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Experiment: Shrimp Soup with Lime Pickle

When I featured Patak’s Lime Pickle in a ‘Foodstuffs’ post recently, I began considering various uses for the condiment and I remember thinking that the taste of it rather put me in my mind of the ‘Tom Yum Soup’ that is so popular in Thai restaurants. It struck me that this product might be useful as more than an accompaniment and might make a nice base for a similar sort of simple shrimp soup… 

The  Ingredients

  • 8 small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups Chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Patak’s Brand Lime Pickle
  • 1 Scallion (white part only), sliced into small sections
  • 10 or 12 Baby Spinach leaves, stems removed
  • Slices of white mushroom (1 small mushroom or ½ a medium one)
  • Sesame seeds for garnish (not shown)

The amounts here were enough for my wife and I to have a small bowl each. I haven’t added any salt, as the pickle is salty enough on its own. I also resisted adding any ginger or garlic (either of which would probably work well) because I want to get a sense of the pickle as a flavour base without any competing flavours.

The Method

First, blend the pickle and about a half-cup of the chicken stock in a food processor to break up the large pieces of lime.  Put the mushroom slices in a small bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. After ten minutes or so, or when they are softened, drain and rinse them well in cold water. This will not only cut the cooking time for the mushrooms but will also prevent any dark spores from the gills from discoloring the soup.

When you are ready to cook the soup, heat a scant tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and the sauté the scallion and shrimp until the scallion are soft and the shrimp turn a nice pink. Add the mushrooms, the pickle blend and the remaining chicken stock to the pot and, just when it all starts to boil, add the spinach.  Cook for a few minutes until the leaves are wilted and tender and then serve in small bowls garnished with just a sprinkle of sesame seeds. (Some strips of julienned lemon zest would add a nice touch of color but I had none).

The Verdict

Well… I didn’t care for this and didn’t finish it all but my wife said she really enjoyed it I know she wasn’t just being polite (she rarely feels the urge to be polite to me) but she also agreed that it was a little bitter… presumably from the lime peel.

Even though I didn’t care for the result, I think the basic idea does have merit though. My wife’s first comment was that it had a lovely complex flavor, and I think it just needed to be ‘toned down’ a little. If you try this in you own kitchen, I recommend that you cut the pickle quantity to no more than a half teaspoon per cup of stock. That will, I think, allow the fragrant lime taste to come through without being overshadowed by the bitter aftertaste that spoiled it for me.

Please let me know what works for you if you are moved to give this experiment a try…


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. feochadan #

    From “The Wife”: Yes, I tend to be brutally honest about my husband’s culinary acheivements. I even once said “this tastes like dog food” (although having never actually tried that), so, if I *do* really like something, I speak right up, too. Generally, I don’t like lime pickle but in this dish it was toned down and became quite pleasant. I agree with John’s comment above that less would be better but this was a lovely dish.

    May 13, 2012
  2. All of your pictures are lovely! Do you have training in food photography, or do you just have a gift?

    May 17, 2012
    • Oh my no … no training at all. And, in fact, I usually get envious over other food bloggers pictures and wish I could do as well. So thank you very much, that makes me feel a lot better about my images

      May 17, 2012

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