Nostalgic Soup Than Can’t Erase From My Mind–Chinese Style Potatoes Soup

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Updated Post on 9-10-2014

I have prepared the soup again today and have some new picture taking. However, today when I prepared the soup, as I am running out of time, I have decided to by pass the sautéing of the starch and onion. I put everything in the wok, boil until the meat is soft and add the starches. Of course, it was not as fragrant as what my father have prepared but it saves some times.. Kids start to like this starchy soup. Personally, I prefer the yam or taro version but shelve the idea as kids still dislike the taro.

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INTRODUCTION

I seldom have soup recipe in this blog except salted vegetable duck soup, a well known traditional Chinese soup for Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese.  Of course I have many other soup preparation illustrations such as bitter gourd and pineapple pork rib soup, double mushroom chicken soup, sweet corn pork rib soup and many more at Guaishushu’s Facebook Page under the index start with “S”.

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Today, I will share this special soup which is a comfort food with nostalgic and sentimental feelings for me.  I am still in doubt its origins and totally unsure if other families are cooking this soup, not at least my circles of friends. It is hope that via this post, some readers will be able to tell me the origin of this soup!

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This is a “strange” soup cooked by my late father. Not even my late mother cook this soup as she said it is a bit laborious to cook this soup.

In fact, the ingredients and cooking method have influences of both oriental and western method of cooking. Talking about this soup, I am sure my brothers and sister in laws can recall about the soup. It can either be cooked with taro or  potatoes. What we usually cooked is with yam or taro and I knew my sister in laws still cook the taro version of this soup as at today.

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The potato version of soup what is always in my mind. When I told my mother in law that I wanted to cook this soup, she looked at me unbelievably and she thought that I am cooking ABC soup, a soup that were cooked using carrot, potatoes and onions. I told her no, it is a pure potatoes soup!

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of potatoes cut into big chunks

  • 250 g of onion cut into a quarter

  • 250 g of pork ribs

  • 6 cups of water

Thickening starch

  • 50 g of sweet potatoes flour

  • 400 g of water

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big soup pot that can accommodate at least 10 cups of water, put some water adequate to cover the pork ribs.

  • Blanch the pork ribs until the outer layers is slight cooked. Throw away the water.

  • Wash the pork ribs under running water to get rid of any blood clots and add in the cut potatoes. Add in 6 cups of water and bring to boil under high heat. Once boiled, turn to medium heat and continue boiling until the potatoes and meats are soft. This will take 15-20 minutes. You can just let it boil until your next step is ready. Change to low heat if necessary.

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  • In another sauce pan, add in 1 tablespoon of oil, add in the cut onions and fried until the fragrance of onion start to spread.

  • Put in the sweet potatoes starch and cook under low heat, Stir fry until the flour turned into a lump and become colourless. Note that the main reason of cooking this way is to give the flour some flavour of onions. If you add directly to the soup, you will find the flour in the soup is flavourless. Well that is how my late father cooked and I do agree to it.

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  • Transfer your cooked starch to the soup and continue boiling until the meat and potatoes of your desired textures.

  • Add seasonings of your choice (flavour enhancer such as mushroom concentrate, pepper, salt, light soya sauce etc.).

  • Bring to boil and once boiled, off the heat and garnish with herbs of your choice. Preferably served hot with rice.

WHY THIS SOUP IS UNIQUE?

The soup has the oriental elements because it is cooked with normal cooking oils used by Chinese home cooking (instead of butter or olive oils) and pork ribs and flavour using the Chinese condiments. In addition, the thickening is using Chinese cooking ingredients sweet potatoes starch. It is definitely more watery and less creamy than Western soup! The final soup still maintain the shape of the potatoes, pork ribs and even onions. It complements the dryness of the white rice.

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On the other hand, it is unusual for Chinese to use potatoes to cook soup. Besides ABC soup, most Chinese households do not use potatoes to cook soup. Besides this unusual ingredient, Chinese soups usually do not use thickening agents in soup with the exception of some special soups such as shark fin soups and sweet and sour soups. The soups, in traditional sense should be watery and clear (or whitish colour due to the meat essence in the both). Thickening agents are used in many Chinese dishes including braised dishes, noodle dishes , vegetables dishes, egg dishes, bean curd dishes but not in soup dishes.

For purposes of further illustrating this soup may have Western influences, I have took out portion of the soup and added plain flour (wheat flour as you used for making cakes) and some creams.

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This is what the end product looked like and in fact, my kids do not mind this soup after adding of cream and wheat flour. My boy says that the soup is very creamy like cream of mushroom soup that he used to have in Western restaurant.

