Ask Peter: A base for fish soup
Where can I find the recipe for the crayfish soup you made on Breakfast One last month. It looked amazing. Stephen
Oh that crayfish soup! To be honest TVNZ’s Breakfast team had asked for an inexpensive and simple to make soup and in my mind I’d pictured a smoked kahawai chowder, packed full of diced potato, kumara and carrots. However, my mother, Timmy (of Bite pavlova fame), had recently turned 80 and she’d decided her children and their partners would celebrate that milestone in Fiji, which is where I’d been the previous week. With coconut palms on the beach, coconut cream in the food and coconut water as a mixer for vodka and lime (!) I just couldn’t get "coconut" out of my head.
On top of that we were celebrating the fifth birthday of my restaurant, The Sugar Club, on the same day as my TV appearance, so there were lots of delicious bits and pieces in the kitchen. Our birthday dinner was a collaboration of my executive chef, head chef and pastry chefs Josh, Naga and Elenoa, as well as courses cooked and created by Tom from Capitol restaurant in Wellington (who worked at London’s Soho Sugar Club), and Auckland-based Pip Wylie who began her cooking apprenticeship at the original Wellington Sugar Club in 1987. I’d also prepared another course which Melissa Morrow of Ponsonby Road Bistro (and manager of the Soho Sugar Club in the late- 90s) remembered fondly: nori-wrapped salmon with pickles.
So, as I prepped my soup the day before, I found myself making a Thai-style coconut broth with Te Anau saffron, ginger, star anise and chilli. I’d forgotten to order in some smoked fish, so I figured I’d treat the team to some raw crayfish in their soup instead. Then realised it’d be great with some pickled red cauliflower to add crunch. I’d pickled it with a slightly acidic and fairly salty brine which gave it a fabulous texture of firm crunch. I roasted pumpkin and sauteed shiitake mushrooms and added these as well, along with plenty of chives and sliced red chilli. The soup wasn’t what I’d thought I was going to make, but it was really delicious and full of texture. Here’s a recipe for the broth — just add anything you think will work together — and I’d say smoked fish would be great.