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Monday, May 10, 2010

Pork, Lotus Root and Black Bean Soup

This healthy soup is so delicious, you’ll be begging for more!

lotus root and black bean soup

We were having dinner in a Chinese restaurant the other day. Nate wasn’t feeling very good and so he wanted some herbal chicken soup. But the waitress said they only had two soups for that day—one was a black chicken soup and the other was this lotus root and black bean soup.

I remember that the Chinese believe that chicken is not good when you are coughing. Strange eh? I also remember another friend who had recommended black beans as a cure for coughs. So we agreed and ordered it. I told her that Nate’s throat wasn’t feeling very good and she immediately pointed to the black bean soup.

When the soup came, the whole family drank it up in no time at all. It was seriously good! The pork bones and the lotus roots were tender, the black beans were creamy and the soup was just comforting in flavor besides being very delicious. Esther actually wanted some more soup at the end when we were all done. We tried to get her to do an Oliver and go to the kitchen with her bowl and ask for more but she was too shy :-)

We didn’t want to order another big bowl just for her so I told her I would try to make the lotus root soup for her the next day. Good thing this restaurant was next to a grocery store so I picked up some black beans and lotus roots. I already had pork bones at home so I was good to go.

How’d it Get So Tender?

Oh, during the dinner, Nate and I had a discussion about how they had gotten the pork so tender and the beans so creamy. We ended up pondering double-boiled soups, pressure cooker cooking and slow cooker cooking. All of which I could not do as I didn’t have any of these items at home. Oh well…

I started the soup in the late morning as I wanted to make sure that I gave the soup plenty of time to simmer to get optimum flavor. I did my usual parboiling of the bones and tossing out water from the first boil. Then I started the bones again with new water.

Once that came to a boil, I put in my presoaked black beans and lotus roots along with some red dates. As soon as they all came to a boil, I turned the soup down to low and let it simmer for more than 4 hours.

How do I Get it So Tender?

After that time, I must say, my beans did not soften and get creamy the way the restaurant’s did. It wasn’t hard but it wasn’t creamy. I even made sure not to add any salt until the end as I had learned that beans don’t soften up when you add salt while cooking it. But somehow, the beans still had some bite to it. I couldn’t wait too much longer so I seasoned my soup and a little later served it for dinner.

Esther still drank up the soup and ate the beans but she told me, “mommy, the beans are not as good as the one we had yesterday, but I still ate it!” I guess that is not the worst criticism to get. Overall, I managed to achieve the same flavors in the soup as the restaurant but I didn’t manage to get the tenderness in the meat or the beans. If you know how I could have done this without using a pressure cooker or crockpot or double boiler, would you leave a comment and let me know?

Pork Lotus Root and Black Bean Soup Recipe

Ingredients:
500g pork bones (usually the neck bones are good to use, or rib bones are also good)
8 cups water
10 red dates, washed and rehydrated
4-5 tubular pieces of lotus root (choose the ones that look least bruised and discolored), joints cut off and sliced 1/4 inch thick)

Sliced Lotus Root

sliced lotus roots

1/2 cup dried black beans or peanuts, soaked for several hours before use (at least 2-3 hours)

Dried and Soaked Black Beans

black beans dried and soaked

salt to taste
dash of fish sauce
pinch of chicken bouillon

Method:
1. After parboiling pork bones and tossing out water from first boil, rinse bones and boil again in 8 cups water.
2. Once water comes to a boil, add red dates, black beans and lotus roots. Let stock come to a boil again and then set the fire to low and let simmer, covered for 4-5 hours.

lotus root and black bean soup boiling

3. Once the pork bones, beans and lotus roots are tender, add seasonings—about 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp fish sauce and a pinch of chicken bouillon (or to taste). Stir and simmer to incorporate flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
4. Serve and enjoy!

lotus root and black bean soup

Cheers, Annie

This recipe using lotus root was entered into the Weekend Herb Blogging recipe roundup, organized by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything and hosted this week by Lynn from Cafe Lynnylu.

5 Comments:

Blessed Homemaker said...

I usually cook lotus roots with ribs or black beans with ribs. What a great idea to have both my favourite ingredients in one soup pot!

aly said...

I find that if you want your beans to be very tender, soak the beans for almost an entire 24 hours and then cook them. They usually tend to soften up even more after soaking for so long and then with the cooking. Hope that helps.

CRIZ LAI said...

Well, since you can do so many wonders with pressure cookers such as cooking soup (eg. herbal soup, ox tail soup, beef brisket), tenderizing meat dishes with thick gravy (eg. nyonya tau ewe bak) or even red bean soup for dessert. Why don't you purchase one? Make sure you ask the supplier for a recipe book for a start.

Using pressure cooker would be a solution for nut base soup but you need to time your pork ribs and beans cooking time properly. Normally, it would take about 15min for the meat & beans to be tender.

Boil water in pot. Pour in the pork ribs (wash properly with salt) and etc (lotus root, red dates, black bean/peanut/lotus seed, dried cuttlefish/oysters/mussels). Let it boil before closing the lid, Wait for the hissing sound and then put the knob on the lid. Start counting 15min. Let the pressure slowly seep out for 15min or so before opening the lid away from your face. Add salt to taste.

You would get a thicker and richer soup if you cook it this way. Moreover, you would have a shorter cooking time. Do enjoy trying it out! :)

P/s: I hope the pressure cooker is the same version as mine. I'm using Prestige brand.

babe_kl said...

actually i agree with Criz, a pressure cooker really works wonder to save on gas and time. you don't need to spend a fortune to buy those expensive ones you see at departmental stores. go find an Indian departmental store which you can usually locate in your local "little India". they usually sell those metal plates, pots etc. an average size pressure cooker will cost less than RM300 and if not mistaken Prestige is one of the brand available.

Check out my Black Bean Soup http://babeinthecitykl.blogspot.com/2008/08/black-bean-soup.html

Food For Tots said...

From your photos, I noticed that the skin is still intact to the bean after the pre-soaking. But for the beans I used, the skins will be "crumbled" even with just half an hour pre-soaking and they will turn soft (but not creamy) after 3 hours of normal boiling. So I think the type you use is kinda of hard. Hope it helps.