This and the Greek Napa Cabbage Salad recipe are hybrids of sorts, Asian ingredients folded into two of my family’s Greek staple dishes.
Lemongrass & Rice Soup (aka Asian Avgolemono)
- 2–3 tablespoons neutral oil like grapeseed, canola, or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 3-4 stalks lemongrass finely chopped
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 2 chicken breasts with rib meat
- 1 bunch cilantro washed
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1½ cup white rice
- 1 bunch tatsoi
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Finely chopped chives, lemon zest, enoki mushrooms, and extra-virgin olive oil as garnish
- Sauté chopped onion, garlic, and lemongrass in neutral oil. When these are lightly browned, add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts, cilantro, and lemon zest, and set on medium heat for 20 minutes.
- When chicken is just cooked through, remove and set aside (covered). Strain broth. Toast rice in neutral oil until opaque. Return broth to the pan and simmer, covered, on medium-low for 20 minutes.
- Chop tatsoi, and cube or shred chicken. Remove about a half cup of broth (use strainer to push down the rice to get only broth) and put it aside in a bowl to let cool slightly. Add chicken (and any accumulated juices) and chopped tatsoi; cover.
- Thickening the broth with egg is the only somewhat technical part of this recipe. Here’s what you do: Pour lemon juice into a clean bowl and crack in an egg. Whisk together, adding the half cup of slightly cooled broth a tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. What you are trying not to do is cook the egg too fast. If it cooks immediately, the slurry separates, and you get tiny pieces of cooked egg in your broth. It’s still perfectly edible, it just won’t be the luscious broth thickener you’re looking for. When cooled broth and egg and lemon are fully combined, stir this sauce back into the soup. It’s done the second the soup has returned to a boil.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into shallow bowls and garnish with enoki mushrooms and lemon zest, as in the photo, or simply with finely chopped chives and some good extravirgin olive oil.
Stephen David Caldes is a writer, home cook, and assistant professor in the Journalism and Public Relations Department at CSU, Chico. He has many hobbies, but eating with friends is his favorite.