Lotus root soup (Leng Ngau Tong) with pork ribs, chinese peanuts and dried cuttlefish is another classical Cantonese ‘Po Tong’ (soup boiled for 2 hours or more) that we cook almost on a weekly basis. You can also replace the cuttlefish with a small piece of cured Chinese ham (1/2 palm size) for a deeper flavour. Cured Chinese ham (云南火腿 Yun Nan Huo Tui or 金华火腿 Jin Hua Huo Tui) is also great for lowering heatiness.
Actually the recipe for Lotus Root Soup (莲藕汤) is exactly the same as Old Cucumber Soup (老黄瓜汤) except that you must of course replace the old cucumber with lotus root. And as you know, the taste of Lotus Root Soup and Old Cucumber Soup are completely different, so by learning one recipe, you get to add 2 new Chinese soups to your repertoire – good deal? So let’s get started!
Lotus root soup with pork ribs, chinese peanuts and dried cuttlefish is another classical Cantonese soup, and the recipe is exactly the same as for Old Cucumber Soup!
- 500 g Pork Bones
- 2 Bones of Whole Chicken
- 1 Lotus Root Medium-sized
- 1 piece Dried Cuttlefish
- 3 tbsp Chinese Peanuts With skin on
- 6-8 pieces Red Dates
- 2 tbsp Wolfberries
- 2.5 litres Water
- 1 pinch Salt Optional
Blanch the pork and chicken bones in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Discard the water. Wash the bones and remove all the visible blood clots.
- Blanch the cuttlefish in boiling water for 1 minute to soften it.
- Remove the centre soft bone, mouth and eye of the cuttlefish. Then cut into 1-inch lengths
- Scrape off all the mud from the lotus root, and use a brush to scrub it clean.
Rinse the lotus root. Cut away the joints (the hard parts in between the sections of the lotus root and discard.
Cut the lotus root in half, then slice the lotus root cross-sectionally into 2 cm thickness.
Remove the seeds from the red dates and rinse.
- Rinse the wolf berries and drain dry.
- Wash the peanuts and set aside.
Add the pork bones, chicken bones, cuttlefish, old cucumber, and peanuts into the pot.
Add the 2.5 litres of water into a pot and bring to a boil over high fire. Then turn the heat to medium and continue to boil for 2 hours.
Check on the soup from time to time to ensure there is sufficient water in the pot. If the water level is low, you can top up using boiling water, but not too much otherwise the soup will be too diluted.
- Add in the wolf berries and red dates, and boil for another 15 minutes.
- Add salt (a pinch, or to taste). Try the soup first before adding salt, because the soup may already be tasty enough.
- When cooking soup with pork bones, two good choices are suo shi gu (锁匙骨) or bing bang ban (乒乓板) which you can get from your local butcher at the wet market. These two cuts of economical cuts of pork are good for soups, because even after the boiling, the meat on the bones still taste good when eaten because they contain just the right amount of fats to keep the meat tender and yet not make the soup oily.
- Indonesian pork (from the wet market) tends to be leaner and sweeter than Australian pork (typically sold at supermarkets like NTUC), so the soup will not be oily.
- If you are the very healthy kind who wants to remove all oil in the soup before drinking, I highly recommend you get an oil separator (very inexpensive apparatus that allows you to skim off and discard the top layer of oil). Its cleaner, faster and much more convenient than the 'old-school' method of cooking the soup a day in advance and leaving it in the fridge for the fats to coagulate, then scraping off the fat layer.
- You need to blanch the pork to get rid of the blood clots. This removes the porky smell and ensure that the soup will not have a scum layer on top when cooked. The same goes for the chicken bones.
- If the water level in the pot is low, you can add more water to the soup but it must be hot boiling water so that the temperature will not drop suddenly, affecting the cooking time.
- Try to buy red dates with seeds. Firstly they are sweeter. Secondly pitted red dates, if stored too long at the shops, may have tiny insects and spider webs forming inside the centre hollow of the dates.
- Don't soak the wolfberries. Rinse them just before adding them into the soup otherwise they will become mushy.
- Red dates and wolf berries must only be added in during the last 15 minutes, because if you boil them for too long, it makes the soup a bit sourish.
- Don't soak the cuttlefish, otherwise all the sweetness will be absorbed into the water, leaving it tasteless.
- You can use either dried octopus (八爪鱼) or dried cuttlefish to get that additional sweetness to the soup. Dried octopus is more expensive (almost double the price), and it is sweeter than dried cuttlefish. But I prefer to use dried cuttlefish because it is lower in cholesterol.
- You can also replace the cuttlefish with a small piece of cured Chinese ham (1/2 palm size) for a deeper flavour. Cured Chinese ham (云南火腿 Yun Nan Huo Tui or 金华火腿 Jin Hua Huo Tui) is also great for lowering heatiness.
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Baby/Toddler-Friendly: You can use the soup (without adding salt) as a base for cooking porridge to make the porridge more tasty. In case of allergies, you can leave out the nuts and cuttlefish as required.
- Child-Friendly: Soups are great nourishing foods for everyone including children. You can serve the soup on its own, or serve over white rice.
- Egg-Free: no modifications needed
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Gluten-Free: No modifications needed.
- Nut-Free: Skip the peanuts, or replace it with 2 handfuls of barley. Don’t use too much otherwise the soup will become too starchy.
- Shellfish-Free: Skip the cuttlefish, or replace it with cured Chinese ham.
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