Are You a Paper Packrat?Apr 01, 2021 10:45AM ● By Cornelius O'Donnell
If you are, join the club. Anyone who visits my casa will tell you I have lots of “stuff.” And, since I am hunkered down as I write this, I thought I would use this quiet time to pitch or pare the piles (I call it POP). But what to tackle first? Well, there was a medium-sized box marked “Christmas cards” on my closet floor. It’s been bugging me. I always resisted tossing unusual cards, or the sub-pile of the “photo of family” versions. It was difficult, but I did manage to off-load quite a few to a much smaller box. Then I came across a document that a Cape Cod friend sent several years ago.
It was a recipe that she loved, and since I had all the ingredients (she included a box of the noodles and the broth cubes in a mailing envelope with the recipe), I was charmed into making it. I had a saucepan full of soup bubbling away in minutes, as I recall. It was so welcome on a chilly day. (The mail comes just before noon.) I was so pleased to become reunited with Jebba (that’s her name). I had to send it to you via this column. (However, I could not convince Mountain Home to include the noodles and broth cubes with the next issue of this wonderful magazine.)
Sadly, the sender is no longer with us. She was an artist who had a business designing and packaging kits for needle pointers, plus beautifully designed tote bags. What a talent, and I cherish the things I have that she designed. I knew her family on the West Coast, and after she and her husband, Larry, came east, they made their home a B&B for me. I treasure the memory of those beach walks—and the stops to visit their neighborhood lighthouse in Chatham. It has many steps up to the view of the water and surrounding countryside. What a terrific way to walk off the fried clams!
Here’s the recipe. If you’re a low-salt person, just have a small portion or float a slice of pared potato in the broth while it is bubbling. I’m told it absorbs at least a bit of the salt. Remove it before serving.
Very Nice, Very Nice Hurry-Up Soup
This makes a big bowl of soup for one person. Double everything for two people.
The basic soup base:
- 2 generous cups boiling water
- 1⁄2 or 1 single cube Tom Yan Broth (1 whole cube makes a very spicy broth)
- 2 oz. (approx.) Chinese noodles
- 1⁄4 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (I grate it on a microplane)
To all of which add one or more of the following:
- Chopped raw red cabbage
- Snow peas cut in half
- Scallions chopped or cut, but do use some of the green
- Broccoli, fresh or cooked
- Shrimp, peeled, 4 to 6 per bowl
- Clams, shells rinsed and beards removed (the bivalves, not you)
- Scallops or cod, cut in small pieces
Chop and prepare vegetables. (Jebba notes that they almost always added cabbage and scallions no matter what else they used.)
Bring water to a boil. Crumble up noodles and drop them into the boiling water. Add 1⁄2 or 1 Tom Yam cube, chopped ginger, and whatever pleases you. Leave cabbage or snow peas until the very last minute, as you want them to remain crunchy.
Cook approximately 3 minutes or until the noodles are tender. Add last minute vegetables. Serve at once.
Believe me, it’s fun to play around with this recipe using your favorite things. As the recipe says—very nice.
A Song in My Heart and a Meatball on My Plate
Remember that line from Roger and Hammerstein’s Carousel? You know, the one about June busting out all over?
Anyway, I was humming that song as I finished this column and, lo and behold, another thought of food occurred to me. It’s the wonderful Chinese dish called Lion’s Head Meatball. I’ve never made it before but had it some years ago in a restaurant. And I loved it. It’s basically an oversized orb the size of a tennis ball that is made up of finely ground or chopped pork, chopped scallions, ground ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, Chinese wine, dried shitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, egg, and cornstarch. Usually, the meatballs are first deep fried in a neutral oil such as rapeseed or sunflower and then poached in a clear broth with bok choy leaves. The meatball is said to resemble a lion, and the bok choy his mane. While it is relatively easy to make, it is time-consuming and too long to tell in an article. That being said, I’d like to direct you to the following food blog that has color photos of the dish and many tips that are very appealing. Go to redhousespice.com and search for Yan-kit So’s recipe. It’s part of Chinese Recipe Central. Also very nice!