A good friend of mine just took a leave of absence from her job in Denver to live in Sydney, Australia for six months. She plans to do a lot of yoga, a little paddleboarding, and maybe a road trip here and there.
Yup. I'm a little jealous.
Anyway, she stayed at my place just before she left, and we cooked piles of good things together. All of this kitchen time inspired a new little project, wherein she will keep me updated on her most delicious and authentic encounters, and I will attempt to recreate them. Call it vicarious eating. So, maybe 48 hours in, during a Fiji pre-vacation vacation, she sent me some awesome snaps and her first food find - Fijian Fish Soup.
The soup is rich with coconut milk, subtly spicy and bright with lemon and ginger flavor. The color is so snowy white - it really belies the feisty flavors. And it's super fast! I was done, prep work and all, in 15 minutes flat.
I've attempted to replicate the recipe in a way that will be easy to cook at home (or a poorly-stocked Sydney Air B&B kitchen). Thankfully, it seems the Fijians are too busy chilling and snorkeling to over-complicate their food. So here goes!
Fijian Fish Soup
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 12 min Total Time: 22 min
A glug of cooking oil (I used olive oil)
0.5 onion, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 Tbs minced ginger
1 red or green chili, minced
4 cups / 1 L water
1 lb / 0.5 kg meaty white fish fillets (mahi mahi or cod is perfect), skin removed, cut into big chunks
juice from 1 lemon
1 can/ 400ml coconut milk
salt and pepper
Maybe some cilantro or parsley for garnish
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until onion is soft.
Add shallots, ginger and chili. Cook for another minute or so. Add the water, cover, and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the fish and lemon juice. Simmer for 4-5 minutes until the fish is just cooked (it will turn white and flaky).
Stir in the coconut cream and season with salt and pepper. Done!
The soup would taste great over some rice or quinoa. Maybe pair with a mixed green salad with mango, diced red bell pepper, chopped macadamia nuts, dressed with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
Traditionally, the soup isn't garnished with herbs, but a handful of cilantro works wonders here. Also, my friend noticed that some versions are pureed, including the fish. I'm not quite ready for that, but give it a whirl in the blender if you're intrigued.
A note on leftovers: I usually make big batches of soup and freeze in 16oz containers for work lunches. Fish soup may not hold up so well in the freezer, though. You'll just have to find an excuse to eat it all.