I am rarely without at least one container of seafood stock in the freezer, ready to go into a soup or sauce. When I cook, I tend to hoard uncooked fish bones, scraps of raw fish meat, and shrimp (and even, when I’ve been indulgent, lobster or crab) shells.
When I collect enough, they go into a pot with just enough water to cover them. I prefer to use the pressure cooker because the resulting broth has more flavour – it needs about 30 minutes on high pressure. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simmering the ingredients in a regular pot on the stovetop for about an hour works well, too. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, cool it to room temperature, then pour it into air-tight storage containers and freeze. Be sure to label the container so you don’t get seafood stock mixed up with your home-made chicken stock (yes, I’ve done that).
Fishball soup with shrimp roe noodles
I know you can get this at any number of noodle shops in Hong Kong, but I also like to eat it at home. It’s easy enough to make. I buy a few types of fishballs, seafood balls and fish cake from a vendor and freeze an assortment in individual serving packs – usually just one or two of each type – so whenever I need a quick meal, I can add them to dishes like this one (and, if I’m being honest, to my favourite instant noodles). If you want, add fresh shrimp to the noodles – just remember, after peeling them, to freeze the heads and shells for your next batch of stock.
When I was making this dish for the photoshoot, I tasted the water that I’d used to boil the shrimp roe noodles and, to my surprise, found it to be very flavourful. Instead of pouring it down the drain, I added the liquid to the shrimp stock. I also boiled all the fishballs and seafood balls, and the fresh shrimp, in the stock, so by the time we ladled the broth over the noodles, it was so flavourful it only needed a touch of salt.
4 bundles (60 grams each) shrimp roe noodles (I prefer the wide ones)
600 grams shrimp stock
200 grams fish paste (bought from a seafood vendor)
10 grams fresh coriander
¼ tsp finely ground white pepper
4 each of three types of fishballs and/or seafood balls, defrosted, if frozen
12-16 fresh shrimp, with body size about 8cm in length
3-4 spring onions
6-8 yellow chives
A handful of bean sprouts
Coriander leaves and chilli oil, for serving
Fine sea salt, to taste
1 Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil, add the shrimp roe noodles and boil until al dente. Put a colander over a large bowl and drain the noodles; reserve the cooking liquid. Divide the noodles between four large soup noodle bowls.
2 Pour a litre of the noodle cooking liquid into a saucepan and add the shrimp stock.
3 Roughly chop 10 grams of fresh coriander and mix it and the ground white pepper with the fish paste. Peel the shrimp. Cut the spring onions into 5mm pieces, and the yellow chives into 3cm lengths.
4 Bring the noodle cooking liquid and shrimp stock to a simmer. Add the fishballs and seafood balls and cook until they float to the surface, then place one of each kind in the soup noodle bowls.
5 Use small spoons to scoop the fish paste into about 12 oval balls directly into the simmering broth and cook until they float to the surface. Distribute them between the soup noodle bowls. Add the peeled shrimp to the broth and simmer until they curl and turn pink and opaque. Divide them between the soup noodle bowls.
6 Taste the broth for seasoning and if needed, add some salt.
7 Add the bean sprouts and yellow chives to the simmering broth and cook for 30 seconds. Ladle the broth, bean sprouts and yellow chives over the noodles and other ingredients in the bowls. Add some coriander leaves and serve immediately, letting each diner add chilli oil to taste.