Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

Soup Name:

Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht (with oxtail)

Traditional Chinese Name:

羅宋湯 (luó sòng tāng)

Nature:  Warming

Taste: Savory, sweet, and slightly sour

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Did you know the secret ingredient to an HK-styled Russian Borscht is Worcestershire sauce (and some lemon juice)?

Falling off the bone oxtail?

Soft delicious veggies?

Savory and a hint of tart delicious broth?

Yes, the Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht is a classically adopted fusion soup that is very different and uniquely different to the traditional European borscht (no beetroots or cream).  Instead, it’s a tomato based beef broth and a range of choice vegetables diced small. 

I love the subtle tart flavours of the soup, but yet incredibly savory and hearty.  This soup indeed eats like a meal!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 120 minutes 

Total time: 150 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 full oxtail
  • Optional pieces of beef flank
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and largely cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and largely cubed
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and largely cubed2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, slicked thin
  • 3 dried dates
  • Fresh green onions

Flavouring

  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons or Worcestershire sauce
  • 11-12 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Cooking Instructions

  1. In your soup pot, with a bit of oil on med heat, pan fry the garlic cloves and oxtails until golden brown and fragrant (they smell so good!).  I don’t blanch and will do this instead.
  2. Add the cubed beef flanks and potatoes, allowing them to also brown nicely
  3. Add in your soup water, about 11-12 cups of water and turn on high heat
  4. I will then drop in my vegetables, tomatoes, celery, onion, carrots, and the dried dates
  5. Cover and let it come to a full boil, then reduce to med heat for another 1.5 hours
  6. Here you can now add in the flavouring of the soup (this is what really makes it distinct as a the HK-styled Russian Borscht)
  7. I will also throw in the cabbage
  8. Cover and let that simmer for another 30 minutes
  9. Garnish with fresh green onions, serve, and enjoy!

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Vietnamese Pho – Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

 

One of my favourite soups of all time is the Vietnamese beef broth that is made for pho noodles, or specifically, Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup.  I first truly learned it while travelling to Vietnam and took a cooking course given by locals, and my life has never been the same! After learning the original base, you can pretty much tweak it as you like.  The good thing is that I live in Asia, and all the ingredients are readily available. The challenge is that to make a good beef soup base, you need to boil it for quite some time – we’re looking at a solid 3 hours or more (like all broths).  Even if you can’t find all the ingredients, no worries – just improvise!

Soup NameVietnamese Pho – Beef Noodle Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  越南牛肉河粉 (Yuè nán niú ròu hé fěn)

If you want to skip my running commentary, just go to the bottom for the full, quick-read recipe.

First, you need FRESH ingredients. I’m talking about fresh beef bones, fresh vegetables, and fresh beef slices.  For this round, I used beef ribs. They are giant bones, so you’ll need a giant pot! I use a thermal pot to save electricity and it does the boiling for me so I can go out!  The recipe usually calls for fresh beef knuckles or leg bones (with plenty of marrow goodness) – but these tend to be more fatty in nature, so just be sure to skim off the oil (and scum) when it surfaces.

Fresh Beef Bones

Fresh Beef Bones

Start by blanching all the bones in a separate pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes. This will remove impurities, scum and oil off the bones in preparation for your soup.

You can also begin to char the fresh ginger and fresh onions – usually done with an oven or on an open flame. This will bring out the wonderfully natural flavours of these ingredients.  I can already smell the onions as they broil in the oven and I’m not even on to making the soup yet!

Fresh ginger and onions for Vietnamese Pho

Fresh ginger and onions for Vietnamese Pho

Charred fresh ginger and onions

Charred fresh ginger and onions

Next are the spices. In Asian supermarkets, you can usually buy them pre-packaged as a bundle, but if not, you’ll need a handle of each for the flavouring.  Pick up some star anise, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, fennel, and coriander. You’ll also need a soup mesh bag to keep all the spices together because at some point, you’ll need to remove them and it’s way easier this way!

Soup mesh bag with spices for Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

Soup mesh bag with spices for Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

For the soup base, you’ll also need fish sauce, salt, and rock sugar. In the meantime, just throw in the blanched beef bones, charred ginger and onions, spices, salt, fish sauce and rock sugar into a large pot of boiling water and boil uncovered for at least 2 – 2.5 hours.

Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup base

Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup base

I was taught that at around this point, you should remove all the floating ingredients of the broth and taste test the soup for saltiness or flavour. You can adjust the taste by adding either more fish sauce, more salt or more sugar depending on what fits your taste.  Do this in small amounts so that you never go overboard because it’s pretty darn hard to remove dissolved salt – or at least correct without adding more water, which will then dilute the beef stock.  I personally don’t even take out the ingredients and taste it like that and serve. Whatever tickles your fancy as a chef.

