Friday, January 20, 2017

House Special Soup! ~ Pork Tenderloin, Surimi, Wakame and Lotus Root

     A Hearty Southeast Asian Style Soup!
     I decided to make a soup to start my day today, instead of settling for an average bacon and egg breakfast at a local diner.  Sometimes a decision like this is subconscious, because the body craves something to maintain good health.  A soup with high proteins, vegetables and wakame seaweed sounded like a good choice.  Quickly made Asian style soups like this have good nutritional value and there are some intangible effects.  A broth soup with high proteins, vegetables and seaweed actually does help to maintain balance, especially during the winter cold and flu season.  
     Cooked food nearly always offers more efficient uptake of nutrients than most raw food.  The exception is fruit.  Those who believe raw food is healthy are really only benefiting from a portion of the available nutrients that could be digested if the raw food was cooked.
     Ancient food history does provide evidence of how lifespans nearly doubled after mankind harnessed fire and began cooking food.  Part of the reason for extended lifespans is cooking eliminated most food borne illness.  The other reason is that cooked food offered more available nutrients that are easy to digest.  A loss of potential nutrients can potentially occur with many raw foods.  Raw food nutrients can exit the body along with fibrous carbohydrates, because the food never had a chance to break down into readily available components within the digestive tract.
     A pot of soup always has a broth or liquid medium of some kind.  Nutrients from the solid ingredients are broken down and they become part of the broth.  Soup broth offers nutrients that are easily absorbed by the digestive tract.  Soup broth provides nutrition quickly and efficiently, especially when the immune system is compromised.      
     I had a piece of pork tenderloin and a roll of surimi in my refrigerator after recently doing some shopping in Chinatown.  Those items made it into the list of ingredients for today's soup.  On an Asian restaurant menu, soups that combine various meats, seafood and vegetables are often given the name "House Special."  Often the name of the restaurant is part of the menu item title and this designates the item as being a house special.  For example, a Thai Pho Tom Soup that combines pork, fish, vegetables and chicken may read on a menu as "Pho Tom + The Name Of The Restaurant" on a menu.  Usually a house special soup offers pretty good value from a nutritional standpoint.  When considering that the Asian restaurant industry has been around for a few thousand years longer than the restaurant industry in western society, it is easy to see that using the words "House Special" is an effective soup marketing tool!
     Lotus Root is starchy like a potato and it adds some eye appeal to today's soup.  Lotus Root takes a bit of simmering time to become tender and it is best when it still has a slightly crisp texture.  Thai Basil and lime juice are added last, so the flavors remain crisp and bright.

     Wakame Seaweed Preparation:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Salt Packed Dried Wakame is dried, but the seaweed is still moist and it is actually alive.  Salt Packed Dried Wakame reconstitutes quickly and it looks like fresh harvested seaweed in a short time.
     Rinse the salt off of a few strands of salt packed dried wakame seaweed.  (About 1/6 cup)
     Soak the seaweed in water till it reconstitutes.
     Cut the seaweed into large bite size pieces and set them aside.
     Pork Tenderloin:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Lightly season a 5 ounce piece of pork tenderloin with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan or mini wok over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add the pork tenderloin.
     Sear the pork tenderloin on all sides, till it is lightly browned.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the pork tenderloin is fully cooked.  Simmer till the excess liquid evaporates sauce clings to the pork.
     Keep the pork tenderloin warm on a stove top.

     House Special Soup! ~ Pork Tenderloin, Surimi, Wakame and Lotus Root:
     This recipe yields 3 1/4 cups.  (1 large hearty portion of soup)
     Surimi is available in a wide variety of shapes and colors.  A round cylinder shaped Surimi with a pink spiral design is a common garnish for soups.  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 3 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Saute till the garlic and ginger become aromatic.  (About 5 to 10 seconds is all it takes!)
     Step 2:  Add 3 1/2 cups of light pork broth.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Korean style Coarse Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste.  (sambal)
     Bring the broth to a boil.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved sliced wakame seaweed.
     Add 5 or 6 thin slices of peeled lotus root.
     Boil till the lotus root starts to become tender.
     *Allow the broth to reduce to about 3 1/2 cups.  Only add water if the broth reduces too much.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of thin bias sliced carrot.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced mushrooms.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Boil the soup till the vegetables start to become tender.  (About 4 to 5 minutes.)
     *Allow the volume of the soup to reduce to about 3 1/4 cups.  Only add water if necessary.
     Step 5:  Add 5 or 6 slices of Fancy Surimi that are 3/16" thick.  (About 3 ounces.)
     Boil the soup for about 30 seconds, so the Surimi becomes hot.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Stir the soup.
     Step 7:  Ladle the soup into a large soup bowl.
     Try to place a few pieces of the lotus root and surimi on the surface of the soup, so they can be seen.
     Step 8:  Cut the pork tenderloin into bias slices and place them on top of the soup.
     Step 9:  Sprinkle 2 bias sliced thin green onions on the soup.
     Sprinkle a few small Thai Basil leaves on the surface of the soup.
     Garnish with a large sprig of Thai Basil.

     Soups like today's House Special Soup are served in Las Vegas Thai and Vietnamese restaurants.  With noodles or without noodles, a soup like this is quite appealing to those who live the Las Vegas timeless lifestyle.  Taking vitamin pills is a proven waste of money.  A soup like this provides better vitamin and mineral uptake!

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