Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

All soups are meant to be served piping hot, right? Wrong. There’s one exception to the rule – the mysteriously and extraordinarily special soup that must be consumed chilled or iced cold, even. 

This! 

 
A Blushing Moment to Remember Forever and Ever…

I only started to know about the existence of this cold soup in 1996, while dining in a Portuguese restaurant with my other half somewhere in Leuven. The dinner was something to remember as well. It was a “present” from hubby for my achieving A+ results in the Dutch language course. It was a cold Autumn night in October and we chanced upon a quaint looking Restaurant. We stepped inside and the friendly-looking waiter beckoned us to a table for two in a quiet corner near the warm radiator. What bliss!

While perusing the menu card, we both wanted to start with something truly mediterranean and warm. “Gaspacho” sounded immensely mediterranean and warm. (By the way, it’s Gaspacho in Portuguese and Gazpacho in Spanish. We happened to be in a Portuguese resto, hence, the “s” instead of “z“… )

And lo and behold… the soup was iced cold!!

I looked at hubby and he looked back. We were thinking the same thing. The chef forgot to heat the soup up! Hubby waved at the waiter and told him about our chilled soups. He smiled and politely replied, “Gazpacho is a soup made of raw vegetables and is always served cold”

Oooops!! *blush*

Henceforth, that one embarrassing episode became the locus of my unwavering search for the culinary meaning of Gazpacho.

The Quest of the Perfect Gazpacho

Looking back almost 20 years when I first had that cold soup on a cold, chilly October, I vowed only to have Gazpacho during hot summers. I’m so glad the guys in my household love the cold puréed salad soup. I have bought ready-bottled gazpacho in our local supermarket but it’s just not the same when it’s fresh and home-made from scratch!

After 2 decades, I found the best tasting Gazpacho is still the traditional, tomato-based Andalusian version. Other versions may include avocado’s, yellow squash, carrot or courgette, but they don’t fit the bill! As a saying goes, ‘first impressions are the most lasting“.

Here’s how I made my Gazpacho enjoyed by my family during the hot temps we had recently.

This recipe is inspired by Oil & Vinegar, with changes adapted given by the availabilty of ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 5 tomatoes, slit an ‘X’ at the bottom of each tomato
  • 1 red bell pepper or capsicum or paprika, cubed
  • 1 cucumber (I used 3/4 part, cubed and reserved 1/4 part, skinned and diced finely for garnishing)
  • 1 onion, cubed or roughly chopped
  • 2 pieces bread, crusts removed and roughly torn (sprayed and soaked with some balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 dl wine (I used white wine, iso of red)
  • Cold drinking water (amount depends on how thick or thin you want your soup to be. Your call…)
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly-milled black peppercorns, to taste

Make your own Garlic Oil –

Mix 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil with 2 fat cloves garlic, mashed with some coarse sea salt. Set aside

Garnish –

Skinned the 1/4 part cucumber and remove excess seeds, if any. Dice finely and refrigerate.

  
Method –

  1. Boil some water and steep the tomatoes for 20 to 25 seconds. Transfer to cold water and peel skin off the tomatoes. Once all done, cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove most of the seeds and roughly chop.
  2. Place all the chopped and cubed ingredients and the bread crumbs to a pot and purée or blend the mixture with an electric hand mixer
  3. As soon as you have reached the point where you’d say “Ah, that’s the texture I want“, then stop. It can be either chunky or smooth. I prefer the latter. Pour in the wine and season the soup to taste. Add more balsamic vinegar if you prefer your soup a bit more tangy (I don’t..)
  4. Add 2 Tbsp garlic oil and stir. Refrigerate for at least one hour
  5. Before serving, plate on individual bowl or any decorative glass and drizzle with the rest of the garlic oil and garnish with the cold diced cucumber

  

I served the soup as a starter – like tapas – with some Spanish bread sticks (Picos Camperos) and Bruschetta Italian herb mix dip. Muy buen!

