I clearly have not been around enough since the end of last year… But that being said, after 13 full weeks of the semester I have finally managed to cook for my family today (: Of course, not without much nagging from the Mother who is the experienced masterchef ahahaha. I shall keep this short as it’s time to go back to study again :(
Left: Shanghai Greens with mock duck meat (yumyum, one of my favourites)
Right: Fish soup with tomatoes, leeks, button mushrooms and fresh tofu
Shanghai Greens with mock duck meat
- A huge chunk of mock duck meat from one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in Waterloo (Kwan Im Vegetarian Restaurant on the first floor of South East Asia Hotel – go check it out sometime if you’re free because they really do serve one of the best vegetarian foods around! You can’t miss it; it’s right next to the famous Waterloo Kwan Im Temple.)
- Shanghai Greens – 1 stalk per person
- Sunflower oil
For the curious, or those who feel slightly disgusted by what mock duck meat is – it’s simply a wheat gluten product made and cooked to resemble shredded duck meat. The one I’ve got here is not canned, but made fresh and shallow-fried for a crispy texture.
- Peel off the two outermost leaves of each stalk – they tend to be older and also more exposed to chemicals!
- Slice off the base of each stalk so it makes it easy to separate all the leaves and wash off any soil and dirt.
- After separating each stalk into its many leaves, wash thoroughly and drain.
- Wash the vegetables a second time.
- After washing, break the leaves from the stems into smaller pieces. If serving for guests, you can cut the vegetables nicely with scissors. Otherwise, breaking them by hand will suffice.
- After breaking off the tender, juicy stems, press them in the middle so they will split slightly, such that they will cook through more easily and will be tender when cooked.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil into the pan, and spread the pieces of stems evenly across the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle the pan of vegetable stems with some water to ensure that the vegetables will not get burnt.
- Cover and leave the pan of vegetables to cook on medium-heat for a few minutes.
- While cooking the stems, cut the mock duck meat into slices.
- When a splattering sound can be heard i.e. the water in the pan has boiled, open the pan and pour in the rest of the vegetable leaves and the slices of mock duck meat.
- Cover once again and leave the pan of vegetables and mock meat to cook for a few minutes.
- When steam and condensation is observed, open the pan.
- Cook as desired if the vegetables are not cooked through enough.
- Sprinkle sea salt if desired. I usually don’t since the mock meat is already rather salty so it will already provide a salty, floury taste to the vegetables.
Fish soup with tomatoes, leeks, button mushrooms and fresh tofu
- Fish bones
- Leeks (stems)
- Sea salt
- Slice the ginger into rectangular pieces. The ginger is important for removing the masking fishiness, leaving behind a refreshingly sweet taste of fresh fish meat.
- Cut off the stems of the leeks and leave the leaf sheaths aside for later cooking.
- Combine fish bones, ginger, leek stems, sea salt with water in a pot.
- Bring to a boil, and allow for the soup to cook for 30 minutes after.
- Leave to cool.
- Tomato (a quarter per person)
- Canned button mushrooms (two mushrooms per person) – that being said, feel free to always replace with fresh ones :) I love fresh shiitake mushrooms.
- Fresh tofu (sliced into 32 cubes; 8 cubes per person)
- Leeks (leaf sheaths)
- Miso paste (optional)
- Light soy sauce (optional)
- Cut the tomato(es) into chunky slices.
- Drain the water from the fresh tofu. Slice off the outer layer thinly, and cut into cubes.
- Slice the leek leaf sheaths diagonally, with each segment no longer than an inch.
- Place the leek leaf sheaths in the pot, drizzle with a tablespoon of sunflower oil and add some water. Cover and let them cook.
- Once cooked, pour in the fish stew and add in the button mushrooms.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once it has reached boiling point, turn the heat down slightly and add in the tomato slices and tofu. Refrain from continuously boiling as it will result in a porous and tough tofu. Keeping the soup at a lower, medium heat will keep the tofu smooth and silky.
- Bring the soup to a boil one more time to ensure that the added ingredients are cooked through.
- If miso is desired (to add a different flavour to the soup), add about a tablespoon of miso paste per person and stir into soup in the last 10 minutes. Do not overcook the miso as it will destroy its nutritional value.
- If miso is not used, add about two tablespoons of light soy sauce at the end, and season as desired.
It’s actually really easy to prepare this meal, as long as you have great time management and fast fingers in the kitchen. I took a little longer than expected given my slower and clumsier motions but, yes, things will get better with time!