Lunch to soothe my sore throat and cold. Rice noodle and pork ball soup with cilantro, green onion, mint, ginger and sesame oil. Yum!
So here’s a delicious sample recipe, the first recipe of the week from my new ecookbook, Roz Weitzman’s World of Chinese Comfort Food.
Udon or Rice Noodle Soup
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 green onions, cut into 2-inch strips
4-6 cups water
4 ounces pork or chicken, very finely sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 brown or black mushrooms, very finely sliced
½ medium regular or Chinese cucumber, very finely sliced, diagonally
2 teaspoons Chinese chicken bouillon granules
1½ cups fresh Udon or rice noodles
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Add oil to a medium-sized soup pot and wait for it to heat. Stir-fry the ginger, garlic, and onion, remove to a bowl (I often put the ginger and garlic into a little cheesecloth pouch because I like the flavour that they give the soup but don’t like eating them in chunks, alternately leave ginger and garlic whole) and set aside.
Bring the water to a boil and add the meat. While the meat is boiling, remove the foamy particles from the water with a large spoon.
Add soy sauce. Stir in mushrooms and cucumber. Add the bouillon granules and the ginger, garlic and onion. Bring to a boil.
Add noodles and salt and pepper and boil until noodles are tender (Udon noodles will double in size, rice noodles will remain the same size after cooking).
In the last minute of cooking, add the cilantro, mint, sesame oil and more soy sauce if necessary for saltiness and taste.
Pour into a soup tureen and serve hot in individual soup bowls.
Local wet markets all across China have many similar things in common – they contain the basic things:
– local fresh vegetables and mushrooms
– fresh herbs including fresh chillies of all kinds
– local fresh fruit
– local loose, dried cooking supplies – beans, rice, flour, spices
– nuts and dried fruit
– local fresh noodles – rice, wheat, bean (picture below shows the bags of rice in the foreground and the freshly made rice noodles hanging vertically to dry in the background)
– fresh meat, poultry, and fish (sometimes refrigerated or frozen, most often neither)
– local fresh tofu – all varieties
– local varieties of pickled vegetables and sauces
– local dried, steamed, cooked, smoked meats
– fresh and potted flowers and plants
– tea of all kinds, including tea-making utensils and supplies
I like visiting local wet markets in a variety of areas of the city to see the differences in the produce on offer. A downtown market in the heart of the city had just those little differences to make it fun to be there.
Managing to get a great find, I stopped to watch a shop keeper serving some customers to see what they were buying. It was pork tenderloin, cooked and smoked. She gave me a little taste and I bought a piece at the far right in the picture.
She gave me a little bag of very spicy Sichuan pepper/salt but the meat was spicy enough for me already. I had that for lunch with some leftover Yang Zhou Fried Rice and slices of fresh cucumber.
Yum, I say!
Almost ready to leave, there they were – Yunnan Wild Mushrooms – calling me. I stopped to discuss the names and made myself the ‘foreign expert’ in wild mushrooms, which I am not. What made me the expert in her mind was that she had the few varieties that I remembered the Chinese names for and I didn’t hesitate to speak to her in Chinese.
Here is a seller who has wild mushroom varieties, most of which I don’t know their names or how to cook them so I don’t get sick. I buy the ones near the blue and white scale at the top left corner. I know those; they are porcini or Niu Gan Jun mushrooms and I’m going to have them for my dinner tonight.
Another seller and I have a long conversation. She tells me the name of the green ones and to be honest, I can’t remember it. But that green hue makes me nervous so I skip buying them. I don’t know exactly how to cook them properly.
This seller also has the Gan Ba Jun or Dried Beef Mushrooms and I know them well. I bought them several weeks ago at the Wild Mushroom City, YiMen. It’s interesting to see how they grow around/inside a bed of pine needles and that’s what makes them so hard to clean. They grow with the needles embedded inside the mushroom meat and you have to have the patience of a saint to clean the pine needles out of the mushrooms. Those are the ones that took three of us 5 hours to clean one an a half pounds…no thanks! They were delicious but nope, not for me.
When I cooked them for the party with a huge amount of green chillies, I can honestly say they were delicious but I can’t go through the cleaning process.
Recipe to follow another day, I promise.