Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Szechuan Vegetable and Seaweed Soup

OK, this is not exactly a simmered soup. This soup is so easy to make that it's a laugh. It's almost plebeian. But you see, my husband loves this soup and if I am pressed for time, this is what I whip up. Fast soup. Tastes good too.

Szechuan vegetable is a pickled spicy lump of vegetable that goes well in most meat dishes. If I do not cook it in a soup, I'd slice the vegetable and cook it with chicken and tomatoes.

One important thing to note: Szechuan vegetable is salty and spicy. I don't like pre-packed ones which I can get at Giant or Tesco. Rather, I go to my neighbourhood Lip Sin market and get it from my trusty grocery woman. She tells me that her version comes in huge containers so they're tastier! But it is true. Nothing compares with her Sezchuan vegetable. I always think this vegetable is our Chinese version of Italian truffles! In fact, Szechuan 'chai' or vegetable is quite cheap!

I don't have a photo of this vegetable but you can do a search on Google if you have no idea how it looks like.

Anyway, for this 30-minute soup, all you need are:

1/2 cup of minced meat marinated with some cornflour, sesame seed oil, soya sauce and pepper for 10 minutes (set aside)
1 fairly large piece of clean seaweed (if you buy the clean seaweed, you don't need to soak it at all)
1 knob of fresh ginger, flatenned
1 bowl of sliced Szechuan vegetables (do not wash or it'll lose its lovely taste)

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add in the ginger and Szechuan vegetable. Let it simmer
for about 15 minutes. Form tiny balls with the mince meat and drop into the soup slowly. Bring the soup back to a rolling boil. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and some pepper. Do not add salt or soya sauce until you've tasted the soup first (it could be way too salty). Taste the soup to see if it's salty enough. Add the seaweed and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Tadaaa, your soup is ready for the table!

Now didn't I say it was such a simple soup? It gives you a good appetite because it's spicy and salty. Yum!

* You can add cubes of soft tofu if you want more protein but I think minced meat (usually I use pork) is good enough.
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