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Soup in the Chinese Kitchen


eatingwitheddie
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My favorite soup in Chinese cuisine is shark's fin soup, taken preferably at Fook Lam Moon in Hong Kong. It comes in at least two varieties there (with crab roe and without).  Its accompaniments there are fairly traditional: shredded special Chinese ham, raw bean sprouts and good quality vinegar (separate from the other accompaniments of course).

The "broth" (it is much denser, like almost a sauce) in this soup of considerable depth of flavor.

I love shark fin soup too, but only when it's a whole fin. Better texture.

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Velvet Chicken with Corn Soup. Order it almost every time when we do takeout.

When eating at a serious Chinese restaurant I like to order hot and sour, or if they have it, a water spinach with chicken soup or a pork with preserved vegetables soup.

Jason, Ming Tsai has a great recipe for Velvet Corn Soup with Lobster ( I think crab is the traditional accompaniment) in his Blue Ginger cookbook. I made it last night, and it was great with frozen lobster tail and corn on the cob that's the stuff you get at this time of year..I can only imagine how good it must be with sweet in season corn and fresh shellfish.

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It's a Shanghainese soup, pork bone based (the broth is milky white) made with ham, bamboo, tofu skin knots.

Ummmm, excuse me, but what are tofu skin knots? I'm not familiar with the term.

Iris

GROWWWWWLLLLL!!

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It's a Shanghainese soup, pork bone based (the broth is milky white) made with ham, bamboo, tofu skin knots.

Ummmm, excuse me, but what are tofu skin knots? I'm not familiar with the term.

Yuba, the skin from soy milk.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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The tender curves of the dumplings cupping the broth...

My god the passion you have for this! Incredible :biggrin:

You should see me about something I really really like. :smile:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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It's a Shanghainese soup, pork bone based (the broth is milky white) made with ham, bamboo, tofu skin knots.

Ummmm, excuse me, but what are tofu skin knots? I'm not familiar with the term.

Very thin tofu skin, actually tied in knots about 2 inches long. They come like that in the supermarket.

Good for soup or for braising, because it holds its shape well.

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It's a Shanghainese soup, pork bone based (the broth is milky white) made with ham, bamboo, tofu skin knots.

Ummmm, excuse me, but what are tofu skin knots? I'm not familiar with the term.

Very thin tofu skin, actually tied in knots about 2 inches long. They come like that in the supermarket.

Good for soup or for braising, because it holds its shape well.

Tissue,

Thank you for the response! I was afraid that I was going to be ignored yet again.

It sounds like an interesting concept. Can they be fried as well?

:blink:

Iris

GROWWWWWLLLLL!!

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You can stir fry the kind that isn't in knots.

I don't know if you can fry them. They might not come out crispy inside.

Some people like to use the skin to wrap around dumpling fillings and you can fry those. They come out crispier than regular dumplings because the skin is thinner. They sell these in sheets.

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Chinese is such a rich cuisine for soups, I've always thought its a shame that all we usually "get" in the west is Wonton, Hot & Sour and Egg Drop. Of the three, Hot & Sour can be either the best or the worst, depending on the place you go obviously, but there are so many more interesting soups than ANY of these.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Folks I hate to do this to you but all this raving about Chinese soup is STRICTLY a western invention. I am living in China and have travelled throught a broad stretch and I must tell you soup in China is something of an enigma. It amounts to hot water with something dead in it. They add no seasonings and nothing to thicken it, it has been quite a shock to yours truly as well. At people's homes or in the nicest restaurants it matters not, Chinese soup is a non-event. Don't believe the hype.

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Are you including noodle soups, Nosferatu? I had an excellent, tasty noodle soup in a little eatery in Suzhou that specialized in noodles. Far more than "water with something dead in it."

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Folks I hate to do this to you but all this raving about Chinese soup is STRICTLY a western invention.  I am living in China and have travelled throught a broad stretch and I must tell you soup in China is something of an enigma.  It amounts to hot water with something dead in it.  They add no seasonings and nothing to thicken it, it has been quite a shock to yours truly as well.  At people's homes or in the nicest restaurants it matters not, Chinese soup is a non-event.  Don't believe the hype.

Uh, but what about the soups they serve in Hong Kong in medicinal restaurants? Those have broth and distinct flavorings. And I have to agree with Pan about noodle soups. But perhaps many of these things are Cantonese or Shanghainese in nature.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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The soups with noodles here are not classified as soup by the Chinese, they call them noodles, broth notwithstanding. The soups in Hong Kong, Macau and Shanghai are very westernized from what my Chinese friends tell me. The soups in the north where I am and in Guilin and Hainan are all very bland and lack in spices whatsoever. My chinese friends tell me that it is not traditional to put more than the vegetables and meat if there is any into a soup. All I know is what they tell me and what I've tasted.

