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02 May 2007 @ 04:23 am
Chinese/Fusion soup  
Our own alnedra sent me a small selection of Chinese medicinal herbs after seeing a recipe I'd come up with for some Chinese soup. After some thought, a couple nibbles to find out what everything tasted like, and far too much snacking thereafter on wolfberries, I came up with the following soup. It's not traditional Chinese. The soup is more of a fusion of elements from a couple cuisines, though the influence is mostly Chinese. I'm not positive that I actually used the Chinese herbs as I should have, but this is what seemed to work for my family. I have had so many requests to make it that I'm pretty much out of the red dates.

For the infused broth
3 large heads of garlic, rock-hard
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small jalapeno or other green chile, tips removed and cut in half lengthwise
12 slices fresh ginger
12 cups chicken stock or broth
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

For the soup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 small handful ginseng whiskers
1 small handful woody angelica
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 large carrot, sliced diagonally into coins
2 large scallions, white and pale green parts minced, dark green parts sliced into rings
1 large handful lily buds, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and then drained
juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons red miso
1 small handful dried Chinese red datees
1 small handful wolfberries
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 Napa cabbage, sliced into bands
2 tablespoons black sesame oil
9 potstickers, boiled until done

Making the infused broth

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and move a rack to the middle position in the oven.

Place the heads of garlic on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Don't worry if some black ooze bubbles from the top, as it will not affect flavor. When roasted, smash the heads of garlic to break up the cloves.

Put the oil into a non-aluminum, heavy stockpot with a 4-quart capacity and swirl to glaze the bottom. Heat the oil over very low heat until a slice of onion sizzles gently on contact. Add the onion, chile, garlic, and ginger. Stir to combine. Cover the pot, keeping the heat very low. Sweat the vegetables until the onion turns translucent and the vegetables and aromatics become soupy, 15 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the mixture from sticking. Sweating the vegetables this way is crucial to infusing the broth with their flavors, so don't rush this step.

Add the chicken stock or broth and raise the heat to moderate. Bring the mixture to a near boil, and then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer for 1 hour. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper in the last 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. Let stand, uncovered and undisturbed, for 1 hour to let the vegetables steep in the broth.

Line a fine-mesh sieve with several layers of dampened cheesecloth and strain the mixture through it. Spoon off excess oil from the surface of the resulting infused broth. Discard the vegetables and aromatics.

Making the soup

In a heavy, non-aluminum stockpot with a large capacity, heat the oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the sherry or rice wine all at once. This is called "exploding" the wine, and greatly intensifies the flavor. Boil the sherry or rice wine, stirring, until it is reduced by half.

Add the infused broth, soy sauce, ginseng, and angelica to the reduced wine. Cook over moderately high heat until the broth reaches a boil. Boil for two minutes, and then remove and discard the ginseng and angelica. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Add the carrot coins and cook for 2 minutes. Add the minced white and pale green scallion and the lily buds. Simmer for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and red miso and simmer for 1 minute. Next, add the dried Chinese red dates and the wolfberries and simmer for 1 minute more.

Turn off the heat, add the shrimp, and stir, letting the residual heat of the broth cook the shrimp. This should not take long, about 1 to 4 minutes, depending on size, for shrimp that are just cooked through but not overcooked. When the shrimp are pink, add the Napa cabbage and scallion rings. Stir until the cabbage is wilted. Stir in the cooked potstickers and the sesame oil, and serve immediately.
 
 
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alnedraalnedra on May 2nd, 2007 11:41 am (UTC)
Wow, that sounds wunnerful.... Don't worry about the "right" way to use the herbs, they're all fairly mild, so there's no "wrong" way, really, as long as you're feeling comfortable after consuming them.
Countess of the Dark Army of Christopher Walkenchristophine on May 2nd, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC)
More than comfortable, actually. Even my grandmother feels a great difference after having this soup. Warm right down to the toes, and a pleasant, almost tingling feeling, especially in the fingers and toes. Both my mom and I had been not-really-sick but not-really-well for several days the last time I made the soup, and we felt great after a bowl of it.

I guess the one question I had about the way I was using the herbs was with the ginseng and angelica. They're both very woody, and I wondered if I was supposed to be cooking them a long time, stewing them to make them soft enough to actually eat, or if the short time to infuse the broth with their flavors and goodness was the way to go about it.

In a few weeks, I head up to the Bay Area, and there's a Chinese herb store a couple door up from the cafe I frequent there. I plan to take the remaining dried dates with me as exemplars so I can get more, what with being almost out and not knowing what their correct name is to ask for them.

Those herbs you sent are wonderful. Thank you so much for them!
alnedraalnedra on May 2nd, 2007 01:18 pm (UTC)
The ginseng and angelica can be used for adding flavour, but they're best if you can double-boil or simmer them for quite a while till they soften. The ginseng will never really soften entirely, and you don't have to eat them (unless like me you like the sweetness of the angelica).

The old wives' tale, in fact, is that after a suitable time (some hours) of cooking, the goodness of the herbs goes into the soup, and eating the herbs will just make the goodness can re-absorbed back into the herbs again. Which, I hear from some traditional chinese medicine physicians, is not true. But it is true that alot of the goodness does dissolve into the soup.
duck_n_penguinduck_n_penguin on May 2nd, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
wow, that soup sounds fantaaaastic
mothninjamothninja on March 18th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
I'm off to the Chinese grocery this week, so will try to make this over the weekend. It sounds so goooood!