Temperatures soared past the 100 degree mark yesterday, making it the highest in 23 years since July 31, 1988 when it was 105°F. It was HOT! Stepping outside was like walking into a wall of hot air. It hit you right there and then and there was no escaping the heat. Good thing it only lasted a day and we are now back to the pleasant 70’s. Temperatures will continue to drop to the 60’s this weekend before climbing up again. It is like a roller coaster ride, swinging wildly up and down.
My poor irises did not stand a chance against the high temperature and dry winds. The buckets of water I poured on them did not help. It was sad. I had to cut and bring them indoors this morning. I managed to resuscitate some and they are now standing tall again in the sunroom.
On such warm days, light and clear soups are a great accompaniment to a rice based meal. Clear soups quenches the thirst and clears the palate. Often times, a little soup is added to the rice to moisten it. In fact, rice in soup is the first food for many East Asian kids.
Lotus root is the root of the lotus plant and is found underwater. It grows in segments and each segment has hollow tubes running through it. When sliced cross-wise into discs, it is reminiscent of telephone dials. Depending on the variety, it can have a light to reddish brown peel with a creamy colored flesh. The flavor is mildly sweet and the texture varies from crunchy to starchy. The thinner and lighter colored roots are crunchy while the thicker and darker colored roots tend to be starchy. Lotus root is a favorite ingredient in Chinese soups but it can also be used in stir-fries.
There are two main categories of Chinese soups. The quick boil soup may involve a little sauteing before prepared stock is poured in. Thin slices of meat and vegetables are added to the stock and lightly cooked. Simmered soups take a longer time to prepare. All ingredients are dumped into a large pot and simmered until the flavors meld together and infuse the soup. Oil is not used and therefore there is no sauteing involved. Double-boiled soups are very similar to simmered soups except that moist heat is used to ensure gentle cooking. This method is used for herbal soups and delicate ingredients like bird’s nests and sharks fins.
Lotus Root and Peanut Soup is one of my favorite simmered soups. The red dates and peanuts lend a mildly sweet flavor to the soup. The slices of lotus root are delicious eaten with a little soy sauce.
- ½ cup (85g) blanched peanuts
- 12 dried red dates
- 1¼ lbs (600g) lotus root
- 3/4lb (350g) bone-in pork ribs**
- 10 cups (2.5 liters) water
Rinse and soak peanuts and red dates for 30 minutes. Drain. Peel lotus root with vegetable peeler. Slice cross-wise into ¼-inch thick slices.
Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer for 1½ to 2 hours. Skim off scum appearing on the surface. Season with salt.
Serve warm in individual bowls.
**Pork ribs may be substituted with 2 chicken carcass.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!