If you must have a hot bowl of comfort for dinner every night, these seven recipes will take you through an entire week.
NOURISHING TOMATO SOUP
By Sunny Kong, executive chef of Crystal Jade Kitchen
INGREDIENTS For the soup base: 100g tomato paste 1 tsp oil 400g tinned whole tomatoes 2.5 litres water 1 carrot, cut into bite-sized pieces 2 ears corn, husk and silk removed, then cut into thirds 300g pumpkin, rind removed and cut into chunks 5-8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water until soft, and halved A pinch of salt 300g silken tofu, cubed 1 sprig coriander, washed and finely chopped
DIRECTIONS 1 In a pot over medium heat, stir-fry the tomato paste with the oil for 1min. Add the tomatoes and water, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 25min. 2 Bring the soup base back to the boil, and add the carrots, corn, pumpkin and mushrooms. Return it to the boil, then simmer for 30min. 3 Add salt to taste, tofu, and garnish with coriander.
Tip If you prefer more texture in your tofu, immerse a packet of Chinese tofu in a container with just enough water to cover it; seal and freeze for two days. Defrost before using.
DOUBLE-BOILED SNAKEHEAD FISH SOUP WITH APPLE
By Brian Wong, executive Chinese chef of Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel.
INGREDIENTS Oil for deep-frying 600g snakehead, cut into chunks 4 red apples, peeled, cored and quartered 4 tsp sliced almonds 4 large red dates 4 tsp salt 2 litres water.
DIRECTIONS 1 In a deep pot over high heat, deep-fry the fish until golden brown. Set it aside and discard the oil. 2 Place all the ingredients, including the fish, in a double boiler and simmer for 1 hour. Check the bottom pot every 15min to ensure that there’s enough water. Serve.
OLD CUCUMBER SOUP
By Brian Wong
INGREDIENTS 3 litres water 400g pork ribs 100g chicken feet 4 large red dates 2 dried squid, sliced 1 tbsp almonds 2 old cucumbers, cut into chunks 1½ tsp + a pinch of sal.
DIRECTIONS 1 Bring the water to the boil in a large pot, then add the pork ribs, chicken feet, red dates, dried squid and almonds. Return it to the boil, then simmer for 1 hour. 2 Meanwhile, soak the old cucumbers using 1½ tsp of salt and just enough water to cover. Soak for 3min to remove the earthy taste, then rinse off. 3 After the soup has simmered for 1 hour, add the old cucumber chunks. Bring to the boil, then simmer for another 45min. Season with a pinch of salt.
For a more flavourful soup, lightly toast the dried squid before adding it into the pot.
RADISH BRISKET SOUP
By Brian Wong
INGREDIENTS 3 litres water 20g old ginger, sliced 500g beef brisket, cut into bite-sized pieces 2 pieces dried orange peel 3 white radishes, cubed 2 tsp salt.
DIRECTIONS 1 In a deep pot, add the water, old ginger and beef brisket, and bring it to the boil, then simmer for 10min. 2 Add the dried orange peel and of the white radishes. Bring to the boil again, then skim away any froth on the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, until the brisket softens. 3 Add the remaining radishes, bring to the boil again, then simmer for another 25min. Season with salt.
Adding the radishes in two parts gives the soup texture, as the first batch of radishes would have softened during the two-hour-long simmer.
ROASTED DUCK SOUP WITH SALTED VEGETABLES
By Jet Lo
INGREDIENTS ½ large yellow onion, peeled and diced ½ carrot, peeled and diced 30g ginger, sliced 1 stalk celery, diced 3 star anise 4 cloves 1 stick cinnamon 4 roasted duck legs 1.5 litres water ½ tsp black peppercorn, crushed Green stem of 1 leek, roughly chopped 80ml kecap manis 25ml rice vinegar ½ tsp salt 100g salted vegetables, rinsed and sliced 4 sprigs coriander.
DIRECTIONS 1 In a deep pot set over medium heat, fry the onions and carrots until brown and aromatic. 2 Add the ginger and continue frying, then add the celery, star anise, cloves and cinnamon. Fry until fragrant, then add 2 duck legs and the water. 3 Bring to the boil, add the peppercorn and leek, and simmer for 1 hour. Strain for the stock and discard the rest, including the duck legs. 4 Return the stock to the pot and bring to the boil. Add the remaining 2 duck legs, kecap manis, rice vinegar, salt and salted vegetables. Garnish with coriander to serve.
BRAISED PORK COLLAR SOUP WITH PURPLE SWEET-POTATO TEMPURA
By Jet Lo, head chef of Ding Dong.
INGREDIENTS For the spice bag: 1 stick cinnamon 1 star anise 1 tsp coriander seeds 2 bay leaves 2 cloves For the paste: 15g coriander roots, rinsed and roughly chopped A pinch of salt 2 garlic cloves, peeled 15g ginger, peeled and roughly chopped ½ tsp whole white peppercorn 4 tbsp oil 500g pork collar, cut into large cubes 15g gula melaka, cut into small cubes 1 tsp dark soya sauce 1 tsp five-spice powder 1 litre water 2 pandan leaves, washed For the sweet-potato tempura: 140g tempura mix* 1 egg yolk 140ml cold water 200g purple sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips 1 cup plain flour 400ml vegetable oil For garnish: 4 sprigs Thai basil *Available in the condiments aisle of supermarkets.
1 Gently toast each spice individually in a dry wok, without oil, until fragrant. Allow the spices to cool, then wrap in a small soup stock pouch and secure.
2 Mince the paste ingredients into a slightly coarse blend using a mortar and pestle or a blender.
3 Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium heat and fry the paste for 8-10min until aromatic, but before the paste changes colour.
4 Add the pork collar and fry gently, until golden brown. Season with gula melaka, dark soya sauce and five-spice powder, and simmer for a few minutes until fragrant.
5 Add the water, pandan leaves and the spice bag. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 45min, until the pork becomes very tender. Strain the stock and set the pork aside. Discard the spice bag and pandan leaves.
To make the sweetpotato tempura:
1 Whisk the tempura mix, egg yolk and cold water until well-mixed. Dredge the sweetpotato strips in flour, then dip into the tempura mixture. 2 Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pot over high heat. Test that the oil is hot enough by throwing in a pinch of the tempura mixture – if it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready. Otherwise, let it heat longer. 3 Deep-fry the sweet potato strips for 3-4min, turning them regularly for even cooking. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain.
To serve: 1 Heat up the soup and transfer into four bowls. Add a handful of pork collar cubes into each bowl. 2 Add the sweet-potato tempura, and garnish with basil before serving.
KAMPUNG CHICKEN HERBAL SOUP
By Sunny Kong
INGREDIENTS 1 kampung chicken, cut into bite-sized chunks 30g ginger, peeled and thinly sliced 250ml hua diao jiu (Chinese cooking wine) For the herbal soup: 15g huai shan (dried Chinese yam)* 4 pieces dang gui (Chinese angelica root)* 15g yu zhu (Solomon’s seal)* 1 tsp wolfberries* 2 pieces chuan xiong (lovage root)* 5 red dates 3 litres chicken or vegetable stock A pinch of salt.
*Available at Chinese medical halls.
DIRECTIONS 1 Marinate the chicken with the ginger and hua diao jiu for 30min. 2 Place all the herbal soup ingredients in a large pot and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30min, or longer if you prefer a more robust broth. 3 Bring the soup back to the boil, and add the chicken with its marinade. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20min, until the chicken is tender. Add a pinch of salt to taste.