   

  

Verdict:

If you love tomatoes, red paprikas, cucumbers, onions, garlics with a hint of “sour wine” (vinegar) and don’t mind at all sipping puréed salad cold, you will LOVE this soup! It’s a breeze to make and a blessing on a hot afternoon or warm evening. Simply refreshing and so light and healthy. I will definitely introduce this chilled soup to my family in Kuching real soon *wink*

Without much ado, I’m linking this “red” post to The Vegetable Palette ~ Glorious Reds, hosted by Shaheen of A2K ~ A Seasonal Veg Table

   

This refreshing soup makes great starter on any hot day and perfect when you’re having a BBQ. For this, I’m linking up to Tea Time Treats  with the July’s theme “BBQ Fodder’ hosted by Janie of The Hedgecombers  
 

 

Eat well, stay healthy, take care!

Cheers!

Two months ago, we had a small CNY pot-luck reunion with some closed friends.  The pot-luck was decided at the eleventh hour as we had planned to dine at a restaurant, hoping for a larger turnout. Since most of the invited friends had scheduled prior appointments with their families and friends for separate reunions, the planned quorum dwindled further. 

 

Then one of the girls suggested meeting up for a simple pot-luck reunion at her house. The rest of us were thrilled because the lady-of-the-house is a fantastic cook and I kid you not! Not only that, she is a Jane of all trades and ‘master’ of all, which completely defies the figure of speech, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” 

  

 

As you  can see from the photo collage, we were well fed with simple, purely homemade yet fantastically delicious dishes!  The lady-of-the-house made the absolutely delicious Yee Sang (Prosperity Toss) and tasty Pan Mee (with noodles she made from scratch!).  She also baked a flawless pandan chiffon cake, almond/ cashew cookies, chocolate mousse and kueh sepit (not in photo).  I brought my signature dish, Ngo Hiang.  My friends, X, brought a meringue cake and C brought a bowl of minced mix ingredients and a packet of frozen gyoza wrappers or gyoza skins.

 

It was the last item that ‘pushed’ me to write this post. Thanks, C for “reminding” me 😉

 

By the way, it was a good thing that C did not bring pre-wrapped gyoza‘s.  That way, we all had the opportunity to learn first hand crimping of the gyoza’s from … who else? The lady-of-the-house herself!

  

 

Not the First and Definitely not the Last

 

This was not the first time I have cooked a dish that turned out into something else quite differently but completely edible, like so …

  

 

Making yaki gyoza or guo tie or wo tieh or potstickers has been at the back of my mind for a long, long time. The origin of this dish is Chinese. In China, they are called jiaozi.  The Japanese word gyōza indicates that the word is of non-Japanese origin and was derived from the Shandong Chinese dialect giaozi. There’s 2-in-1-method of cooking gyoza. First they are shallow fried with a small amount of sesame oil in a hot pan or wok until  brown crusts appear on the flat base, and then a small amount of water (or cornstarch mixture) is poured over the dumplings, with the pan or wok covered. The liquid helps to steam the dumplings, creating a texture contrast of the thin crispy bottom and soft and juicy upper part, typical of Chinese cuisine.

 

Why I chose to use the word gyoza is because the ingredients I used as filling were more Japanese than Chinese.  I’m also referring to them as  potstickers, because it’s an English word and a lot easier to pronounce.  Anyway, “pot stick” is the literal translation from the Chinese word guōtiē.

 

Grievous Mistake 

 

I have made a calamitous error when purchasing the gyoza skins or wrappers. I knew the wrappers should be round and not square.  The square ones are used for making Wonton. Without reading the label, I placed the round dumpling wrappers in my shopping basket.  I was a happy bunny that day. 


Finally


I’m gonna make potstickers!! Yay!  


My sons were looking forward to the tasty finger food.  They were thrilled and couldn’t wait for the end result!

 

BUT wait a sec … there’s a difference in the thickness of the wrappers! Gyoza skins are generally thicker than the delicate wonton skins, hence, making them more suitable for frying.  It was a shame I bought the thinner and delicate dumpling skins used for wrapping sio bee or siu mai (popularly served at dim sum restaurants).

