For this show we meet Bobby Chinn by the Singapore River where he explains the role of soups in Asian cuisine. While clear soups are the most common and are used as palate cleansers between dishes during a meal, Asian soups can also be more like stews in texture and often had as a main meal.
Bobby kicks off the show with a traditional Szechuan specialty, a Hot and Sour Soup. He tells us how of all the countries in Asia, the food-savvy Chinese were the first to see the potential of the soup.
Throughout the centuries, soup has played many different roles in Chinese cuisine. While China’s dynastic families feasted on gastronomic luxuries such as Shark's Fin or Bird’s Nest Soup, designed to stimulate their palate for the next banquet course, rural Chinese had to make a meal of a watery mixture flavoured with bean curd and local vegetables. This typically Chinese dish, leads us into an archive item about the difference between Asian and Western soups.
Back to the stove, and Bobby chooses a Vietnamese soup for his next dish - Tamarind and Pineapple Fish Soup. In general, the farther south you go, and the more tropical the climate, the more tangy and spicy the food. So, even though our first soup had sour notes, it was more evenly balanced in comparison to this south east Asian sour soup. As part of the preparation for this dish, Bobby highlights a very special technique to make the perfect fish stock. Next, we travel with Bobby to a shop in Chinatown where we learn about the healing powers of certain soups.
Back by the Singapore River, Bobby ends the show with a Filipino take on the traditional chicken soup: Chicken Rice Soup with Ginger. After simmering for half an hour, the dish is ready for the restaurant staff to taste.