sweet potato coconut milk shrimp soup

Sweet potato, coconut milk and nutmeg, yum!  I love this version of the soup from the Guadeloupe islands which called for monk fish.  I never had monk fish, have you?  In fact I don’t ever recall seeing it at local supermarket or even at special fish store.  Upon some research about monk fish I decide to substitute it with white prawn and it’s delicious just as I imagine.  I also revise the cooking method a bit by caramelising the potato and onion to bring out more flavor.  This soup is super easy but requires a bit of work like peeling the shrimp, making the broth, chopped everything and blend the soup in the blender, but it is all worth it. Either chunky or creamy you’re going to love it.  Even if you don’t like coconut milk, I highly recommend using it because  you won’t even taste it.

Of course you can use any meaty white-flesh fish or lobster tail in place of shrimp and very light chicken broth if no fish broth available.  My version of shrimp make use of the shell  to produce the fish both.

The soup is beautiful to look at with a deep turmeric yellow tinted with orange bits from the carrot and… wait until you taste it, heavenly!

I hope you enjoy making and eating this soup in welcoming autumn.  Please give me some fed back of how you like it and if you substitute any ingredients, especially the fish.

Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Shrimp Soup

8 servings


500 g Prawn or large Shrimp

600 g Sweet potato

240 ml/1 Cup coconut milk

2 large Carrots

1 large white/sweet Onion, diced

4 cloves of Garlic, minced

4 branches of  fresh Oregano, minced/or 1 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon of freshly ground Nutmeg

1.5 – 2 liters of fish Broth, see instruction at step 3 below

4 Tablespoons of Olive oil or non-flavor oil of your choice

Salt & ground Pepper to taste

fresh coriander & shichimi (optional) for garnish


1.  Peel the sweet potato and carrot and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.  Chopped the oregano leaves if used fresh.

2.  Peel the prawn, reserve the shell.

3.  Roast the prawn shell in a large 5-quart soup pot until it turns pink.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat to simmer and let it cook for 20-25 minutes.

4.  Drain & reserve the broth; discard the cooked prawn shell.

5.  Warm the oil in the soup pot over medium heat.  Sauté the onion for a few minutes then add in the potato and carrot cubes and continue sauté for 5 minutes.

6.  Lower the heat and continue to cook slowly to caramelise the vegetables and onion; stir frequently; about 20 minutes.

7.  Add the minced garlic, oregano and ground nutmeg  and cook for about 5 minutes more.

8.  Add the reserved broth.  Bring to a boil then lower the heat to bubbly simmering, about 20-25 minutes.

9.  In the meantime, half the prawn length-wise and cut into 1-inch pieces.  Chop the coriander.

10.  Turn off the heat.  Carefully mix the soup in a blender in batches.  Reserve back in the pot.

11.  Add the coconut milk and the pieces of prawns and simmer it on medium heat, about 10 minutes.

12.  Serve the soup in individual bowl, garnish with chopped coriander.



1.  If you decide to use a meaty fish in place of prawn and do not have fish broth, a well-diluted version of chicken broth can be used to no ill-affect.

2.  The soup freeze well so at step 11, the prawn/fish can be omitted.  Add the prawn/fish when you reheat and serve the soup.

Dried Scallop Rice Soup

Dried Scallop Rice Soup

I don’t know about you but I like eating soup as it is my all-time favorite comfort food.  When I saw Maangchi making this abalone porridge, it reminded me of the similar rice soup I made often in the distant past using fresh seafood (scallop & shrimp) and white fish and very occasionally with chicken.  Maangchi’s recipe inspires me to take this familiar dish dressing it up with Korean flavour (sesame oil and roasted seaweed nori)  and sends me on a search for some fish to be the main flavour of the soup.

Upon reading about dried scallop I decide to use it because I think this salted version of scallop would impart a lot of taste to the soup.  And I was right for this soup packs a wallop of umami from the scallop alone. You wouldn’t need to season it with anything else but I recommend a bit of fish sauce which enhances the already flavorful soup with yet another complex umami.  If you like me, a pinch of sea salt would tight everything together but it is not necessary as the broth has plenty of salt from the dried fish and fish sauce.

I thought the use of diced carrot is brilliant for it brightens up the mostly white soup and nicely contrasts the bright and dark green color of spring onion and seaweed.  I love fresh ginger so use it generously in my version of the recipe.

I won’t describe how it good tastes but I tell you this:  it is food for the soul and feast for the eyes.  So good so that when I offered some to friends they came back asking for more and wanted to learn how to make it.  Go ahead make some and discover it for yourself.  It freezes well only if there would be any leftover.

Let’s make the soup, shall we.


100 g dried scallop, no color-dyed &  preservatives

1 heaping Cup uncooked rice **

2 Liters spring or filtered water

minced garlic

1-2 inches fresh ginger, julienned or coarsely chopped

1 small carrot, diced

2 Tablespoons sesame oil, preferred roasted kind

1 to 2 teaspoons fish sauce

sea salt as needed


soaked dried scallop and soaked rice


green onion, thinly sliced — highly recommended

Korean roasted seaweed seasoned with sesame oil  —  an absolute must-have

Shichimi, Japanese 7-spice hot pepper

garlic chili sauce

** I use Haiga rice or Japanese short-grain rice.  If you use other type of rice, add an extra 1 to 2 Tablespoons of glutinous rice (sticky rice).