Also start to soak your dried Vietnamese pho noodles.  Soak in a large pot of cool water for at least 15 minutes – or whatever the instructions of the noodles are. You can even use Thai noodles, Chinese rice noodles, or whatever noodles you like. Actually, it doesn’t really matter because you’re eating it!

At this point, I lay out the bowls – layering first the bottom with thinly sliced fresh white onion rings and bean sprouts. Or you can leave it up to your guest to lay their own, kind of like a buffet.

Fresh onions and bean sprouts ready for Vietnamese Pho

Fresh onions and bean sprouts ready for Vietnamese Pho

Put in noodles to the bowl, as much as you’ll eat.  I then blanch the fresh beef slices quickly in the broth and lay them on top as well and then ladle out that heavenly soup goodness so that it covers the beef completely.  Be sure the soup is still boiling at this time.  Top with fresh mint, cilantro, parsley, basil, more bean sprouts, chilli peppers and lime to finish it off. And ta-da! Yummy Vietnamese Pho, made from scratch!

Vietnamese Pho – Beef Noodle Soup
Recipe Type: Vietnamese Pho
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 4-5 pieces of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/fresh-beef-bones/”]fresh beef bones[/url]
  • 2 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/onions-fresh/”]fresh onions[/url], halved
  • 2 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/ginger-fresh/”]fresh ginger[/url] pieces (2″ long each), halved
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp of fennel seeds
  • 5 whole [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/star-anise/”]star anise[/url]
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup of fish sauce
  • 1 inch chunk of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/rock-sugar/”]rock sugar[/url]
  • 1/2 tbsp of salt
  • additional salt to taste
  • 3 L of water
  • 1 pack of dried Vietnamese noodles
  • 1 pound of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/beef-slices/”]fresh beef slices[/url]
  • fresh limes
  • fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chinese-parsley-or-cilantro/”]cilantro[/url]
  • fresh mint leaves
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh bean sprouts
  • 2-3 fresh chilli peppers, chopped small
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the beef bones to remove impurities, scum and fat
  2. Using an oven, char the halved onions and ginger in a pan until nicely browned, remove from oven and let cool
  3. Start to boil your soup water in a separate large pot
  4. Once your soup water boils, add in the beef bones, onions, ginger and spices (put into a mesh bag), fish sauce, rock sugar and salt
  5. Boil on medium heat for at least 3 hours
  6. Prepare the noodles by soaking them or following the instructions on the package
  7. Taste the soup at this point on whether you need to add more sugar, fish sauce or salt and add accordingly
  8. In a serving bowl, lay the bottom with sliced fresh onions, bean sprouts and noodles
  9. Blanch the freshly sliced beef quickly in the soup and lay on top of the noodles
  10. Ladle enough soup to cover the sliced beef and noodles
  11. Add as desired, fresh mint leaves, cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, parsley, chilli peppers and lime
  12. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Fresh Beef Bones

Fresh Beef Bones

Fresh Beef Bones

 

Ingredient Name:  Fresh Beef Bones

Traditional Chinese Name: 牛骨 (niú gǔ)

What is this?

  • In soups, beef bones are primarily used to make beef stock
  • Not a common ingredient used in Chinese soups at all – in fact, beef is not a common ingredient for “old fire” soups traditionally compared to pork – if you consider it from a historical perspective, having a cow back in those days meant you were wealthy
  • Bones are rich in nutrients (calcium & magnesium), collagen, easy to digest and rich in flavour
  • Shown in the picture are the ribs of the cow – I used this for my pho base because it’s relatively low in fat, but you can consider using cow knuckle and leg bones as well
  • The amount of fat on the bones will vary depending on which part. The ox-tail (of beef tail) is often a fatty part of the cow, but the most commonly purchased bone part from the vendor! He usually has the tail on reserve already for clients.

How do I prepare it?

  • Make sure the pieces you buy can fit into your pot (that’s probably the first most important thing!)
  • Blanch the bones in boiling water for at least 5 minutes to boil out the impurities and fat – this will produce a brown film of “gunk” which you should just throw out

Where can I buy this?

  • Most Asian wet marts will carry beef bones at the beef vendor
  • Supermarkets may also carry beef bones, which are already cut up into manageable pieces for you to take home

What is the cost?

  • The cost will vary depending on supply, but in Hong Kong, 3 bones (as pictured above) cost me $30 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Bones (any animal) are an excellent source of nutrients and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and silicon
  • The broth created from bones are easy to digest, are high in amino acids, collagen and gelatin
  • Bones broth is actually known to help fight colds and viruses because of these amino acids that help boost immune system and heal disorders like allergies, asthma and arthritis
  • Nothing beats real stock with real bones – store bought stock (which are primarily enhanced with flavour enhancers) has nothing over real stock

Any precautions?