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Ummmm, excuse me, but what are tofu skin knots?  I'm not familiar with the term.

There are many types of beanctrd skin and they are both dried and fresh. Beancurd skin knots are sheets of fresh resilient beancurd skin that are tied into a knot and then braised in a rich brown sauce or are sometimes served in a soup.

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Folks I hate to do this to you but all this raving about Chinese soup is STRICTLY a western invention.  I am living in China and have travelled throught a broad stretch and I must tell you soup in China is something of an enigma.  It amounts to hot water with something dead in it.  They add no seasonings and nothing to thicken it, it has been quite a shock to yours truly as well.  At people's homes or in the nicest restaurants it matters not, Chinese soup is a non-event.  Don't believe the hype.

While in Southern China ( Nanning, Guanzhou), I had a variety of soups, usually quite spicy broths with some vegetables and slivers of meat. Soup was included in both meals that I shared with private families, and meals that I had in restaurants.

Suprisingly, in Southern China, noodles were more prevelant than rice. In fact, it was only at more "western" style places that rice was available...noodles were most often the starch of choice.

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Kim you may or may not be surprised to find out that in the southern regions of China the noodles they make are made from rice. When we ventured down south around new years even the Chinese who were with us were caught off guard by this obscure fact. I am glad that the soups you had were not of the ilk I have been sampling up north here, or in Guiling and Hainan. You're lucky. :cool:

Edited by chaste_nosferatu (log)
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Folks I hate to do this to you but all this raving about Chinese soup is STRICTLY a western invention.  I am living in China and have travelled throught a broad stretch and I must tell you soup in China is something of an enigma.  It amounts to hot water with something dead in it.  They add no seasonings and nothing to thicken it, it has been quite a shock to yours truly as well.  At people's homes or in the nicest restaurants it matters not, Chinese soup is a non-event.  Don't believe the hype.

Soups are a Cantonese thing. In fact, for some Cantonese families, it's not dinner unless there's soup is part of it.

However, the soups that we have at home is hardly ever Hot & Sour soup or Wonton soup. It's usually a chicken herbal soup, pork ribs with lotus root / watercress / marrow / wintermelon / preserved greens or dried anhchovies with greens.

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I suspect that there is a difference between homely soups and restaurant/banquet soups.

I agree that at home soups can be very simple. As I have mentioned before at home we have had chicken soup which is literally "poule au pot" - a rooster boiled in a pot with water.

On the other hand there is a sophisticated variety of banquet/restaurant soups - your sharks fin or your corn and crab meat - based on "superior" stocks which require as much - or even more - effort than a trad western consomee*.

Plus there is the difference between different regions of cuisine. And the whole medicinal soup/root herb thing.

By the way, has anyone figured out if soup comes first or last in a formal banquet? Have heard conflicting advice from various sources

cheerio

J

PS SOUP BASE - how come it is so much more flavoursome than western packet soups? Is it just the MSG???

* Did this the other week. The clarification works a treat and it looks sparkling clear - but I fail to see the point of emasculating a soup of half its flavour in order to make it look pretty

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I don't know about formal banquets, Jon, but I found that in Chinese restaurants in Malaysia, soup came with the other dishes, and much of the time, the dishes were simply brought out when they were ready. Soup was never first, before the main dishes.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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By the way, has anyone figured out if soup comes first or last in a formal banquet? Have heard conflicting advice from various sources

At Cantonese banquets, a savoury soup is usually the 2nd course (out of 8 or 10) after the 4 seasons platter (saye yee fun). There is also a sweet soup as the last course as part of dessert.

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By the way, has anyone figured out if soup comes first or last in a formal banquet? Have heard conflicting advice from various sources

At Cantonese banquets, a savoury soup is usually the 2nd course (out of 8 or 10) after the 4 seasons platter (saye yee fun). There is also a sweet soup as the last course as part of dessert.

Sometimes the soup is served with the fish at the end.

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By the way, has anyone figured out if soup comes first or last in a formal banquet? Have heard conflicting advice from various sources

At Cantonese banquets, a savoury soup is usually the 2nd course (out of 8 or 10) after the 4 seasons platter (saye yee fun). There is also a sweet soup as the last course as part of dessert.

Sometimes the soup is served with the fish at the end.

at the cantonese banquets i've been to (way too many),

the first course is your cold platter, which is probably the same as 4 seasons.

sometimes it's just pork and fat (siu yook), sometimes it's a variety of meats.

if they've spent more money, you'll see jellyfish, pig hock, cuttlefish, marinated pork, and something else i can't remember.

soup is usually about fourth, after which there is a brief lull while the rest of the dinner is started.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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