One Stop Stock

Food

I love soup! I love making it and I love eating it! It is my be all and end all element, as it can be a meal in itself, eaten with rice or noodles, or a basis for other dishes when used as a stock. In fact when I make a pot of chicken soup, I am very disappointed when I can only use it for just one meal! My ultimate record is using the same soup to make Chicken rice noodle soup, Pumpkin soup with coconut milk, Chicken curry and Hainanese chicken rice chilli, all within 2 days!

My broth has a hint of lemongrass, the sweetness of corn and turnips and just the right amount of delicious oiliness of the chicken! To entice you even further, I could say it was what my mother used to make for us on cold winter nights. Except that my mum can’t cook and it was always a constant sweltering 28º in Singapore! I am the mother of 3 kids though, one of whom is as old as many young food blogger/chefs out there, so he can say “Its my mother’s recipe which she used to make when I was ill…”

So here it is and even though, like most seasoned cooks, I don’t use measuring cups, weighing scales, or even a spoon to measure my ingredients, I will try my best to give some measurement quantities that don’t include a pinch of this and a gush of that!

Roasted Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole soup chicken (In Germany they are the skinny versions of a chicken and are very tough, or you can also use a free range chicken)
  • 5 whole garlics – slightly smashed with a knife
  • 2 large onions
  • 5 slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (cut off the root end before using)
  • 1 fresh corn cob (this addition was introduced to me by my Singaporean friend Jean who lives in Ulm too. Until then I had never heard of it being put in soup, but it really adds a delicious sweetness to the soup!)
  • 1/2 a large white carrot or 1 large turnip (kohlrabi in Germany)fresh white radishes on a white background
  • 1 celery stick
  • 3l water (or more if your pot can hold it)
  • 1/2 cup Soya Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Salt (I add 5 spice powder to my sea salt and keep it in a jar and I use it for all my cooking!) or more according to your taste

Extra ingredients to make One Stop Stock

  • 500g pork bones
  • 50g dried shrimp
  • 25g dried anchovies

Instructions:

  1. Lightly salt your chicken before putting it in a pre-heated oven at 200ºC for 30 minutes. Here I used chicken parts as I couldn’t find any whole soup chicken. I added chestnuts in at the same time as I want to add it to my soup later on. ALWAYS remember to slit your chestnut skins a little before cooking them! I completely forgot this time and they EXPLODED in my oven and even all over my kitchen when I took them out. It was a real mess to clean up!

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2. In the meantime, slice your onions and ginger and smash your garlics. Slice the white carrots into thick slices, wash your celery and corn cob.

3. Once the chicken is done, in the LARGEST pot you have, add the oil from the roasted chicken (about 3 tablespoons) and fry the onions, ginger and garlic for 7 minutes on medium heat. Don’t burn it!

4. Add the bruised lemongrass (see below. No this is not what normal lemongrass looks like, unless you have been in a fighting match over the last piece…). lemongrass

4. Cut the chicken into large pieces and add it in the pot. Stir fry a little and add the salt and soya sauce.

5. Add 3l of boiling water, the white carrot, corn and celery.

6. Boil for at least 4h, adding water if needed.

That will give you a basic stock that you can just add noodles and sliced chicken or if you’re lazy like me, just throw in some minced pork.

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The above soup had chestnuts in it, which was a surprising delicious discovery after I over cooked my chestnuts and they were hard as rock! I threw in the peeled chestnuts in my soup hoping it would soften them. Not only did it made them nice and soft again, but they added a nutty sweetness to my soup that was soooo good!

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This dish I made by adding prawns and crabs (unfortunately I can only get frozen ones here) into my soup, but they’re delicious nevertheless!

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It is also my base for a very special dish that is usually eaten during Chinese New Year, but I make it everytime I have guests but I don’t feel like cooking! We call it Steam Boat but Europeans or Americans call it Hot Pot. You put raw pork, beef, chicken, prawns, fish, tofu, rice noodles, chinese cabbage…out on the table with dipping sauce like chilli or soja sauce with seseme oil and the guests cook it themselves! The soup at the end of the meal is DELICIOUS! Its fun and very sociable and my guests leave thinking I’m such a good cook when they have been cooking all night! If you want to know more on how to prepare this, this link is very informative!

