Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cool Cucumber Asian Gazpacho Shots

At the coolest party I ever went to (London, opening of some new club, many stories up, full of bright young things, depressingly long ago), we were greeted by a smiling Eastern European model with a tray of pear flavoured vodka shots. What a way to welcome your guests, I thought. It set the tone for the night – decadence, incredible hospitality, and the makings for the mother of all hangovers.

Having crossed the Rubicon of thirty, I find myself at fewer such glamorous occasions, and when I do, wondering whether I should really be there. But I refuse to get depressed about getting older. Partly because it is one of the few things in life which is entirely out of my hands so complaining is futile. And partly because there are advantages to not being in your twenties anymore: I have a much cooler home than I did back then. I am much better cook. And I have a really nice husband who does my washing up for me, rather than some punk who never calls.

When I launched my supper club (in said cool home, with good cooking and nice husband washing up afterwards), I wanted to keep the sentiment of those pear vodka shots, even if in a more sedate form. Offering people a welcoming treat is, in my opinion, critical to kick-start a good dinner party or supper club.

This is my Asian version of a gazpacho, a Spanish vegetable soup which is served cold. I served these in small Thai tea cups, but you could use ordinary shot glasses. They are garnished with a tiny tasty, pretty, fruity skewer. It’s the perfect way to welcome your guests on a hot summer’s evening (or a steamy Bangkok hot season evening) and introduces the palate to some of the Asian flavours to follow. 

Time: 20 mins (plus a few hours’ pickling time for the ginger)
Rating: Easy, just whiz it up in a blender
Serves: Makes 10 shots


1 inch knob ginger
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt
½ large cucumber
½ apple
1 clove garlic
1 kaffir lime leaf
1 small red chilli
1 stick lemongrass
Juice 1 lime
Small bunch/10g mint
Small bunch/10g coriander
Small bunch/10g Thai basil
200ml coconut milk
4 tbsp apple juice
1 tbsp sesame oil
50ml water

To garnish:
½ cucumber
Chunks of melon
Thai basil leaves
Cocktail sticks


  1. First make some pickled ginger. Try to do this the night before, or at least several hours in advance. Combine the salt, sugar and vinegar in a jar. Add a little water if necessary until the salt and sugar dissolve. Slice the ginger as thinly as possible with a sharp knife. Add it to the vinegar mixture, close the jar tightly and leave in the fridge to pickle.
  2. When the ginger has pickled, prepare the other ingredients. Peel and chop the cucumber and apple. Very finely chop the kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, garlic, chilli. Coarsely chop the mint, coriander and Thai basil. Put them all in a blender with half of the pickled ginger and add the coconut milk, lime juice, apple juice, sesame oil and water. Blend until smooth, add a little more water if needed.
  3. Pass through a coarse sieve and chill in the fridge.
  4. While the gazpacho is chilling, make the garnish. Peel and deseed the remaining cucumber. Chop the cucumber and melon into evenly-sized cubes. Thread one piece of cucumber onto a cocktail stick. Next take a piece of pickled ginger, roll it up finely and thread it on. Then thread on a piece of melon, followed by a Thai basil leaf and finally another piece of cucumber.
  5. Serve the gazpacho in small cups or shot glasses with the garnish skewer placed on the top.


  1. We are all getting better with age! Don't ever doubt that! Thanks for sharing the gazpacho recipe - Cheers!

  2. Ha ha, for sure, just like fine wine!

  3. This is the coolest ever :D
    I have never seen it before but glad I have now!

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. I am definitely going to make this! Where did you get those lovely tea cups?

    1. Chatuchak market - they have some awesome stuff there.

  5. I used to go to parties in Rome where I was greeted with an alcoholic shot. They were glamorous parties followed by less glamorous hangovers. Today a welcoming soup infused with Asian flavours seems to be more appropriate and this Asian gazpacho is packed with aromas!

    1. The good old days! Yes, these days my body is definitely more grateful for soup than vodka!

  6. Wow this sounds fantastic!! Love the bold thai flavors mixed with the refreshing apple and cucumber. If I can hunt down all the ingredients I am making this!

    1. Thanks Abby! I know, there are a few more difficult to find ingredients than I normally use in my recipes. Hope you can find them! If you can't find Thai basil, ordinary Italian basil will be nice too x

  7. This looks AMAZING! I'm a bit obsessed with gazpacho at the moment, so would be good to branch out and try something different but along the same theme. I'm moving out to Asia myself (Hong Kong) at the end of the year, so looking forward to trying different tastes and flavours! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Just made this last night and it was amazing! I couldn't find kaffir lime leaf at Whole Foods so I just put some lime zest instead (I know, it's not the same thing)...I also added some honeydew melon and extra cucumber into the soup and used light coconut milk (trying to be healthy!). Soo good and we all loved it!