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CONCLUSION

Having a post on this particular soup brings me  lots of fond memories and sentimental feelings, making me wanted to know more about my late father. We did not really communicate much due to very traditional Chinese family upbringings whereby we were not encouraged to ask about what the adults are doing. Communication was always unidirectional. However, if he was still available, I would know how to tackle the issue and “fished” out his thoughts!

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It is a soup that none of friends knew. It is neither Western or Oriental style of soup. It is a mixture of both. Where my late father learned the cooking of this soup was really a mystery (in my humble opinion). He hailed from China and could not read or spoke ABC not to mention exposure to Western cuisines. The only remote reason that I could think of was due the influence of British colonization of Sarawak until late 1940’s  and at that time, he was a teen.

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Hopefully by having this post, some of my readers from any  parts of the world can share with me, if you have ever tasted exactly soup cooked in this manner and what do you think is the origin of the soup. It is also hope that my readers will try out this soup and let me know if it suits your taste buds. Thanks and have a nice day.

 

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Special – What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 22-7-2013–Korma Chicken (科尔马鸡肉)

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UPDATED POST ON 16-2-2015 – Update with another set of images since i cooked the dish today.

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On 22 July, 2013, white rice served with:

  1. Korma Vegetable and Chicken       (蔬菜及鸡肉科尔马)
  2. Blanched Ladies Finger                 (青烫羊角豆)
  3. Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Soup       ( 大白菜汤)

To day, I have decided to cook Korma Chicken and Vegetable to expose my kids to curry dishes. As per my daughter’s request, no additional dishes were needed since she said she liked the dish and they have the Chinese Cabbage (Napa) soup which I cooked for lunch.

I agreed with her and just blanched some ladies finger to go with the Korma dish. If you want detailed pictorial instructions on cooking the Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Soup, you can follow the link above to Guaishushu’s Facebook Page.

 


KORMA CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES

 

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INTRODUCTION

I first tasted Korma chicken during my university days in Kuala Lumpur. It was in a Malay store  and when I take the first bite, I immediately fell in love with it as it is not spicy hot and the chicken is full of coriander fragrances. It had always in my mind because unlike other chicken curry dishes, the curry is beige in colour (depending on the spice mix) as opposed to the reddish yellow colour.

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Korma is actually a dish from South or Central Asia such as India and Pakistan. It is essentially cooked with a variety of spice powders of which the two most important spices are coriander  powder and cumin powder. It differ from the normal curry spice mix in that the ratio of turmeric powder is very small whereas for curry, the major portion of the spice mix is turmeric thus causes the dish to be yellowish in colour. In Malaysia, the Korma was cooked and thickened with coconut milk as compared to India and Pakistan where yoghurt were used. Nuts and peas  (such as cashew nuts and almonds) usually added to further thicken the gravy and enhance the taste.

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WHY THIS DISH

Recently, I found that my kids start to like curry dishes. However, before they eat the curry dishes, they will get ready a cup of cold water, take the curry chicken, dip into the cold water and start eating it. They still cannot take spicy hot food that were cooked with chilli. In view of this, I am thinking of letting them to try some Malay and Indian dishes that were not spicy hot. The first thing that comes to my mind is Korma chicken (ayam kurma in Malay). Therefore, last Saturday, when I frequented one  of the Indian Muslim spice stalls in Geylang Serai Singapore, I asked the same lady who gave me the Sarawak Laksa spice mix to pack me one Korma spice mix. You can read my previous “spice encounter” HERE.

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Another reason that I cooked this dish is for purposes of contributing to a food community in Google Plus whereby members were encouraged to contribute halal dishes during the month of Ramadan.

I love to eat Korma chicken. However, today, I have used more vegetables than meat in my Korma.  As my kids don’t really like to eat meat, hence I have used about 5 vegetables to make the dish. Should it be called a vegetable or chicken Korma is entirely up to you since it have almost equal portion of meats and vegetables in the dish. Smile

As this Korma dish uses small chicken chunks from drumsticks and vegetables, it is rather easy to cook, as such braising is consider not really necessary as compared to the traditional braising of lamb or big chicken pieces.

 


KORMA DISHES DEFINED

As per Wikipedia,

Korma, kormaa, qorma, khorma, or kurma is a dish originating in South Asia or Central Asia which can be made with yogurt, cream, nut and seed pastes or coconut milk. It is a type of curry.

It is a characteristic Indian dish which can be traced back to the 16th century and to the Mughal incursions into present-day Northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Classically, a korma is defined as a dish where meat or vegetables are braised with water, stock, and yogurt or creamy azid (the name is in fact derived from the Hindi and Urdu words for “braise”). The technique covers many different styles of korma (azid).