To make a One Stop Stock that you can use as a base for almost all your stir frys, add the extra ingredients listed above. For the pork bones, if you are lucky like me and have a Spanish husband who goes back to Spain very often during the year, you can get some bones that come off the Jambon Serrano or Iberico cured hams. That will really give a kick to your stock!

Before we devour it

and After!

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Just one little bone is enough to spicen up a large pot of soup. If you’re not lucky like me, ordinary pork bones will do!

20161024_174450-1Dried shrimp and dried Anchovies

20161024_205407After boiling it all day, your stock should look creamy and smell heavenly! I freeze it in muffin trays as the portions are perfect for a stir fry for 4 people.

This stock is too strong to use as a soup base but it gives the extra “wham” in any Asian dish. You will find it in many of my recipes I will feature here.

Well I feel like making soup now, so let me know how yours turn out if you tried my recipe.

Bon Appetit!

 

Quick and Easy Ginger Chicken

Food

After blogging about food from home yesterday, I was literally drooling and homesick for a taste from the past. As it was already 19h on a Sunday evening, I didn’t have hours to prepare something complex. Also, apart from “salad stuff”, which is pretty useless in Singaporean cooking, I only had 2 whole chicken legs and spring onions in my fridge! I flipped through my new cookbooks anyway and came upon the perfect recipe for my meager supplies.

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The recipe comes from the cook book “Uncle Anthony’s Hokkien recipes”. Sorry I haven’t re-typed it out but I rather be spending my time cooking than copying out recipes, but I will tell you how I modified it!

-As I didn’t have any fresh chillis, I just used 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of my home made chilli made from garlic, ginger, fresh chillis, lime juice and (homemade) chicken stock!

-As I didn’t have Chinese rice wine, I used 1/2 tbsp of Japanese rice vinegar and 2 tbsp Chinese plum wine. But I think if you have Sherry, that will do too.

-I love sesame oil so I added 1 tbsp instead!

-And although they tell you to reduce the liquid to a gravy like consistency, Don’t! The sauce is really good with the rice and I regretted not having more in the end.

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The end result, after only 15 minutes of cooking, was a delicious pot of chicken “stew” that reminded me of home.

So now that the essential part of my post is done, I can go on to telling you more about the cultural background behind dish and you can decide if you want to read it or if you just want to cook it right away! I often look for a recipe just before I want to cook it and I get quite annoyed when I have to stroll through 2 pages of info on the dish, no matter how interesting it may be, just to get to the recipe, so I promise I will never do that here!

As I mentioned earlier, this recipe comes from the cook book “Uncle Anthony’s Hokkien recipes”. So what is “Hokkien”? In Singapore, the Chinese are grouped according to our dialect groups and Hokkien is one of them. According to Wikipedia,  it is a Chinese dialect group that originated from Southern Fujian in China, and is still spoken widely in South East Asia, South Eastern China, Taiwan and overseas Chinese. For me, it used to be one of the main Chinese dialects spoken in the streets of Singapore, now replaced by Mandarin.

Each dialect group has its own special dishes and some of the most popular Hokkien dishes are:

Hokkien Meenewton_hokkienmeeEgg noodles in a seafood sauce (which is a VERY simplified way of describing the dish!)

Bak Kut Teh5998121278_ea74e6795f_bPork Ribs simmered in a 5-spice soup and garlic

Oyster Omelettechengjioysteromelette9_zpsd17fd342

Poh Piah20160611_202759Fresh wheat flour skins filled mainly with stewed white turnip, peanuts and shrimp

and the most elaborate of all

Buddha Jumps Over The Wallbuddha-jumps-over-the-wallwhich can consist of over 30 ingredients and takes 2 days to prepare! It is so named because the dish is  reputated to be extremely good that it would entice the vegetarian Monks to jump over the monastery walls to eat this dish, which contains smoked ham among other delicacies like abalone, scallops, sea cucumber and ginseng! I can safely say I will not be making this dish ever very soon.

Hokkien cooking puts its emphasis on retaining the natural flavour of the main ingredients instead of masking them and often uses a fermented fish sauce in their dishes, which is quite unusual for me, as I only ever used fish sauce in Thai or Vietnamese cooking. Their main cooking methods are braising, stewing steaming and boiling. Perfect for now, as Winter Is Coming… (Yes. I am a Game of Thrones fan…)

Hope you enjoyed reading this and if you try the recipe yourself, let me know if you liked it too!

