Monday, January 31, 2011

Jyu Lei (Pork Tongue)

Guys, we’re good friends by now, right? And we can tell each other anything? Well. I have to tell you….that I’ve dabbled in the “Nasty Bits.” I don’t think I will ever develop any real affection for chicken feet or monkey brains (I haven’t tried brains…and not sure that I ever will!), but tongue? Well, now that’s just good eats.


My first experience with pork tongue was in Hong Kong. I was a fairly new missionary, and a church member had invited my companion and I to eat dinner at her house. Just before we arrived, she had run down to the street market and come back with a bag of mixed meat, as far as I could tell. It all was pork, but  most of the pieces had bones in them. I was unfamiliar with the skill of nibbling the meat off the tiny bones, and then spitting the bones out. Frustrated, I looked into the bowl for something that might not be all bone. Finally, I found something that looked like it was all meat. Excited, I picked it up with my chopsticks, tapped it off on my rice, and brought it up to my mouth. Only then did I really look at it. It was the front three inches of a tongue. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I didn’t want to offend my hostess, so I carefully ate it. I couldn’t get over the fact that I had two tongues in my mouth, and only one was for chewing.


It wasn’t until I met my mother in law that I had pork tongue again. And I have to say, hers is delicious. The meat itself has very little flavor – just a vague reminiscence of organ meat.  The marinade is so fragrant, full of garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Are you ready to get started?


First, pick out your meat. Just choose a package with tongues that are…pretty. Or at least, not overly ugly!

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Prepare a small pot of water over high heat. When the water starts to boil, add in your tongues. They only need to cook for about 5 minutes, just until the outside turns white.

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Pull them out and…well, this is the most time consuming part. All that white part? It needs to come off. My mother in law uses a paring knife, and about 45 minutes, to clean off 3 tongues.


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The white part is tough, and not good eats.

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Once you get the tongues cleaned off, set them aside and pull out some mui choi (salted turnip). You don’t need too much…just about 12” of it. Run it under cool water to clean off any extra dirt and some of the salt. Chuck your mui choi into a small bowl of water, and set it aside.


Now, it’s time for some flavor! Grab your pot, make sure it’s reasonably dry, and add about 1 Tbsp. oil, two cloves of garlic (smashed and minced) and two slices of ginger (also, smashed and minced).  Cook over medium heat until you can smell the ginger and garlic and the oil is hot. (This cooking method is called “bau”, and it’s pretty standard practice for almost any Cantonese recipe.) Once the oil is hot and fragrant, add in your cleaned pork tongue. Stir those around to coat in oil, then add 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (si yau), 1 Tbsp. tamari (lou chau) and 1/2 tsp. salt.


When your soy sauce mixture has come to a boil, add 1/2 cup water, cover, and cook until the tongues are tender, about 30 minutes. While the tongues cook, go and find your mui choi. Cut it into bite sized pieces, and throw them into the pot about half way through the cooking time. (This cooking process is called “mun”, and is basically braising…on the stove. Right?)



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To serve, slice the tongue into 1/8” slices and serve with rice.


MaMa’s Braised Pork Tongue

Makes 3 pork tongues



3 pork tongues

2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced

2 slices of garlic, smashed and minced

1 Tbsp. oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce (tamari or lou chau)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup water

1 piece of mui choi (salted turnip), washed, soaked and chopped.


1. Boil your tongues in a pot of water for 5 minutes, or until the outside turns white.

2. Remove from heat and carefully clean off the white outer layer from all three tongues. Dump out your water.

3. In the pot, add your oil, garlic and ginger. Heat until fragrant, then add in your tongues. Stir to coat, then add in soy sauce, dark soy sauce and salt.

4. Heat until boiling, then add water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Add mui choi, cover and cook another 15 minutes, or until tender.


Slice and serve with rice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ching Bo Leung Dessert Soup

ETA: If you are pregnant, or on your period, please use caution when cooking up herbal Chinese dishes. Cooling herbs can harm a fetus in the first trimester, according to Chinese mothers, and (from my own experience) cooling herbs during certain parts of your cycle can be...well, it's not fun. (Sorry guys. Just keeping it real.) Now. Read on!

Yes. Ching Bo Leung. It means…it’s a dessert soup that clears up pesky yiht hei. And, umm…well, yiht hei is, as far as I can explain it, an imbalance in the body. It’s an imbalance of cold and hot, in Chinese lingo, and pH balance problem in Western lingo. I think.  Anyhow, too much yiht in you will give you zits, canker sores, bad breath, etc.  Nothing good! Luckily, there are things you can eat to counteract the yiht (which comes from eating too many rich foods…like chocolate cake. And hamburgers. And things that are yummy.) There are piles and piles of herbs that the Chinese use to get themselves back on track when they’ve overindulged. And, luckily for me, the addition of sugar does not hamper the effects of these herbs. Yea!

Ready to make some Chinese dessert soup? Let’s go!
First, let’s meet some new friends.  (With the help of my lovely mother in law, who we call MaMa)
Wai San
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Lin Ji
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Yuk Juk
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Yi Mai
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Got all that? Great! Now, let’s rally the troops.
You’ll need (per person):
1 egg (raw, in the shell)
4 wai san (Chinese yam)
5 lihn ji (lotus seed)
5 lung ngan yuk (dried longan fruit)
Plus, per pot:
2 yuhk juk (solomon’s seal)
1 Tbsp. yi mai (millet, or coix seed. I’ve heard it both ways)
Rock Sugar

Find your soup pot and fill it about 3/4 of the way with water. Add your eggs, whole, and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, grab your dry ingredients (except the longan) and pop them into a small bowl. Fill the bowl with water, and use your hands to swirl and swish. You want all the dust, sand, grit and history washed off of your fabulous dried herbs.
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You’re going to repeat the process a few times, and then fill the bowl again and let everything soak for a minute.
Plunk your Longan into a smaller bowl, and do the same thing with them. Set aside your Longan.
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When your pot comes to a boil, carefully add your (washed) dried ingredients from the larger bowl. (Remember, the longan are set aside for now.)  Use your hands to carefully fish out the cleaned ingredients. If you were to just pour the whole bowl into your pot, you’d still have plenty of sand and grit in your soup. Not tasty.

