Jan 20, 2009

Asparagus Soup

This is the most memorable dish in my Chinese cooking repertoire. Reason: it's the soup my mother cooks for special occasions or treats.

As in other Asian form of cooking, the amount of the ingredients and spices are quite ambiguous, there's no set amount like in Western cooking. A pinch of this, a tiny bit of that, a slice of this, a dash of that. I suppose it helps to "train" our taste buds. After some practice you'll get use to it in no time. In my opinion, it's good to have flexible recipes, that way you can always adjust the amount of spices according to your liking. It also encourages you to keep on practicing, doing trials and errors in order to perfect your favourite recipes.

The best cooking advice my mother ever gave me: always add a little bit of sugar in your cooking, it's the one thing that makes the difference. It's my late grandma's cooking secret. I've always done it ever since. So the cat is out of the bag! (Say, "thank you, Music!") Hehehe...

My mum's original recipe uses crab meat. Chicken makes a good substitute. For a vegetarian option, use mushrooms instead.

I find white asparagus give a softer taste compared to the green asparagus. I haven't seen fresh white asparagus around here, so I use fresh green asparagus or canned white asparagus.

Vegetable stock
Asparagus - chopped about an inch long
Sweetcorn (or baby sweetcorn)
Castor sugar - a teaspoon is good for a start
White pepper and salt to taste
Egg, beaten
Cornflour - mixed with cold water: a little bit goes a long way!
White vinegar
Parsley for garnish

1. Stir fry onions. Halfway throw in the garlic. Stir fry until both change colour.
2. Pour vegetable stock. Add chicken/crab meat (if used), asparagus, and sweetcorn.
3. Bring to boil, then simmer on low heat until the meat is tender.
4. Make sure the soup is hot (increase the heat if necessary) before pouring the beaten egg tiny bit by tiny bit while stirring the soup so the egg breaks up into "strands".
5. Add sugar, white pepper, and salt to taste.
6. Add cornflour mix until the soup is slightly thicker. Remember NOT to put too much cornflour, otherwise you'll end up with a starchy lump of solid!
7. Add a dash of white vinegar to taste.
8. Done. Garnish with parsley leaves.

Serve on it's own or with croutons for a more westernised version.

When we were kids we used to add tomato sauce and chili sauce to the soup. Nowadays I like to savour the soup just as it is.

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