Bon Appetit!

Singaporean cooking

Food

I’ve been meaning to start the food part of my blog for sometime now, but never seem to get round to doing it. After my short but inspiring visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair though, my enthusiasm to do it has fired up again, so heres my first post!

What has my visit to the book fair to do with cooking? Well, I came back with an arm full of cookbooks of course! And obviously on Singaporean cooking, the only kind that really matters to me. With all the recipes in the books reminding me of my childhood in Singapore, and my father or his sisters cooking in the kitchen, I’m now eager to try and recreate those smells and tastes that bring me home, while still in cold foggy Ulm.

But first of all, let me give you a little introduction to Singaporeans and food, cause you can’t separate one from the other! We love eating so much, we eat 5 times a day (really!), that we often greet each other by asking “Have you eaten?” I sometimes still do that, even after 25 years away from home!

Singaporean cuisine is a mix of all the cultures that live in Singapore. Indien, Chinese, Malay, Eurasian and Peranakan, which is a mix of the Chinese and Malay cultures. And the best place to try these dishes are in places we call hawkers centres. We have over a hundred of them in Singapore! These are places which have individual stalls selling everything from fresh fruit juices to coconut jam (kaya) on toast, chilli crabs, noodle soups and fish head curries!

btfc_singapore_hawker_stalls_002Typical hawker centre. Always head for the stall with the longest queue, you won’t go wrong!

They are also the places where you often get the best, yet really affordable meals in Singapore! And with the health campaign that pushed the vendors to omit MSG from their cooking, it has become quite healthy too. Most families will buy their daily meals home from these centres, and when I go home with my family for a holiday, we take our

Breakfasts (Roti Prata-Indien bread with curry, Chwee Kueh-rice flour cakes with salted radish, Nasi Lemak-coconut rice with sambal anchovies or Bak kut teh-pork rib soup…),

Morning Snacks (curry puffs, nonya cakes or peanut pancakes…)

Lunches (chicken rice, duck noodles or laksa-shrimp curry noodles …)

Afternoon snacks (Pandan cake-coconut sponge cake, Roja-vegetable & fruit salad or Tahu Goreng-Soja bean curd cakes with peanut sauce…)

and Dinners (Hokkien Mee-seafood noodles, Fish Head curry, chilli sting ray, chilli crab, satays…)

After dinner snacks (durian, oyster omelette or almost raw cockles…)

all from these centres too!

2 of these hawker stands have even won the firsts Michelin stars awarded to this type of establishment! It is I can safely say, the cheapest Michelin star meal you can have in the world, at around 4 Euros a dish for the famous chicken noodle dish from the Hong Kong Soya Sauce noodles and rice stall! But you’ll have to start queuing at 10h for at least 2h, as they don’t take reservations!

One of the Michelin star chef Mr Chan and his stall. He prepares the dishes behind the window of his stall in a tiny space.

Travelling across the city and waiting in a queue for ages, for what they believe is the best dish in its category, is very normal in Singapore. You will see large luxury cars parked in front of these places along with simple construction workers on foot, all equal before the humble food stand. And you can see this at all times of the day… and night! One of my favourite food memories is piling into the back of an open pick up truck with my friends, at 10pm, to go off in search of the best after dinner meal snack!

So now you have been quite adequately introduced to Singapore cuisine, let me get back to the cookbooks I brought back from the fair. This first one is by a Singaporean who used to live in London, and started the first Singaporean supper club there. Besides the sumptuous recipes, it makes for a very entertaining read too!

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I have actually met one of the chefs in the supper club, Jason, who cooked for us at my cousin’s hen night in London in June. Thats him below with my cousins and friends and some of the delicious food he made for us that was truly a taste of home! Check out his Facebook page.

The other books I brought back belong to a series which highlights the cuisine from the different cultures in Singapore. My mother had given me one a few years back, which is still my go to book for Peranakan dishes so I was really excited to find other books in the series.

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I can’t wait to start trying them out and will post pics of my efforts. I have already invited some Singaporean/Malaysian friends to come next week to try out my dishes to give me an honest opinion of them!

Before I end this rather long post, heres a pic of my breakfast this morning.

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Nothing like a hot noodle soup to cure a hangover I had! Its a minced meat rice noodle soup made from a broth of roasted chicken and chestnuts. My very own invention!

Bon appetite!