Today's Cook the Book recipe, from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, is a delicate, clear soup floating with slivers of napa cabbage and whole shrimp. Instead of using prepared stock, you make a quick but flavorful broth with dried shrimp, which can be purchased at Asian grocery stories.
If you can't find a supplier for dried shrimp, keep the shells from the fresh shrimp and make a simple shrimp stock. Simmer the shells in the 6 cups of water called for in the recipe, for 20-30 minutes, and strain.
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- Yield:4 to 6 with 2 or 3 other dishes
- 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 heaping tablespoon dried shrimp, rinsed under hot water and chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 6 cups water
- 3 cups firmly packed sliced napa cabbage (1/4-inch wide ribbons)
- 1/2 pound small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until fragrant and soft. Add the dried shrimp, salt, and fish sauce and cook for about 30 seconds to develop the flavors. Add the water, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cabbage has softened and the soup is golden./ If you are not serving the soup right away, turn off the heat and cover.
Just before serving, return the soup to a simmer. Drop in the shrimp. When the shrimp have turned pink and curled, add the pepper. Taste and add extra salt or fish sauce, if necessary. Ladle into a serving bowl and garnish with the scallion. Serve immediately.