I do not rinse Haiga rice but other types of rice.


1. Soak rice and scallop separately in water, for at least 2 hours before cooking.

soaked dried scallop and soaked rice

Soaked Scallop & Rice in Water

2.  Prepare garlic, ginger and carrot.

Prep garlic, ginger & carrot

Prep garlic, ginger & carrot

3.  Drain the rice and scallop, reserve the soaking liquid.   Add more water to measure 1.5 liter or about 6 ¼ cups.

prep all ingredients before cooking

prep all ingredients before cooking

4.  Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the sesame oil, ginger, garlic, carrot and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.  Do not brown the garlic.

Sauté the herbs and carrot

Sauté the herbs and carrot in sesame oil

5.  Add the scallop and rice.  Continue sautéing to well coat the rice with oil.

Sauté all ingredients

Sauté all ingredients

6.  Continue stirring and cooking until the rice grains look translucent, about 5 to 7 more minutes.

the well sautéed ingredients just before adding liquid

the well sautéed ingredients just before adding liquid

7.  Add the measured liquid to the pot.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer.  Cover the pot with a lid.

adding liquid

adding liquid

8.   Cook until the rice is well expanded, about 50 to 60  minutes; stirring occasionally.

9.  In the meantime, prepare the green onion and wash the dishes.  Crumble the seasoned roasted seaweed in a plastic bag.

chopped green onion

chopped green onion

10.  Add the fish sauce.  Add more water to thinning the soup if it’s too thick for your taste.

11.  Season with sea salt only if necessary and cook for about 5 more minutes.  The soup should have a creamy consistency by now.

12.  Turn off the heat.  Ladle the soup in a bowl and garnish with the condiments.

Soup with the condiments

Soup with the condiments

13.  Enjoy.

Enjoy the hearty tasty soup

Enjoy the hearty tasty soup

I particularly enjoy this soup with an egg simmering slowly in a serving portion to poach its white and yolk to a softness perfection.   Heavenly!

Poaching an egg in a serving-portion soup

Poaching an egg in a serving-portion soup

In a spicier version with a quarter teaspoon of garlic chili sauce.  Yummy spicy!

And those tender pieces of scallop just melt as soon as they touch your tongue.  I can’t get enough of this soup.  Addictive!

Tender scallop rice soup

Tender scallop rice soup

Quinoa Pilaf


quinoa pilaf with roasted pecan

cooked quinoa pilaf with roasted pecan

There are many ways to prepare quinoa, which I have eaten for years and it has recently become trendy, as a one-dish meal, a side dish or can be used in a creative salad.

Cooked quinoa takes on flavour of any dish it is served with, very well.  It is fluffier than rice once cooked and packs a powerful 20 percent of complete amino acids, the most of any grains & seeds.

As long as I prepare it as a side dish as in place of rice,  I like the ratio 1 part quinoa:1.5 part  liquid;  anything else thrown in is a bonus.

Here is one simple way that I often prepare and serve it as a side dish which many friends have enjoyed.  You can easily double or triple this recipe.

Quinoa pilaf

4 servings, as a side dish.


1 cup quinoa, well washed & drained

1.5 cup hot liquid, water/full-strength vegetable broth/well-diluted chicken broth

.5 medium-size white onion, chopped

a bunch of curly parsley, washed & finely chopped

(green onion works well, green and white part, thinly chopped)

a hand full roasted nuts, chopped pecan/chopped walnut/whole pine nuts

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

salt to taste

special equipment: a fine mesh sieve/strainer


1. Thoroughly wash the quinoa using a fine mesh sieve, set aside to dry, at least 20 minutes before cooking.

2. Wash the herb, set aside to dry.  Roast the nuts, set aside to cool.  Heat the liquid in a microwave or let it simmer over a stove top.

3. Chopped the onion.

4. Sauté onion in olive oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium high heat  until the onion well coated and slightly soften, a few minutes.

5. Mix in the prepared quinoa,  and sauté until a nutty aroma comes out, about 5 minutes.

sautéing quinoa and chopped white onion in olive oil

sautéing quinoa and chopped white onion in olive oil

6. Carefully pour in the prepared liquid for it might splash.  Bring it to a boil then turn down the heat and let it simmer, well covered.

You might want to season it lightly with sea salt at this point, to your taste.  Let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

7. In the meantime, chop the herb & the roasted nut.

8. Throw in the chopped herb in the last 5 minutes of cooking and put the cover back on.  If you use fresh cilantro, mix it in at the last-minute just before serving.

