Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Chicken Soup for my sick Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I really wish everyone having a great day! To me, Valentine’s Day is a bit too commercialise, all the retailers are pushing to sell more for valentine’s gift. A dozen of roses costed HKD2,380, something like USD300, way too much!  If today is about love, we should just love our love, do something nice together and enjoy the time being together.

Unfortunately, my husband is sick today, still sick. He has been sick for few days already, and he is really craving for chicken soup, he said that’s what he used to have all the time when he was sick back in Germany. The one he was showing me, is actually an instant soup with pasta, I am just thinking how good can a can soup be? Why don’t I cook a real chicken soup? By the way, it will be impossible to find that German can soup here in Hong Kong.

I found it funny that how westerners see chicken soup compare to Chinese. For us, if we catch a flu, Chinese doctor will tell us not to have chicken, and chicken soup for sure is not good. But for westerners, chicken soup is something that you should have when you catch a flu or having fever, because chicken soup can help you to boost your immune system. I really don’t understand why Westerners and Chinese have such a big difference towards chicken, my husband said maybe because we do have a lot of problem with chicken, such as bird flu, I am not sure if that is the reason.

So, the chicken soup with pasta ended up so tasty and my husband loves it. Hope he will feel better tomorrow. The ingredients of the chicken soup are: first of all, of course the chicken! I was struggling with getting the whole chicken or just using chicken pieces, so I ended up with the whole chicken just because I found this Danish chicken at the supermarket. It will be difficult if I have to cook the soup with the local Chinese chicken, as they are all so skinny and boney. Vegetables are also important for this soup, onion, celery and carrot, as well as leek; spices are also important, as that help you to open up your nose, black pepper, red pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin and allspice. You also need herbs: chopped rosemary and parsley, get some garlic, jalapeños and red chilli pepper as well.

Chop everything and get ready, I also remove the skin of the chicken, because I think it’s better. Make sure you have a pot is big enough, because with everything in will take up lots of space. Heat up the pot with olive oil, fry the onion, celery and carrot until they start to sweat, cut the whole chicken into four big pieces and place them in the pot. Put all the herbs and spices in the pot, except parsley and leek. Pour water inside the pot that covering all ingredients and let it boil, then switch to low heat and let it boil for 90 minutes. After one and a half hour, take out the chicken, and you need to debone the chicken. It will be super easy because the meat will become so tender and so easy to remove. The only thing is too hot! You can use two forks to get that done easily. At the same time, you can boil a pot of hot water and boil the shell pasta and get it ready. Place all chicken meat back into the soup, and put the leek and parsley. I guess now you can switch off the stove. About the pasta, you can do it in two ways, either you pour everything in the soup, but they will grow and become bigger and bigger later on; or you can leave them aside, only mix them with the soup when you eat them, so they don’t soak up all the soup. Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon juice to add some freshness and vitamin C as well.

I am happy that my husband already feel a lot better after having the soup! Happy Valentine’s Day 😉

Sticky Pork Ribs with Mashed Potatoes and String Beans

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I really feel to have pork ribs tonight, I don’t know why, but really craving for pork ribs. Weather is super cold today, 4C is really cold in a place like Hong Kong. It’s good to have something grill and maybe with mashed potatoes as well. Let’s go for grocery shopping!

So, go and get everything I need for this dish, olive oil and butter, just run out of them. Ginger, garlic, potatoes and string beans, for the rest of the ingredients, I have them at home. The most important thing is pork ribs, I don’t know what happened, but 2 stores both sold out of pork ribs. Maybe because weather is too cold, everyone prefer to stay home for dinner, and also think of cooking pork ribs? Luckily, I got them in another super market, but they are not the kind of pork ribs I am looking for, they are too small and lean. I am looking for the big piece, with a bit of fat mixed with lean meat. But it’s still OK, better than nothing.

First of all, boil a pot of hot water and put the potatoes into the pot and boil them. The trick is, to slightly cut a cross mark on the potato skin, so you will get the skin out easier when you peel them. On the other hand, get the pork ribs prepared and season them with salt and pepper. Use a tray or pan to cook the pork rib which can transfer that directly to the oven later on. Heat the tray or pan with olive oil, fry the pork ribs on both sides until they turned golden brown. Put the chopped onion, ginger slides and garlic into the tray, fry them a bit. Then, put dry pepper flakes, some pink peppercorns, and some star anise in it. Now, it’s time to put a good amount of honey, followed by soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice and some rice wine. Give a good stir, and then finally add some pork bone broth. Here I would like to use pork bone broth than chicken broth, as I think the taste should go better together since this is a pork dish. Place the tray or pan into the oven and grill it under 180C for 25 to 30 minutes, and then flip the ribs and grill for another 25 to 30 minutes.

While waiting for the ribs to grill, we can work on the mashed potatoes. By this time, the potatoes should be ready, if you are not sure, use a chopstick or something like that to see if you can get it all the way down to the entire potato easily. If you can, that means it’s done. If not, or even if you can but seems hard, that means you need to boil it longer. Peel all the potato skin, and place the potatoes into a large bowl. Cut them into small pieces, or you can use one of those potato mashing tool. I only use a fork to do it, which is simple and easy, as long as your potatoes are fully cooked, then should not be a problem. Cut few slides of butter into the potatoes, and season them with some salt and pepper, and I like to add some ground paprika as well. Then you can start to smash them and mix them, until they look like a good mashed potatoes. Actually, this is my own way to make the mashed potatoes, as there are many other ways, with milk or with cream. But I kind of like it without, just find the right type of potatoes and they will do the work even without adding cream or milk, I just feel adding butter is good enough. Now we need to prepare the string beans, heat the pan with butter, then fry the string beans and season them with salt and pepper until they are done.

When the pork ribs are done, take them out and fry them when all the juice becomes really thick. If it is already thick enough when you take them out from the oven, no need to do so. Serve the pork ribs together with a bit of mashed potatoes and string beans. Enjoy~~~

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