Monday, December 6, 2010

Easy Nutri Chicken Soup - Chinese Style

I do not consider myself a good cook. Sometimes the meal is really fantastic and sometimes even I do not feel like taking a second helping. Some people eat just to nourish themselves and then they get on with their life and their work. Some of us look for that little bit extra in our daily meals. I usually cook what I personally enjoy.

Same Ingredients, Different Results

We use the same ingredients and spend almost the same amount of time in the preparation. Why not take a little bit of time to plan the meal mentally and make it a tasty and happy occasion at mealtimes instead of throwing everything together desperately at the last minute? Of course this does not apply to some of our mothers who excel in the kitchen every time!

Even I cooked some pretty tasteless or unappetising dishes once a while. Usually this happened when I was too busy, lacked ingredients and did not have any idea what to do when I had to step into the kitchen to prepare a meal. When I'm not in the mood to cook, I go into autopilot.

We do not need to plan a lot - just make sure we have some meat (optional), flavoursome bulbs like onions and garlic, maybe some herbs and some coloured leafy or root vegetables to create a colourful meal. That's for the nutrients that come from the various colours and flavours, created by Allah SWT for our good health and enjoyment.

Cooking with Love makes the Difference!

Just make something that's simple and acceptable to the family. Doesn't even have to be a complete meal, like rice or bread, soup, salad, meat etc. I make a quick sandwich with whatever bread available and use up all the leftovers from the fridge as filling.

Fillings that's quick and tasty, usually leftovers from the fridge :

Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Eggplant and Veggies
Sausages and leftover pasta sauce
Stir fried veggies with a slice of ripe tomato
Leftover mixed veggie salad and lemon juice
Boiled egg and tomato slices
Leftover shredded chicken and tomato
Meatball and tomato
Flaked fried fish with mayo and lettuce
Chicken curry gravy and potatoes
Baked Beans and fried egg
Omelette with cheese or mushroom
Garlic toast
Cucumber slices with cream cheese
Ikan bilis sambal from leftover nasi lemak
egg and potatoes mashed in mayo
Toast served with dhal curry
French Toast - sweet or savoury
Tuna with mayo
sliced cold meat
satay with spicy peanut sauce
beef or chicken stew
Leftover soup with toast

I made some chicken soup yesterday. The same recipe can be used for lotus root, old cucumber, winter melon and carrot and potatoes etc. We may add some dried octopus when we cook old cucumber soup. We may add some dried red beans when we cook the lotus root soup.

Nutri Chinese Veggie Soup

(Just like ABC Potato Soup. I use a lot onions in that soup)

Take 3/4 parts of an antibiotic free or range free/organic chicken and remove some skin and fats. The fats provide the flavour but I prefer to remove some of the skin, if not all of it.

Place chicken pieces in a large heavy pot and fill it with water, just covering the chicken. Add a small knob ginger if you like but I didn't have any . Add a large handful of Chinese red dates. I sometimes use extra dates leftover from Ramadhan. Even if they are dry and cold, just add them in and they will become melt in the mouth after 2 hours of simmering. Check water level.

After about an hour, add the large chunks of melon and diced carrot. Add pepper and simmer away till chicken is really tender.

There - so easy and stress free!

Special Melon Soup cooked in Melon

Hollow out a large wintermelon (do not remove too much from the center or the whole melon will turn to mush if you overcook. Dice chicken meat, carrots and Chinese shitake mushroom (just 3 pieces ) . Season and add some water so the food will cook and a tasty soup is created. Replace the top piece that was cut off. Secure it with toothpicks or small satay sticks.

Place the whole melon in a large double boiler or thick ovenproof casserole and insert whole container and melon into a large wok filled with water. Place it on the trivet and add water. Cover it and steam till melon is tender but not too soft. Check water level occasionally or it may dry up! It may disintegrate if it is overcooked!

Remove the casserole from wok and place it on dining table. Open the cover of melon carefully and scoop out the flesh, diced veggies and meat.

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner

My mother used to cook this soup sometimes for our Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner. Of course she would also plan and prepare for 3 days, to produce a fabulous dinner, consisting of as much as 12 dishes, if she had her way!

I used to tell her to reduce it to just 5 but she always said it was a special occasion and the hard work was only just once a year. She wanted to make the event memorable and make everyone feel loved and pampered by her labour of love. The food would not be wasted as we would enjoy eating it again the next day and if friends dropped by the next day, we would be happy to let them taste some special home cooking!

We would also occasionally invite some brothers and sisters who recently embraced Islam. They sometimes could not eat the food served by their own families. They would still sit with them and eat perhaps nasi beriyani or some halal fast food while the rest of the family had their ten course gourmet dinner.

Pleasing our Family

We too make a point to be home for the reunion dinner to foster silatul rahim and to show that Islam does not prevent Muslims from honouring and pleasing their parents and family. The only time they refuse to oblige or disobey is when they are asked to do something that is against the teachings of Islam.

Patience in Obeying Allah SWT

If we are patient in obeying Allah SWT, insya Allah we will gain His pleasure and we cannot imagine the great rewards He plan for us in this worldly life (dunia) and in the Hereafter (akhirah).

I am sure every mother would do the same for her children, on very special occasions. These days, we only celebrate the 2 Eids and of course cook some nice dishes for iftar (breaking of fast) in Ramadhan to share with others.

Every Chinese home will be filled with friends and relatives who return once a year to celebrate and enjoy each others' company and renew kinship. Traditionally they return from all parts of the world, as far as Europe, Hong Kong and USA.

1 comment:

  1. Salam,
    I enjoyed reading your blog.. very interesting writing. Please keep posted