April 7, 2010

Mock Chicken and Vegetable Soup

To celebrate Lunar New Year on February 14 this year, I made a Mock Chicken and Vegetable Soup. The process was quite lengthy and time consuming, but well worth it in the end, because everybody seemed to enjoy it and went for seconds!

Many of the vegetarian dishes I cook, including this one, are made with my Grandma's dietry requirements in mind. She is a Buddhist vegetarian, which means that due to her beliefs, grandma does not eat meat, fish, eggs or plants that are botanical members of the Alliaceous family (onions, garlic, leek, chives, shallots). The former is because Buddhists are against the killing and consumption of animals, and the latter because as well as producing offensive breath and body odour, the plants induce agitation, anxiety and aggression. Thus they are harmful physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. For these reasons, I always need to find substitutes in cooking for flavour and texture.

I used Kylie Kwong's "Chinese Vegetable Stock" recipe, from her Simple Chinese Cooking book, as an inspiration for the base of my soup. I altered it by adding Fuji apples for sweetness and increased the ratio of vegetables to water for a more rich and luxurious stock. I also wanted to include Chinese white radish in the stock for its aromtic flavour, but since I left my grocery shopping to the very last minute, all the Asian groceries I visited had sold out of it!

This is a scaled down recipe of what I did:

For the vegetable stock (produces 12-15 cups):
- 1½ tbs vegetable oil
- 18 slices ginger
- 1 tbs sea salt
- ½ tsp white peppercorns
- 4 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
- 8 sticks celery, sliced
- 2 Fuji apples, quartered
- 1 cup coriander stems and roots, sliced
- 6 litres cold water

To season the stock (for every 6 cups used):
- 1 tbs ginger, julienne
- 1 tbs light soy sauce
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp white sugar

Optional Step:
- 125g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 200g 'Vegetarian Little Chicken Nuggets,' thawed (found in the freezer at Asian groceries)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- Sea salt and cracked white pepper

For the vegetables in the soup, use a handful of each of your choice. Mine had:
- Shiitake Mushrooms, stalks removed and finely sliced
- Enoki Mushrooms
- Dried Black Fungus Mushrooms (pre-shredded), soaked in water and then drained
- Beanshoots
- Baby Corn, finely sliced lengthways
- Carrots, finely sliced and cut into a fine julienne
- Celery, finely sliced on the diagonal
- Snowpeas, trimmed and cut into a fine julienne

To Serve:
- Fresh lime wedges- Mint and Coriander, finely chopped

To make the stock, heat oil in a large stockpot, add ginger, salt and peppercorns, and saute over high heat for 1 minute. Add carrots, celery, apples and coriander, reduce heat and saute, stirring often, for a further 3 minutes or until vegetables are very lightly browned. 

Add water to the pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, skimming the surface with a ladle to remove any impurities. Turn down the heat until surface of the stock is barely moving and cook for 1 hour, skimming as required.

Remove stock from stove and strain through a muslin (or clean Chux cloth) into another pot. I don't have a muslin, so I placed a metal colander inside another pot and poured the stock into it. The colander collected all the larger pieces of vegetables. Then I ran a fine sieve through the strained stock to gather up the smaller impurities. Works just as well! If you don't want to use all of the stock yet, just store it, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To season the stock, bring to the boil in a pot and add the ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Stir to combine and taste as you go, adjusting the flavours accordingly.

Reduce heat, add the tomatoes and simmer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the 'chicken' nuggets into small bite-sized pieces, heat vegetable oil in a seperate pan and saute the nuggets with a generous amount of seasoning until they are a lovely, golden brown colour. Add to the pot with the tomatoes.

When the soup is simmering again, add your prepared vegetables and let them cook for a further minute until just tender, then serve immediately.

If, like me, you are not serving the soup straight away, simply arrange the prepared vegetables on a dish so that everybody can choose what they want in the soup. Then ladle some soup into a separate, smaller pot and add in their chosen vegetables. When cooked, pour it all straight into a bowl to serve!

To serve, squeeze fresh lime juice over the soup and a sprinkle it with chopped mint and coriander - they give the dish a refreshing 'lift.'

Mock Chicken and Vegetable Soup - A Vegetarian's Delight!

1 comment:

Cindy said...

That soup looks delightful, indeed!