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Chinese soups

69. Northeast Chinese soup with eggs, tomato and seaweed (V)

Chinese egg, tomato and seaweed soup
Chinese tomato and egg soup

I woke up from a very weird dream this morning. In the dream, my memory only stopped in a ‘blur’ period around university time, I could not remember anything after that, what happened or even who I was.

In my dream, people sat around me, asked me what I did, where I lived, if I was married… I tried so hard to remember, but all I came up with was I worked hard to finish my PhD, but I had no idea why and where I did it or what subject I did it, and what I did after that; I remembered I could paint, but did not remember what I painted, why I painted; I was married, and I could see my husband sitting next to me, but nothing recalled how we met, and why he spoke Spanish…

I was panicking,


I squeezed my memory part of the brain hard, the memory was like slides going through my mind, the only problem was they were all from the long past, I could see my childhood play yard, my friends from middle school, and the friend who had past away long time ago… I went to my bedroom – a bedroom I lived many years ago. Everything was vividly alive, just I lost my present…

So I tried to wake up, as if there was only a thin screen between dream and reality, I stepped over — and eventually opened my eyes…

It may be that these days I have been thinking if only times could turn back, then how many things I could have done better, how much time I could have not wasted.

— How do we mark our present existence? — Should not from a blank memory, after all, it is our extreme luck to come to this world, to experience this life…

Good it is sunny when I opened window in the morning, my ‘real’ day starts… :)

It is chilly in Edinburgh. While Oxford is in early autumn, Edinburgh already showed signs of late autumn. With the chilly wind and rain, we were dying to have some hot soup last night. — So let’s do a simplest, popular Chinese ‘clear’ soup.

Chinese Soups

As I mentioned in my previous post,  ‘Chinese soups   (and especially northeast Chinese soups) are quite different to Western soups.  The main difference is that most Chinese soups are not thick, in fact you can almost see the ‘clear water’. They are never creamy.

So Chinese soup is fairly light, it can never be as a main part of the meal, you know, like many ‘creamy’ soups, you can have slices of bread with soup. In contrast to the famous ‘Cantonese healthy therapy soups), northeast soup is very quickly made, and it normally helps making the main food “less dry”. For example, when you have steamed Bao Zi, or stir fried noodles, you need some tasty ‘liquid’ to accompany them.

In contrast to Southern Chinese custom, where soup can be served as a ‘starter’, in Northeast China, the soup is served together with other dishes. “Four dishes and one soup” is the traditional concept of a full meal.

A simple Chinese soup recipe with eggs and tomato

This is one of the most common soup recipes in northeast China — eggs . It is very easily made, just whisked eggs in the boiling water, with different kinds of vegetables you like to put in, I put tomato and dried seaweed in.

Whisked egg in the soup is called ‘Shuai Xiu Tang’ in Northern China. Tang (1) in Chinese means soup. As for ‘Shuai Xiu’ — have you ever come across Chinese opera when the act or actress use their long long sleeves to enhance the gestures? — It is called ‘shuai xiu’ in northeast China. It is used to describe the beautiful scene when whisked eggs is poured in the boiling water — just like those long long sleeves stretching in the air. The soup with just eggs, without other vegetables is also very popular for a quick treat.

The seasonings are very simple as well, just salt, a little bit of ‘soy sauce’ if you like, a small pinch of MSG or other more healthier substitutes, and probably a few drops of sesame oil in the end.

Here you go how I made it.

Ingredients:

(for 2-3 people)

Eggs, tomato, dried seaweed (Zi cai)

Oil, salt, light soy sauce (optional), MSG / vegetable/chicken/mushroom essence (optional), sesame oil

Preparing:

1) Whisk 2 eggs in a bowl

2) Chop 2 tomato into small pieces

Cooking:

1) In a heated wok, pour in around 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil.

2) When the oil is well heated, pour in around 3 big rice bowls of water. (If the oil is not heated enough, it might effect the taste of the soup, but if the oil is already ‘cooked’, it does not matter.)

3) Let water boil, then add in chopped tomato.

Chinese soup recipe

4) When the tomato gets softer, and water is boiling again, pour in whisked eggs, lightly stir a little.

5) Add in some dried seaweed (Zi Cai).

Chinese soup recipe with egg and tomatoTraditional Chinese healthy soup

6) Add in 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or a bit more of you taste), 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce (optional).

7) Turn off the fire, add in 1/2 teaspoon of MSG or other substitutes, and a few drops of sesame oil.

— Done, ready to serve! The only thing needs to pay attention is that eggs are not supposed to be boiled for too long, otherwise it will lose the ‘softness’ like ‘sleeves’ and get more ‘firmer’.

I do think that it might take some time to get used to this kind of ‘clear’ soup, especially if you are used to ‘thick’ based soup. This kind of ‘clear’ soup is very light, very good to accompany ‘dry’ food, good for cold or hot days, and it is also very good for helping diet – coz your stomach can be ‘filled up’.

Related posts:

Culture Note: Chinese soup
36. Won ton soup (folding, boiling and serving)
82. Marrow, prawn and ‘Fen si’ (Cellophane noodles) clear soup
114. Hot and sour soup -- Northeast Chinese style (V)

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