  

 

Hmmmm….. I had already marinated a bowl of minced filling for the gyoza.  There was no turning back.  The show must go on!

 

Splashing Plan B !

 

With the flopped original plan of making gyoza or potstickers, I told my clearly disappointed looking boys that there was not going to be any dry finger-food-type gyoza but a wet and soupy dumpling soup! If only you had seen their faces and heard their remarks …

 

I told myself that if the Potstickers won’t stick then I had to transform the dish into something equally appetising, hence, Plan B was put into action 🙂

 

Yup, a splashing runny dumpling soup!

   

 

Ingredients –

  • 300g minced chicken
  • Napa cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1/2 Leek, finely diced (or 2-3 spring onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cm Ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 Carrot, grated
  • 5 cm Daikon, grated
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp sushi and sashimi soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Thai spicy fish powder ( in lieu of bonito powder)
  • 1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine ( in lieu of mirin)
  • 1 Tbsp corn flour
  • Freshly milled white pepper
  • Salt, to taste

1 packet (250g) Round dumpling skins

For the broth

  • 1 big carrot, washed and cut in very thin rounds
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and remove stringy outer layer
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
  • 3 cm ginger, bruised
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  • Sesame oil
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Dried Coriander (I did not have fresh coriander that day)
  • 1/2 a chicken stock cube
  • Coarse Sea Salt to taste 
  • Freshly milled white pepper to taste 
  • 1.7L Water, boiled in electric kettle
  • Water, boiled for cooking the dumplings 

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least one hour 
  2. Remove the minced mix at least 15 to 30 mins before starting to wrap the dumplings
  3. In a soup pot, throw in the cut carrots, celery, 2 cloves garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander and chilli. Pour in the boiling water into the pot.  At this point, you can smell the fragrance and aroma of the herbs and vegetables whiffing past your nostrils
  4. Season the broth with sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, salt and white pepper
  5. Cook the broth further until boiled 
  6. In another pot, boil enough water to cook the dumplings per serving. Note: this water is NOT the broth for consumption, but just to cook through the dumplings separately.
  7. Ready to serve.  Place 8 to 10 pieces of dumplings in the hot water. The dumplings are cooked when they start floating to the surface. Scoop the dumplings, removing as much water as possible to a serving bowl. Then scoop the broth picking up some carrots, celery, chillies and coriander and transfer to the serving bowl.

Et voila!

 

Verdict: Without a word said, my boys slurped their bowls of  dumpling soup clean. I think that’s translated as “Thumbs UP” 🙂

Be warned, though, of the spicy filling (spicy fish powder) and the extra chilli in the broth. The extra garlicky flavour differentiates the Gyoza soup with a twist from the milder wonton soup. I will definitely make these again 😉

I’m linking this post to Little Thumbs Up April event “CHICKEN“, organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

 



Have a great weekend!

Cheers!

It’s not a big store, but big enough to store the most basic and fast moving inventories. I used to buy my Asian products at the family-run store and I appreciated the many advices I got from the owner.  I have written briefly about this friendly Chinese lady at this post : A Very Special Mapo Tofu.

 

It must be due to health reason that she has stopped operating the convenient store. I sensed she had undergone a facial stroke as her face was partially contorted and she limped quite badly. I have neither heard nor seen her since her shop was bought over by a young couple some 3 years ago. When I went back to the store, it’s not the same anymore.  I noticed there are more “kiddy-like” and less healthy stuffs, like instant noodles, sweets, cookies, instant sauces etc.  There are not many choices in the deep freezer section either. Quite sad, really.

 

One Healthy Advice

 

Fortunately, before she sold her business, she gave me tips on making healthy broth or tonic soups.  I don’t read Chinese so a first hand advice from someone who excelled in both Chinese and English was tremendously refreshing.

