Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Soup Name

Fresh Crab Congee

Traditional Chinese Name:  

蟹粥 (xiè zhōu)

 

This crab congee is super easy to make! The key ingredient really is just the crab.  It’s a warming, traditional comfort food that can also be luxurious and delicious. If you get nice female crabs, the roe comes all out into the soup and really adds a special flavour.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 55 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of white rice

  • 10 cups of water (to start)

  • 6-7 dried scallops or conpoys

  • 7-8 slices of fresh chicken strips

  • 2 fresh female crabs, prepared and quartered

  • 1 tablespoon of preserved Chinese vegetables

  • fresh spring onions

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the crab (see my post on fresh crab on preparation), cut into quarters and set aside
  2. Prepare the fresh chicken by cutting in thin strips
  3. Begin to boil your water and throw in the rice using high heat
  4. Stir every once in awhile to ensure that the congee doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot
  5. When the water boils, add in chicken strips, dried scallops (or conpoys)
  6. When the water boils again, throw in the prepared crab
  7. Continue to stir the congee occasionally and add one cup of boiling water as it thickens. How thin or thick is a personal preference, so you can add less or more water as you desire.
  8. Reduce heat to a medium simmer, cover the pot and let it continue to boil for another 30 minutes. Revisit the pot to stir it, ensuring you stir it right from the bottom.
  9. Add in the preserved Chinese vegetables and mix again.
  10. Let it boil for another 5 minutes.
  11. Serve and top with your favourite toppings such as fresh parsley, green onions, chives or any of the delicious preserved Chinese goodies like garlic, radish, baby cucumbers or pork floss

Here’s how I made it!

To start, you’ll need: 2 fresh live crabs, fresh chicken slices, ginger slices, fresh green onions, dried scallops, and preserved Chinese vegetables (as shown).

I’ve made this many times trying different types of crab.  The best and most flavourful crabs ideal for congee are smaller crabs that really aren’t as expensive (at around $70 HKD per crab). While they are smaller, the seem to seep a crab-y and seafood, ocean flavour into the congee, including the roe and cream of the crab into the soup.  I’ve also tried more expensive crab (at around $170 HKD per crab) which had more meat, but somehow, it was more just crab by itself and the congee by itself – the two never really blended.  But definitely explore yourself and see what works best for you and your family.

You can see my other post on how to prepare fresh crab. A few tips:

  • Using a big knife, chop off the sharp edges of the legs, shell, claws and any other sharp parts
  • Using also the back side of a big knife, create cracks in the legs and hard places (so that you can easily eat it out of the congee)
  • Do not throw away any of the eggs, roe, or cream (found at the head primarily) – the Chinese call these the best parts!
  • Buy female crabs

Slice the fresh chicken into thin strips. How much you use is really up to you. Since I like my protein, I tend to add more protein everywhere I go! The dried scallops can also be rinsed under warm water ahead of use. And take a few slices of fresh ginger. I tend to keep the pieces quite large so that I can isolate them in the congee and not scoop them out. I also don’t use a lot as I am not a fan of ginger and neither are the children, but you do need a little bit to eliminate any fishy taste in the congee, although I find the crab doesn’t really emit this. 

Start boiling your congee water (the bigger the pot, the better!) it’s easier to add more hot water than let it reduce to the appropriate amount. I’ll throw in the rice right away and wait until the water boils. Once it boils, I will add in the chicken, scallops, and ginger.

    Once that boils, then feel free to add in the prepared crab. Be sure to stir this pretty often to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.  This will also help keep the heat even throughout the pot as it might be quite crowded with all the stuff inside.

    Boil this on medium heat for another 30 minutes.  The rice will thicken and you can add a cup of boiling water (or really hot water from the nice Chinese hot water boilers) to thin it out.  How thick you’d like your soup is completely up to personal preference. I like my congee a bit thinner, with more liquid, but this is up to you.

