Monday, February 27, 2012

Flavoring Vegetarian Soups + Bitter Melon Soup 苦瓜蛋花汤

It is not the (huge) amount of oil you have to use. You also don't have to depend on excessively-rich, heavy hot sauces. How to flavor vegetarian soups?

Cooking Tips:
- Add tomatoes (I cannot emphasize enough);
- Then there is also a pre-fry of the onions (till slightly charred and caramelized) to deepen the flavor intensity.
- It is sometimes not everything-all-at-once-in-the-pot! The sequence of adding the ingredients is important as well. Refer to this post: Since celery, and carrots cook longer than Napa cabbage - those were added first so that more time is allowed for developing flavors with the aromatics (onions, ginger, garlic) before the Napa cabbage is added. To zoom into details, you should add the "white" bottom stems of the Napa cabbage first (since those take longer to cook), then the leaves.

This Bitter Melon Egg Drop Soup 苦瓜蛋花汤 is another example of using tomatoes and using a pre-fry step.

Bitter food is good for us, and helps to speed up our metabolism. Green vegetables such as broccoli, and spinach can also be classified as bitter good. Well, broccoli and spinach do not taste bitter to me. Bitter melon might be the ultimate!

I have cooked bitter melon soup many times and bitter melon soup (egg-drop version) quite frequently.

This time, the base of this Bitter Melon Soup 苦瓜蛋花汤 starts with ikan billis (dried boiled anchovies), some onions, ginger, and tomatoes. In a soup pot, aromatize them in a little oil. When the onions turn translucent, then add water (or stock) to constitute the soup. Allow it to come to a boil for about 10 minutes (for flavors and aromatics to infuse), then turn down heat, add in bitter melon and continue to let it simmer till the bitter melon is cooked (no more than 30 minutes). Before serving, gently stir in whisked egg to create silky egg-strands. Turn off the heat. Sea salt and ground white pepper to taste. Garnish generously with finely chopped green onions and cilantro.

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