 

In one of my many stopovers to her shop, I was looking for the ingredients or herbs to make a tonic broth. She beckoned me to one of the shelves and showed me a few packages of Chinese herbs.  Erm…. it was all Greek, or rather, Chinese to me.  Ha ha …

 

And by the way, for a first timer, she introduced me to a mix of 7 dried Chinese herbs, which sounded sacred and biblical at the same time – Solomon’s Seal Root, Foxnut, Lily Bulb, Job’s Tear Barley, Lotus Seeds, Longan (dried dragon eye) and Chinese Yam.  These 7 heavenly herbs made up the Chin Po Liang, a very popular all-purpose tonic soup in a Chinese kitchen, particularly, of the Cantonese origin.  The Chin Po Liang is a ‘yin‘ soup as Liang means cooling and Po means tonic or nutritious.

 

I bought 2 different packages. I couldn’t remember what the other one was good for. It must be something similar which is also popular in the Vietnamese kitchen.

  

 

Pork is normally used in the broth, but I chose chicken.  I was told by the friendly “aunty” that if chicken is used instead of pork, then I had to choose a very old chicken.  BUT, where could I get an old hen in the supermarkets in Belgium?!

 

Not easy. I found the first chicken I saw at the poultry meat section at Delhaize. It was not a big bird, which I thought would be just right for my family of 4 people. In Belgium, the chicken is labelled as “soepkip” or translated literally as ‘soup chicken’.

  

 

Ingredients –

  • 1 whole “soepkip” (chicken for making soup), skin removed
  • 1 packet of the 7-herb mix of Chin Po Liang
  • Enough water to cover the chicken 

Oh by the way, I added the 8th “herb”, one carrot.  This is completely optional. I added this for colour and sweetness.

 

NOTE: Chinese tonic soups are usually slow-cooked without any enhancer. No salt, stock cube or pepper. That’s why it’s “chin po” (very nutritious)

 

Method –

  • Rinse the Chin Po Liang herbs with cold water.  Set aside 

  

  • Wash, clean and remove the skin off from the Chicken
  • In a soup pot, add enough water to submerge the chicken
  • Slow-cook the Chicken broth. If cooked in a pot over the stovetop, slow-cook for 2 hours. If cooked in a Slow-Cooker, cook on High for 2 hours plus another 4 hours on Low. You can leave the Slow-Cooker on overnight and enjoy a nutritious mug of goodness the next morning😉

NOTE: The water must be clear looking. Remove any scum floating on the surface of the pot.

  

 

Here’s  how I like my bowl of Chin Po Liang Clear Chicken Broth, without the herbs, as the herbal flavours have infused in the broth from the long hours of slow-cooking.

 

Brilliantly YUMMY!

  


By the way, my Mum calls this “Tun Kay T’ng” ( slow-cooked chicken soup). Mum used to make this kind of soup for my siblings and I when we were younger. We loved it. I still do and I call it chicken soup for the soul because it helps me when I feel a little under the weather. That’s what my GP would advise me as well, “Have plenty of rest and take chicken soup”😄

I have made this tonic broth on several occasions already. It works exceptionally well with frozen chicken as well. The last time I made the soup was with frozen chicken drumsticks.

The soup must be very clear that you can actually see through it. I added some Kei chi (goji berries or wolfberries) for colour and natural sweetness. 
  

  

 

!! WARNING !! This chicken broth is an acquired taste. Remember there was absolutely no enhancer.  By slow-cooking the broth, the flavours develop to one very rich-tasting tonic soup, however, if you simply cannot take a salt-free broth, then by all means, add some salt and pepper with rock sugar to taste.  I promise you it will transform the nourishing tonic soup to another level as well 😉

 

Transformer

 

I guess that’s my middle name. LoL!

 

I love fiddling around with leftovers.  Anyway, I have to be good at it because the 3 guys in my household do not like to eat the same dish 2 days in a row. I’m glad I work full time by day, otherwise I would run out of ideas cooking different dishes every single day.

 

With the leftover Chin Po Liang Chicken Broth, I added more water and brought the soup to a boil.  I added ginger, spring onion, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, salt, pepper and a piece of rock sugar to taste. I boiled some spaghetti sticks and served this in a bowl, garnished with char siu, brocolli stir-fry, thinly sliced napa cabbage, prawns and of course, topped with a piece of the leftover chicken.

