Herbal Mutton Soup

Thursday, 7 April 2011

My mother cooked just about everyday, and not once did she cook mutton, lamb or goat anything – not once. Hence, my knowledge of cooking anything that goes 'Meh-eh-heh!' or 'Baa-aaa!' is pretty paltry. I learn on the job which is, if you ask me, 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 completely seared, as far as I can remember. How do they do it? Grilling or roasting wouldn't work because the meat would be overcooked by the time the bit which curves inward is brown. The only way I can think of is with a blow torch! Or maybe frying with lots of oil, like almost deep-frying?

My second encounter with mutton, lamb or goat anything at home was goat milk. I had two bottles delivered from Hay Dairies because some channel 8 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, 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.

Trim membranes and excess fat from ribs. Chop into chunky pieces. Blanch in boiling water and rinse thoroughly. Simmer gently with dates, liquorice and radix astragali in enough water to cover by about 2 inches. After 1 hour, add ginseng beard and goji berries. 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.

Remove and discard liquorice, ginseng and radix astragali. Season soup with salt. Transfer to serving bowls. Sprinkle with Chinese parsley, ginger and pepper. Serve immediately.

🌹 Don't simmer the ginseng beard and goji berries 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 may turn sour.


Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! darn right about not listening to TV! i once bought a carton of US goats' milk just to try eons ago, and has to psyche myself that they're good for the body ~ ~ good for the body ~ ~ to down it all.

it was expensive = $10 a carton (the tall HL milk size) and my pay was sesame tat time, couldn't bear to throw. hahahahahahahahahahaha!

KT said...

That's one expensive milk, too expensive for the feet. Face mask maybe?

Blur Ting said...

This is one recipe I won't try cos I don't like goat. CH, a mutton lover, doesn't get it when I said it has goat smell. Once we bought goat cheese at a farmer's market in France and the stench was so strong, even he couldn't stomach it. We tossed it in the nearest bin!

KT said...

Goat cheese smells like someone who hasn't washed for a long time. That explains why the French love it so much. When Napoleon was about to return to Josephine after a long battle, he sent a messenger to tell her, 'Don't bathe.'

Seriously though, not all mutton/goat meat smells.

Nicole said...

Hi I m wondering if the link to your stew mutton was removed? I was redirected to a blank page. Thanks

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