The pork and prawns balls in aromatic broth cook off: The Hairy Dieter’s take

pork and shrimp meatball with fragrant broth and mushrooms

And another cook off: pork and prawns balls in aromatic broth. It is a bit of a foreign taste to my Mediterranean roots, but still delicious enough to me go back to it over and over again. Nothing that I would cook for myself, though. Never having cooked them before, the broths seem too complex and the flavours seem to be quite hard to get in the right proportions.

But, this  Hairy Dieter’s version seemed achievable. A lot of work, but still, within my possibilities…  Halfway through the process, there was a lot of huffing, puffing and fiddling around. Indeed it soon become a full blown mess, which included the mixer to go on strike to never work again. To make matters worse, it wasn’t as delicious as one would expect after all process. Well, maybe I haven’t “followed the recipe to the letter”, as The Hairy Dieter’s strong recommend, but after all this effort, I was somehow expecting something a bit more elevated… It is very unlikely I will try it again.

Pork and prawns balls in vegetables and noodles aromatic broth (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients

For the broth

  • 2 liters chicken stock
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4 chillies (2 cut across, 2 deseed and thinly sliced)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, dried or fresh
  • 2 long shallots, thinly sliced
  • 50g fresh root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 4 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (1 1/2 limes)
  • 3 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and cut to thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • 150 chestnut mushrooms
  • 150 mangetout
  • 50g fine vermicelli rice noodles
  • large handfull of fresh coriander

For the pork and shrimp balls

  • 250g lean minced pork
  • 100g cooked peeled prawns, thawed if frozen
  • 1/2 long shallot peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 chili, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoons of cornflour
  • fine salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Method

Start with the broth, pour the stock in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and add the lemongrass stalks. Split w of the chillies lengthways almost  all the way through and pop them in the pan.

Add the lime leaves, half the sliced shallots and finally, all the ginger and garlic. Bring the broth to a low simmer and cook gently for 20min. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for about 30min.

While waiting for the broth to cool down, start the balls. Put the minced pork and prawns in a large bowl. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, deseeded chilli, cornflour, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper in food processor. Blend to make a tick, slightly textured purée. Add the coriander leaves and it another quick blitz until just combined. Take out the processor blade the roll the pork and prawn mixture into 20 small balls.

Strain the infused stock through a sieve into a clean pan. Stir in the remaining sliced shallot, lime juice and fish sauce. Stir in the remaining chillies, very finely chopped. Bring to a gentle simmer and add to the pork balls. Let it cook for 5 minutes, allowing the liquid to bubble gently.  In the meanwhile, cut the carrots into large ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Deseed the peppers and slice them thinly; clean and slice the mushrooms. Trim the mangetout and cut them in half diagonally. Still the carrot strips, mushrooms, mange tout, peppers and noodles into the broth and let it simmer for 3-4min more, or until the pork balls are cooked through and the vegetables and noodles are just tender, stirring occasionally.

Ladle the broth into deep bowls and scatter the coriander on the top.

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