What to Eat in Kunming: Across the Bridge Noodle Soup

January 16, 2017 § Leave a comment

Yunnan-Eats.jpgCredits: JSprague Digi In Deeper Course Material

This noodle soup dish has a typical Yunnan local flavor that could only be had in some parts of Yunnan and carries with it a love story. A scholar, preparing for the imperial exams retreated to an island in a lake. The wife delivers lunch to him daily, crossing a long wooden bridge. Dismayed that she couldn’t keep it warm, figured out that adding a thin layer of fat on top prevents the heat from escaping. And by doing this, she discovered that she could bring the broth across the bridge and cook the rest of her Noodle Soup there.

And with that, I had our driver bring us to Qiao Xiang Yuan, a restaurant chain famous for its Guo Qiao Mi Xian, which translates to Across the Bridge or Crossing Bridge Rice Noodle.

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Driver Wang ordered for us. Minutes later an attractive mix of ingredients laid before us. There were slices of lightly cooked (some raw) meats, Yunnan ham, strips of bean curd sheets, mushrooms, vegetables, rice noodles (of course) and a piping hot broth with a layer of chicken fat and oil glistening on top, the key to this noodle soup. The meat sliced wafer thin so that it will cook almost immediately when added to the broth. Once the vegetables and noodles are added, stir it a bit, and the Guo Qiao Mi Xian is ready to eat.

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A must try when in Kunming.

To read more about Kunming and Yunnan, read this and this.

Qiao Xiang Yuan: Shulin Jie, Wenhua District, near Jinbi Guang Cheng

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Missing Spain

July 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’ve been remiss, forgive me. This is the real world catching up with me here. It’s been a busy few months since I got back from a month-long trip that started in Casablanca and ended in Madrid with Lisbon, among other cities, in between. And now I am missing the flavors of Spain.

GranadaGranada

SevilleSeville

Spain. A country of soaring mountains, beautiful cities, towns and villages, outstanding art and architectures, and a diverse cuisine left by the Moors, Romans and the Greeks.

cochinilloCochinillo before the chopping ritual

dessertCoffee and dessert in a coffee shop in Ronda

Although very familiar to me, its cuisine still managed to leave a lasting impression. One dish that persists three months after our pleasurable acquaintance is Salmorejo, a variation of one of Andalusia’s famous dish, Gazpacho. A close cousin, if you will.

Like gazpacho, it is a cold tomato soup, only thicker. While gazpacho has tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and onion, the vegetable present in Salmorejo is only tomato, and it uses garlic, not onions. Not as popular as gazpacho outside of Cordoba, where this soup originated, it has lately been gaining more recognition in and outside of Spain. Both are excellent summertime dishes, great as a starter or a light meal.

salmorejo

Usually served with hardboiled eggs and Spanish ham (Jamon Serrano or Iberico), I opted for the lighter accompaniment of green grapes and almond, a garnish borrowed from another cold soup, Ajo Blanco.

Salmorejo

Adapted from Food And Wine June 2013 Issue

What You Need:

  • 1 kilo tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups white bread or baguette, crust removed and cubed
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • salt

Garnish:

  • a few seedless green grapes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. roasted almonds, chopped

What You Do:

  1. Scald the tomatoes: Bring to a boil a large pot of salted water. Cut a small cross at the bottom of each tomato. When the water is boiling, add the tomatoes, leave for 30-60 seconds. Remove and immediately place in ice water. The skin will peel right off.
  2. Cut out the cores of the tomatoes. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the bread cubes. Let stand for 15-minutes until the bread is soft.
  3. Transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor. Pulse with the grated garlic and vinegar until smooth. With the machine on, gradually add in the ¼ olive oil. Season with salt.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls and garnish with the grapes, almonds and a drizzle of olive oil.

I find that the longer it sits in the fridge, the better the flavors of the ingredients meld. And on a truly hot day, the cold grapes is a burst of refreshing sweetness, combine it with the crunch of the almonds… you know you have a winner here.

For more of Spanish food goodness, check out the article I wrote for Exquise Magazine here.

Bed Weather Soup

June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Well good-bye summer and hello rainy days.  It rained most of the day the other day and on a holiday to boot.  We stayed home and the cool “bed” weather called for comfort food.  What’s more comforting on a rainy day than hot chicken soup?  Not any kind of chicken soup mind you.  I was craving for my childhood favorite, Tinolang Manok, a staple in many dinner tables in my neck of the woods, including ours.  A bowl of this light ginger based soup never fails to make me feel all warm and fuzzy.  So I trooped to the supermarket next door for some essential ingredients.

Tinola is a Tagalog or Cebuano term for soup based dish and is traditionally cooked with chicken.  Unlike the chicken soup of the west, this soup uses ginger and lemon grass to flavor.  Core ingredients would be chicken (but of course), ginger (lots and lots of it), green papaya, lemon grass and this new super food called malunggay, scientifically known as Moringa.  We sometimes alternate it with green pepper leaves – both have the peppery kick.

You may serve it as a starter course but it is perfect as a main dish, me thinks.  I like my rice soaking with the soup almost like congee and each spoonful of chicken, green papaya and the rice is absolutely soothing.

Tinolang Manok (adapted from Namit Gid! Cookbook)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 kilo chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
  • water or rice washings to cover
  • 1 stalk tanglad (lemongrass), bruised
  • green papaya, seeded and cut into wedges
  • patis or fish sauce
  • crushed pepper
  • malunggay leaves

What you do:

  1. Heat cooking oil and sauté garlic, onion and ginger.  Add chicken pieces and brown slightly.
  2. Add water or rice washings and tanglad.  Season with fish sauce and pepper.
  3. Cover and let it simmer.  When chicken is half-cooked, add papaya.
  4. Cover and let it simmer until chicken and papaya are tender.*
  5. Just before serving, remove tanglad and add malunggay leaves.
  6. Cook for 2 more minutes.  Serve hot.

*  To remove the fat, let it cool until the oil floats and remove as much from the surface.

Rain Or Shine

November 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Soup I have moods for.  But if I have to choose, I almost always go for tomato soup.  Chorizo, however, I always have a mood for.   Scanning through Donna Hay’s cookbook, it did not surprise me that I couldn’t move pass the page, not because it has rained the past few days.  This soup I can and will have over and over, rain or shine, for a very long time.  Best of all, it being a 30-minute meal is such a come-on.  With a few pieces of bread, it makes a great lunch or dinner that is fuss-free.  In fact I like it better the next day when all the flavors melds into one hearty soup.

The chorizo adds an incredible depth to the soup, perfectly marrying salty and sour.  The crisp chorizo adds more texture to a soup that has already so much texture – from the tomato chunks, crisp green beans to even the al dente but creamy bite of the chickpeas.  I made it without the green beans.  I just add a few strips before serving and while re-heating to keep the freshness and crispness of the vegetable.

Spicy Tomato-Chorizo Soup

(adapted from “The Instant Cook”, by Donna Hay)

What you need:

  • 4 chorizo sausages, sliced (I use chorizo Pamplona)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz.) cans peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 400g (14 0z.) can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
  • 200g (7oz.) green beans, trimmed and chopped
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (baby arugula works well too)

What you do:

  1. Place a deep saucepan over high heat.  Add the chorizo, oil and chili and cook for 4 minutes or until the chorizo are crisp.
  2. Remove from the pan and drain on absorbent paper.
  3. Place the tomatoes and stock in the saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the chickpeas and beans and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir through the salt, pepper parsley and cooked chorizo and serve.  Serves 4.

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