March 30, 2011

All Foods White and Tempting!

When we think of the color white, we think of weddings, fragrant paper white blossoms of lilies, and white icing on cakes. In western cultures the color White is associated with purity, goodness, and innocence. However, in Asian cultures white is more often associated with the more somber aspects of life. When it comes to food, however, these cultural associations rarely apply. White food like milk, rice, and flour are bland and thus sugar and other seasonings are added to create different tastes and flavors to fit the mood of the occasion. I thought it would be fun to showcase some of the recipes in MzTasty's Kitchen using a new theme: by color. This compilation features a selection of sweets and snacks to whet one's appetite. (Mouseover picture to view recipe).

March 27, 2011

Shanghai Noodles Soup in Brown Meat Sauce

When I have a craving for noodles, I usually cook a bowl of this Shanghainese noodle soup. It is a simple dish of meat and pickled mustard greens in brown sauce. I had this many years ago at a friend's house and I remembered how she would make her own noodles and spend hours washing the fresh mustard greens and pickle them in salt. Nowadays, you can easily purchase these plastic wrapped pickled mustard greens in Chinese supermarkets. I loved mine served with sambal belachan, a spicy hot chili sauce with shrimp paste) on the side.
1 lb Shanghai noodles (or fresh or packaged Udon noodles)
½ lb lean grounded pork, or beef
2 (12 oz.) pickled fresh mustard greens (washed and drained well)
2 slices of ginger, minced
5 cups low salt chicken broth
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 eggs, beaten (for garnishing)
Fried minced garlic (optional)
1 Tbsp. dark black soy sauce
1 Tbsp. dark sweet sauce
2 tsp. soy paste
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. light soy sauce
2 tsp. Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
3 tsp. cornstarch
1. Mixed the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Heat some oil in a pan pour half of the egg mixture to form a thin omelet. Flip over and brown both sides of omelette. Remove and cook the rest of the egg mixture to make 2 omelettes. When cooled enough to handle, roll omelettes and cut into thin strips.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan and fry ginger until fragrant but not brown. Fry the mustard greens for about 10 minutes until fragrant. Add the grounded pork and fry until pork is no longer pink and cooked evenly, then add in the sauce ingredients, followed by the 4 cups of the broth. Stir to mix well and turn heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes until greens are soft and sauce has thickened slightly. Add more broth to the mixture if you like it more soupy. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
3. Divide noodles into individual bowls and pour meat sauce gravy on top. Garnish with egg strips and fried garlic.
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March 22, 2011

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Satay or "Sate" was originated from Java, Indonesia. It is also popular in other Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. It is an authentic and a popular dish consisting of richly spiced meat (chicken, pork, beef) on bamboo skewers. The meat is grilled over a wood or charcoal fire and served with a spicy peanut sauce, onions, cucumbers and ketupat (pressed rice cubes.) When I was a kid growing up in Malaysia, my friends and I would wait anxiously for our regular satay vendor. On his shoulder he had a long wooden stick to carry two hugh rattan baskets--a hot charcoal stove on one, and the other basket his famous satay. We would squat near his hot stove and watched hungrily while he cooked our satay. was the best Satay I've tasted!
2-3 lbs chicken thigh meat
2 stalks lemon grass, crushed
bamboo skewers, soak overnight with a few drops of oil
oil for basting
3 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. cinnamon powder
5-6 shallots, diced finely
2 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. tumeric powder
1-2 Tbsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsps. oil
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
Peanut Sauce:
300 gms raw skinless peanuts, roasted
2 Tbsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. ginger powder
2 tsp. galangal powder
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 onion, cut in chunks
3 cloves garlic
2 stalks lemon grass, grind finely
4 Tbsp. chilli paste
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup tamarind paste (or 3-4 Tbsp. tamarind, mix with water to get about ½ cup)
3 Tbsp. oil
1. Cut meat into 1-inch strips, drain and set aside. In a bowl mix the seasoning ingredients together to form a smooth paste. Taste and test the marinade--it should be spicy, salty and sweet, adjust to your taste. Add more chili if you want a spicier satay. Marinate the meat well with this mixture at least 4 hours or overnight. Pierce meat on bamboo skewers. Set aside in refrigerator while you prepare the dipping sauce.

