My week seems to be getting filled with sport at the moment, not just with our two boys getting to finals time with their rugby and hockey, but also as a cook. Wednesdays are filming days for foreverfit.tv, an online gym and Internet TV channel, while my Mondays are taken up with cooking for the mighty Steamers.
For those of you that know me well, it’s obvious that I love food in all its forms and being a cook it is a little hard to stay at the peak of fitness. Who am I kidding with the peak of fitness thing; nothing makes you feel short, fat and old like walking into the Steamers training rooms to be surrounded by real athletes. Speaking of real athletes, we all should be very proud of these exceptional young men that represent the Bay of Plenty on the rugby fields around the country. I am constantly astonished at their dedication and discipline, and their constant search for improvement.
So why is the chef involved? Simple really, food is supposed to be tasty, easy and fun, especially during training. It’s too easy to make a list of all the things you’re not allowed to eat instead of exploring new flavours that can make mealtimes fun again. For our young athletes striving for their personal gold medals the sacrifices are already enough with out dismissing the joy of good food.
Hot and Sour Thai Chicken Broth
This recipe is based on a version of Tom Yum soup – a spicy, clear, refreshing broth found on the menu of most Thai restaurants. It can also be made with tiger prawns and is very low fat. This soup is also nice made with Japanese miso stock.
2 skinless chicken breasts (175g each)
1.2 litres chicken stock
10g bunch coriander leaves, stalks removed and set aside
2 small red bird’s eye chillies, halved and de-seeded
1 stalk lemon grass, roughly chopped
2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 medium ripe tomatoes
3 salad onions, trimmed and finely sliced (including green parts)
50g fresh, shelled peas (or frozen)
50g sugar snap peas, cut in half
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind puree
Juice of a large lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Put chicken stock into large saucepan and add coriander stalks, one of the halved chillies, lemon grass and ginger. Bring to boil, stir, then cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes to allow Thai flavours to infuse stock.
Skin tomatoes with hot water and cut into quarters, removing seeds, then cut quarters into three lengthways so you have thin slices. Cut chicken breasts in half widthways and slice into thin slivers. Strain stock, discarding flavourings, and return to the pan. Bring to a simmer, then stir in chicken slivers and half of salad onions. Stir and cover, leaving chicken to poach gently for 5 minutes until cooked through. Meanwhile, finely slice remaining chilli (washing hands afterwards!)
Next, add peas, sugar snaps, sliced chilli, fish sauce, tamarind and lime juice to the soup, stir and gently simmer for 2-3 minutes or until peas are tender. Stir tomato in and divide coriander leaves among 4 deep bowls. Ladle hot soup on top, sprinkle with remaining salad onions and serve.
How can I recommend a wine when this is all about being fit? Well for those, like me, whose athletic ship has already sailed a little glass of Gewurztraminer hits the spot. Try Osawa Wines from the Hawke’s Bay.