Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spinach & Bean Thread Soup

For this recipe (again a quick soup!), you will need the simplest of ingredients. Bean thread is what we call over here "tung hoon" or "tung fan". Basically they are clear vermicelli made from mung beans. With a springy texture, it can be used in soups as well as stir-fry with vegetables or in some cases, used as a major ingredient and eaten like one would eat vermicelli or "bee hoon".

Anyway, this is a homely dish and most of the ingredients are found easily in the market.

Here is what you need:

1 packet of mung bean threads, soaked in hot water and drained
3 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked, washed and drained
8 cups water
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
fresh spinach (as much as you like), washed and drained
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp Shao Hsing wine or sherry

In a pot, place the 8 cups of water, salt and baking soda. Bring to a boil and blanch spinach. Lift and drain spinach when it turns a bright green.

Heat another pot over high heat and add peanut oil. Add ginger, garlic and dried shrimp. Stir, then add chicken broth and wine. Cover pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow soup to simmer for another 10 minutes.

Turn the heat up and add spinach and bean thread. Boil again before turning off heat. Serve hot.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tomato, Potato & Beef Soup

This is a soup good for warming up on cold days. We don't get very many cold days in Malaysia. I was in Hong Kong in March and at 14C, it felt quite cold to me. If I were in HK, I'd make this warming soup!

You'll need:
1 slice ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups fresh tomatoes, blanched, de-skinned and cubed
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil

6 oz ground beef

Marinate ground beef with:
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soya sauce
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 salt
1/2 tsp whiskey
3/4 tsp cornstarch

Allow the ground beef to marinate up to 1 hour.

Heat wok and add oil, salt, ginger and garlic. Add tomatoes and potatoes and fry for 1 minute. Remove and place this into a pot. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover pot, simmering over low heat for 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Raise heat and add the beef with its marinade, breaking up beef with fork. Boil the soup again and turn off heat. Serve hot.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Red Bean Dessert Soup

This is one of those famously simple and easy to make dessert soups to round off a meal.

Every Chinese would have grown up imbibing this nutritious red bean dessert. Red beans are like mung beans - full of goodness. What we call red beans is really Adzuki beans. They are also the most "yang" of all beans. They're tiny and hard red beans which when cooked, turns soft and delicious!

Adzuki beans (Paseolus angularis) are rich in soluble fibre which, like oats, help eliminate cholesterol from your body. They contain magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc copper, manganese and vitamin B3. And the good news is, they also reduce blood pressure. Accordingly, these powerful beans possess inhibitors which disturb the development of cancer cells.

It is no wonder that Adzuki beans are the "Mercedes" of beans.

Here's how you cook Adzuki beans.

1/2 pound Adzuki beans
7 cups cold water
rock sugar to taste

(optional: 1/2 cup dried longan flesh)

Wash beans and drain. Put them into a pot and add water. Turn to high heat, cover pot and bring to a boil.

Allow to simmer on low heat for 2 hours or until beans are tender. (You can add dried longans at this stage). Do not cover pot too tightly - allow some steam to escape. Stir from time to time. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Add rock sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves approximately 10 minutes. Turn off heat and serve.

This is a dessert soup so you can make it as thick or as thin as you wish. You can also serve it warm or cool. It is not advisable to refrigerate this dessert as it becomes really yucky then, all mushy and soft. But then again, some people like cold desserts so it's really up to you. Just like some people like cold durians!

Note: If you add dried longan (which are sweet by nature), reduce the amount of rock sugar. Dried longans rehydrate when they are simmered and give a nice bite to the pulpy red bean dessert.

You may also add dried tangerine peel (4 pieces or so) if you want to add a zing of flavour to the dessert. Tangerine peel is also good at reducing phlegm. During Chinese New Year, we'd eat a lot of Chinese (mandarin) oranges. My grandmother would carefully peel the mandarin oranges and keep the peel. She'd dry the peel under the hot sun and keep for times like this!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fish & Lettuce Soup

I got this recipe from an old recipe book.

It's a Cantonese soup called "Sang Choi Yue Pin Tong". According to the writer, she uses fresh carp but it's equally OK to use sole, flounder or sea bass.

1/2 pound fresh fish, sliced thinly

Marinate fish with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/4 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp ginger juice mixed with 1 tsp white wine, some pepper and 1 tsp light soya sauce. Let it sit in the marinade for 10 minutes.

In a pot, bring to boil 3 cups water. If you have fish stock, even better. It will be tastier, says the writer. Add to this pot 1 slice of ginger and 1 clove garlic. Add lettuce, stir and add in fish slices (together with marinade). Bring to boil. Turn off heat and stir in some scallion oil. Serve hot.

How to make scallion oil:
In 2 cups peanut oil, add 1 cup of the whisker/root ends of scallions and 2 cups of scallions (spring onions). Heat wok. Pour this into wok and heat until scallions brown. Strain oil and discard scallions. Allow to cool completely before storing in a jar. Use as needed. Scallion oil is delicious when a teaspoon or so is stirred into dishes.

So there you have it. A quick soup you can make in less than 15 minutes. My kind of soup!