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Fragrant lemongrass broth with prawns and noodles

Fragrant lemongrass broth with prawns and noodles

This is our meal to impress when time is short. The base of the broth works well with any fish and can be ready in 30 minutes.  Try adding steamed mussels or fried fillets of red mullet. Thai basil is easy to get hold of these days but if you can find it, add coriander and mint.


4 stalks lemongrass
thumb size knob of ginger, peeled
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
750ml / 6.5 fl oz water
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 red chilli, finely sliced
12 shell-on king prawns
450g / 15.9 oz fillet of cod, hake, pollock or halibut, chopped into large pieces
Thai basil leaves to serve
200g / 7.1 oz flat brown rice noodles

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  • Remove the ends and outer layers of the lemongrass to reveal a softer core. Discard the woody outer layers and add their cores to a small food processor with the ginger and garlic. Blitz to a paste (the smoother the better but you can always strain the soup later if it’s not fine enough). Add a little oil and water if it’s struggling to blend.
  • Soak the noodles in just-boiled water for 10 minutes then drain and toss with a little oil.
  • Heat the oil in a large wok or saucepan and gently fry the paste for 3 minutes. Pour in the water and bring to a simmer. Add the fish sauce. (If you prefer a strained clear broth, without the textures of the paste, this is the moment to strain and return to the pan. When strained it is more fragrant.)
  • Add the prawns and fish, turn to a very gentle simmer. Without stirring, let the fish cook for 4 minutes until just cooked through. It should gently flake and have turned opaque in its middle. The prawns should be completely pink. 
  • Add the noodles to deep bowls, ladle in the prawns and fish, and follow with the broth. Add Thai basil and coriander to serve. Bring to the table with extra bowls for the prawn shells.
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