250g pork rib (or simply 1 pack from NTUC supermarket)
1 dried cuttlefish or octopus*
1 honey date/ 蜜枣 (or add a few more red dates if you do not have this)
5 red dates/ 红枣
A handful of dried scallops 干贝
(about 6 big ones or 10 small ones. They are optional, but add great flavour to the soup)
1.5-1.8 litres of water (in a big pot, for soup)
0.5 litres of water (in a small pot, for blanching pork ribs)
250g lotus root/ 莲藕*
1. Prepare 2 pots. One bigger pot with 1.5L of water and the other smaller pot with 0.5L. Turn on both flames and wait for water to boil.
2. When water in the smaller pot has boiled, put in the pork ribs and let them boil for 5 minutes. This cleans out the "yucky" stuff in the pork and removes the porky smell, so that your soup will be nice and clear later on.
At the end of 5 minutes, the bigger pot should have come to boil too. Take out the pork ribs and transfer them into the big pot. Discard the water used for blanching the pork.
3. Add all other ingredients (dried cuttlefish, red dates, honey date and dried scallops) to the big pot and let it boil in the covered pot over a medium high flame for 20-30 minutes.
4. Add lotus root and turn down the flame to low. Let the soup slowly continue boiling over the small flame (in the covered pot) for at least another 1 - 1.5 hours. I like mine richer, so I let them boil for up to 4 hours (there is a significant difference in taste with longer cooking time).
*Notes on preparation:- Dried cuttlefish/ octopus
Dried cuttlefish is available at supermarkets in dried food section. They are sold about 10 in a pack. Dried octopus can be purchased at chinese medicinal halls. Their flavour is a little richer than cuttlefish. Try both separately and see which you prefer!
Preparation: Bend the dried cuttlefish. In the middle (I call it its "spine") is a plasticky piece of thing. Remove it and then rinse with water to remove some of its salt. Cut into strips.
- Lotus Root/ 莲藕Preparation: Wash and scrub lotus root clean. Cut into small pieces of about 1cm thick.
Alternatively, you can cut them into big pieces of about 10-15cm thick. After they have been softened in the boiling process 2 hours later, remove them and cut them into thin slices. Both ways work fine for me.
- Old cucumber soup/ 老黄瓜汤:
Replace lotus root with 1 old cucumber, cut into slices, with skin intact. Put in the old cucumber at Step 4 above.
- Watercress soup/ 西洋菜汤:
Soak a handful of chinese wolfberries/枸杞 in warm water for 15 minutes and add them at step 3. Replace lotus root with a bunch of water cress and add them in step 4 above.
(Wolfberries are believed to be good for eyes. I loved to eat every single wolfberry from my soup when I was young. I also loved to read lying down, hoping I would get myopia because I thought wearing glasses was cool! But 32 years later, my eyesight is still perfect, while my sister, who ate much less wolfberries than me, is myopic and has astigmatism. Coincidence or what!)
Read my blog post here