Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A little warmth for a new family

The reason for the lack of posts the last few days has nothing to do with burnout and everything to do with babies. Before you get the wrong idea: NOT MINE! w and I went on a long weekend trip to Oakland to see her sister Jane and bro-in-law Peter's male heir Benjamin (that's our beautiful new nephew at left sleeping in the car when they took us to the airport this afternoon). He was doing everything a 7-day old should be doing: fussing, crying, sleeping, eating, all the while with that "how in the hell did I end up here?" look of bewilderment on his cute little mug. We were there for moral support and advice giving, which from two people who have never had kids I'm sure was appreciated. But I made up for it...almost....by cooking dinner for the tired, also semi-bewildered, parents to give then strength and comfort, and who also were in deserved need of pampering.

Before we left we were told via email by w's mom to make a fish soup with ginger for J "to make you more nutrition and energy". w's parents, who I adore, came from China almost 30 years ago, and her dad is a phenomenal cook. The fact that I was tasked to make an Asian soup for the new mother was somewhat daunting, and flattering, and something I took with the utmost sense of responsibility. I looked through many sources, and finally found the recipe below on epicurious. It read deliciously, with a few simple, but healthy ingredients, and the all important fish-ginger energizing combo. Still, a gwai lo in the kitchen cooking for very particular eaters can never be too confident. The soup itself came together SO easily, seemed really good to me, and still it was with more than a little trepidation that I had w taste it and.................success! She declared it more than acceptable (in fact her ultimate complimnent was to ask to have it in our regular repertoire at home!), and it was with great relief I brought it to the table, where hopefully it provided added warmth to a house full of new beginnings. Here's to J,P, and B....or as B's papa said when he took us to the airport "we're the PBandJ family!"...and wishing them all the best and a house of good appetites!
The next couple of days I'll post on a couple of great Oakland/SF eating spots we checked out in our spare time!
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Gingered Fish and Watercress Soup
from Bon Appétit/April 1991
This soup was, as I said above, incredibly easy. I made some adjustments...more ginger, more stock...and don't be shy with the watercress, which was sweet and not at all bitter.- bb

yield: Serves 4

1 ounce dried Chinese black mushrooms or dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
3 green onions, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
3 to 4 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup bottled clam juice
1 tablespoon dry Sherry (optional, as I didn't have any and the soup was just fine without- bb)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 pound catfish, cod, or other white-flesh fish fillets, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (we used cod from trader Joe's...perfect- bb)
2 large bunches watercress, trimmed

Soak mushrooms in 1/2 cup hot water until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. Squeeze out excess moisture. Thinly slice caps, discarding stems.

Heat peanut oil and sesame oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add green onions, garlic and ginger and sauté until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, mushroom soaking liquid, clam juice, Sherry and soy sauce. Bring to boil. Stir in fish and watercress and boil until fish is just cooked through, about 2 minutes.
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: need leftover inspiration? Here it is: Tomatillo Verde Enchiladas!


TS of eatingclub vancouver said...

When I just looked at the photo/title of the soup, before I read the text, I was thinking "Oh, it's just like those soup for women who has just delivered a baby!" Then, of course, you made it for that purpose. =)

bb said...

Very perceptive. See, now you know why i was nervous. Thanks for your comment.....too funny that was your immediate take!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Congrats on completing your task successfully, Uncle B! Now to learn how to make Boris's famous sea cucumber soup.

dds said...

Yu-um; looks like my ideal breakfast! I'm grabbing some cress and using xiao xing wine in place of sherry, and I'm totally there. Thanks and congrats to all. (PB&J...brilliant. We've got a "BMW" in our family...so handy.)

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