I remember enjoying my first bowl of 四神汤 Si Shen Soup about 10 years back during my initial trips to Taiwan. It was the period before Chinese New Year and my friends brought us to 寧夏夜市 before visiting 迪化街 for the Chinese New Year bazaar. Just gotten off the plane, we hadn’t eaten dinner so my Taiwanese friends suggested going to 阿桐阿寶四神湯 located near the night market first. Being largely a “herbal soup”, it tasted rather plain and smooth, with a lingering sweetness in the mouth. Void of pungent odours and bitter aftertaste, the flavours of Si Shen Soup defies what I had expected Chinese herbal soups are traditionally like. The soup was a relief, not only against the fattiness of the bak chang and large steamed pork buns we had, it also helped to warm our constitution amidst the cold and rainy weather.
八宝粥, literally to mean “Eight Treasures Porridge” is a traditional congee concoction enjoyed on 腊月初八 the 8th day of the 12th month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, hence giving rise to its other name, 腊八粥. Having it roots in Buddhism, the history of this dish can be traced back more than 2200 years back to the Han dynasty when it was generally used as part of prayer offerings and not consumed. Interestingly during the Song dynasty more than 800 years ago , the folks then began enjoying this porridge for themselves, causing it to evolve and change to reflect the culinary characteristics of each period in history, as well as in accordance to personal taste and liking.
Woke up real late yesterday and missed the marketing hours of our local morning bazaar which is colloquialised as “pasar”. Not wanting to “succumb” to instant noodles, I prepared “instant” beef noodles with the beef brisket I braised couple of days back and some ingredients I had at home. Simple fanfare with a few ingredients for that extra touch! The gratification was instant as well oh yeah!
柱侯萝卜焖牛腩 Braised Beef Brisket with Daikon in Chu Hou Sauce is one of my favorite dishes from the 粤菜系 Cantonese cuisine. It is a must-order for me whenever I visit chinese restaurants, be it Hong Kong cafes, or traditional Cantonese restaurants. Succulent beef brisket, beef tendon and daikon braised to perfection, drawing in all the flavours from the condiments and spices added, making it a rare treat for me. And the sauce is simply out of this world, especially when left to mature overnight for the flavours to fully develop! Give me a bowl of the sauce and I could polish off 3 bowls of rice with it! Unfortunately not every Cantonese restaurant offers this, owing to the long cooking time required, and for those which do have it on their menu, not all of them do it well. Yes, it is a time-consuming dish to prepare but reassure that it is well worth the effort! Braise a huge pot of it, which is usually what I do, and it would keep me happy for days at ends!
This is going to be a long post given the long ingredients list and cooking method. So please bear with me as the details cannot be spared!