Buying whole seafood at the fish market is great, but it leaves you with a lot of strange odds and ends that as a beginning chef I’m tempted to just throw out. But whenever I’ve asked anyone or searched online for what to do with the leftovers the answer is always the same: make soup. So soup it is.
This recipe is for an easy, one-pot soup that you can make a couple days after you made that fancy grilled prawn meal on Friday night, and I think it is a great base for some other creative recipes. The soup is warm, rich and spicy, but you won’t need a glass of milk at your side. It’s a deep red color and looks great while it bubbles away. The antennae seem to grow as they poke up and out of the water and the eyes bulge like big peppercorns.
Most prawn soup recipes call for the heads, tails and shells to be used. Unless you have a method to make sure you get all those inedible bits out before serving I would suggest just going with the heads. They are easy to grab with tongs or a slotted spoon, and even though I just used the heads I still got a couple bits of shell and antennae in the final product.
11 prawn heads (use the actual prawns and shells for something else)
1 large tomato, diced
1 medium onion, cut into long strips
1 in ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Sunchang Doenjang (soy bean paste)
1 tsp Sunchang Gochujang (red pepper paste)
1 tsp mild Korean chili powder
1 tsp fish sauce
4 cups water
salt and pepper
seasoned, dried seaweed (optional)
1. In a hot soup pot add the oil and onions. Saute until translucent.
2. Add the tomatoes, garlic and ginger and saute 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the prawn heads, bean paste, red pepper paste, chili powder, water, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
4. When you are ready to eat, remove the heads with tongs or a slotted spoon and serve.
5. As an optional garnish, cut strips of dried seaweed over the soup immediately before serving. They will add a little bit of salty and nutty flavor.
Anna and I ate the soup like this but we think it could become a great meal over rice or with shredded chicken or fish simmered in. I also experimented with a little bit of the soup in a cup by adding some citrus flavors after being inspired by a recipe from by Phil Vickery from the BBC show “From Ready Steady Cook” that was posted on the BBC website.
His recipe called for orange wedges as a garnish and lime juice in the soup. I tried to find oranges at our local grocery store, but came up short until Anna suggested I just buy some orange juice. I know Minute Maid isn’t a great substitute for fresh oranges, but I thought it was pretty genius. I tried lime juice, orange juice, and the two mixed together. Just a small amount of each really changed the whole flavor and character of the soup. It smoothed out the spiciness but didn’t replace it with an acidic bite. I thought it was an interesting combination, and I plan on experimenting more with it later. If any of you perfect it, I’d love to hear it.