In the Philippines the water from washing rice is used as the cooking liquid. It is the second washing water which is used, the first rinse carrying away dust and impurities.
1 litre/2 pints rice water
4 whole pods green tamarind, fresh or bottled
4 small fish steaks
or 500 g/1 lb fillets cut in pieces
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup sliced water-lily stems
1/2 cup sliced spring onions (scallions)
with green leaves salt and lime juice to taste
Put the water and tamarind pods into a non-aluminium saucepan and bring to the boil, simmer until tamarind is soft. Add the fish and fish sauce, simmer until fish is cooked, then add water lily and simmer for a few minutes, just until tender. Add spring onions, salt and lime juice to taste. This soup is intended to be nicely sour. If green tamarind is not available, add extra lime juice.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)