Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chicken With Radish and Carrot Soup

Hubby is a big fan of soups, next to vegetables, that is. I can have dinner without soups. But for him, the presence of a hot soup on the dinner table is comforting. The lazy pig that I am, I do not always have soup on the dinner table everyday. Or, if I do cook soup, I cook a big potful so that this soup can be served for several nights.

Our family went to Hong Kong the week before Holy Week. And I discovered something from our trip there - concerning soups, that is. Every little food shop has a special soup of the day they call "Lai Thong." We would order this Lai Thong every time and from different restaurants. Each little restaurant would have their own version of Lai Thong. Even the same restaurant would serve different version of this soup on different days. I have discovered something special about this soup. It may contain different ingredients depending on their availability. Or probably depending on the whim of the cook. It may have pork, or pork bones, or chicken or leftover roasted meat. Then they will add some beans or corn, and add a root crop, it may be yam or sweet potatoes, or any kind of gourd. And the soup is boiled and simmered for a time. The resulting soup is so flavorful and appetizing.

The lesson learned? Use whatever ingredients we have on hand to make soup. Before this experience, I was hesitant to change or subsitute any ingredients from the regular recipes. For example, if I do not have papaya, I will not attempt to make Chicken Tinola. But now, I am more confident to do substitutions. One of the wonderful results is this Chicken with Radish and Carrot Soup. This soup tastes clean and clear and flavorful at the same time. The chicken meat is soft, nearly falling off its bones. Yum!

1/2 K chicken pieces
2 pcs carrots, sliced
1 pc large radish, sliced
several slices of ginger
3 T minced garlic
5 C water
1 bunch malunggay leaves, washed
salt and pepper to taste
cooking oil

1. Saute ginger in oil. After it turns a little brown, add the garlic. Stir fry until fragrant but not burnt.

2. Add the chicken pieces. Stir fry for a while until it changes color. Add the carrots and radish. Add water. Boil the soup then turn down heat to simmer for about 25-30 minutes.

3. Add malunggay leaves and salt and pepper just before turning off the heat.

4. Serve immediately.

Of course this soup became an instant hit with the family. Even the kids love it! It is nutrient-packed because of the vegetables and it tastes great and easy to cook too! With successes like this, now I am more eager to try out different ingredients for soups and Hubby can look forward to having soup every dinner.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Salmon Casserole

We usually prefer our salmon raw, as it is in sashimi form. Sushi is alright, but nothing beats the taste of fresh, succulent, orange flesh of salmon dipped in wasabi soy sauce.

Hubby brought home a big can of salmon one day. I did not really know what to do with it. I just placed it in the pantry for several weeks until one day, I was reviewing one of my old recipe notebooks. Yup, I have several recipe notebooks, my private compilation of interesting recipes copied from here and there. I found this easy-to-do recipe for the canned salmon which had been sitting in the pantry for several weeks now. I do not know the source of this recipe. When I copied the recipes many years ago, I did not forsee that I might have a blog to write about and that I might need the references. I apologize.

I altered the methodology a bit. The original recipe says to mix the Bechamel sauce to the salmon mixture before placing in the baking dish. I did not. I made the dish layered (see instructions later). I was trying to imitate the baked salmon dish at Conti's. Well, the dish did not turn out to look loke the one we ate at Conti's but it tastes like the one at Conti's!

Bechamel Sauce:
1/4 C butter
2 T all-purpose flour
1 C fresh milk

1/2 C Chopped onion
1 can button mushroom, sliced
1 can salmon
1/4 C butter
salt and pepper
grated quick melt cheese

1. Saute onions and mushrooms in butter. Season with salt and pepper. Add salmon. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer into a baking dish.

2. Make the bechamel sauce: Melt butter in the pan. Add flour. Cook over low heat for about 3 min. Pour in fresh milk and simmer, stirring until sauce thickens. Pour on top of the salmon in the baking dish.

3. Sprinkle quick melt cheese on top. Bake for 10 to 15 min or until cheese melts.

4. Remove from oven. Serve hot. You may sprinkle with chopped parsley or green onions before serving.
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