shitake Wonton Soup

Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

I absolutely hate wasting food and therefore love recipes that make use of something that most people would probably mindlessly chuck away.

This recipe uses the stock left over from boiling pork belly from my Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly recipe. I normally use this stock to make a wide range of different soups but you can also use it to make a chinese style risotto or perhaps in my Shiitake Fideua recipe.

Ingredients

Leftover stock from Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly

3-4 cups plain water (Optional, depends how intense you want the soup)

4 chicken wings

1  carrot, julienned

1 courgette, julienned

2 gem lettuces, separated

2 handfuls bean sprouts

Rice noodles

1/2 calamansi or lemon, juiced (optional)

Method

1 Poach chicken wings in the leftover stock and extra water for 10 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

2 Add carrot, courgette, gem lettuces, bean sprouts to the soup and cook for 2-3 minutes. I prefer my vegetables to have a good crunch.

3  Remove soup from the heat and add the rice noodles. Cover with a lid and rest for 5 minutes.

4 Ladle soup into a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over the soup.

Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Caldo Gallego (Traditional Galician Broth)

Caldo Gallego is one of the quintessential dishes of Galicia (northwest tip of Spain) consisting of a broth made with all sorts of meats and leafy greens. It is a proper winter warmer and packed with nutrients!

It is so popular that, as with many traditional dishes in Spain, it has left its mark in the Collection of Traditional Proverbs, Sayings and Folk Music. Here are a few examples in the Galician language:

“A quen caldo non quera, cunca chea.” (Whoever doesn’t want caldo, gets a bowlful). This is used when one bad thing happens after another.

“Miña sogra morreu onte, deixoume o pote a ferver, deixame comer o caldo, que eu tamen eu de morrer.”(Yesterday my mother-in-law died, and left a pot boiling away. Let me eat the caldo, because I too will die someday).

“Se queres ter ao teu home gordiño dispois do caldo dalle un gotiño sempre que sexa de viño.” (If you want your man to be nice and fat, give him a drop after caldo; as long as it’s wine).

There are a few ingredients which are key to this recipe and unfortunately are not easily found if there isn’t a large Galician community where you live. These ingredients are unto and grelos.

Unto is a layer of pig fat which is rolled, salted and cured. It is very potent and therefore you only need a small amount. You can make caldo without it BUT in my eyes it will no longer be authentic caldo gallego.

unto

Grelos are a leafy green from the turnip family.  They are also so important that they also have proverbs about them, such as:

“Do nabo sal a nabiza, da nabiza sal o grelo, son tres persoas distintas, e un solo Dios verdadeiro.” (Nabizas come from a turnip, grelos comes from the nabiza, they are 3 distinct things, but one true God).

“Nabo, nabiza e grelo, trindade do galego.” (Turnip, nabiza and grelo: the Galician holy trinity).

If you can’t find grelos you can substitute them for nabizas (which if you can’t find grelos, you probably won’t find nabizas either), collard greens or cabbage. Personally, I only ever make it with grelos and detest the cabbage version even though it is also quite popular in some Galician towns.

Caldo Gallego, like many broths and stews, is best eaten the day after it is made. This is even reflected in another Galician saying:

“O caldo, ben cocido e ben repousado.”(Caldo: well boiled and well rested).

Anyways, enough talk and more action.

Before making caldo gallego there are a few steps which you may need to do in advance. The first is to blanch the grelos to get rid of its bitterness. The second is to make carne salada (salted meat). If you are lucky enough to find carne salada in your area, you don’t have to bother but in the part of Spain where I live it isn’t very traditional so is quite hard to track down. And lastly, you need to soak the dried beans in cold water overnight.

How to prepare grelos:

1 Cut off the root end of the grelos. Roughly chop the grelos and add to a large stockpot with water.

2 Wash the grelos by rubbing them together in the water. Rinse thoroughly.

3 In a large stock pot add grelos and top up with cold water. Once it comes to a rolling boil, drain and rinse with cold water.

