Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Gooberfish Head Soup
by Susu & MaceVindaloo

JarJar Binks was not exactly popular among the Gungans or the Naboo, and he'd been exiled from the underwater city of Otoh Gunga for damages he'd caused to private and public property due to his carelessness and clumsiness. It may seem a rather extreme punishment, but the damage really was huge — several of the globes of the city were completely flooded and had to be abandoned!

After JarJar was accidentally rescued by Qui-Gon Jinn, he had many adventures and eventually ended up being the representative of the Gungan to the Galactic Senate under Senator Amidala, who in turn represented 26 systems, including Naboo. Every month or so, the representatives under her would meet over a formal dinner to discuss ongoing issues; the representatives would take it in turn to provide a dinner native to their system. Usually, the meal is created by cooks brought from the systems, or catered by one of the many high-profile caterers on Coruscant.

When it came to be JarJar's turn, he created a very rustic soup all by himself ... and that's all! Amidala was concerned that it might not be formal enough, and shouldn't there be bread or wine? How about a dessert? JarJar explained that during his exile, he had missed a wonderful, flavorful soup from Otoh Gunga. So he made a version that used to cost him nothing. "Well, its-a not really froma Otoh Gunga, okiday ... I made it from scrapins and flavorins of a gooberfish head — its-a meesa version. Don't-a worry! It besa good, yousa see!"

So Amidala mentally crossed her fingers and sat at the head of the long table as the clumsy JarJar wisely opted for serving-droids to do the table service. She held her breath when she saw the thin soup with its huge bones and chunks of fish meat and slithery noodles and rough-chopped vegetables get served. And since nothing else would be served, there was no escaping having to eat it, or going hungry. She knew that the others were watching her, afraid to take a sip of the rather scary and primitive-looking soup.

But it did smell good, and she did care for JarJar, and so Amidala dipped her spoon and took a sip — and was amazed by the wondrous flavor! It was difficult to describe, but it was rich without being heavy, flavorful without being salty, spicy without being peppery, savory without being overbearing ... and though she did have to use her fingers to pick through the meat on the bones of the fish, the soup had flavored the meat as much as the fish had flavored the soup and was worth the trouble. It was a real treat, and she even followed JarJar's example and lifted up the bowl to slurp the last of the soup, drinking deeply and directly from the lip of the bowl, letting the last of the slippery noodles slide down — delicious and satisfying!
  • 8 oz / 250 g mung bean noodle sheets (or "bean thread" noodles, made from green or mungbean starch instead of flour — look in Chinese or Asian markets)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • about 5 lbs / 2 kg fish heads and/or trimmings (with some meat still attached) — thoroughly scaled, gills removed, rinsed under cold water and patted dry
  • 4 bunches scallions, chopped into 2-inch / 5-cm pieces
  • 2 fingers ginger, sliced thinly crosswise
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, to taste
  • 8 cups water
  • ¾ cup fish sauce (nuoc nam)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon MSG or flavored salt, to taste
Soak the bean noodle sheets in a bowl of very hot water. Set aside to hydrate.

In a large soup pot, place the oil and heat till hot. Carefully fry the fish heads and trimmings — don't overcrowd the surface. Do it in multiple batches if needed, and fry up both sides till browned all over, to develop flavor in the oil. Remove and set aside.

Add the scallions, ginger, garlic and sauté till the smell of the ingredients start drifting out of the pot. Add the hot pepper sauce and stir to color the oil. Add the fish heads and trimmings, water, fish sauce, sugar, and MSG. Heat to boiling and let it cook for 10 minutes, then lower to a simmer.

Drain the noodle sheets and tear up roughly. Add to the soup and stir in carefully, then allow to simmer for another minute. Serve in large bowls as a full meal. Serves 8.

• Use boneless fish fillets or chunks instead of heads, but use about 3 lbs / 1300 g or use the same quantity of whole small fish as the original recipe.
• Refrigerate in a covered container. To reheat, you'll need to add some water to loosen up the noodles, and re-season to taste with fish sauce, etc.
• Use chicken thighs and legs on the bone instead of fish, but you'll need to boil the soup for a bit longer to make sure it's cooked through.

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