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Chinese Salted Vegetables with Tofu Soup Recipe

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | Labels: , , , , |

As most of my readers may realise by now, I am a huge fan of Cantonese slow-fire soups (老火汤) which is essentially soup that is simmered over low heat for at least a few hours, hence the term 'slow-fire'.  Slow-fire soups are usually a clear broth made with some meat and flavoured with the vegetable of choice.  Today, I would like to feature a very popular soup ingredient, the salted vegetable or known as 'ham choi' in Cantonese which apart from adding rich flavour to soups, is said to have 'heat-reducing' properties. 


There appears to be many variations to this soup where instead of pork, one can opt to use duck.  When I was browsing through a Nyonya cookbook, it appears that they like to add tamarind as well to the soup which adds a nice sour note to the soup.  I opted to use tomatoes instead which also provided an appetizing note as I had tofu in my list of ingredients and I thought they went better together.


Whenever I use Chinese smoked ham, I do not need to add salt to the soup which I prefer, see my Chinese sharksfin melon soup  where I wrote briefly on this yummy ingredient. 

Salted vegetable, soaked in water


15 cups of water
1 whole salted vegetable (soaked for 30 minutes to 1 hour), cut
2 inch worth of Chinese smoked ham
Handful of dried oysters
1 pig's trotter (optional)
1 kg worth of spare ribs
1 packet of silken soft tofu, quartered
4 tomatoes, quartered and seeded (the seeding part is optional)
Green onions and cilantro, chopped (garnish - optional)



Firstly, soak the salted vegetable for about 30 minutes, tear off a small piece and chew to test for the level of saltiness.  If still too salty, soak for another 30 minutes and taste again.  Set aside.

Blanch the spare ribs and pig's trotter to remove impurities.  Drain and set aside. 

In a large soup pot, place the water and the ingredients together.  Bring to a boil.  Once rapidly boiling, turn the heat to low and cover leaving a little bit of a crack.  Check frequently to make sure soup does not boil over.  Boil for about 5-6 hours and serve hot.  Garnish with some green onions and cilantro if desired.  Add salt if desired but I did not as the flavours were already very rich with all my ingredients.

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tigerfish said...

Me too! Like a good bowl of soup anytime :)

noobcook said...

I love 老火汤 too! This is one of my favourite soups :)

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

yeah - a good bowl of soup is so comforting to the soul :)

TasteHongKong said...

When staying out, I always miss home-made soups, slow-cooked ones in particular.

Carolyn Jung said...

The pig's trotter caught my eye first. My late-Dad loved pig's feet like crazy. This dish definitely makes me think of him.

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

THK - yeah, I really love these kind of soups

Carolyn - pig's feet can be yummy :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen,

Think I have to ban myself from coming to your blog for at least 1 week!

Seeing this killer "Xian Cai Tang" is the reason. :-p For me, this is consider a big challenge as my mum can cook this very well so there's a benchmark. I intend to do this recipe this weekend as I will be using duck as per mum's recipe. And I need to look for a bigger pot.

One note about this soup is that it gets tastier the longer the soup is cooked. You can also add the soup to a bowl of boiled bee hoon (vermicelli).

Will keep you updated once I complete this weekend project. Thanks, SG/MY Food Lover.

SG Food Lover said...

Hi Jen, I tried this over the weekend. My recipe is almost similar with yours except I used duck. The taste was not quite expected. It's not bad but just do not know how to describe.I think I am missing something. I remember this soup has a little of spicy taste. Not the kind of Chilli hot, more like peppery kind of feel.

I actually added a lot of white pepper during serving. This manage to add some spicy feel but not what I expected. The aroma from this dish is quite strong after 4-5 hours of low heat.

Verdict: 5/10
Taste reasonable but feel the soup I made is lacking something. Came across another version that have Suan Mei (Preserved Dried Plums) but I believe this is not the reason. I am suspecting pepper seeds. Will confirm with my mum on this.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

hi there! Oh, from the way you described the taste of your mom's soup - it sounds very radically different from what I a presented :) This is slow-fire soup and is meant to be soothing and definitely not spicy either from peppers or chillis, I think you may have gotten the wrong impression and thought this recipe is like your mom's...the soup you are looking for sounds a bit more Nyonya in nature - mine is more Cantonese..hope that helps!

SG Food Lover said...

Hi Jen,
Turn out to be true, I did not add white pepper corn. The peppercorn was introduced to subdue to strong smell of the duck and soup is not intend to be spicy. That explains why the soup has a subtle 'spicy' taste.
I also cooked this using slow fire with a slow cooker for about 5 hours. Not sure this is Cantonese or Nyonya but suspect this is Teochew as the Teochews are very good in duck dishes, braised duck, duck noodle and this type.
Thank you.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Hi again, well it does sound like a completely different soup doesn't it? Interesting...I think I still prefer Cantonese soups myself :) Slow cooker? I've never used that for soups as I prefer the traditional method so perhaps the timing might be different as well since I use a regular claypot to boil for 5 hours..

Mindaprogresif said...

Whats chinese smoked ham?  Where to get it?

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