 

And there you have it! One of the best transformers!

  

 

Enjoy!

 

This post is linked to Little Thumbs Up April event “CHICKEN“, organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

  

I’m also linking this post to Farmersgirl Kitchen’s Slow Cooked Challenge for the month April 2015

  

 


This post is also linked to HonestMum @ Tasty Tuesdays live.

  


I’m also linking this herbal chicken broth to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs April Linky

  




Have a great week.

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

I cannot believe this. We are almost at the tail end of Spring! Geez… how time flies! It seemed like only yesterday when we celebrated Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas – last year – I bought a simple electrical Soup Maker that became the be-all and end-all of (one of) my kitchen appliance(s) today.

To buy or not to buy…?

I must have walked round the shelf in that electrical store a myriad of times. To buy or not to buy? I reckoned the store’s CCTV was following every step and movement I made that day. LOL!

It was winter, for God’s sake, and the vision of a bowl of freshly-made hot soup was certainly very inviting in my mind’s eye. Mmmm…

And the Soup Maker looked SO cool!

But alas, the one I saw on the shelf was the last piece, not for sale but for the showroom! I immediately placed an order with the shop assistant, who graciously informed me that I had to wait for another week or two. The gadget was enormously popular.

A week passed by.  

I received a missed call on my cell phone from a rather unusual number. The ‘caller’ left a message on my voicemail and courteously informed me to pick up my order I had placed a week before!

Bingo!

My Soup Maker had arrived! Yay!

1. PeaMintSoup_Soupmaker 

The Soup Maker came with a recipe book, but I have yet to follow any of the recipes. I may get some ideas for making compotes later 😉

By the way, I am not being sponsored by the Maker – at all. It just so happened that that product was on the special Year End promotion at the store 😉

Warm Cold Days and One Big Supporter

I did not tell hubs about my “secret investment”. I don’t blame him because he knew that I have the tendency to hoard my ‘investment’. Gadgets I have bought seemed to be stashed in the cupboards untouched and unused – all brand new. LOL!

But not this time:-D

My Soup Maker is one of the most used items to-date!

1. RCC#1_soupmaker 

Hubs could not believe the soups I have concocted were made fresh from the Soup Maker. I have not only warmed our cold winter days, but I have won the heart of one huge supporter *wink*

Easing Number 26

Ouch!

I have one rather sick tooth. In the world of dentistry, this tooth has a name, and it’s called “Number 26”.

Number 26 has been bugging me for quite some time now. I could not enjoy eating a hearty meal as Number 26 just does not allow me to.

By the way, everyone has Number 26. It’s one of the 12 broad-faced grinding teeth. Number 26 happens to be my once-upon-a-time most used and active left upper grinder, but it’s currently quite ‘sick’ 😦 

No worries, it will be “repaired” soon … but only in a week or two … fingers crossed!

The Soup Maker has been my saviour the past days in calming my Number 26.

Here’s a soup I made recently, the Pea Mint Soup – all things fresh and in season, ready within half an hour from washing, chopping, slicing, cooking and platting up. Exactly what I needed with my busy schedule…

3. PeaMintSoup_Closedup 

Peas are in season, especially starting in the month of May through October. Peas and mint go really well together. Mint is a useful herb and is one of the remedial herbs to easing toothaches. In my case, it’s easing my Number 26 😀

Here’s how I made my quick and fresh Pea Mint Soup in my Soup Maker.

Ingredients (own recipe)
(serves 4)
 
  • 350 g peas, washed
  • 1 leek – the white part only, washed away any signs of grits and grimes between the folds and layers
  • 3 stalks white celery sticks, washed and removed the stringy outer layer
  • Fresh Mint leaves, washed and roughly torn
  • 1 medium-sized potato, peeled, washed and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • Course Sea Salt and pepper to taste

 4. PeaMintSoup_ingredients 

 Method –

  1. All vegetables must be cut, chopped and diced in more or less even sizes
  2. Transfer the cut vegetables into the Soup Maker
  3. Add seasoning – course sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
  4. Stir the mixture with a spoon
  5. Add water up to the level between MIN and MAX
  6. Stir one more time
  7. Select the button (I chose the 1st button for finely blended soup. Other functions included chunky soups, compotes and smoothies)
  8. Press Start

5a. PeaMintSoup_Soupmaker1

5b. PeaMintSoup_Soupmaker2

 

After 20 minutes, the soup was done!

