Friday, January 30, 2009

Comforts from the kitchen

I know from reading our blog, it sometimes seems as if I'm the only one who does the cooking at home, but really, Jude's a pretty mean cook himself. Especially if you get him craving something enough, or inspired enough, he'll take over the kitchen and whip up something so cool, it'll knock your socks off :) Like a couple of weeks ago when I was fighting a cough and cold from the crazy weather- he wanted to make me something soupy and also happened to be craving Soto Ayam after reading this NYTimes article about soups from Southeast Asia. So what does my husband do? He puts me to bed and orders me not to get up till he tells me to, and 3 hours later, I wake up to this:

It was delicious, comforting, evocative, and just most wonderful. Really, there is no better cure for the flu than your husband making you any kind of soup, especially one that almost immediately floods you with memories of home :) It helped too that we have the actual book from which the recipe comes: James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor, a birthday present from Jude a couple of years ago.

Tonight, we decided to try recreating another soup from home from the book. No, neither one of us is under the weather; just greedy and missing home during the Chinese New Year season. Besides, for some reason, we've been craving this one particular soup for the past couple of weeks. Itek Tim is a tangy Peranakan duck soup simmered with salted mustard greens (kiam chye) and preserved dried plums (sng muay). This is one of my favorite soups from home and I beg my mom to make her definitive kick-ass version every time we're home. Unfortunately, we couldn't find fresh duck here (we're going to check out Plum Market tomorrow) so we used a combination of chicken and pork ribs. Once again, the force was strong in Jude, and he was prepping the ingredients before I even had a chance to step into the kitchen. He bruised the ginger and nutmeg, I chopped the chicken; he measured out the seasonings, I washed the mustard greens. Following Oseland's recipe almost to a T (we didn't have brandy and had to use whiskey instead, though...), between the two of us, I think we pulled off a pretty decent version. My mom would be proud :)

The soup has to simmer for an hour and a half but by the hour mark, the two of us were finding it really hard to resist the delicious smells wafting through the house. It's a wonderfully complex tasting soup- the combination of the flavor of the meats with the sweet-saltiness of the vegetables, mingling with the tanginess of the dried plums, and then there's the added layer of that certain something something that dances at the back of your throat from the nutmeg, pepper, ginger, and whiskey that was used to briefly marinate the meats.

Truly, people, it was pure soup bliss... :)


Dooks said...

i want .... sob boo hooo!

Dot said...

Again, this looks amazing. I am seriously starting a petition to move Jude and Serene to Seattle.

miss susana said...

I was looking for ways to use my mustard greens. This looks better than my omelet idea :)