Amaranth and salted duck egg soup
There’s a Chinese phrase that translates to “enough fire” to describe something that’s been cooked for enough time to build depth of flavour. There are two kinds of Chinese soups; those that are quickly simmered and the slow cooked variety that takes at least three hours to complete.
This is a speedy soup that is wonderful nonetheless.
Last night I made a soup with a big bunch of red striped amaranth that I bought on the weekend. Having eaten amaranth for years, it never occurred to me to find out its English name until this week. Amaranth seems to be eaten in many cultures but it’s something I always thought of as a Chinese vegetable. Sometimes sold as Chinese spinach, my grandmother used to grow it when I little when Asian greens weren’t as readily available.
High in iron, protein and vitamins, amaranth is distinctive tasting with a tender, yielding texture. Use it as you would spinach. To cook simply, saute the greens with some garlic, a little oil and salt. I like how as amaranth cooks, vivid raspberry-red juices seep out, tinting everything with a pink wash. This rich colour belies its mild taste.
Sliced pork and salted duck egg complement the vegetable and make for a filling soup that makes a great meal. I cut the firm yolk to simmer in first and then swirled the salted egg white right at the end to finalise the seasoning. Serve some steamed rice on the side and a healthy, interesting dinner is on the table in half an hour. If you don’t eat meat, substitute some vegetable stock for the water and throw in sliced tofu and fresh enoki mushrooms to warm through at the end for a vegetarian version.
Feeds: Four people for a light meal (served with rice)
Start cooking: 30 minutes before eating
- 1 large bunch x amaranth
- 2 litres x water
- 250 grams x pork neck/ pork loin
- 2 x whole garlic cloves
- 2 x salted duck egg
- 2 teaspoons x vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon x sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon x light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon x white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon x salt
- Slice pork and mix with sesame oil, light soy sauce and pepper. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
- Wash the amaranth, being careful to rinse off all of the grit before draining. Break stems and leaves with your hands to the width of your palm. Set aside.
- Heat up the vegetable in a medium saucepan. Throw in the garlic cloves and roll in oil until fragrant but not coloured.
- Pour water into saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Add sliced pork and salt, stir and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Crack salted duck eggs and separate the yolk and white. Cut the egg yolk into eighths.
- Add vegetables and egg yolk to the pot and cook for 2 minutes until vegetables are tender and soup is tinted pink. The colour will continue to deepen further.
- Just before serving, slowly pour in egg white and swirl gently to create tiny egg white ribbons.
- Turn off the heat, taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serve the soup hot, making sure to give everyone some amaranth, pork and duck egg.