2. To make peanut sauce: In a pan on medium heat, pan roast raw peanuts till golden brown. Cool, and grind peanuts to resembles like breadcrumbs. Set aside.
3. Mix all the spices, brown sugar and chilli to a paste. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil and fry mixture until fragrant until a thin layer of oil forms on top of mixture. Lower heat and add tamarind juice and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Add sugar and 3/4 of the peanuts. If mixture is too thick, add a little more tamarind juce and a little more sugar if you like it sweeter. The taste should be spicy hot with a balance of sweet and sour taste.
4. Prepare charcoals for grilling. Grill meat over burning coal, constantly basting with cooking oil over the meat using the crushed lemon grass as a brush. Turn chicken over and baste with oil. Grilled till cooked on both sides.
5. To serve, arrange a few sticks of satay on a plate, accompanied with peanut sauce, sliced cucumber, onions, and compressed rice (ketupat)
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March 21, 2011

White Chocolate Tart

White Chocolate--what's there not to love about this exquisite ingredient? It's rich and full of flavor. This delicate and decadent tart is simply delicious for any occasion. Who can resist a slice?
1 pack frozen short crust pastry, thawed
1 egg white, beaten
Tart pan(s) with removable bottom
aluminum foil
pastry weights or beans
200 gm. white baking chocolate
450 gm. mascarpone cheese
5/8 cup whipping cream (150 ml)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Roll out pastry crust to about 1-inch thick, and carefully place onto tart pan. Trim excess pastry. Line pastry surface with aluminum foil and spread pastry weights on top.
3. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes until slightly brown. Remove paper weights and brush over the pastry and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven set aside to cool.
4. To make the filling, break chocolate into small chunks. Place chocolate and half of the mascarpone cheese in a metal bowl over a pot of water simmering on medium low heat. Be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir the chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon until it is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
5. Pour the remaining mascarpone into the chocolate mixture. Beat with an electric beater on low speed until smooth. Fold and mix in the whipping cream.
6. Spoon mixture into the baked pastry shell. Chill for 5-6 hours until sets. Serve with fresh fruits if preferred.
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March 20, 2011


Kheer is Indian for rice pudding and is quite similar to the western rice pudding. It is a traditional Indian dessert made with rice, sugar and cream. It is often flavored with cardamon and other delicate spices. This creamy rice pudding makes a great dessert served either warm or chilled.
½ cup Basmati rice
4¼ cups of milk
4 cardamons, crushed
4 Tbsp. sugar
some chopped nuts for garnishing
some raisins (optional)
1. Wash and drain rice well. Bring milk, rice and spices to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer until rice becomes soft and translucent like porridge. Stir occasionally to prevent rice sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add more water or milk if mixture is too dry.
2. Add sugar and raisins (if used). Stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove cardamons before serving. Serve warm and sprinkle chopped nuts on top.
Printable Recipes

March 19, 2011

White HoneyComb Cake/Pak Tong Gou

"Pak Tong Gou" is basically White Sugar Cake in Cantonese. It is a popular and classic street food in Malaysia. It is a steamed white spongy cake that is springy and the texture resembles a honeycomb when sliced. This is one of the many simple joys of my favorite childhood snack.
1 cup sugar
2¼ cups rice flour
2 cups water
2 stalks of pandan leaves, knotted
1 tsp. pandan essense (if pandan leaves not available)
1½ tsp. instant yeast
2 Tbsp. lukewarm water
1 Tbsp. oil
A greased pan
1. Add rice flour into a mixing bowl, stir in half of the water and mix well.
2. Add sugar, pandan leaves or pandan essense and rest of water. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Remove from stove and let it sit to cool down slightly. Pour into the flour mixture and stir with well until a thick, gooey texture is achieved. Strain through a sieve and set aside.
3. Prepare yeast by adding water into a small bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let it sit undisturbed for about two minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast. Set aside until the mixture becomes frothy. Note: If it does not bubble after five minutes, the yeast is no good as the water is either too hot or too cold. Discard and do it again.
4. Add the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir well to mix. Cover with a clean towel and keep in a warm place to allow the mixture to ferment between 5-8 hours. The mixture should be double in volumne and bubbly on the surface.
5. Add oil to the mixture and stir well. Pour into prepared tray and steam over high heat for 20-25 minutes. Allow cake to cook before slicing.
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March 13, 2011

