Bok Choy Noodle Soup with Quail Eggs
The day I made this soup is the day I learned to recognise the flavour of star anise in food. I’d known it in licorice, but had never realised what it did to hearty dishes. Star anise, I learned, is one of the five ingredients in Chinese five spice powder - (along with cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel) - the Chinese have been using it for ages. And I never would have guessed it, but it does something quite amazing.
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
1 bunch scallions, chopped. Set the green aside for the topping.
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 whole star anise
1300 ml chicken broth
2 tablespoon soy sauce
240g mushrooms, sliced
1/2 head of large bok choy, roughly chopped
120g rice noodles
4-6 quail eggs (or 2 regular eggs), medium-soft boiled
garnish: red pepper flakes or sesame seeds
1. Take the olive oil and heat in a medium sized soup pan, then add the shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes until glazed.
2. Add the white of the scallions, garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes more, until the garlic and ginger are fragrant.
3. Add the chicken stock, star anise and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Discard the star anise, then add the sliced mushrooms, noodles and bok choy. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the bok choy and noodles are tender.
5. In a separate pan, boil the quail eggs for 3.5 - 4 minutes, then cool in cold water to stop the boiling process. When cooled, peel the eggs and slice in half.
6. Divide the soup over 2 bowls and top with the green of the scallions and the quail eggs, halved and yolk-side up. Sprinkle over some chili flakes or sesame seeds as garnish and serve.