Tag Archives: soup

Homestyle Craving: 小米粥 Millet Congee

20 Dec

20121021_172600When I went back to Taiwan, out of the very many dishes I craved, I really wanted something that I dreaded to eat as a child. It was tasteless but nutty and had a weird texture – that’s probably because my mom wouldn’t let me put brown sugar in it. The secret to 小米粥 is to toast the millet before you make it into congee. Simple, but I couldn’t figure it out till I asked my grandma. If you have a chance to go to Taipei, hit up the restaurant on the corner across from the parking lot at the Shida Night Market (vague, I know) – really good stuff.

Note that if you apply heat to the millet beforehand, it will be more separate in the porridge as the starch will have hardened. Thus it’s recommended to toast QUICKLY 1/3 to 1/2 for flavour, then rinse with the rest and then cooked.

UPDATE: Mine wasn’t turning out in the same consistency as what I ate in Taiwan. Mom said to add half a cup (rice cup) or less of uncooked rice. Wash and cook with the millet.

UPDATE 2: For creaminess – boil water w/bit of salt then add millet. Cook like you would with oatmeal. Add almond milk for creaminess & boil down. Add raw sugar to taste. 

NOTE: if you need to add more water if the consistency is too thick, ADD BOILING WATER, not cold water!!!

小米粥 Millet Porridge (Xiao Mi Zhou)

Ingredients:

Serves: 3-4
Yield: 3 cups
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 cups boiling water as reserve
  • 1/2 cup dry millet
  • 1/2 chinese cup of uncooked rice (more like 2-3 tablespoons)

Directions:

  1. Toast 1/3 or 1/2 of the millet in bottom of pan or in skillet over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until some aroma begins to waft.
  2. In the meantime, bring water to a boil. How much you use depends on how thick you want your porridge.
  3. Add the rest of the millet.
  4. Add millet to boiling water and boil over medium-high to low heat for 25 – 30 minutes, until done. It will not absorb all the water, but some color and starch will be released to let you know as cooking finishes.
  5. If desired, add a few tablespoons of milk for creaminess.
  6. Eat warm, adding  demerara sugar or honey to taste.

If you like chinese soups, check out The Chinese Soup Lady – for all the pregnancy soups, confinement soups etc.

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Asparagus Soup

16 May

If you didn’t know already, it’s asparagus season! I’m trying to do more with seasonal ingredients (last season it was brussel sprouts) and though I don’t have a Farmer’s Almanac or have a green thumb (far from it, actually, as I managed to kill a cactus once) I take cues from what I see at the local grocers (Young Bros. on West Broadway and Southlands Farm Market, being my faves) and what’s the daily special at fine dineries.

My first taste of asparagus of the season was for Mother’s Day dinner at Province Marinaside, where I had asparagus soup. $9 a bowl? Thanks, but I think I can make it myself. I bought a bunch of asparagus to sub in for haricot verts (aka green beans) in my nicoise salad (recipe to come soon), and couldn’t help but stare at the wasted ends. As you know, you have to bend the asparagus till it snaps, separating the tender bits from the not so tender. But I’m chinese and I hate to waste anything, and I ended up snapping off 1/3 of not so tender bits. So I thought of putting them to good use and pureeing them to make a soup. No one would know, right? Below is the Asparagus Soup from Saveur.com and my tweaks and notes.

Asparagus Soup

SERVES 4 – 6

Asparagus growers usually discard the skinny shoestring asparagus spears, but they are perfect for this preparation.

2 lbs. fresh shoestring asparagus
4 cups Chicken Stock

4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare asparagus by holding bottom half of each spear with both hands and gently bending it until it snaps where it naturally breaks, separating tough fibrous end from tender part. Discard ends. Drain and cut into pieces.

2. Put asparagus and chicken stock into a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until very soft, 10–15 minutes. Set aside 2 cups of the broth. Working in batches, purée asparagus and remaining broth in the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender, then return to pot and set aside.

3. Melt butter in a medium-heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Whisk in reserved warm broth. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to pot with asparagus purée. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Add milk and return soup to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (see note below about salt)

My take:

1) Cut off the tips and reserve. Snap the asparagus to separate tender and not so tender ends. Slice the not so tenders vertically and in quarters. Cut the tender ends into small pieces. When boiling asparagus, put not so tenders in first for a few minutes, then tenders, and let boil till soft. At some point put in the tips to cook, but remove and put in an ice bath after it turns bright green. Reserve for garnishing.

2)Instead of chicken stock, I used the canned chinese chicken broth. Use less if you’re going to go the canned route (less 1/3) and take into account that it’s already salty, so hold off on the salt at the end! You may need to add more milk and cream if it’s too salty!

3) To make it creamier, I added a bit of evaporated milk, but use cream if you have it on hand. Adding more milk would dilute it instead of making it more creamy. Dollop with creme fraiche.

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