This soup is earthy, healthy, yummy, and easy to make.
+ 2 bundles of water crest, washed.
+ 1 lb of pork ribs, cut into smaller pieces (remove the fat if you like)
+ (Optional) 20-30 dried almond seeds
+ 1 dried sweeten fig (see picture). This is usually sold in a plastic package at Asian grocery or herbal store like Wing Hop Fung
+ My "secret ingredient" :-) is a few small pieces of "tran bi`" (dried citrus peel). Some type of citrus peel is already sweeten, so you'll need to adjust the sweet-salty balance of your broth (for example: choose a smaller sized dried fig, add more water and salt to proportion out the extra sugar, etc.)
+ 2-3 tsp salt. Or to taste.
+ Boil a pot of water
+ (Optional) if you have dried almond seeds, add them to the pot and cook from the beginning. These seeds are hard so it'll take a long time to cook them. By adding at the beginning, we give it more cooking time.
+ When boiled, add the pork ribs, 1 dried sweeten fig, and dried citrus peel into the pot
+ Let it cook in the broth for 1/2 hour. Scoop off the foam if any.
- *Note* The dried fig should be pretty sweet (sometimes I scoop it out after I think I've got enough sweet taste to my soup - and let the soup continue to cook without it)
+ Add salt and sugar to taste at the end, before turning off heat.
I used to ask the hubbie why they cook until the vegies all soft, presentation wise, it doesn't look as nice, taste wise you can't "eat" the vegetable it pretty much melt in your mouth. This is alot different from the Vietnamese way of cooking, because in Vietnamese cooking at least you want to be able to bite on or chew on the vegetable to savoy its taste and texture. So according to the hubbie, chinese "loo fo" soups (literally translated to "old fire") emphasize only on the broth. That's why they usually cook for a very long time (hence, loo fo) so that all the nutrition and flavor can yield into the broth. All the ingredients that go in a soup (meat, vegetables, etc.) are meant to give nutrition and flavor up the broth and people would mainly drink the broth, sometimes don't even bother about the rest. Interesting concept. But then again, I thought its a little bit wasteful.