Reduce your heat to low, and simmer your soup for three hours. Half an hour before you are ready to serve it, add your longan and rock sugar, to taste. Cook for 30 minutes, and serve.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aunt LoLo’s Baked Potato Soup

So, there I was. I had thrown five potatoes into the oven a few nights before to roast…and the kids simply couldn’t wait for the potatoes to finish before they ate their dinner. And so the five potatoes sat. And waited. And yearned for their turn on the dinner table.


Finally, I’d had enough of staring at those potatoes. They were going to be dinner, and they were going to be delicious.


And they were.


(Inspired by Better Homes and Gardens, “Baked Potato Soup”)


5 baked potatoes

2 cups grated cheddar

2 Tbsp. snipped green onions

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

6 cups skim milk

6 sausages, diced and sautéed (I used cheddar bratwurst, and they worked really well in this soup)

Frozen peas (to taste. I added 1/3 of a small package, because that’s what was in the freezer! More would be better – they add a pretty green to the soup, a nice pop, and a touch of sweet)

Sour cream, to garnish


1. Scoop flesh from baked potatoes. Discard skins.


2. In a large soup pot, melt the butter, then add your flour, salt and pepper. Stir to make a roux, then add your milk all at once. Stir to combine, and do your best to break up all of the clumps of flour.  Add the green onions.


3. Cook the milk/flour mixture for 12-15 minutes, or until bubbly. (The recipe I was referencing said to cook until thick and bubbly. I never saw that happen. What DID happen was that the milk scalded, and smelled heavenly.) Stir this mixture often! The flour will want to burn and stick to the bottom, and that is not good eats.


4. Add your baked potato flesh, broken into small chunks, the cheddar cheese and your sausage. (If you’ve just cooked it, be sure to add in the rendered oil as well. Because it’s tasty, and I say so.) Cook, stirring often, until everything is heated through and starting to meld together. Break out the immersion blender and give it a few good pulses if you are into that sort of thing. 


5. Finally, add your frozen peas, turn off the heat and round up some bowls and spoons.


Even my picky four year old loved this one!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Uber Charged Chili

This chili was part planned, part accident and part desperation.
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I used two small acorn squash, roasted in the oven until tender. When I turned on the oven to roast some potatoes to go with my chili…the acorn squash were waiting for me. Alone, and forgotten. Oops! There was also a block of tofu in the refrigerator that needed to see the light of day or forever hold its peace.

Served over rice, this makes a really hearty dinner! I recommend eating it with something – anything – fresh. Like salad. Or raw carrots. Or an apple. Or something that isn’t brown and cooked to within an inch of its life.  I used the slow cooker to cook the beans, and then finished the chili on the stove. This is something you could leave on in the morning, after soaking the beans overnight, and then finish them up quickly after work.

LoLo’s Uber Charged Chili
(Makes one large pot of chili – about 4 quarts)
3 cups dry pinto beans
8 oz. salsa
1 block of tofu
3 cups of cooked acorn squash (or whatever you have on hand. Pumpkin or butternut might be nice, too!)
1 can of diced tomatoes, unseasoned
1 tsp. crushed bay leaves
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

Sour cream
Grated cheddar cheese

Soak the beans overnight. Pick out any that float, are discolored, or are otherwise ugly. Also remove anything from the pot that isn’t a bean, or water.

In the morning, drain the beans. Add the beans to your slow cooker, cover with water by about 1”. Cook on high for 8 hours.

Remove the cooked beans to a large soup pot, taking off some of the water if there is too much covering the beans. You want it to cover by about 1/4” in the new pot.

Add the tomatoes, salsa, bay leaves, cumin and paprika to the beans and stir to combine.

In a food processor, combine the squash, tofu and a few scoops of cooked beans. Puree, then stir into the pot of beans.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. Hot sauce can also be added at this point, or at the table, if you do that sort of thing.

Served over rice, with something fresh and green on the side, this makes a fabulous, and hearty meal. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chinese Corn Soup Egg Drop Soup

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This is one of my favorite Chinese soups. It’s quick, it’s sweet, it’s hearty…and did I mention it’s quick?


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A lot of Chinese-style soups need to simmer for hours, pulling all of the tasty vitamins and flavors from the vegetables and meats into the broth. The result is a rich, dark broth that is nearly fat free, and full of nutrients.

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This soup is perfect with a bowl of rice, some chicken and some veggies. Even kids love it!


Chinese Corn and Egg Drop Soup


1 can of “cream style” corn

1 can’s worth of water, chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 egg, beaten

Salt, Pepper and Sugar to taste

Green Onions, sliced, for garnish (not pictured)


1. In a saucepan, combine the corn and water. Heat over medium high heat until simmering.


2. Carefully stir the soup clockwise until all of the soup is swirling. While the soup is still moving, carefully stream in your beaten egg. Allow to sit for one minute, or until the egg just starts to set, and then stir again (clockwise).  (Ok, fine. You could stir counter clockwise if you want to…just be sure to pick one direction and stick with it, alright? Good. Moving on.)


3. As soon as the eggs are set, remove your soup from the heat and season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. Sprinkle with sliced green onions and serve.  吃飯 ! (Dinner’s served!)