4 At this stage you can either pack into freezer bags and freeze or use directly in the recipe.

Preparing grelos

How to prepare carne salada (salted meat), if using:

500g pork loin/pork shoulder

3 handfuls coarse salt

Coat the pork loin/shoulder in salt and leave in a covered container in the fridge for at least 3 days. It can keep for at least 2 weeks as the salt acts a preservative. After a few days, the meat will release water; it’s best to remove this water from the container.

Preparing carne salada

How to prepare dried white beans

Soak dried white beans in plenty cold water and leave to soak overnight on a countertop.

After time has elapsed, wash in cold water and rinse.

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Ingredients

Plenty cold water

3cm unto

6 cooking chorizos

500g carne salada, prepared in advance

½ rack of pork ribs

500g beef chuck

2 pigs ears (optional), washed and whole

2 pig tails (optional), washed and whole

2 slices Spanish cured ham bone (optional)

3 handfuls dried broad beans, soaked overnight in cold water

4 large potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced medium-thick

1 large potato, thinly sliced

3 bunches grelos, prepared in advance (defrosted if frozen)

Salt, if necessary

Method

Fill a large stock pot with cold water and add unto, carne salada, pork ribs, beef chuck, pigs ears, pigs tails, Spanish cured ham bone and soaked beans. Cook on high.

N.B. You can add the chorizos at this stage but depending on the type of chorizo you use it may ruin the characteristic white colour of the liquid. I prefer to boil the chorizos in a separate saucepan towards the final 30 minutes of cooking all the other meats.

When the water comes to boil, skim the froth with a slotted spoon. Then add 1 glass of cold water. My mum says that this is so that the beans are “shocked” and will therefore cook better (gotta love the old wives tales). Lower the heat to medium and leave for 1 hour 15/30 minutes.

Caldo Gallego 1

When the time has elapsed and the meat is cooked remove it from the broth and leave it to rest on a serving dish.

Caldo Gallego 2

Add the thinly sliced potatoes (these will disintegrate and help to thicken the broth) and the medium thick potatoes. When the potatoes are nearly cooked (10-15 minutes) add the grelos. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Season with salt if needed; normally the salt that is released from the carne salada, ham bones and chorizos is more than enough.

Caldo Gallego 3

To serve: ladle the broth into bowls (traditionally in cuncas which are earthenware bowls) and serve alongside the dish with all the meats. You can eat the broth and meats separately or add the meat into the bowl; I prefer the latter, but each to his own.

Caldo Gallego 4

As they say in the Galician language: “Xa vai sendo hora de xantar, bo proveito.” (It’s about time to eat, bon appetite)

Asian Chicken & Rice Noodle Soup

I’m a bit obsessed by soup and trying to eat healthily at the moment. Gotta make some room for all that food I will undoubtedly gorge on during Christmas and my visit back to Blighty; gotta take full advantage of the foods (mostly unhealthy) I miss from the other homeland.

This is just a simple Asian inspired chicken noodle soup rustled up in a jiffy.

Ingredients

2 chicken drumsticks

2 chicken wings

5 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated

Shiitake dashi (liquid from rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms; make sure you sieve it before using)

1 star anise

½ stick cassia

3 thick slices ginger

1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

2 handfuls mung bean sprouts

1 large carrot, diced

Rice noodles, soaked in hot water for 2 minutes and drained (or according to package instructions)

Sesame oil, to taste

Lime juice, to taste

Method

1 Place all ingredients except for the mung bean sprouts, carrot and noodles in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, skim off impurities and then simmer on low for 30 minutes.

2 Adjust seasoning to taste and then add mung beans and cook for 5 minutes.

3 To serve: place noodles at bottom of bowl and then pour over the stock and chicken. Add raw diced carrot and season with lime juice and sesame oil.

Asian Chicken & Rice Noodle Soup

Asian Chicken & Job’s Tears Soup

My smug face of finding pearl barley in the Chinese Supermarket was soon wiped off my face when I realised the Chinese pearl barley I bought is completely unrelated to actual barley! Arghh and I was so looking forward to making a lovely Turkish salad with pearl barley and pomegrantes…

Oh well, gotta look on the bright side of life and make it work! I googled this mysterious grain and to my surprise I seem to have stumbled upon an extremely healthy ingredient which is used a lot in traditional Chinese medicine. These grains come from a grass native to South-East Asia and are also known as Yi Yi Ren, coixseeds, hato mugi, adlai and a plethora of other names.

