Yes, we know it’s hot. It’s July. This is what summer does: It turns up the heat then seals the deal with a blanket of humidity veiled by the warm winds from Morocco. We complain,though we shouldn´t, ignoring the fact that there was ever a cold wet winter with cold north winds and we just headed indoors for cover.Casa rosada does not have air conditioning so I have come to rely on my mother´s cold-soup recipes to do the same for us when temperatures soar. But my search for her well-worn, hand-written vichyssoise recipe took a slight turn last week when my files turned up a different approach: a Thai-style vichyssoise using the distinctive flavours of Southeast Asia to up the flavour quotient.Because we love Asian flavours I have a ton of lemon grass growing in the garden, along with fresh coriander and a freezer stocked with a variety of home made stocks, fish sauce ( Thai nam pla) and unsweetened coconut milk. All that was needed were a few potatoes and leeks.
Pan fried sea bass with a Thai style vichysoisse
4 large stalks lemongrass
4 spring onions
50g coriander stalks
thumb fresh ginger thinly sliced
250g new potatoes quartered
2tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon of green chilli powder (optional)
6 kaffir lime leaves
heaped teaspoon golden caster sugar, extra to taste
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 tablespoon of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)
300g young peas
1 small cucumber peeled
handful chives for garnish
Trim off the tough outer skin and leafy parts of the lemongrass and put in a large pan with 2 litres of water.Chop the rest of the lemongrass very finely and set aside.Trim the tops off the spring onions and set aside the remaining parts for garnish.Weigh out the coriander stalks. Trim the green tops from leeks saving the white parts for later. Add all these trimmings to the stock pan.Bring to a slow boil and cook covered for about 1 hour.Drain the stock through a sieve until you have 1 litre of stock.Set aside. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a medium sized pan and sautée the chopped lemongrass and potatoes with the green chilli powder for 10 minutes.Finely slice the white parts of the leeks and rinse them well with hot water in a colander.Finely chop the shallots then add the leeks and shallots to the potato and lemon grass mixture.Cook on a medium heat for a further ten minutes.Add the reserved stock to the vegetables with the lime leaves,sugar, soya sauce and fish sauce and cook gently for 30 minutes.Blitz 150g of the peas with a scant teaspoon of sugar, a handful of mint leaves and sufficient boiling water to achieve a soft paste.Set aside. Shred the spring onions lengthwise, dice half the cucumber and peel the remaining half with a potato peeler to give you thin slithers.Stop peeling when you reach the seeds, and discard the centre part of the cucumber.
When you are ready to serve heat the broth through with the remaining peas and add the blitzed pea purée, and the diced cucumber. Serve the broth in large soup dishes with the pan fried sea bass on top.Finish by garnishing the top of the fish with the shredded spring onions and slithers of cucumber.