I have been watching a lot of television cookery competitions and the number one thing I have learned is that the difference between winning and losing often hinges on a good broth. Pack a broth full of flavour and achieve the perfect balance of sweetness, heat and acidity with a hit of umani and it's a winning dish. Bland broths will send you home. The importance of a good broth is not to be underestimated.
It's fair to say today's recipe is a good one for this time of year. Aubergines are still around (just about) and broccoli is really good. This broth is light and delivers a hit of vegetables while providing warmth from the chilli and ginger. Perfect for cooler evenings.
The broth is Asian style, so you may have to take a trip to a good food market to pick up some of the ingredients. It's worth it. I couldn't get my hands on lemongrass when I made this at the weekend. It's ok to leave it out but if you have some, just lightly bash two to three stalks and add to the broth. If you have broth left over keep in the fridge for up to five days. Use in soups, curries or just drink with a spoon.
Scroll on for the recipe for this Asian Broth with Aubergine, Broccoli & Noodles.
Asian Broth with Aubergine, Broccoli & Noodles
For the broth
2 litres vegetable stock
3 garlic cloves
1 thumb size piece of ginger root
1 red chilli
12 kafir lime leaves
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp tamari
15g fresh coriander (use only the stalks in the broth)
For the rest
1 medium size aubergine
1 small head broccoli
125g brown rice noodles
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp honey
Toasted cashew nuts or sesame seeds
Freshly chopped scallion
Fresh coriander leaves
Prepare the ingredients for the stock. Roughly chop the scallions, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander stalks. Place all the broth ingredients, save for the lime juice in a large saucepan or stock pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a very gentle simmer for 45 minutes. Taste the broth as it reduces. The flavour should become quite intense as it cooks. If you find it too strong, dilute with some additional vegetable stock. Once you are happy with the flavour, pour the broth through a fine sieve and return the broth liquid to the pot. Taste and add the juice of 1-2 limes to add some freshness.
Preheat the oven to 190C / Gas 5. Mix two tablespoons of each of tamari, honey and sesame oil together in a large bowl. Cut the aubergine into bite size pieces and toss in the bowl with the tamari mix. Ensure each piece is fully coated. Tip onto a baking tray and place in the oven for 25 minutes to roast.
Cut the broccoli into small bite size florets. Lightly steam making sure they still retain some bite. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the pack. To assemble hte bowls, divide the broccoli, aubergine and noodles between four bowls. Top with the broth and serve with toasted cashew nuts or seasame seeds and some chopped scallion and fresh coriander leaves.