Spicy Tomato Consomme
- 8 pounds ripe tomatoes
- Fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sliced fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups bite-size pieces dried rice cellophane noodles (cut up with scissors)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bird's eye hot chile pepper, stem removed, thinly sliced
Set up a strainer lined with cheesecloth folded into at least 4 layers. Set the strainer on top of a bowl to catch the liquid that will be strained.
Remove the core from each tomato. Roughly chop the tomatoes and put into a blender with about 1 teaspoon of salt. Pulse the tomatoes until almost pureed but with a few chunks remaining. Pour the blended tomatoes into the cheesecloth-lined strainer and refrigerate. The tomato mixture will slowly drip clarified tomato water into the bowl. This will take 2 to 3 hours to completely drip out of the puree and can be done overnight.
Pour the tomato water into a medium pot. (The remaining puree can be saved for another recipe or discarded.) Bring the tomato water to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, add the ginger, garlic and lemongrass to the liquid and simmer for 3 minutes. Foam will start to form at the top of the tomato water and should be skimmed off. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the rice noodle pieces in a medium pot. Pour the tomato consomme through a strainer over the pot with the noodles in it, removing the aromatics. Bring the consomme back to a simmer and fully cook the noodles.
With a slotted spoon, scoop equal amounts of the noodles into 4 serving bowls. Pour the consomme over the noodles in the bowls. Garnish the top with the scallions, sliced cherry tomatoes, a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 or 3 slices of the hot peppers. Serve immediately.
NotesIn this recipe, we are creating "tomato water" which requires blending tomatoes into a pulp and then putting them in layers of cheesecloth set over a bowl for 2 to 3 hours.
Bird's eye chile peppers are also used here. This tiny red pepper is very hot but adds a distinct flavor that is typical in Korean food. Be careful when handling them and distribute them thoughtfully when serving.