Indian Flatbread with Potato/Aloo Naan

Naan is a popular leavened flat bread that is served by itself or with any curry sauce. The word, "Aloo" is potato and Aloo Naan is basically bread stuffed with potatoes and spices. It is easy to make at home and you can freeze them for up to a month.
(Adapted by
Potato Filling:
3 medium potatoes, peeled
1 chopped green pepper, seeds removed
1 tsp. cumin powder
½ tsp. mango powder (amchur)
1 tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. chili powder
½ cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2½ Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ cups lukewarm water
¼ cup flour for rolling and dusting
2 tsp. ghee or clarified butter
some oil
a baking or pizza stone for baking
1. Preheat oven to 500°F with the baking stone on the middle shelf.
2. Add two tablespoon of lukewarm water into a small bowl and sprinkle dry yeast on top. Let it sit undisturbed for about two minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast. Set aside until the mixture becomes frothy. Note: If it does not bubble after five minutes, the yeast is no good as the water is either too hot or too cold. Discard and do it again.
3. In a mixing bowl add sugar, salt, and baking soda to the flour and stir to mix well. Add oil and yogurt and mix to a crumbly dough (the mixture tends to be sticky). Add in the prepared yeast and water (only as needed to form the dough)
4. Knead the dough with your fingers until smooth in texture. Cover with a warm towel and keep in a warm place for 3-4 hours. The dough should double in size and volume.
5. Cut potatoes in halves and steamed them until they are tender and cooked. Remove and let it cool in a bowl. Once potatoes have cooled down, mash it to a fine texture without lumps. Add the rest of the fillings ingredients and season to taste.
6. Gently dust the rolling pin and counter top. Knead the dough for about two minutes and divide the dough into six portions. Divide the fillings into six smaller portions.
7. Roll the dough into a circle and place the potato filling ball in the center. Pull the edges of the dough to wrap the potato filling, pinching the edges to seal. Do the same to the rest of the dough and fillings. Set aside for about 3-4 minutes. Lightly dust one ball and roll it flat to a 5-inch circle. Do the same for the rest of the balls.
8. Turn oven to a high broil. Before putting the bread into the oven, oil the palms of your hands and flip naan between your palms to oil both sides of the bread. Place naan on the baking stone (2-3 at a time depending on the size of the baking stone) Bake for 2-3 minutes until the naan is puffy and golden in color. Remove and brush with ghee or clarified butter. Let the oven heat for another 3 minutes before baking the rest of the bread.
Printable Recipe
Cook's Note: Be sure to check the expiration date on the yeast packet as dead yeast will not activate or bubble. The temperature of the water is also important for the yeast to activate. It should be lukewarm (between 110°-115°F), when tested with a thermometer. The water should be just warm to touch, like the temperature you would prepare a baby bottle.

March 12, 2011

Spicy Curry Noodles/Curry Laksa

Curry Laksa, is a popular hawker’s food in Malaysia and Singapore. It goes by many names--Curry Laksa, Curry Mee or Laksa Lemak. It is a spicy noodle dish with a rich flavor of fragrant spices infused in coconut milk. What does the word, Laksa means? Literally, it is the Indonesian word for “ten thousand” perhaps inspired by the many different ingredients that can be placed on top of this noodle dish. There are two types of laksa: a coconut based soup and the tamarind based Assam Laksa. I’ve had many versions--the basic is a rich and spicy coconut gravy with fried tofu, bean sprouts, fish cake, hard boiled egg and cockles (a saltwater clam), accompanied with a hot chili paste. For this post, I will be making the coconut version which I will be prepare with chicken pieces and prawns. For you noodle lovers—shall I tempt you with a bowl of curry laksa?

1 package cooked yellow or spaghetti noodles
½ lb. fresh prawns, pan fried and shelled
Fried tofu cubes (halved and quartered)
Cockles, scaled and remove meat (optional)
8 chicken thighs, cut into bite sized
1 canned coconut cream
1 ½ cans coconut milk
2 stalks Indian curry leaves
Cooking oil
4 stalks lemon grass, chopped in 2-inch lengths
5 candlenuts (buah keras)
10 dried chilies, (pre-soaked in water)
1 piece belachan (2-inch)
1 red onion, chopped
5 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic
¾ cup dried shrimps, presoaked
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. coriander powder (ketumbar)
A handful of daun kesom and mint leaves
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
Bean sprouts, scalded
Cucumber, julienned
1. Blend spices and pre-soaked dried shrimps to a smooth texture and set aside. Cook noodles according to instruction on package.

