Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pork Ribs & Lotus Root Soup - OMMMM

Right, it's gonna be a double-posts night as I promised Ella I will help her with the recipe for Pork Ribs & Lotus Root soup. Actually, she wanted Pork Ribs, Peanuts & Lotus Root Soup but I only know the version I am gonna be posting here.

Firstly, I think you need to understand why this soup came about and its significance. It's because ... it tastes bloody good. LOL .. but also because almost every Chinese mother has cooked this to "boost" her kids' health. It is a very nourishing tonic soup and tastes even better the next day. As to Ella's version with the peanuts, I honestly have never had that version for two reasons.

One, I've drank this soup before but never learnt how to make it till I was in my twenties. I was working in a company with an amazing cleaning lady who could cook the most wonderful Chinese food. Her name was Helen and for some reason she really took a shine to me. Maybe because I never failed to inhale anything she cooked for me. I think she also felt sorry for me being such a workaholic and always missing meals. One day, I asked her how she made such wonderful soups and she very kindly taught me. I believe it is more Cantonese? I'm not sure as I get confused about which food is from which Chinese dialect group. Thank you, Auntie Helen for this scrumptious soup. I hope you are still merrily cooking wherever you are now.

Two, I grew up with childhood arthritis till I was in my early teens. Imagine a ballet student with arthritis and merciless adults forcing you to "just suck it up". Anyway, my grandfather was a Chinese doctor (retired) and he used to make me eat ... steady now ... chicken feet with peanuts soup. I know .. major EEEUUWWWW. I absolutely hated it and would cry and sob as they forcefed me with this ghastly and barf-inspiring brew. Apparently, in Chinese medicine this soup helps alleviate and heal arthritis. Didn't work with me but that could also be because I would puke out the soup after that. To this day, I am deathly afraid of chicken feet and cannot eat soups with peanuts in them. I can eat peanuts .. just not in soups.

So, sorry, Ella. You can figure out how to add the peanuts to your soup but this recipe is nutless. I never wrote this recipe down and would just cook it from memory so bear with me in case I forget something.

Pork Ribs No-Nuts & Lotus Root Soup
Spare ribs - use about 1 slab to feed two - what's 1 slab ... er, about 12 individual ribs for hungry folks & about 8 for 2 normal peeps
Lotus root - use one with at least 3 segments for 2 peeps (each segment about palm length)
3 shallots, peeled and ends removed but otherwise whole
1/2 dried cuttlefish - oy, remember to remove the transparent membrane *shakes head at some of the clueless people I've taught*
About 5 dried conpoys (aiyah, the dried scallop lah)
2 red dates - seedless
Black pepper
Chicken stock cube - I tend to use these instead of salt

Tip: If you have a slow-cooker, use it - it's bloody useful for peeps who work. If not, use a normal claypot. Try not to use a metal pot. Chinese soups do not do well cooked in metal pots.

1. Wash your lotus root really clean, making sure there is no soil in any of the holes
2. Slice your lotus into discs about 1cm think
3. Scald your spare ribs very quickly in hot, boiling water and remove
4. Place the ribs in a pot and cover with water till water is at least 2 inches above the level of the pork pieces
5. Place the dried cuttlefish, conpoys, shallots and dates in the pot and bring to boil
6.Once it is boiling, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 mins
7. During this point, remove any "scum" and if it is too oily, remove the oil that floats to the surface as well
8. Add 1/2 the chicken stock cube if needed. If it is too salty, add more water and bring to boil
9. Add the lotus roots
10. Bring to boil again and then lower heat to a low simmer for another 20 mins
11. Season with the rest of the chicken stock if needed and add pepper to taste
12. Serve hot with rice and dip the pork pieces in chilli sauce & you will have a super yummy meal

A1. If using the slow-cooker, put all the ingredients in the pot with only 1/2 the chicken stock and more water - it will cook down
A2. If your slow-cooker can be put over the stove, bring everything to boil on the stove first as that is faster
A3. Place it back on the metal base and set the slow-cooker to high
A4. If your slow-cooker cannot be placed over the stove, then prepare for a long wait as you set your cooker to high and wait for the soup to come to a boil
A5. Once the soup is boiling, lower the setting to low and cover and leave it, making sure the water level is not so high that things will boil over
A6. Go to work
A7. Come home - same day please. It tastes good the next day but not if everything is burnt to a crisp
A8. Taste and add more seasoning, broth or water according
A9. Serve with rice

Try to remove as much oil as you can from the soup and this dish is actually quite healthy. Tastewise, this soup has always scored a consistent 9.5/10 for me and everyone who has ever drank my Pork Rib & Lotus Rib Soup always finish the entire pot so hide some away so you can have leftovers. It really is much, much better the next day. Healthwise, this soup rates a 8.5/10.

So, Ella, let me know how it goes. Hope it goes well and if you need any help, just yell. You know, this kinda reminds me of my aunt. Whose in-laws thought she would be a good cook coming from my family and expected her to cook a feast for them a month into her marriage. Panicked, she called my mum. Who turned out to be out of town. But who had her hapless and clueless daughter visiting her - when she was away .. duh. I ended up cooking the whole bloody thing for my aunt and buggering off before her in-laws came. I think to this day they still do not realise she did not cook that meal. And yes, I cooked this soup then too.

Strange, this soup always seems to bring families together. Oy, Ella ... nudge, nudge, wink, wink? Oy, Ed! LOL.

Categories - In Hot Soup, Meat Me for Dinner, Chinese Herbs


Blogger 3A Gurl said...

kam siah kam siah MM. Knew the soup was complicated that it looks but never knew the 'secrets' behind it. The peanut version: just throw the peanuts in when you throw in the shallots and the flavouring stuff. Goodnesss...I must have ginormous memory capacity cos all those little bits and pieces that very helpful cooking people offer me comes floating back now and then. gonna study the recipe again and then let you know if need to consult you. But first...get a claypot...all the stuff all metal one

9:09 am  
Blogger MM said...

Nah, not complicated at all. It's quite easy to make and in fact the base of cuttlefish & conpoy and ribs can be used as a stock for other soups too.

Er, thanks for the peanut tips but not likely to use them. Hate peanuts in soups.

You don't really need a claypot. Just any kind of pot that is not metal. In a pinch, even an enamel pot will do as long as there is not "direct contact" with the base metal.

12:12 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Additional note to peeps who might be reading this and like Ella, would like to add peanuts to it. Ella emailed later that she added the peanuts but they remained fairly hard & uncooked. Er, I assumed she knew that you have to soak the peanuts first so I did not warn her ... my bad.

Although I do not add peanuts to my soups, I can tell you that you have to soak your peanuts in water overnight. Drain them the next day and add them to the pot right at the beginning with the cuttlefish and conpoy. You might have to boil them for longer than 30 mins - try 45 mins to an hour before moving on to the next step.

Some people boil the peanuts first and then add them to the soup later but I think that will lessen the overall taste so just be patient and take the extra time.

7:36 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

great read! thanks for sharing... i too will be making the lotus root soup. but my mum added dried shitake mushrooms and "Fuu Jook" Beadcurd sticks in.

I am interested seeing how its almost Chinese New Year what your home dishes would be. I would love to read about them!

6:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pThank you for posting the recipe for my fav soup. Im trying this recipe this weekend, but much water do i add man?

5:29 pm  

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