    When it’s almost done (with about another 5 minutes until serving), throw in a handful of preserved Chinese vegetables.  I use a very specific one that comes in a ceramic pot and is called “dong choy”.  It’s very salty, so use with caution. I don’t add any additional salt after that.

      When ready, serve and enjoy! I also top with chives or parsley or fresh green onions.  There’s also some other cool Chinese condiments that go with congee, such as preserved baby cucumbers, radish, onions, shallots, dried pork floss, or vinegar soaked garlic.

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        Basic Pork Congee

        Basic Pork Congee

        Basic Pork Congee

        Soup Name: Basic Pork Congee (or aka Skinny Pork Congee)

        Traditional Chinese Name:  瘦肉粥 (shòu ròu zhōu)

        Congee is one of the many comfort foods available within the Chinese cuisine. Nothing is simpler than pork congee and using this recipe as a base, you can actually go pretty far when loading it up with additions or adding different flavours. I use this especially when the children are sick and it’s a great first foods on top of baby cereal and smashed up vegetables.

        What’s involved?

        Prep time: 5 mins

        Cook time: 25 mins

        Total time: 30 mins

        Serves: 8 bowls

        Ingredients

        • 1/2 pound of lean, fresh pork, largely cubed
        • 6 pieces of dried scallops
        • 2 cups of long-grain rice
        • 2 L of water
        • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
        • Whatever toppings you want

        The ingredients for the soup are: Dried scallops, skinny boneless pork cuts, long-grained rice, salt and water.  To start, I usually start with really lean cuts of pork from the butcher and then cut them into large chunks that don’t shrivel up too small in the congee, but are small enough that the flavours come out. You can blanch the pork if you want, but being this thin of a cut, I usually don’t.  I will however, salt the pork with about half a teaspoon of salt.

        Begin to boil your water with cleaned rice. You can throw in the dried soaked scallops at this time, but the meat usually goes into the water when it boils.

        Once the water boils, add in the fresh pork and let it boil on high for about 5 minutes and then reduce to a medium boil for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the bottom doesn’t stick and making sure it doesn’t boil over. At this time, I will transport the pot into my thermal cooker to let it bake some more. I also tend to add more water than normal because I like my congee watery!

         

        The Kiddie Version

        For the child with the stomach flu, this is what she got. Plain congee with some Japanese rice flavouring. She lapped it up, 3 bowls in a row. This is also why the extra water helps – get more liquid into her system.

        Here’s my upgraded, “souped up”, adult version of the congee. It’s really a fabulous comfort food in that you can add anything like:

         

        • salted peanuts
        • pickled vegetables (like radishes, cucumbers)
        • kimchi
        • salted fish (Chinese-styled)
        • preserved black bean fish (Chinese-styled)
        • preserved and spicy tofu (foo-yu)
        • pork floss
        • egg
        • green onions or parsley
        • and the list goes on and on if you get creative enough

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        Sweet and Sour Pork with Ginger (for Confinement)

        Sweet and Sour Pork with Ginger (for Confinement)

        Sweet and Sour Pork with Ginger (for Confinement)

        Soup Name:

        Sweet and Sour Pork with Ginger (for Chinese Confinement)

        Traditional Chinese Name:

        糖醋排骨 (táng cù páigǔ)

        For cooking videos, visit us on YouTube. 

        This is another one of those great recipes that are handed down through generations. I got this from an Auntie who is an amazing cook and simplified this recipe so that it’s so simple and yet, tastes so good! You can use a variety of rib cuts – I’ve made it with the traditional Chinese spare ribs cut (pictured here), but also made it using baby back ribs, too. When I make this, I use the measurements as a base, but adjust it as it cooks. I know some people prefer it sweeter or more sour or more salty, so definitely sample your cooking as you go!

        For this recipe, I will use a fatter cut of meat. This is because it stews for quite some time and you don’t want the pork to dry out and shrivel up into dried pork. Over time, the fat will come out and you can simply scoop it out before consumption.

