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Every week, Caroline Wright will be creating simple, civilized recipes for Food52 that feed four -- for under $20, in under 20 minutes.
Today: Earthy mushrooms, bright lime juice, and rich coconut take center stage in a spicy noodle soup fit for spring.
There are a few flavor combinations that render me helpless and insatiable, and the combination of the rich sweetness of coconut milk, salty brine of fish sauce, and pucker of lime juice is arguably foremost among them.
Mushrooms and a quick caramelization of the coconut milk lends depth to the broth, while spicy chiles add a slow, satisfying burn to each bite. (I happened to shop at a market where I could pick up small handfuls of a variety of mushrooms, keeping the price tag well within budget, but any one of your favorite mushrooms would work just fine here, too.) The resulting dish is very quick to make and even better than your favorite Thai takeout.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as maitake, white beech, shiitake, and white button
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (13.5-ounce) cans coconut milk
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1 (1-inch) piece lemongrass, halved lengthwise, hard outer skin removed and smashed with a heavy skillet
1 hot chile, halved (seeds removed, if desired)
2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, to taste
8 ounces rice noodles, soaked in hot water according to package directions
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
As a freelance food writer and cook, I first wrote this style of recipe as a column on my blog, The Wright Recipes, as an excuse to cook good food for my friends in a quick and simple way.
Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute™ Meals grew into a cookbook that’s being published by Workman in May 2013. The recipes found here are original, made especially for Food52 to once again celebrate simple food with friends.
Photos by Caroline Wright