Normally I manage to wait till I've written the article before eating, but this time I couldn't!
It is my first time cooking Lotus Soup and you will understand when you read on.
Well here are the simple ingredients:
400gram Lotus Root
1 cup of Cuttle Fish
14 piece of Red Dates
500gram Lean Pork or Spare Ribs or Pork Loin
1 clove of Garlic
*Water to cover the ingredients
*Salt and Pepper to taste
As I normally take the easy way out, I did not blanch or pre-boil the meat. If you would like a clear soup, you can pre-boil the meat. Once the outer layer of the meat is cooked (I will give it an estimation of 3minutes in boiling water), you can bring it under cool water and rinse away the extra stuff (I suppose these are the blood). This is how you can pre-boil meat for clear soups.
Anyway, I boiled the meat with the Red Dates and Garlic first. The soup would taste better if you choose a meat with some bones, like spare ribs. However if you don't, it will still taste nice if you have enough cuttle fish.
I like to boil the meat with the red dates so that the meat will be more thoroughly cooked. But if you over do it, when the soup is served after cooling, the meat may not be as tender. So you have to estimate yourself. My guide is 3 mins from start of heat (just before the water starts to boil). This is the same amount of time that the meat is submerged in the water as the pre-boil that I was talking about in my 1st paragraph, except that I am boiling the water from room temperature. The garlic is added to enhance the taste of the soup.
Then I added the cuttle fish. My dad bought the cuttle fish from Beijing, China and they are really sweet. I used the sliced version instead the whole piece type because I want the soup to have more cuttle fish taste. That is why I used 1 cup of cuttle fish. The cuttle fish is also the dried version. I don't know if you can buy fresh cuttle fish but I think dried cuttle fish would have been sun dried (or air dried) so that the natural salt content would have enhanced the favour. Of course, if additional salt has been added, you should wash it off. Too much salt is not good for health.
Now let's talk about the Lotus Root.
I added this last because I like it crispy. If you choose a good quality Lotus Root, you will see that the outer layer is smooth and without any cuts or blemish. Lotus Root, also known as Lily Root, has a mild, unique taste. It is also crunchy, like sugar cane or water chestnut. As it can be eaten raw, a short cooking time (like 5 to 10mins in boiling water) is recommended.
I read somewhere that it is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese and of course Vitamin C. Traditional use for it include remedy for lung-related ailments (asthma, cough) and to increase energy and neutralize toxins such as mucus accumulation, congestion, or inflammation.
The lotus root is sliced thinly so that it retains its crunchiness. This also allows its favor to sip into the soup to spin a fresh taste. I divided the lotus root into slices that are less than 1cm thick. As this is after all a root, you should wash off all soil remnants. There will be parts that are stained black due to the submersion under water. These should be cut away. If you cut it too thickly, it will not be as crunch and you may need a longer boiling time.
Take note that if you boil the soup longer, the meat will become tougher. As this is the last ingredient, I stirred the pot so that the lotus roots went to the bottom of the pot (not shown here).
So after boiling the lotus root for another 10minutes, I brought the pot to another area to cool.
Of course the easiest way to cook this is to throw all the ingredients into the pot and bring it to boil. You should give 10minutes of boiling time before switching off the heat. Let cool and serve.
Before serving, when the soup is still lukewarm, you may add 2 or 3 dashes of pepper and a teaspoon of salt to taste. If you normally do not add pepper, please do. The lotus soup requires it to enhance the taste further. It will taste more like an authentic Chinese cooking :)
I ladled the ingredients into the bowl for this picture to show you the ingredients. Though all the ingredients may be eaten, the focus is on the soup. If you just want to enjoy the soup, you can serve the soup along with the lotus root. The rest of the items do not have to be served.
The clear soup!
As I love vegetables, I cooked Chinese Cabbage as a side dish. This was cooked in 5minutes: a few slice of garlic and carrot, stir-fried with Light Soy Sauce.
The end product: a sumptuous home-cooked dinner!
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