Enjoy!

6a. PeaMintSoup_before

6b. PeaMintSoup_after

6c. PeaMintSoup_end result

Note: If you do not own a Soup Maker, by all means, prepare the soup in the manner you are most used to.

Oh by the way, I just came across this blog event, May’s Four Seasons Food which really intrigued me. Before the season’s up, I’m joining in the fun and am submitting this entry to Four Seasons Food May Challenge: Celebrating Spring hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg

fsf-spring

In my previous post, Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Re-visited, I made a “grievous” fault in linking that entry to Made With Love Mondays Event (Week 5/5/2014). I should have read and re-read the event’s list of “prohibited / restricted” items. I have used a ‘canned’ item in the form of canned sweetened condensed milk. I would like to apologize to Mark. Then again I wonder if I could buy freshly made sweetened condensed milk anywhere. I have found one in a tube, though. To make amends for my previous linkup, this time, I am submitting all things fresh and made from scratch to Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv‘s  Made With Love Mondays: Week of 5th May 2014.  I hope I’m not disqualified with this submission…

Made with Love Mondays

 

I am also linking this post to Cooking With Herbs Recipe Challenge for the month of May, hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage. I have used fresh “Mint” as the selected cooking herb.

 Cooking with Herbs

 

P“eas(e)” be with you 😀

 

Cheers!

 

Last Friday evening I left work for home earlier than normal as I did not feel well at all.  I felt nauseous and sweaty and could actually hear my stomach churning.

Oh no… not now, I whispered. 

There were a million and one stars spinning in my head.  I felt really lousy and lightheaded while the abdominal cramps were acting up. I was definitely not prepared for all that!

Nine Times and a Centenary!

When I got home, I was so relieved because I knew where to head for instantly nine times (!) in less than 5 hours… 

It was one of my worst bouts of diarrhoea in a long time 😦

I felt extremely weak and dehydrated from losing so much fluid. I downed 3 bottles (on separate intervals) of the po chai pills (equivalent to the better-known-to-Malaysians chi kit teck aun pills) with plenty of lukewarm water.  My stomach churned more aggressively.  It must be the pills battling with the bacteria.  I could not do anything else that evening than lay on the sofa with 2 blankets over me, like a 100-year old woman.

Speaking of 100-year old, that’s the main reason I wanted to get well speedily before the end of the week. My husband and I were invited for the 100th birthday anniversary of a friend’s Father In-law.  Now, that’s a special event that I would not miss.  Anyway, how many of us have actually seen or crossed paths with a century old human being in the flesh? That was a chance in a lifetime, really! I was looking forward to it.

Oh by the way, I did not live on the po chai pills and lukewarm water only.  I had one banana, a few dry crackers, plain yoghurt and lots of mint tea – worked a charm for me!

Hungry Saturday

I felt a lot better the next morning, sipping my hot mint tea and some crackers for breakfast.

Usually, I do not spend a lot of time in the kitchen on Saturdays, but I was yearning for Soto Ayam – an Indonesian spicy (yellow) chicken soup, which I made from scratch for our Saturday lunch.

The key and main ingredient of this chicken soup is turmeric, which turned the broth to a blazing saffron orangey-yellowy colour

1. Soto Ayam_turmeric1a. Soto Ayam_ yellow chix broth

If I had to describe Soto Ayam, I would say – simply – that the dish is a distant cousin of the Sarawak laksa 😀

Here’s a picture collage of my homemade Sarawak laksa I made not so long ago (yes, I made my own paste!). Instead of the conventional omelette, I used hardboiled eggs, and believe you me; it’s a lot healthier if you made your own paste 😉

2. Soto Ayam vs Sarawak Laksa

Fresh is THE word… not Grease!

