Say what? You want me to put dried cuttlefish in a soup pot? Yup. Add some pork soup bones too.
|Photo Credit: Creative Commons Miso Soup|
Are you up to the task? Do this self-inventory first. Have you tried Japanese Miso Soup? Are you okay with sea vegetables like wakame? You don’t have seafood allergies? If you replied in the affirmative, I invite you to the take the next step.
How “spicy” is this cooking adventure? Figuratively, this is medium hot rather than mild. This will be a gateway to traditional Chinese cooking and ancient tonics. After this, you’ll share something in common with Anthony Bourdain: indoctrination into the exotic.
|Photo Credit: Creative Commons Vietnamese Pho|
What’s a similar food I already know? Yes, I’m asking you to be adventurous. Have you even seen a Vietnamese Noodle Soup menu that shows pictures of two category of dishes: basic and “adventurous”? This is a Chinese recipe with ingredients that fall under the “adventurous” category.
I suggest listening to a PG-13 version of Missy Elliot’s “Shake Yo Pom Pom” for this brave cuisine excursion if you want a music selection for your kitchen playlist.
As I mentioned, my dad Peter was the best char siu maker and lotus root soup chef I know. I think of him because today is the second day of a 15 day Chinese New Year Celebration usually spent with extended family. Feel free to modify my recipe below to include chicken instead of pork and vegetables instead of meat protein.
1 pound of pork bones such as pork shoulder blade
1/2 cup of sliced lotus root discs
|Photo Credit: Creative Commons Shitake Mushrooms|
1 tsp of sea salt
6 oz of dried Shitake mushrooms
1/2″ fresh ginger root
4 oz unseasoned dried cuttlefish
8 cups of water
8 oz dried Chinese red dates (optional)
1 oz dried tangerine peel (optional)
|Photo Credit: Creative Commons Lotus Root Chips|
Step 1: Soak cuttlefish and shitake mushrooms in 1 cup of water for 20 minutes. Save the soaking liquid to add to the pot.
Step 2: Choose a tall stockpot, add the soaking liquid with the contents from step one. Fill the pot with with the remaining 7 cups of water. Add salt, bones, and ginger root. Set burner on high to boil for 20 minutes.
Step 3: Skim any foam that rises to the surface. Drop the lotus slices into the liquid, carefully. Add the optional ingredients and turn burner to medium heat to boil for 40 minutes. Simmer for another hour.
Step 4: Strain the stock so that it is free of bones, cuttlefish and mushrooms. Serve the opaque stock with floating slices of cooked lotus.
Note: Cooked lotus root has a delightful crunch and peeling layers that may remind you of bamboo shoots. Phantom strings from the lotus root are normal. Remember the Lotus Eaters from Homer’s Odyssey? You might feel sleepy afterwards from contentment.