The flavour of a korma is based on a mixture of spices, including ground coriander and cumin, combined with yogurt kept below curdling temperature and incorporated slowly and carefully with the meat juices. Traditionally, this would have been carried out in a pot set over a very low fire, with charcoal on the lid to provide all-round heat. A korma can be mildly spiced or fiery and may use lamb, chicken, beef or game; some kormas combine meat and vegetables such as spinach and turnip. The term Shahi (English: Royal), used for some kormas indicates its status as a prestige dish, rather than an everyday meal, and its association with the court.

 


WHAT IS REQUIRED?

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  • 1.5 cups of tomatoes cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of onions cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of potatoes cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of carrots cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of celery cut into big pieces;
  • 750 grams of chicken tights cut into big pieces;

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  • 200 gram of Korma mix (readily available in most Indian provision shops or spices stalls). However, If you can’t get hold of the ready mix Korma spice, the two most spices are coriander powder and cumin powder in the ration of about 4:2. All other spices shall include cardamom, anise powder, fennel powders, turmeric all of which shall need a 1-2 teaspoon only).
  • 1 cup of yoghurt (optional but I have used it as I like the korma to be rich in flavour but slightly sour).
  • 2 cups of fresh coconut milk .
  • 1/2 cups of cooking oil or ghee or butters.

 


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put the Korma spice powder and gradually add in water until it form a paste.
  • Have about 2-3 big tablespoons Korma spice mix and marinate for at least 15-30 minutes. As the chicken is quite small, therefore 15-30 minutes is deemed sufficient.

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  • In a big pot, put some cooking oils and fried the Korma spice mix until the fragrance starts to permeates the space.
  • Add 3 big cups of water, stir until the spices are well mixed.
  • Bring to boil until high heat. Note that as this is quite concentrated, you have to constantly stir it until it boils. This is to avoid the spice getting burnt in the bottom of the pot. Once boiled, turn the heat to medium or slow heat.

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  • Add in the potatoes, celery, carrots and onions and boiled for about 10 minutes;
  • Add in chicken chunks and boiled for about 20 minutes;
  • Add in tomato and boiled for another 5 minutes;
  • Add in yoghurt and coconut milk, seasonings (salt and sugar). Once boil, off the heat and let it sit in the pot for at least 5-10 minutes to let the ingredients further absorbed the gravy.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves or mint and served with hot rice. Drizzle more yoghurt or coconut milk on top of the dish if necessary.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • Korma dish is a common dish among the Indian households in South and Central Asian. it is equally popular in Malaysia and Singapore especially among the Malay and Indian races. It is a form of curry dishes of which the main spices are coriander powder and cumin. It differs from curry in that the proportion of turmeric is very small and it can be cooked without chilli those making it rather “kids friendly”. The gravy were usually thickened with yoghurt or coconut milks and at times nuts such as cashew nuts and almonds were added.
  • The dish that were illustrated today uses lots of vegetables including celery which is not a common vegetable included in the curry dishes. However, celery is definitely a good choice as it could withstand rather long hours of cooking though the strong celery flavour were masked by the strong Korma aroma. As I have use drumstick meat, it is rather easy to cook and the texture is soft as compared to the breast meat.

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Hope you LIKE the post today and cheers.


 

 

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 6-6-2013

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On 6 June 2013,

White rice served with :

1. Minced meat fried with mushrooms and candied winter melon 香菇冬瓜条炒碎肉
2. Blanched Kailan with pork floss  芥兰拌肉松
3. Blanched mixed vegetables and prawns 杂菜虾球
4. ABC Soup ABC 鸡汤

The minced meat fried with mushrooms and candied winter melons is actually the leftover fillings from wrapping my rice dumplings. I have add a bit of water and treated as a dish. It is actually very tasty and kids love it (of course, rice dumpling without glutinous rice).

Another is a common Malaysian household soup called ABC soup. It is a soup that usually include red carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Sometime, baby corns were added. When I search the soup in the Internet, there are no confirm literature on the origins and meanings of ABC soup. There are belief that it represent Vitamin A (for carrots), Vitamin B6 (for potatoes), Vitamin C (for tomatoes) that is how the name arises.

I personally have another way of interpretation. As ABC soup is a common Malaysian Chinese Soup and also called luo Song Tang (Borscht of
Eastern European Countries), the soup is clearly  influenced by European Countries cookings. As carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, baby corns are traditionally not common cooking ingredients in Chinese cuisines, ABC can mean to refer Ang mo (Caucasian) ways of cooking. In addition, the cooking method of putting all vegetables in a soup is another clear indication that it is Ang mo cooking. Therefore, in my humble opinion, ABC soup  should refers to soups commonly cooked by the Caucasian during the Colonial Times . Instead of using the term Ang Mo, ABC alphabet were used.