After the horrendous bout of diarrhoea on Friday, I wanted my Saturday free from pre-packed and greasy foods.  Soto Ayam was the perfect choice as a tummy soother 😀

As this was an impromptu dish, I had to make do with what I could rummage in my kitchen cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. I had most of the ingredients to incorporate the mildly spiced yet tasty chicken broth.

Perhaps the only item I lacked was shallots.  The recipe which I got from an Indonesian friend requires plenty of shallots. I had only two shallots left and luckily they were big ones. On the other hand, I had a few onions to spare.  I was surprised with the alternative result.  It was an absolute winner!

So folks, think out of the box. You’ll be amazed by being unconventional 😉

 Ingredients

(Serves 4-5)

1 packet rice vermicelli

For the broth –

Chicken (I used one whole frozen chicken, thawed overnight. Personally, 4 chicken legs would be better)
Ginger slices
Kaffir lime leaves (plenty)
Lemon grass (I used 3 because I had only 3 left in the fridge. 4 or 5 should be great)
Enough water to cover the chicken
 

For the paste –

1 onion
2 large shallots
1 knob garlic
4 cm piece ginger
5 cm piece turmeric (I used 3 x 5cm)
5 cm piece galangal (I used 3 x 5cm)
8 candlenuts
4 Thai chillies
Olive Oil

For the garnish ( I used my imagination) –

Cucumber strips
Green beans – cooked any way you like. I stir fried mine with garlic, soy sauce and chilli flakes
Hardboiled eggs
Lemon wedge
Chicken shreds (from the boiled whole chicken)
Fish balls (optional)
Prawns (optional)
Crispy fried shallots (unfortunately this was not in the picture L )
Prawn crackers (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method –

1)      Boil the chicken in a deep soup pot. I discarded the first round of boiled broth as there were too much scum floating on the surface of the pot. I then changed the water several times until the water was clearer. Boil the chicken a second time over medium heat. Throw in fresh ginger slices and torn kaffir lime leaves

2)      Meanwhile blend all the wet ingredients and candlenuts to form a paste

3)      Sauté the paste together with the slightly bruised lemon grass until fragrant and transfer the paste to the chicken broth. Season with salt (and/ or chicken stock cube) and pepper

4)      Stir the broth to combine the paste into the liquid and continue to boil the chicken soup covered

5)      When the chicken is tender and starts to fall apart, remove from the broth and start shredding the meat off the bones

6)      Boil some water and pour onto the rice vermicelli. Let stand until the rice noodles become limp but not lumpy.  Drain under cold running water. Set aside.

7)      Prepare the garnish of your choice 😀

8)      That’s IT!

3. Soto Ayam_whole chix4. Soto Ayam_major ingredients

4a. Soto Ayam_major ingredients blended4c. Soto Ayam_major ingredients sauteed

5. Soto Ayam_mixed5b. Soto Ayam_mixed2

6. Soto Ayam_shredded chix7. Soto Ayam_garnish

8a. Soto Ayam_without lemon8. Soto Ayam_with lemonIt was a simple dish, but one that fought the battle of the runs.  The thrill of Victory!! Yay! 😀

Oh yes, my husband and I made it to the 100th birthday of opa (grandpa) Harry as he is fondly called by his circle of friends on Sunday.  We had great moments meeting up friends whom we have not met in years.

A Blessed Centenary to you, opa Harry! You looked the same one year ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago.  I wonder what his secret ingredient to a youthful look is…. 

9. Opa Harry

10. Opa Harry

11. Cake111a. Cake2

And by the way, the centenary birthday cake was specially made and decorated by my friend.  Good job, F!

I am linking this post to the following events –

Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads – Thinking, Reading, Photographing

Weekend Cooking

Cooking With Herbs Challenge for February 2014 hosted by Karen Burns-Booth of  Lavender and Lovage

Cooking-with-Herbs-300x252

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Cheers!