This is part one of what I intend to make a multi-part series on Thai noodle soups. But first, the foundation. Lay the groundwork with a flavoursome, quality stock and you'll be building top notch noodle bowls in no time!
Noodle soup broths are typically bone based, but vegetarian vendors (especially during the annual vegetarian (jay) festival) of course offer non animal-based stocks that are thinner in texture but do not lack flavour.
The recipe and method I describe here is built on the many bowls and variations of vegan noodle soup I've consumed across Thailand, but with added garlic. This is a relevant point because the commonly utilised Thai seasoning trio that is garlic, white pepper, and coriander root is broken in the preparation of strict jay foods; the jay, (the most commonly practised form of veganism in Thailand) diet forbids a handful of pungent ingredients, one of which is garlic.
But this recipe isn't about spiritual purity or whatever, so we're using garlic.
Stocks used for many noodle soups in Thailand are light and neutral, and with good reason: it is up to you, the diner, to dress your bowl using the condiments that are always provided (more on that in a future post). The profile can range from fragrant umami water (i.e. aromatics boiled with some salt and MSG) to a fuller vegetable stock with balanced herbal and vegetal flavours. I alternate between the two, depending on both time and personal preference. Either way you are aiming for a somewhat bland stock that errs on the side of savoury.
Celery is an atypical addition to this type of stock, but I like the sweet earthiness it imparts. Just note that when celery is boiled it has a tendency to impart bitterness, so if you are averse to bitter undertones then omit this ingredient. Personally, I like it.
Light Vegan Noodle Soup Stock
Don't worry too much about the size of the daikon, but don't use a whopper. The purpose of this vegetable here is to add some sweetness to the broth, but you don't want it to be overwhelming. Don't boil the stock rapidly, instead maintaining a slow simmer – this is especially important if you choose to use celery, which can become bitter if over boiled. The stock is best used the same or next day, so if you aren't using it all soon then freeze it.
- 2 ½ litres water
- 1 small daikon (somewhere in the ballpark of 300 grams), roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup coriander stems, smashed
- 6-8 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped (optional)
- 2 large dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1-2 teaspoons white peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot and simmer on medium low heat, covered, for 45 minutes. Allow to cool and strain vegetables. In order to retain a clear broth, do not squeeze the vegetables.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Makes: around 2,300 millilitres
- Cuisine: Thai
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