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Hot and Sour Seafood Soup

This interesting combination of flavours and ingredients makes a sophisticated beginning to an informal meal.
Dried Chinese mushrooms and fresh bean curd cakes can be bought in most delicatessens, or ethnic supermarkets
Care must be taken when using fresh chillies not to get the juice into the eyes or the mouth. If this should happen, rinse with lots of cold water.

ingredients

serves 4
3 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 tbsp vegetable oil
120 g (4 oz) prawns, shelled and deveined
1 red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
1 green chilli, seeded and finely sliced
1/2 tsp lemon rind, cut into thin slivers
2 spring onions, sliced
560 ml (1 pint) fish stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
60 g (2 oz) whitefish fillets
1 cake of fresh bean curd, diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sesame seeds
Salt and pepper
1 tsp fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional)

method

1. Soak the mushrooms in enough hot water to cover for 20 minutes, or until completely reconstituted.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok or frying pan, and add the prawns, chillies, lemon rind and spring onions. Stir-fry quickly for 1 minute.

3. Add the stock, the Worcestershire sauce and the soy sauce. Bring this mixture to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste.

4. Remove the hard stalks from the mushrooms and discard them. Slice the caps very finely.

5. Cut the whitefish fillets into small dice, and add them to the soup, together with the bean curd and Chinese mushrooms. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

6. Stir in the lemon juice and sesame seeds. Adjust the seasoning and serve, sprinkled with chopped fresh coriander leaves, if desired.

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