|For the fish:||To make the Mohinga soup:|
|300g catfish||1.5 litres water|
|1 lemongrass stalk, bruised||100g young banana stem, sliced (or 12 small shallots, peeled)|
|1\4 teasp ground turmeric||75g ground rice powder, roasted|
|500ml water||3 tblsp fish sauce|
|To make Onion Paste:||1 teasp ground black pepper|
|1 large onion, chopped||Eat with:|
|3 cloves garlic||500g fine rice noodles|
|1cm fresh ginger||3 limes, halved|
|2 lemon grass stalks, white part only||5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered|
|3 whole dried chillies, soaked in hot water||2 handfuls fresh coriander, chopped|
|1 teasp shrimp paste||Onion crispy fritters|
|1\2 teasp paprika||Extra fish sauce and chili flakes|
|6 tblsp peanut oil|
Put the whole fish in a large pan, add the water, lemon grass and turmeric. Bring to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the fish is just cooked. Remove the fish from the pan and when cool enough to handle, peel the skin and flake the flesh, discarding any bones. Drain the fish stock through a sieve and reserve for the soup.
Pound the onion, garlic, ginger, dried chillies and lemon grass into a paste in a pestle and mortar.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion paste. Cook over moderate heat for 15-20 minutes until the paste is soft and caramelised. Add the shrimp paste, mash with a wooden spoon until incorporated, then mix in the turmeric and paprika. Cook for a further minute until the spices are fragrant before adding the flaked fish. Pop the lid on and cook for 10-15 minutes, allowing all the flavours from the onion paste to infuse into the fish.
The soup paste is done. If you are making this in advance, cool the mixture completely and pop in the freezer. It will keep for up to one month.
To make the soup: put the soup paste, rice powder, water and the reserved fish stock in a large pan. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously to make sure the rice powder doesn't clump. Add the shallots or banana stem and simmer for 20-30 minutes until they are tender. Add the fish sauce and taste for seasoning. Finally, add lots of black pepper before serving.
to serve, put a handful of noodles in a bowl and ladle over the soup. Let everyone add the garnishes as they wish. It should taste spicy, salty - and tangy from the limes.