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SOUP 140

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BIRD'S NEST SOUP

 

           

1 cup loosely packed dried bird's nest

1 whole chicken breast, about 3/4 LBS.

1/4 cup cold water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

2 egg whites

1 quart chicken stock, fresh or canned

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold chicken stock, or cold water

A l1/8 inch-thick slice cooked Smith­field ham, minced

 

 

Place the bird's nest in a medium-sized bowl, add enough warm water to cover and soak the nest for 3 hours. Then, with a pair of tweezers, carefully remove any protruding feathers. Wash the nest thoroughly under running water. Place the bird's nest in a small saucepan, cover it with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil it un­covered for 5 minutes, then drain and discard the water.

Make chicken velvet in the following fashion: Lay the whole unsplit chicken breast on its side on a chopping board. Holding the breast firmly in place with one hand, cut it lengthwise along the curved breastbone with a cleaver or sharp knife. Carefully cut away all the meat from one side of the breastbone. Then grasp the meat in one hand and pull it off the bones and away from the skin-using the cleaver to free the meat if necessary. Turn the breast over and repeat on the other side. Remove each tube-shaped fillet from the rest of the breast meat, and pull out and dis­card the white tendon in each fillet. Chop the fillets coarsely into small bits. Holding the front of one main breast section, scrape the meat away from its membrane with repeated light strokes of the cleaver. Repeat with the other side of the breast.

Combine the breast meat with the fillets and then mince finely, adding about 1/4 cup of water-a little at a time-as you work. Place the minced chicken in a mixing bowl, sprinkle it with the cornstarch and salt, and stir together gently but thoroughly with your hand or a large spoon. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a fork or whisk until they are frothy, then pour them into the chicken mixture and mix thoroughly. The finished chicken velvet should be light and fluffy.

Have the bird's nest, chicken velvet, chicken stock, white pepper, corn­starch mixture and ham within easy reach.

TO COOK: In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Drop in the bird's nest, bring to a boil again, then re­duce the heat to low and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the white pepper. Give the cornstarch mixture a quick stir to recombine it and add to the pan stirring constantly until it thickens. Add chicken velvet, stir once or twice

,remove from heat. Pour into a tureen, sprinkle with ham and serve. Serves 6

 

SHARK'S FIN SOUP

 

 4 ounces precooked and cleaned shark's fin

 4 dried Chinese mushrooms, 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter       ,

1 whole chicken breast, about 3/4 pound

4 cups chicken stock, fresh or canned

1 teaspoon soy sauce

11/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold chicken stock, or cold water

1 slice Smithfield ham, 1/8 inch thick, cut into fine shreds 1-1/2 to 2 inches long and 1/8inch wide

 

 In a small saucepan, cover the shark's fin with 4 cups of cold water and soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain off the soaking water, add 4 cups of fresh cold water to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour. Drain off the water, rinse the shark's fin well under cold running water and drain again.            ­

In a small bowl, cover the mushrooms with 1/2 cup warm water and let them soak for 30 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and dis­card the water. With a cleaver or sharp knife, cut away and discard the tough stems of the mushrooms and shred the caps by placing them, one at a time, flat on a chopping board, then cutting each of the caps into paper-thin slices horizontally. Cut the slices into the thinnest possible strips.

Bone, skin and shred the chicken breast in the following fashion: Lay the whole chicken breast on its side on a chopping board. Holding the breast firmly in place with your hand, cut it lengthwise through the skin, along the curved breastbone, with a cleaver or sharp knife. Carefully cut all the meat from the bones on one side of the breastbone. Then grasp the meat in one hand and pull it off the bones and away from the skin -using the cleaver to free the meat if necessary. Turn the breast over and repeat on the other side. Remove each tube-shaped fillet from the boned breast meat, and pull out and discard the white threadlike mem­branes. Lay the breast meat and fillets flat and cut them horizontally into paper-thin slices. Then cut the slices into shreds about 11/2 to 2 inches long and 1/8 inch wide.

 In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, bring the chicken stock, shark's fin, soy sauce, salt and pepper to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add the chicken and mushrooms, and stir thoroughly. Give the cornstarch mixture a quick stir to recombine. Serves 6