Ginger Prawn Dumpling Soup

Ginger Prawn Dumpling Soup

Ginger Prawn Dumpling Soup

This is a more dense and wintery Asian-inspired soup.  The dumplings are still lighter than a traditional English dumpling soup, and they add a big punchy flavour that warms you from the inside out.  Although there are lots of ingredients, they pretty much just all go in together, so it's not as much of a palaver as you might think...  This soup is actually easy to prepare in advance, and is a great easy meal to have on a chilly Friday night!!

20 large green prawns; raw, shelled and deveined, chop 10 prawns into a rough mince, retain the rest whole (reserve the shells and heads for stock)
250 grams pork mince, chicken mince or finely chopped fish
5 tablespoons ginger, finely grated
3 tablespoons cornflour
500mls vegetable, seafood or chicken stock
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon dried coriander
¼ teaspoon garam marsala
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons Kecap Manis
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
Juice and zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 spring onions or shallots, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 egg beaten
3 baby bok choy, quartered
¼ Chinese cabbage, finely sliced
1 small head of broccoli, broken into florets
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 red capsicum (or chilli), finely sliced
½ green  capsicum, finely sliced
Hot water

For the soup stock base:
In a large pan, add the white pepper, garam marsala and coriander and heat until smoking hot.  Add the reserved prawn shells and heads and fry off over a high heat.  Add half the ginger, 1 clove of garlic, the sesame oil and reduce the heat.  Add the whole prawns and allow to cook through, then add 500mls of prepared stock (either homemade or a good commercial stock), lime juice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, honey, and 2 spring onions.
Remove the whole prawns once they are cooked through and set aside.
Simmer the stock over a medium heat, allow to reduce down.  The stock should be a dark, rich russet orange colour, with a deep flavour.  Leave the stock to continue reducing down while the rest of the dish is prepared.

For the dumplings:
Combine the diced prawns, mince, cornflour, 1 clove of garlic, remaining ginger, soy sauce, half the shredded cabbage, a beaten egg and sesame seeds.  Mix the dumpling mixture together well until the meat is sticky and the prawn meat incorporated well into the other ingredients.  Form into walnut-sizedballs, rolling with wet hands to smooth the dumpling surface.

To finish the soup:
Sieve the stock, ensuring there are not extraneous prawn whiskers or legs.  Discard the sieved portion of the soup and return the clear stock to the pan.  Increase the heat to just under a simmer.
Taste the stock – it should be concentrated - very deeply flavoured and rich. Add enough additional hot water to reduce the stock down to soup-friendly flavour base.  The soup stock should be slightly salty, as once the dumplings are added they will cut back the intensity of the soup base and make the liquid more unctuous. 
Add the zest of the lime, the capsicums (or chilli), the remaining cabbage and broccoli and a generous sprinkling of chives.  Test for salt/herb balance and adjust if necessary.
Add the whole prawns and the dumplings to the soup and simmer until they are cooked through.  To test, remove one from the soup and cut through, they should be soft and a little squishy and cooked  all the way through.

To serve, add a few dumplings and prawns to each bowl and ladle over plenty of the rich soup, sprinkle over a few shreds of fresh ginger, some fried shallots and some fresh lime zest.