9. Turn off the heat.  Leave it cover for 5 minutes more or so.

10.  Mix in half the nut and fluff the quinoa with a fork.  Serve immediately or cover to keep warm and serve later.  Pass the rest of the nut around the table.  Season with if necessary.

cooked quinoa adorned with chopped parsley & roasted walnuts

cooked quinoa adorned with chopped parsley & roasted walnuts

Here is a close-up of another batch of quinoa pilaf prepared at my friend Alice’s using the antique pot passed down from her late mother:

quinoa pilaf with roasted walnuts

quinoa pilaf with roasted walnuts

As with any cooked grains leftover stored in the fridge tends to become hard so it’s no different with quinoa.  Just reheat it slowly in a microwave at low-powered setting for a few minutes to bring it back to taste.  You can even mix in a teaspoon or two of water to moisten if it seemed too hard.

I had wonderful leftover quinoa with a fried egg mixed in turning it to a delicious one-dish meal.  On occasions I brought it out to room temperature and added it in a green salad.  Once I put leftover in a clear soup to give the soup some body and added flavour.  The variation is endless.

Enjoy this quinoa pilaf with cilantro served alongside roasted Meyer lemon chicken and sautéed baby spinach.

quinoa pilaf served as side dish with roasted Meyer chicken & sautéed baby spinach

quinoa pilaf served as side dish with roasted Meyer lemon chicken & sautéed baby spinach

rava dosa

Rava dosas, a savory dish that is popular in South India, are crêpes typically made with semolina and rice flours and stuffed with cooked vegetables blended in complex spices that Indian dishes are known for.  I visited a local Indian market a while back and brought home a number of herbs and spices as well as various flours, of which, a white coarse semolina, that has waited to be used.  So when I saw Rava Dosas featured on Gourmet magazine I could not be happier at a chance to make another Indian dish –second actually– that is everything vegetarian.

That evening I also needed something quick (and tasty) for dinner while waiting to turn, shape and bake this bread. Indeed it only took me an hour or so from washing, chopping, cooking the stuffing and a breeze to make the wrappers.   I had some excess sourdough starter (at 100% hydration) so used it in place of the called for all-purpose flour adjusting the amount of water to keep the batter’s consistency as formulated. The batter is very thin; the mixed flour seems to stay at the bottom while the liquid floating above it, so just stir or whisk it well before pouring it into the skillet.  The unused batter can be stored, well covered, in the fridge.  You can halve or double the recipe.  One more thing, you do need a non-stick skillet, absolutely no substitution here unless you don’t mind to wrestle with the dosa and the cooking tool.

I had a delicious meal and plenty more for a few more meals later.  I ate the dosas  stuffed and also unadorned.  The crêpe is quite flavorful –a noticeable sourdough taste– bursting with crunches of cumin seeds.  The filling is  complexly hearty, as expected of Indian food, with the richness of roasted coconut throughout.  It’s definitely a keeper recipe.

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala

Recipe from November 2009 Gourmet Magazine

Serve 4; Active Time: 40 minutes; Start to Finish: 1 hour

For Masala Filling

    1.5 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
    1/3 cup dried grated unsweetened coconut
    2 teaspoons cumin seeds
    1 (3-inch) fresh jalapeño, coarsely chopped, including seeds
    1 (2 1/2-inch) piece of peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
    3 garlic cloves, smashed
    1 Tablespoon curry powder
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    1 3/4 cups water, divided
    1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
    1 (15 to 19-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    1/2 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For Rava Dosas

    1/2 cup semolina flour
    1/2 cup rice flour –I use brown rice flour–
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour   (I use 100 g white starter at 100% hydration, 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour )
    1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups water   (I use 1 3/4 cups plus 2 teaspoons adjusting the water in the starter above)
    Vegetable oil for brushing

Making Masala Filling

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with cold water.

Toast coconut in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and wipe out skillet.  Toast cumin seeds in skillet over medium heat, shaking skillet frequently, until fragrant and just a shade darker, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to another small bowl.  Reserve skillet.

Purée jalapeño, ginger, and garlic in a blender (I used a small food processor) with curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, oil, 1/4 cup of water, and 1 tsp salt until smooth.  Transfer purée to skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until thickened slightly, about 1 minute.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 8 minutes.

Drain potatoes, then add to onion mixture with cumin seeds and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are barely tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chickpeas and remaining 1 1/2 cups of water, scrapping up any brown bits, then briskly simmer, covered, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted coconut and cilantro.

Make dosas while potatoes cook

Whisk flours, cumin seeds, salt, and water in a bowl.

Generously brush a 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Pour 1/2 cup batter into skillet, swirling until bottom is coated.  Cook, undisturbed, until dosas is set and edges are golden, about 2 minutes.  Flip using a rubber spatula and cook dosa until underside is golden in spots, about 1 minute more.  Transfer to a plate.  Make more dosas with remaining batter, stacking and covering loosely with foil to keep warm.

To serve, spoon masala filling into dosas.

Cooks’ Note: Masala filling, without coconut and cilantro, can be made 6 hours ahead and chilled.  Reheat before stirring in coconut and cilantro.

Mily’s Note: It took me much longer to cook the dosas so cook it to your liking however long it might take.