Monday, January 4, 2010

Creature Comforts

I went back to work today after a few days off over the Christmas break and it's been a crazy day.  Launching yourself back into a hectic work schedule after a few days of lazing around the house, reading books in your pajamas all day and having a nanna nap every afternoon is a shock to say the least. I knew it would be a challenging day, so food wise I made sure I did all the right things - healthy, fibre filled breakfast? Check. Wholegrains and veges for lunch? Check. Fresh fruit to snack on? Check. Drinking 2 litres of water instead of coffee? Check. Now it's dinner time and I wanted to continue the healthy theme, as well as having something filling and comforting.

Soup would have to be one of the most comforting dishes ever, and I really love Asian clear broth based soups. They manage to be comforting without being too heavy and have a lovely flavour as well as freshness. The soup I'm sharing with you today is one that I like to make if I am feeling tired and run down, or if I feel like I'm coming down with a cold. It tastes so damn good and is so, so healthy. If you ever doubted that food is medicine, then this will change your mind on the subject. I swear that I always feel great after I've eaten it. I like to add a fair whack of fresh chilli to it, but of course you can adapt it to your taste. The dish contains dried Shiitake mushrooms that you can purchase at any Asian grocer. They are a great ingredient to have in the pantry - they keep indefinitely and have a knockout flavour. (Just soak them in water before use) They are also used extensively in Chinese medicine and can be brewed as a tea and consumed as a tonic. The broth in today's recipe is also flavoured with fresh ginger and star anise, which makes it deliciously fragrant.

The amount below is enough for 1-2 people, depending on how hungry you are. If you are super starving, noodles would be a nice addition. If you are a vego, you can leave the chicken out and use vegetable stock instead. You could also add some tofu if you wanted to. This whole dish took about 20mins to throw together, thanks to the use of purchased stock. Of course you can make your own stock if you have time - tonight, I used the supermarket stock option. I've been a bit general with the amounts in the recipe - just add as much or as little of the ingredients as you feel like. It is a very forgiving dish.

Asian Chicken & Mushroom Broth

You will need:
For the broth 500ml (2 cups) chicken stock, 1 star anise, a thumb sized piece of ginger sliced.
For the rest 1 chicken thigh- trimmed of fat and sliced into strips, 6 dried Shiitake mushrooms (soak them in warm water until soft and then slice them. If the stalks are a bit hard, cut them off), coriander, fresh chilli, bok choy, handful of sliced spring onion, red chilli, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, pepper.

Method: First, make the broth. Heat the stock and add the ginger, sliced mushrooms and star anise. Simmer for 10mins and set aside.

Combine the chicken and sesame oil and season with pepper. Heat a wok or pan and stir fry quickly till cooked through. Add the bok choy and cook until it starts to wilt.

Arrange the chicken, bok choy, coriander, spring onion in the serving bowl. Pour over the broth and mushrooms. Top with extra coriander and chilli and serve right away.



  1. I am cooking this tonight Ms Porter. Will remember to take some photos this time...


  2. Make sure you do! Can't wait to see how you went XX

  3. Done! It was beautiful, and very good for my little sickie Julia. Took pics and will upload them.