September 08, 2015

Thai twist on gazpacho

Quick, before summer blazes out tomorrow - this heat wave is unbelievable and I kind of love it - we need to cover another hot weather recipe.

During one of the best long cottage weekends of this summer, my friend Carol made this gazpacho as a starter for a hot Sunday evening (which ended up a pouring-rain evening). We stayed indoors, had drinks, did crosswords, read the paper, pulled out magazines, and had a lovely, peaceful, contented evening with each other - all five of us, plus our dog.

Carol is our go-to person for gazpacho. She make the beautiful, classic tomato-based Spanish soup (or liquid salad as I saw it called on one website - ugh) which turns out exactly as it should every time - fresh, spicy, cold, delicious.

Its origins are from Andalusia, southern Spain and various opinions say the Romans or Greeks had a similar bread and garlic based soup. But I like to agree with those who say it was the Moors. It is a great thirst quencher - and women in the fields used to make it in big wooden bowls called 'dornillos' and feed it to the farm workers.

This time Carol tried a new recipe that we loved and can now be firmly in her repertoire: Thai Gazpacho Verde. It blends the Andalusian classic with Thai flavours. Carol found the recipe in the summer issue of the always excellent Food & Drink from the LCBO (liquor stores in Ontario are run by the government). The recipe is by Toronto food writer and recipe developer Eric Vellend and he brings a great twist to gazpacho, no tomato. It's all about the cucumber and avocado and the great Thai flavours that slip in there. And cucumbers are bursting out all over the grocery this is definitely the time. There is apparently a saying in Spanish, 'de gazpacho no hay empacho' which means 'you can never get too much of a good thing or too much gazpacho.'

Thai Gazpacho Verde - serves 4

2 large English cucumbers, peeled
1 small avocado, halved, pitted, peeled
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup water
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp thinly sliced shallots
1 thinly sliced hot red chili pepper
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves (you have me at mint)
1/4 cup finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Cut cucumbers into medium chunks. Dice the avocado. Put them into a blender and add garlic, water, lime juice, fish sauce and salt. Blend til smooth. Cover and put in the fridge for at least two hours. (Recipe says it will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.)

Place the shallots in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Drain and pat with paper towel. Place in bowl with chili and mint. Toss.

Pour the soup into serving bowls. Put a mound of the shallot/mint/chili mixture on top and then sprinkle with the peanuts.

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