        I will also rinse the pork in warm water when I get them from the vendor (just in case). Then throw it into a stainless steel pot and follow this simple base for recipe. It’s basically 1-2-3 (tablespoons).

        1 tablespoon of soy sauce
        2 tablespoons of sugar (any type)
        3 tablespoons of white vinegar

        And then you proportion it out appropriately. So for the amount picture above, which is around 1 pound of spare ribs, I multiplied by 3, so I got 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and 9 tablespoons of white vinegar. If you want, you can add a quarter cup of water for good measure. For confinement, my recommendation is to load up on ginger. This can be ginger slices, ginger cubes, the whole ginger, grated ginger, ginger juice – however spicy you can take it, do it. Optional ingredients also include whole garlic, black or white pepper and even star anise.

        What’s involved?

        Prep time: 10 mins

        Cook time: 30+ mins (checking every 10 mins based on softness of meat and viscosity of the sauce)

        Total time: 40+ mins

        Serves: 1 large bowl

        Ingredients

        • 1 pound of fresh spare ribs or pork ribs
        • 1 x 3 = 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
        • 2 x 3 = 6 tablespoons of sugar
        • 3 x 3 = 9 tablespoons of white vinegar
        • 1-inch root of fresh ginger
        • 1/4 cup of water

        Instructions

        1. Rinse your spare ribs or pork ribs in warm water (to clean)
        2. Put all the ingredients into a stainless steel pot (or clay pot)
        3. Boil on high heat for 10 minutes
        4. Reduce to a low simmer for another hour, checking every 10 minutes on taste and whether it is drying out too much. If so, add another quarter cup of water.
        5. Remove oil and serve

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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!

         

         

        Miso Ramen

        Miso ramen with peas, corn, narutomaki and soft-boiled egg

         

        This simple, easy-to-make with readily available Japanese-styled Miso Ramen is awesome for a rainy day or when you need to whip up something quick. In short, Miso ramen can go with anything you can dig up in your fridge, including leftovers, frozen goodies or simply by itself. It’s so popular and so easy, it can be classified as instant noodles in Asia where manufacturers have made it into the 5 minute meal with all packaged sauces and condiments. In this version, I’m still using packaged dashi (Japanese fish stock) and miso, but one day, I will make dashi from scratch! We also purposefully went to buy some Japanese-styled  fish sticks, known as Narutokmaki, and some fancy looking “piggy” narutomaki. I love Japanese food (so does my whole family) and the Japanese culture, styling, food is highly prevalent in Hong Kong. To be honest with you, if I had to pick one cuisine which I had to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Japanese. And plus my kids all attended a Japanese International Kindergarten, they are/were highly influenced by their Japanese peers. You should see some of the award-winning Japanese lunch boxes that the Japanese moms prepare, they win hands down!

         

        Soup Name: Miso Ramen

        Traditional Chinese Name:  日本拉麵 (Rì běn lā miàn)

         

        Miso Ramen
        Recipe Type: Noodles
        Cuisine: Japanese
        Author: LadyTong
        Prep time:
        Cook time:
        Total time:
        Serves: 1
        Ingredients
        • 2 oz of fresh ramen
        • 1/2 teaspoon [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/dashi-japanese-fish-stock/”]dashi powder[/url]
        • 1 tablespoon [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/miso-paste/”]miso paste[/url]
        • 1 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chicken-eggs/”]fresh egg[/url]
        • 1 tablespoon frozen or fresh peas
        • 1/2 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/corn/”]fresh corn[/url], boiled and cut off the cob
        • slices of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/narutomaki/”]narutomaki[/url]
        • 3 pieces of sausages
        • 3 cups of water
        Instructions
        1. In a pot, start boiling your water and add in the egg(s) while the water is still cold and the corn.
        2. Once the water starts boiling, add in the dashi and miso (to help also flavor the eggs and corn).
        3. Boil the eggs on medium heat for 8 minutes, remove and set aside to cool to peel later.
        4. Boil the corn for another 5 minutes, remove and let cool.
        5. Throw in the frozen peas, sausages, and the fresh ramen and boil for another 5 minutes (or until desirable tenderness).
        6. Remove ramen and put into a serving bowl.
        7. Scoop out peas and sausages and set aside.
        8. Add soy sauce to soup to desired saltiness (although with the amount of dashi and miso, to me, it’s sufficiently salty).
        9. Scoop desired amount of soup into serving bowl.
        10. Cut corn off the cob and serve on top of noodles.
        11. Rinse egg under cold water and gently remove the shell. Half the egg with a sharp knife. The middle should be soft and gorgeous!
        12. Place peas, sausages, narutomaki, corn on top and serve!

