Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Necessity, Invention, and All That

Yay Star Anise!
     I still have not gone grocery shopping, not really. It is awful, I know, but where is the time? On the other hand, what will I eat? Well, whatever is left in the fridge. A few carrots, I love the hardiness - and long life - of carrots, green beans, and some Korean pork my mom packed for me to bring home. What to make of all this? 
Korean Pork looks menacing...
     Well, the easiest solution to this problem, if you know me, is not hard to figure out: some sort of - preferably Asian themed - soup. I'm sorry for the overload of these, but I can't help it! I must put food in my mouth in the shortest time possible, and soup is generally the way to go. So, what's new about this soup? Well, for one thing I don't think any self-respecting Asian of any kind would come up with it because it doesn't not belong to any one part of Asia. Star anise, coriander, oyster sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce might all kind of go together but then there's the Korean pork and the rice cakes. This soup owes allegiance to no country. 
Yes, I know it is sideways.
     Have you ever had rice cakes, or as my friends here seem to call them: rice lumps, before? They are disks of glutinous rice pounded together and you can cook them like noodles, and eat them the same way. I mean, in the sense that both provide carbs. To taste, rice cakes are flat chewy disks of goodness that soak up lots of delicious flavor when cooked in soup. At least each of my soups has something new! 

     So, what did my creation taste like? Well the best part about making recipes up is that you can just keep adding things to it until it tastes really good. My soup tasted delicious. The carrots were just right, not too mushy but not crunchy, the green beans made me feel healthier (I don't really like green I can't wax eloquent here, sorry), but the broth was just perfect. Actually, at first it was a little bit sweet and seemed to lack some tang. I kept looking around for something spicy to add to it, and then realized that the pre-marinated and pre-cooked (by my mother) Korean pork that I had would do just that. It made the broth perfect. You could add any protein you have lying around for this soup, or fish cakes, or I think the Chinese Roast Pork I once made would go really well. If your meat isn't spicy though, throw in a squirt of Sriracha to make the broth that perfect combo of spicy and sweet that I got. I love quick meals. 

Rice Cake Soup 

1 Star Anise
1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds 
2 cups Water 
1/2 cup Rice Cakes 
1 tbsp Soy Sauce 
1/2 tsp Oyster Sauce
1 tsp Hoisin Sauce 
3 mid-sized Carrots, Peeled and Sliced not too thin  
1/2 cup Green Beans, Sliced (or from frozen, like me) 
1/2 cup Protein of your Choice, Cut into Thin Slices or Small Chunks 

In a small frying pan, toast the star anise and coriander seeds for three minutes until they are fragrant. Add the water to a separate large saucepan at medium heat, and then add the spices to the water. Stir in the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hoisin sauce as well. Add the rice cakes, carrots, and green beans. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer until the rice cakes and carrots are soft (it took me about 10 minutes). Because my meat was very very thin and pre-cooked to perfection, I only added it to my soup after I had poured it into a bowl, which was enough to get it hot. If you meat is thicker and will need to be heated up more thoroughly, add it to your soup now while it is simmering in the pot, and then serve the soup after two minutes. Enjoy! 

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