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Must Have Soup: Chicken and Shiitake Mushrooms

20 Jun

Another simple soup:  All you need are 4 chicken thighs, about 20 dry shiitake mushrooms, a small piece of ginger, and 1/4 cup of Chinese rice wine.

First, heat up a pot of water high enough to cover the chicken thighs.  When it comes to a boil, drop the chicken thighs in and let them cook for 5 minutes.  This will force out all the bloody, marrowy mess.

The foamy mess you don't want in your soup

After most of the mess is out, dump the muddy soup and fill it up with another round of water.

A clear pot of broth. That's what you want

So when the clear pot of water comes to a boil, add the rice wine and ginger, and turn down the heat.  Let simmer for 2 hours.  During the time the soup is stewing, reconstitute shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in hot water.  When the soup is all nice and milky by the end of the second hour, turn the heat up and drop in the mushrooms.  When the soup comes to a boil, you have yourself chicken soup with shiitake mushrooms, my favorite comfort food.


Must Have Soup: Clams

5 Jun

The Chinese clam soup is one of the easiest soups to make.  Ingredients: 1/2 lb of manila clams, 1 small piece of ginger, finely sliced, 1/2 cup of Chinese rice wine.

Clams soaked in water, ready to make soup


First, soak the clams in cold water for half an hour with a few drops of sesame oil.  The fragrance of sesame oil will help the clams spit out dirt.  In a pot, heat up 3 cups of water.  When the water comes to a boil, drop the clams in.  When the clams start to open up, pour in the rice wine.  When the soup comes to another boil, drop in the giner and season with salt.  That’s it.  Very simple, and very delicious. Bon appetite!

Must Have Soup >> Oxtail

19 May

“Must have soup” pretty much sums up this unofficial food tradition in my family.  We have various kinds of soup year round, usually having the broth base of either oxtail or pork spare ribs, with whatever seasonal vegetables we can get our hands on (e.g. daikon, winter melon, corn, etc.).  Once in a while chicken soup is also on the menu, usually providing the base for soup noodles.

This oxtail soup is made with one pound of oxtail.  The bones are first dropped into a pot of boiling water so all the marrow and blood can be cleaned out— this first boil is then dumped out and all the bones should be rinsed before starting a new pot of water.  This step is essential to making soups with beef and pork bones so that you will not end up having the gamey taste with all the marrowy/bloody mess floating atop.  Once you bring the new pot of water to a boil, leave it to simmer for at least 3 hours.  4 tomatoes and 2 medium yellow onions are then added for texture and flavors.  Season with salt and pepper before serving. 

This soup makes a good stand-alone appetizer or can be the base for some rice noodles.  One of the easiest yet most satisfying dishes any time of the year.