2. Heat 4 tablespoon of oil in frying pan over high heat. Add in curry leaves and blended spices. Reduce heat and cooked over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is fragrant and most of the liquid has evaporated, with a thin layer of oil on the surface.
3. Add in the chicken meat and fry until the meat is coated with the chili paste. Add in half of the coconut milk and bring to a boil for about 20 minutes or until the full flavor of the spices has impregnated the gravy. Then add in the coconut cream and bring to a boil before turning off heat. Season to taste and add more water or coconut milk if you prefer thinner gravy. Remove from heat and set in a cool place.
4. To serve, simply put a handful of scalded bean sprouts into individual serving bowl and top with cooked noodles. Scoop hot gravy over noodles and garnish with fried prawns, cucumber, daun kesom, mint leaves, eggs and chilli paste.
Cook’s note: You can cook the spice paste ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator. To remove the oily smell from fried tofu cubes, heat some hot boiling water in a pot and add in tofu. Cover and let steep for about 5-8 minutes. Squeeze out excess water from tofu when water has cooled down.
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Pork in Chinese Herbal Tea/Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh, literary means "Meat Bones Herbal Tea" and it is a dish that is popular in Malaysia and Singapore. It is basically a hearty meal of various cuts of pork simmered in an assortment of Chinese medicinal herbs that is nourishing and healthy for the body. Legend has it that this soup originated with the Chinese migrants who worked as hard laborers in Southeast Asia during the 19th century. In order to have enough energy to cope with the demanding nature of their job, they needed a hearty breakfast and hence, this soup was conceived. My mother would usually make this from scratch and would get the herbal concoction from the Chinese medicine shop. A friend mailed me a few packages of these pre-mix Bak Kut Teh Herbs and I am going to give it a try.
2 ½ lbs. pork bones
1 ½ lbs. pork spare ribs, cut into 2-inch length
1 ½ lbs. fresh side belly pork, cut into 2-inch length
Fried tofu puffs, halved and quartered
12 dried shitake mushrooms, pre-soaked with water
2 packets Bak Kut Teh
1 piece Dong Quai root, cut into pieces (Chinese angelica sinensis)
1 stick cinnamon
6 pieces star anise
2 whole garlic, unpeeled (pre-roast in oven)
5-10 peppercorns
½ cup soy sauce (good quality)
5 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
Butter Rice:
3 shallots, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add scald pork bones and meat for about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat when there is a layer of scum or impurities floating on top. Rinse the meat and bones under running water and return to a clean pot.
2. Bring to a boil on high for about 20 minutes, add in mushrooms and roasted garlic. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour until meat is tender. Remove the pork belly and spare ribs, leaving the bones, mushrooms and spices in the pot. Add soy sauces, fried tofu puffs and simmer for another hour. Season to taste if needed.
3. Fry shallots in one tablespoon of oil until crispy and brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Wash rice and cook in rice cooker. Before the rice cooker's warm button comes up, quickly mix in melted butter and shallots into the cooked rice. Stir to mix well, and press warm button to keep rice warm.
4. To serve, spoon meat and tofu in a pot and pour in hot soup. Serve with steamed rice or butter rice.
Cook's note: If you want to make this soup from scratch, the ingredients are translated verbatim from the package. 20 g each of Chinese angelica sinensis root, 5 pieces licorice root, 10 gm chuan xiong, 2 cinnamon sticks,  30 gm. yu zu, 40 gm. dang shen, dried tangerine peel, dried cukor, and cloves.
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March 6, 2011


A samosa is a deep fried conical shaped turnover filled with potatoes, (peas) and spices. It is a Northern India specialty and is popular as an apertizer or an afternoon snack. Samosas are typically served with freshly made mint sauce and a sweet tamarind-date sauce. It really brings out the full flavor of this wonderful snack. Enjoy!
Ingredients: (Makes about 12)
Adapted and inspired by Manjula'skitchen)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. soji or semolina flour
2 Tbsp. oil
pinch of salt
½ cup lukewarm water
Oil for deep frying (about 48 fl. oz)
4 medium sized red potatoes
½ red onion, minced
½ cup peas
3 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. mustard seeds
½ tsp. red chili powder
2 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. garam masala
2 tsp. Amchur powder (dehydrated mango powder)
2 green chilies, chopped and seeds removed
1. Peel and pre-cooked potatoes until just tender but firm. Chop into small pieces.
2. In a mixing bowl, add flour, soji, oil and salt and mix well until it resembles fine crumbs. Add in water and knead to form a smooth dough for about 8-10 minutes. Leave in bowl to sit for about 20 minutes.
3. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat. sauté onion and chilies until soft for about 2 minutes, followed by the rest of the spices. Fry until fragrant, add peas and potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
4. Roll dough into a log and divide into six equal portions. Take a portion of the dough and roll into a 5-inch round and cut into half. Take a piece of the half circle and gently moisten with some water around the edges. Take the two corners and shape into a cone. Use your fingers to pinch to seal the edges. Hold the cone between your thumb and fingers (like holding an ice cream cone) and stuff the inside with samosa filling. Pinch and seal the top openings to close the edges and make sure no fillings is poking through the dough. Do the same to the rest of the dough.

