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A Spoonful of Ginger:
Recipes from Asian Kitchens
Nina Simonds, 1999, Alfred A. Knopf
Soups, according to Mrs. Wang, are a vital and important way of
herbs and tonics, second only to teas. "Traditionally, Asians adore soups,
when we are making herbal tonics one of the most popular cooking methods
is "double-boiling," where the soup is steamed inside a container so that the
broth is very clear and intense. It's the most effective way of extracting the
pure essence of
the herb into the soup," she tells me.
One of the most spectacular soups, which has become a house specialty, is
Jumping over the Wall." It is a clear soup with many types of sea-
food, fresh and
dried, poached in a "superior" stock, a rich broth made
with chicken and pork
bones and seasoned with scallions and ginger.
Customers are equally enthusiastic about the
Turtle Soup. It is believed
to be especially good for the immune system and it's excellent
ening qi, or energy. The restaurant also makes a special crocodile meat
that's excellent for asthma.
Exotic or mundane, humble or pretentious, soups are guaranteed to satisfy
even the most
demanding palate. The following chapter offers a varied
selection of refined, homespun,
and tonic soups.
Clear-Steamed Chicken Soup with Ginger
Clear-steaming, otherwise known as double-boiling, is a simple
used by Chinese
cooks where a food is cooked slowly
within a closed container. The result is a very clear,
1 whole chicken, about 3 to 31/2 pounds
6 cups boiling water
13/4 cups rice wine, preferably Shaoxing wine
(available at Asian markets)
10 whole scallions, ends trimmed and smashed
with the flat side of a knife
10 slices fresh ginger, the size of a quarter,
with the flat side of a knife
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1. Remove any fat from the cavity opening and around the neck of the chicken. Rinse
lightly and drain. Using a heavy knife or a cleaver, cut
the chicken, through the bones,
into 10 to 12 pieces. Heat 2 quarts
water until boiling and blanch the chicken pieces for
1 minute after the
water reaches a boil to clean them. Drain the chicken, discarding the
water, then rinse in cold water and drain again.
2. Place the chicken pieces and the Soup Broth ingredients in a heatproof
pot or 2-quart
soufflé dish. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil
and place on a steamer tray or
small rack. Fill a wok with enough water
to just reach the bottom of the steamer tray or
rack and heat until boiling. Place the food on the steamer tray or rack over the boiling
and steam 2 hours over high heat, replacing the boiling water in the wok
necessary. Alternatively, you may steam the soup in the oven: Preheat
the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the ingredients in a Dutch oven or casse-role with a lid and, before
putting on the cover, wrap the top tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil; then cover.
Place the pot in a lasagna pan or
a casserole and fill with 11/2 inches boiling water.
Bake for 2 hours, replenishing the boiling water as necessary.
3. Skim the top of the broth to remove any impurities and fat. Add the
salt. Remove the
ginger and scallions, ladle the soup and pieces of the
chicken into serving bowls, and
serve. To reheat and retain a clear broth,
steam or bake in a closed pot for 10 to 15
minutes, or until piping hot.
Miso Chicken Soup with Snow Peas and Tofu
Miso soup has always been one of my favorites; it is so soothing and satisfying.
offer a variation of the most traditional recipe, using a chicken broth as
the base rather
than the classic dashi (bonito tuna stock). Shredded chicken,
tofu, and snow peas round
out the flavor, making it a meal in itself.
1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds, trimmed of fat
12 cups water
8 slices fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter,
smashed lightly with the flat side of
1/2 to 2/3 cup medium-colored miso (chu miso
or shinsu ichi miso), or to taste
1 pound firm tofu, cut into thin slices about 1/4 inch
thick and 11/2 inches long
3/4 pound snow or snap peas, ends snapped
and veiny strings removed
3 tablespoons minced scallion greens
1. Cut the chicken through the bones into 10 to 12 pieces. Put the chicken pieces, water,
and ginger in a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat
so that the liquid is at a
simmer and cook about 11/2 hours, skimming the
broth to remove any impurities. Remove the
chicken pieces and let them cool. Remove the ginger slices and discard. Skim the broth to
fat. Scoop out 1/2 cup broth and reserve it.
2. Using your hands or a knife, remove the skin and bones from the
and cut or shred the meat into thin, julienne shreds. Add the
chicken shreds to the
skimmed broth. In a small bowl mix the reserved
chicken broth with the miso paste and stir
3. Add the tofu slices and snow peas to the soup and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat,
add the miso mixture, and stir to blend. Heat the soup
until near boiling; then ladle it
into serving bowls. Sprinkle the top of
each bowl with some minced scallion greens and
Sour Salmon with Greens
Since salmon is a slightly oily fish, it plays beautifully against the
flavors of ginger, scallion and bok choy. For me, there’s nothing
than tender, cooked cabbage; it is often prescribed in
relieving stomach pain.
2 1/2 pounds baby bok choy or bok choy,
1. Trim the tough outer leaves from the bok choy and
discard. Rinse the stalks and leaves and drain. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise. Cut the
stem ends and leaf
8 to 9 wholes scallions, ends trimmed, cut into
slices on the diagonal
3 heaping tablespoons fresh ginger cut into
very thin julienne
6 salmon steaks, about 6 ounce each
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 1/2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
halves diagonally into 2-inch sections. In a bowl toss the scallions and
ginger with the
bok choy sections. Arrange on a heatproof platter.
2. Mix the ingredients of the Dressing and pour into a serving
3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the salmon steaks on top of
the greens. Pour into a roasting pan several inches of water and heat
Carefully place the platter of salmon and vegetables on
top of a rack or steamer tray.
Cover the top of the pan tightly with
aluminum foil. Steam 7 to 9 minutes, or until the
fish is cooked.
4. Serve the salmon from the heatproof platter or arrange the
steamed vegetables and salmon on serving plates. Spoon some of the dressing
on top and
serve with steamed rice.
For a simple remedy to soothe a gastric ulcer, cook
1/2 pound of roughly
chopped bok choy in 4 cups boiling water about 30 minutes, until it is soft.
Stir in some
honey, drain off bok choy, and drink the broth.
Poached Pears in a Cinnamon-Ginger
This versatile dessert is delightfully refreshing served cold in the
10 cups water
summer and soothing served warm in cooler weather.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
8 slices fresh, unpeeled ginger, about the size of a quarter,
smashed lightly with the flat edge of a knife
6 slightly underripe Bosc or Anjou pears
1. In a large pot combine the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and
ginger. Heat until boiling, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30
minutes so that
the flavors marry.
2. Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, peel the pears, and
rub the outside with cut lemons to prevent them from turning brown.
3. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and add along with the pears
to the cinnamon liquid. Heat until boiling and reduce the heat to low, so that
barely boils. Cook uncovered for about 25 to 30 minutes, or
until the pears are just
tender. You can poke them with the tip of a
knife to test them. Remove and place in bowl.
4. Transfer about 3 cups of the cooking liquid to a smaller
(Discard any ginger and cinnamon stick.) Heat until boiling, reduce
the heat to
medium, and cook about 35 minutes, or until the liquid
thickens slightly. It should be
like a syrup.
5. Arrange the pears in serving bowls and pour the cinnamon-ginger
syrup on top. Serve. To serve cold, pour the syrup over the pears
in a large bowl, cover
with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several
hours before serving.
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