Monday, February 04, 2008

Kelp Soup

Discovered how to make a new soup this time during my travel back to my husband's hometown of Kuching, Sarawak.

He used to tell me that his favourite soups were seaweed soups. I always thought seaweed was seaweed until I tried kelp. It's not that I have not heard of kelp before. I had a bad experience a few years back when I tried cooking soup with kelp. It turned out rubbery and to this day, I call it my Tyre Soup because it looked like rubber! Also, it could be that the kelp was "old" and tough.

So this time around, mom-in-law cooked kelp soup and it tasted very much different from mine. In fact, the kelp wasn't rubbery at all. It was soft but still had a bite to it.

Kelp is called 'hai dai' in Chinese or 'kombu' in Japanese. Like most seaweeds, this is a nutrient-packed ingredient. In Kuching, it is sold in dried strips. It is cheap too at RM1.90 per packet.

Remember that a little kelp goes a long way as it expands during cooking. We made the mistake of not cutting them small enough and ended up with huge strips of kelp!

Soak and slice kelp into long strips.

For this kelp soup, I am using chicken carcasses as a base because it complements the lovely, light taste of kelp. If you use pork bones, the flavour might be a tad too heavy.

Use about 1 whole chicken carcass for a soup which feeds 4 persons comfortably. Blanch the carcass to get rid of scum.

Bring a stock pot of water to boil. Add in the chicken and pre-soaked kelp. Also to counter the 'cooling' properties of kelp, add in some smashed young ginger.

Bring to a furious boil for 10 minutes. Lower fire, cover tightly and simmer for 2 hours. Season with salt and let the soup 'rest' before you serve it hot.

Delicious and affordable and full of vitamins and minerals. What more can you ask for in a soup?!

NOTE: Just a note of warning, DO NOT OVERDO IT by eating too much kelp or seaweed. While it is good for health, overeating it (more than 2-3 times a week) can make you feel weak and cold (as seaweeds are cooling anyway). That is why seaweed, if needed, can be cooked with a slice of young ginger (ginger is warming). If you suffer from cold feet (usually happens to women more than men!), do not drink too much of seaweed soup.