5. Heat oil in deep frying pan on high until bubbling, reduce to medium heat. Using a ladle slowly drop 2-3 samosas into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with sauce.Tips: The oil is hot enough when you insert a dry chopstick and it is bubbling at the chopstick tip. It should register between 350 and 375 F. Always add enough oil to submerge the food to be deep-fried, making sure there is enough space at the top of the pot or wok for the oil level to rise when the food is dropped in.

Cook's note: You can freeze uncooked samosas for at least a week. Simply heat oil and fry them.

Tangy Mint Sauce

This is another delightful sauce to serve with Samosas. It is made with cilantro, mint and jazz up with lemon juice. It is easy and simple to make.
1 big bunch of cilantro, washed
½ cup mint leaves, washed
1 green serrano chili, chopped and seeds removed
½ tsp. cumin powder
1 small piece of ginger
juice from 3 lemons
3 Tbsp. sugar
3-4 Tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. oil
salt to taste
1. Blend all the above ingredients, except the cilantro and mint leaves into a fine paste. Add the cilantro and mint in batches and blend. Add some more water if needed. Season and adjust taste with lemon juice and sugar. Remove and store in refrigerator or freeze them immediately to retain it's green color.
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March 5, 2011

Tamarind and Date Sauce

This is a tangy and sweet sauce to serve with Samosas. It is made with concentrated tamarind paste and dried dates. You can easily get the tamarind paste in Indian grocery stores.
½ cup tamarind paste
½ cup chopped dried dates
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup water
1. Blend the above ingredients to a smooth texture. Remove and pour mixture into a small saucepan cook on medium heat to dissolve sugar. Season to taste with more sugar or add enough water if mixture is too thick.
2. Remove from heat and store in refrigerator for up to a week.
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March 3, 2011

Couscous with Spinach & Sundried Tomatoes

Couscous is pasta made from semolina (the hard part of wheat) and shape into pellets that resembles tiny grains of pasta. There are a few variety of couscous: Moroccan, Israeli and Lebanese. The former is the most common and cooks quickly, while the latter two are larger in size and take longer to cook. To complement and enhance the flavor you can add an endless selection of ingredients. One of my favorites is chopped nuts, cheese and dried fruits to give it an exotic flair. Here’s my recipe for this Mediterranean-inspired dish. You can also serve this as a side dish with your meat dishes. Enjoy!
Israeli couscous
1 cup Israeli couscous or Moroccan couscous
1 ½ cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 bunch baby spinach
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ cup dried tomatoes, chopped
½ cup raisins
½ cup toasted pine nuts or almonds
1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
a pinch of salt
dash of paprika
crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1. In a saucepan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté couscous over medium heat until it is light browned about 5 minutes. Slowly add in the vegetable or chicken broth (if used) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep warm while you prepared the rest of the ingredients. Note: If using Moroccan couscous, bring water or broth to a boil and add couscous. Cover and remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a skillet, sauté onions and garlic in some oil until tender. Stir in dried spices, tomatoes, and raisins. Fry until well mixed and fragrant. Add in spinach to cook until slightly wilted, then add in the pine nuts.
3. Using a fork to fluff the cooked couscous and mix it with the spinach mixture. Season to taste and sprinkle lemon zest or feta cheese (if used) on top. You can serve this as a side dish for those of you who love
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March 1, 2011

Five Herbal Soup

Soups are important in most traditional Chinese household. This is one of my favorite as it is nutritious and easy to prepare. It is good to have this soup any day of the week as it is energizes the Qi and nourishes the body. The herbs can be found in Chinese medicinal halls or Chinese supermarkets.
Ingredients: (serves 2-4)
10 pieces "Tong Sum" (codonopsis pilosula)
10 pieces "Wai San" (rhizoma dioscoreae)
10 pieces "Park Kei" (astragulus root)
½ cup "Kei chi" or wolfberries (fructus lycii)
10 dried red dates
2 lbs pork bones
1-2 lbs lean pork
1. Rinse pork bones and cut meat into thick chunks. Add meat and enough water to a big pot and bring to a rolling boil. Remove and rinse off the scums and impurities until water runs clear.
2. Add enough water to cover the meat and return to stove and bring to a boil. Cut dried herbs in short lengths and add into the soup. Cook on high heat uncover for about 10 minutes. Return lid to the pot and simmer on low for about 3 hours or until meat is soft and soup is fragrant from the herbs. Season with salt.
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