Anyone who has not been a vegetarian since birth or transitioning sometimes experiences a craving for a non-vegetarian food they enjoy. Me, I enjoy anything that is soupy with a nice flavorful broth. In particular, springy fishballs and chicken rice had been my all time favorite. So on a recent trip to the Wholesale Centre to buy vegetables, we found ourselves at the Friendly Vegetarian Supplier and so we stocked up on some mock fishballs among other convenience food.
To be honest, I have very much forgotten how real fishballs are suppose to taste. I just vaguely remember the texture to be soft yet springy. I feel this particular 'fishball' comes closest in terms of texture but I feel that the taste is not anything spectacular. The ingredients are mainly konnyaku powder and vegetarian seasoning and I was assured by the staff that there is no dairy in the balls.
I reinvented the soup a little by adding the sauteed onions on top rather than infused in the soup. I found that it created a more fragrant dish. The pan fried chili is really a garnish but it provides the freedom to choose the heat level as well. I also added celery and tomato because I just happened to have them at home and at the same time I feel that it enriches the soup. This is purely optional and purists would prefer not to have them. Also, the tomato created a slight tang to the soup which I liked but can't say the same for everyone. Feel free to adjust the taste and quantity as per required.
'Fishball' Noodle Soup
1 1/2 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion (80g), sliced finely
4 chili padi
3 gloves garlic, sliced
10g ginger, sliced
1 tomato, diced (optional)
1 stalk celery, sliced (optional)
1 mushroom stock cube
100g bok choy
180g cabbage, sliced
170g noodle of choice (I used a dry yellow noodle that i purchased in Thailand)
soy sauce to taste
pepper to taste
1) In a pot, heat the oil and add sliced onions. Saute until it browns and starts to crisp. Remove from heat.
2) Add whole chili padi (stem removed of course) to the oil and fry until puffy and golden. Remove from heat.
3) In the same oil, saute ginger and garlic. Once fragrant, add the tomatoes and celery and cook until they turn soft.
4) Add the water and mushroom stock cube and bring to a boil. In the mean time clean the bok choy and either keep it whole or pull it apart and keep it as single leaves.
5) Once the soup boils, blanch the bok choy in the soup and remove when nearly cooked.
6) Add the cabbage and 'fishballs' and bring to boil again.
7) Add noodles, simmer until noodles are cooked, adjust taste with some soy sauce and pepper and remove from heat. Add beansprouts at this point.
8) To serve, ladle soup and noodles into a bowl and top with blanched bok choy, crispy fried onions and chili padi.