         

        For my family, I made 4 portions, but the portioning of the toppings is really dependent on what people prefer. I am talking about custom-design Miso Ramen! For example, one child is crazy about green peas, so she pretty much ate them all! The other is crazy about narutomaki, so she also ate them all!

        I boiled the corn in the miso and dashi soup at the beginning with the egg. This will help infuse flavor into the corn.

        Shucked corn off the cob (boiled in miso soup for added flavor)

        You can use either fresh or dried ramen. The fresh kind are pretty awesome though and can be bought at Japanese supermarkets in the cold sections.

        Fresh ramen

        For these types of noodles, the toppings can get as creative as your imagination.

        You can use:

        • Any types of veggies really (corn, peas, carrots, bak choy, choy sum, onion, green onions…)
        • Any types of readily prepared meats (sausages, BBQ pork, sliced pork, ham, chicken strips, fish balls, beef balls…)
        • Japanese styled narutomaki (they are really creative with the types of narutomaki available – see piggies below!)

        You can use ANY toppings you want!

        Here are some really cute and yummy narutomaki piggies! The Japanese kiddies bring these to school as is and eat them with cute toothpicks.

        CUTE narutomaki piggies!

        The final product for the children. We turned it into “buffet-styled-make-your-own-ramen” dinner – so basically laid out all the toppings and just gave the kids a bowl of soup with ramen and let them figure out the rest! It’s a great activity and they loved it! Plus, you hold them accountable in all the food they took.

        Japanese miso ramen – for kids!

         

         

        Narutomaki or Naruto

        Narutomaki or Japanese cured fish “stick”

        Ingredient Name:  Narutomaki, Naruto (which is the name of a Japanese anime!)

        Traditional Chinese Name: 鳴門巻き/なると巻き (narutomaki)

        What is this?

        • The name “Naruto” is actually an Anime
        • Narutomaki – the maki is meant as a long roll or something in a cylindrical form – ie: “maki” sushi rolls
        • A steamed Japanese fish “stick” or “cake”, similar to the Chinese fish balls
        • It’s normally sold as one long, white stick in a flower shaped, with a pink swirl in the middle
        • The taste is slightly salty and fishy, but not a bad way. It’s actually quite delicious!

        How do I prepare it?

        • They are edible when bought frozen or cold
        • You can quickly boil to make warm before adding directly on top of noodles, soup or other dishes

        Where can I buy this?

        • Most Asian supermarkets will carry this
        • The frozen section of the wet marts in HK will also carry this (or the “fish ball vendors”)
        • Japanese supermarkets will definitely carry this such as Jusco, AEON and Apita

        What is the cost?

        • In Hong Kong, 1 length cost between $12-15 HKD

        Any benefits?

        • Ready-to-eat and slice directly from the freeze or fridge
        • They are great for kids because of the decorative look
        • Low in fat

        Any precautions?

        • These products normally contain MSG and should be consumed in moderation
        • From my personal opinion, they are high in sodium (salt / NaCl)

         

        Narutomaki in it’s pre-cut form being sliced