I had no clue as to what to do with this mysterious grain so I chucked a few things in a pot and prayed to the Chinese pantheon of gods. The result was satisfying and I have taken quite a shine to these grains which I can only describe as nutty.

Ingredients

1 chicken carcass

2 chicken wings

2 chicken drumsticks (alternatively use a whole chicken)

5 thick slices unpeeled ginger

1 onion, quatered

6 whole garlic cloves

1 carrot, large chunks

1 turnip, quatered

1 daikon, large chunks

4 handfuls Job’s tears, soaked overnight and drained

3 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

2 star anise

½ stick cassia

4 cloves

Salt & pepper, to taste

10 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated & halved

Shiitake dashi (liquid from rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms; make sure you sieve it before using)

2 – 3 bok choy, roughly chopped

2 handfuls mung bean sprouts

Method

1 Place all ingredients except for the bok choy and mung bean sprouts in a large stockpot and cover fully with cold water. Bring to a boil, skim off impurities and then simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Chicken & Job's Tears Soup_collage

2 Adjust seasoning to taste and then add bok choy and mung bean sprouts. Cook for 5 minutes and then ladle into bowls to enjoy. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top if you like, as I do.

Chicken & Job's Tears Soup

 

Moong Dhal (Indian – Style Yellow Split Mung Beans)

I found a bag of mung beans at the back of my larder from when I made Korean Nokdu Bindaetteok a while back and realised they were two months away from spoiling so I rattled my brain to what to do with them. Then I remembered that they are also used a lot in Indian cuisine and remembered a dhal I made a long time ago.

Dhal is a dried pulse (lentil, peas, and beans) that has been hulled and split. It comes from the Sanskrit verbal root dhal, meaning “to split”. Dhal is also the word given to the soups and stews made with these pulses common in many South Asian countries such as India.

This recipe involves using Tarka which is an Indian technique whereby spices are tempered in hot ghee or oil and then added to the cooked dhal, similar to the spanish way of cooking lentils .

You can boil the traditional way or you can use a pressure cooker which drastically cuts down on the cooking time. I always used to make it the traditional way but now prefer to use the pressure cooker method as it is much faster (30-40 minutes vs. 15 minutes).

Ingredients

2 cups moong dhal (Yellow Split Mung beans)

4 ½  cups water

½ tsp. turmeric

2 Tbsp. ghee (or mixture or oil and butter)

1 Tbsp. cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2 cm piece ginger, diced

3 dried cayenne chillies

1 fresh green chilli, halved

1 large tomato, diced

1 tsp. red chilli powder

2 tsp. kasoori methi

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mace

1 tsp garam masala

½ lemon, juiced

Salt, to taste

N.B. The cup measurement is just a normal (at least for me) drinking glass, not the American measurement system, although feel free to go by that if you wish.

Method

1 Rinse moong dal in cold water a few times and let it soak for 30 minutes or overnight. Drain and set aside.

2  Pour water in a deep pan and add drained moong dal and turmeric. Bring to boil and simmer on a low flame for 30 – 40 minutes or until the dhal is soft. Alternatively, use a pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt.

3 Make the tarka by frying cumin seeds in hot ghee and once they start to pop add cayenne chillies, green chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Add tomato, red chilli powder, cinnamon, mace, garam masala and kasoori methi. If it becomes to dry add a little bit of water. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes.

4 Pour this tarka over the cooked dal and stir well. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

DSC04927_Fotor_Collage

5 Add lemon juice and ½ cup of water, mix well and boil for 2 – 3 minutes.

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6 Add this point you can serve just like this, which would be the traditional method, or go rogue and blend it to your desired consistency using a hand blender.

DSC04927_Fotor_Collage2

If I cooked this the traditional way, I find that the moong dhal doesn’t quite breakdown perfectly so I prefer to to use a hand immersion blender to reach my desired consistency. However, if I’ve used a pressure cooker, I never end up using the hand immersion blender as it breaks down to perfection and no blender or masher is needed.

DSC04945_Fotor