Eat, Fast and Live Longer. A 5-2 Diet Meal Idea Under 400 Calories. Spicy Thai Coconut Soup with Snapper, Prawns and Rice Noodles.

Today’s Fish on Friday post has accidentally and unintentionally morphed into a 5-2 recipe post. Gathering fresh seafood, herbs and spices  for a Spicy Thai Coconut Soup it occurred to me that the majority of ingredients were  building blocks for a great fast day meal. Whilst coconut milk is an integral part of the dish, the simple substitution of   light coconut milk for full fat well and truly brings this delicious soup into the realms of  a 5-2 plate of food, albeit at 382 calories per serve at the higher end of the scale.

Since jumping on the 5-2 bandwagon almost a year ago deconstructing a regular recipe and making it 5-2 fast day friendly has almost become second nature. I most definitely eat with my eyes. My priority is to produce a fresh and vibrant plate of food I want to eat, without sacrificing any flavour. The secret lies in using peak season produce. The mainstay of the majority of my plates?  Fresh fruit and vegetables. Accompanied by a little lean protein. Perhaps some carbohydrate, whole grains are best. And plenty of herbs and spices for that all important flavour.

The key to achieving an interesting plate of food that falls within each fast day’s severely restricted calorie allowance is to limit  the use of fats. Coconut milk carries a high proportion of fat.  The average energy count of  regular coconut milk is a whopping 194 calories per 100 ml serve. Simply switching to its lighter counterpart reduces that count to just 83 calories and makes a huge difference to the calorie value of the entire meal.

To maximise flavour I like to use whole green prawns in this dish. Once peeled, I separately sauté the heads and shells with the curry paste and spices.  When nicely browned, they are simmered in a little stock and water. Strained, the resulting stock adds intense flavour to the soup base and is well worth the effort. Of course it is perfectly acceptable to skip this step and use pre peeled green prawns in this dish. Just separately fry off the curry paste with the ginger and garlic to release its aromatics before adding the stock and coconut milk. The pan fried snapper and prawns will still impart a delicate seafood flavour to the soup.

One last comment. I used two tablespoons of  commercially prepared Thai  red curry paste in this recipe to achieve a pleasantly moderate heat. If you prefer a spicier soup, add a little more paste, remembering that each tablespoon adds an extra 54 calories to the dish.

Spicy Thai Coconut Soup With Snapper, Prawns and Rice Noodles
Serves 4 (382 calories per serve)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (120 calories)
500g medium green king prawns, in the shell (262 calories)
400g snapper fillet (400 calories)
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (54 calories)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced (8 calories)
2cm piece fresh ginger, finely minced (3 calories)
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised (optional) (5 calories)
3 kaffir lime leaves (optional) (3 calories)
1 small red birds eye ( bullet) chilli, sliced in half (5 calories)
4 cups (1000 ml) fish or chicken stock (80 calories)
1 (400 ml) tin light coconut milk (332 calories)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (15 calories)
1 tablespoon palm sugar, shaved or substitute brown sugar (45 calories)
3 tablespoons  fish sauce (18 calories)
100g rice vermicelli noodles (109 calories)
1 red capsicum, julienned (30 calories)
2 long green spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal (20 calories)
50g bean sprouts (15 calories)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, shredded (2 calories)
2 tablespoons  fresh coriander, shredded (2 calories)

PEEL and de vein the prawns keeping the tails intact. To butterfly the prawns, use a sharp knife to make an incision along the belly and press down to flatten.
PLACE the butterflied prawns on a paper towel lined plate.  Place the shells in a separate bowl and reserve to flavour the stock.
REMOVE fine bones from the snapper fillets with tweezers.  Set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
PLACE oil in a large wok over medium heat.  Season the snapper fillets with a little sea salt and gently pan-fry skin side down until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip and fry or another 2-3 minutes, until  just cooked. Remove from wok and set aside.
ADD the butterflied prawns to the wok. Pan-fry until just pink. Remove from the wok and set aside.
ADD garlic, ginger and curry paste to the wok and cook for 2 minutes until aromatic.
ADD the reserved prawn heads and shells and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until the shells are browned. Press down on the shells and heads with the back of a wooden spoon as they cook o release more flavour.
POUR one cup of stock and a half cup of water to the prawn shells, Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain contents through a sieve into a bowl.
RETURN the strained stock to the wok together with the coconut milk, remaining stock, lime juice, lemon grass stalk, birds eye chilli, kaffir lime leaves, sugar and fish sauce.  Bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
SOAK the rice noodles in cold water according to the package instructions, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
JUST before serving return the snapper to the soup. Simmer on low heat for 3 minute or so until cooked through.  Remove the snapper, lemon grass, birds eye chilli and kaffir lime leaves  from the soup. Taste for a balance of sweet, sour and salty flavours, adjusting with a little more sugar, lime or fish sauce as required.
FLAKE the snapper into generous bite sized chunks.
TO SERVE place a “nest” of noodles on the bottom of each bowl.  Divide the snapper and prawns evenly amongst the bowls. Ladle over hot soup .Top with a tangle of red capsicum, spring onion, bean sprouts, coriander and mint. Serve immediately.

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