  • Be careful of an over fatty cut of the bone – knuckles, ox-tail, or any other cuts that come with fat should be either cut off or boiled off and then removed from the soup
  • Consider purchasing animal products that you know are pasture-fed and free of antibiotics and hormones
  • Be sure to remove any scum that boils from the soup or blanching process
Kimchi, Tofu and Beef Soup

Kimchi, Tofu and Beef Soup

Soup Name: Kimchi, Tofu and Beef Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 泡菜豆腐牛肉湯 (pàocài dòu fu niú ròu tāng)

Introduction:

This is a Korean dish that I love eating.  I say eat because of the volume of ingredients, it turns into a stew that packs a bunch (in terms of spiciness) and nutrients.  The ingredients are readily available and it’s not your traditional old fire soups because you can make this in about half an hour.  And of course, it’s flexible in that you can add your favorite ingredients to make it more wholesome.  My husband and I literally had this for dinner (only), the kids of course, couldn’t take the spiciness, so they didn’t have any.  You can serve this with rice, rice noodles, noodles or add any other starches to really make it filling.

What Ingredients are required?

Soup Ingredients

20 fresh clams
1 whole fresh radish, cubed
1 tablespoon of hot chili oil
1 pound of fresh beef slices
3 cloves of fresh garlic, diced
1 fresh onion, sliced
380g of kimchi
1/2 head of fresh cabbage, sliced
1 L of chicken broth
2-3 L of water
1 pack of fresh tofu, chunked
1 cup of fresh green onions, diced
1 fresh egg, per serving (optional)

Beef Marinade

1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 tablespoon of hot chili oil
1 teaspoon of chili powder (optional)

How do I prepare it?

  1. Pre-marinade the beef with the soy sauce, cornstarch, chili oil and chili powder at least 1 hour before cooking.  Cover and set aside in the fridge.
  2. In a pot of boiling water, add the fresh clams (already soaking in fresh water).  Once the clams open, remove immediately from the water and set aside.
  3. Wash, peel and cube the radish.  You can re-use the clam water to boil the radish until they are soft (use a chopstick to see if you can smoothly poke through a radish, if so, it’s sufficiently soft).
  4. In a large pot on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of hot chili oil, garlic and fry beef until half-cooked.  Remove from pot.
  5. In the same large pot, fry onions until cooked.  Add half-cooked beef  and kimchi.  Continue to cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  6. Add cabbage to the beef and cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat, while continuously stirring.
  7. Pour in chicken broth and water to the mixture and turn on high heat.  Boil on high for 10 minutes.
  8. When ready to serve, add in tofu, cooked clams and green onions.  Boil together for another 2-3 minutes.
  9. As optional, you can add 1 fresh egg (whole) into the soup and scoop out along with soup per serving.  Be careful not to pop the egg and for plating, place on top, in the middle of the soup.
  10. Enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Soup is versatile in that you can add other ingredients such as chicken, pork, dumplings, rice noodles, and other leafy greens
  • A quick boil soup that is easy to make
  • Serves as a meal
  • Helps keep the body warm and promote blood circulation
  • Soup is low in fat and high in proteins
  • Excellent source of dietary fibers

Any precautions?

  • The soup spiciness may be harm or upset sensitive stomachs (you can vary the kimchi, hot chili oil or chili powder amounts as desired)
  • If spiciness is a concern, you can also rinse the kimchi in cold water before using in soups

Step 4: Fresh beef slices fried with garlic

Step 5:  Fried onions with kimchi

Step 8:  Add tofu to soup (with cooked clams) before serving

Beef Slices

Ingredient Name: Beef slices, been tenderloin

Chinese Name: 牛肉 (niú ròu)

It is not common to use beef slices in Chinese soups, but you will find ox tails and other parts sometimes.  I bought this beef from the wet part and truly, the softest and tenderest part has to come with fat.  It is unavoidable.  Depending on how you make it, you can eliminate the fat in soups through a fat scooper.  This type of beef cut is probably best used for quick boil soups (as old fire soups) will just beat the living daylights out of the meat.

What is this?
  • Fresh beef slices from the loin portion of the cow
  • This muscle does the least amount of work (in the cow’s body) and therefore is normally the most tender
  • This type of meat is often used in tartares, whole steak or sliced
  • It is one of the more expensive parts of the cow for consumption

How do I prepare it?

  • To prepare, wash first before cooking or marinating
  • You may need to cut up into pieces if you’ve purchased it by the pound

Where can I buy this?

  • You can buy this in any supermarket
  • In Asian supermarkets, you can purchase them by the weight and cut

What is the cost?

  • 1 bitter melon about 30cm in length cost around $5-6 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Lean beef is an important source of 12 essential nutrients including high quality protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to remove excess fat
  • Many believe that organic beef is best as there are no growth hormones and antibiotics, which can potentially make you sick if there is over consumption of beef

Any substitutes?

  • Depending on the soup, pork or even chicken meat is substitutable