KitchenTigress: Herbal Mutton Soup

Herbal Mutton Soup

My mother never cooked mutton, lamb, or goat anything. Hence, my knowledge of cooking anything that goes "Meh-eh-heh!" or "Baa-aaa!" is pretty paltry. I learn on the job, which is a fun way of learning.

I cooked some lamb chops once. Said chops were marinated with pineapple juice, fresh rosemary and salt, then pan-fried till medium-rare. The chops were delicious but they had bones which were curved. I couldn't brown the curved part which had no contact with the pan.

Lamb chops served in restaurants are brown all over. They are probably seared with a blowtorch?

My second encounter with mutton, lamb or goat anything at home was goat milk. I bought two bottles because some TV program said goat milk was nicer than cow milk. Hah! Don't believe anything you see on TV!

The first mouthful was indeed rich and milky but it was only for a few nanoseconds. The aftertaste hit me in the face with the unmistakable stench that only goats and sheep are capable of.


What to do with two big bottles of goat milk less one mouthful?

I made some yogurt with the milk, thinking the sourness might disguise the goaty smell.

Big mistake!

Not only was the stench not lessened by the fermentation, it actually became more concentrated. Double EEEEEW!

Last resort: I heated up the remaining milk, poured the whole lot in a plastic basin, and plonked my feet in it!
As my weary feet luxuriated in (Cleopatra) style, I could hear a goat mama sobbing, "You rob me of my milk for this?!"

I hung my head in shame, but . . . . 

Hey, my feet are silky smooth!

My third attempt was herbal mutton soup. And it was third time lucky. The soup was deliciously meaty and full-bodied. I felt full of energy after drinking it!

(For 4 persons)

500 g fresh mutton (sheep or goat) ribs
15 Chinese dried red dates (红枣), seeds removed
20 g slices liquorice (甘草) (6 big slices)
20 g radix astragali (北芪) (6 big slices)
2 tbsp goji berries (枸杞, aka wolfberries)
10 g American ginseng beard (人参须)
salt to taste, about ⅛ tsp
1 tbsp roughly chopped Chinese parsley
1 tbsp julienned ginger
ground white pepper, to taste

🐑Some mutton smells; some doesn't. The key to a good soup is fresh meat that's clean tasting.

1. Trim membranes and excess fat from ribs. Chop into chunky pieces. Blanch in boiling water and rinse thoroughly. Simmer gently with 红枣, 甘草and 北芪 in enough water to cover by about 2 inches.

2. After 1 hour, add 人参须 and 枸杞. Bring back to a boil and simmer gently for another 30-45 minutes. Ribs should be soft and tender when done, with enough soup to cover by ½ inch or so. Increase heat or top up with a bit more water as necessary.

3. Remove and discard 甘草, 人参须 and 北芪. Season soup with salt. Transfer to serving bowls. Sprinkle with Chinese parsley, ginger and pepper. Serve immediately.

🐐 Don't simmer the 人参须 and 枸杞 for more than 1 hour. Overcooked ginseng beard tastes 苦 instead of 甘, i.e. the herbal bitterness is flat and unpleasant. Overcooked goji berries turn sour.