Thursday, September 2, 2010

Home-cooked ABC Soup

Caitlin and I will be having a one-pot dinner tonight. This week, E has a slew of 'buka puasa' dinners to attend. It's hard cooking for so few people so one-pot dishes are the best way to go. Today, it's a variation of the famous Malaysian Chinese ABC soup. Caitlin loves to eat porridge, or what some people refer to as congee. She's been choosing that over rice for lunch at the school canteen these two weeks. She also likes 'flooded' rice i.e. rice drenched with lots of clear soup, or what some people refer to as broth. Terms differ for locals and westerners, a case of tomayto, tomahto, potayto, potahto.

ABC soup is so easy to make, so delicious and nutritious; good comfort food, and best of all, one of Caitlin's favourites. That means she will eat with more enthusiasm, less dawdling, until her tummy bulges!

The basic ABC usually contains potatoes, carrots, onions and tomatoes, all diced or if you wish, cut into large chunks. They are then boiled and simmered with stock of chicken or pork. Alternatively, you could use chunky soup bones, chicken carcass, or pork spare ribs. I usually like to use pork because it renders a sweeter tasting stock compared to chicken. I guess you could use beef too but of course that will give a rather beefy flavour to the soup, masking the clear sweetness from the carrots, potatoes and onions.

My version today contains a few more ingredients, namely cabbage and fresh shitake mushrooms, another two of C's favourites. Instead of pork bones or ribs, I used pork fillet which I cut into bite-size chunks, marinated with a little salt. Once all the vegetables come to a boil in the pot, I add the pork, let it boil and then simmer until the meat, carrots, potatoes and cabbages are soft. Add some salt to taste and that's it. Steam some rice and serve.

Other ingredients in addition to the basic ones (carrot, potato, tomato, onion) that you can add are winter melon, other mushrooms like button, golden or oyster, baby or sweet corn and red dates. You could also add some fish balls as long as they are of good quality to avoid giving the soup a fishy taste. You could add a dash of white pepper if you like, but for Caitlin, she can taste the slightest bit of pepper and complain that it's spicy.

Caitlin will definitely flood her rice with this ABC soup. I can be assured this evening that she'll have a balanced meal as this is one dish where she will definitely eat all the veges (except the tomato) while the pork will be boneless and tender enough for her picky palate to accept.

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