My friend C, who’s taking a break from work to spend time with her toddler, has asked that I share some Chinese home-style dishes she can prepare for the family. I know what it’s like having to cook dinner while minding a small child, because we only had live-in help about 3 years after the daughter was born. Before that, quick, healthy meals which required minimal cleaning up were the order of the day.

Now weekday meals are usually left to W, our Filipina helper. I go through the week’s menu and shopping list with her, and unless we feel like having something special, I don’t have to bother her in the kitchen for the rest of the week. As a source of reference for W, we keep a couple of ratty, torn notebooks containing scribblings of recipes I’ve given her over the years.  Most of the time, it’s comforting Chinese home-style dishes which I am grateful to be able to come home to.

One of my comfort foods is Mee Sua Soup.  Pork Rib and Yam Mee Sua Soup and Fish Mee Sua Soup are part of our regular diet at home. Mee Sua is a fine rice noodle with a very delicate, smooth texture.  I especially love the way it glides down the throat so wonderfully when eaten as part of a soup dish.  It  also has a sweeter and more delicate taste as compared to bee hoon.

We haven’t had much Chinese home-style cooking in the past few weeks.  So yesterday’s lunch of Fish Mee Sua Soup was such a welcome sight to me.

Fish Mee Sua Soup topped with fried shallots and garlic 

This comforting one-dish meal is tasty, healthy, easy to prepare, and entails minimal kitchen-cleaning afterwards.

Ingredients

6 lumps of Mee Sua
350 grams Batang (or Mackerel) fillet, sliced
100 grams minced pork
8 cups chicken stock (or 4 cups chicken stock from a carton, plus 4 cups water)
Fresh ginger, peeled and cracked (approximately 2.5 to 3 inches in length)
1 whole garlic, last layer of skin left on, and top sliced off
2 tbs of Kiam Chye (salted mustard leaves), rinsed and cut into thin strips
1 whole tomato
Handful of Chye Sim or other Chinese green leafy vegetable
Handful of Inoki or Shitake Mushrooms (optional)
Fried Shallots and Garlic, Spring Onion and Chinese Parsley (coriander) for topping/garnish
1 tbs Soya Sauce for seasoning pork
2 tsp Sesame Oil for seasoning pork
2 tsp Sesame Oil for fish seasoning
1 tbs Hua Teow Chiew (Chinese wine)
Salt and pepper

Method

Season the minced pork with sesame oil, soya sauce and white pepper.
Season fish slices with salt, hua teow chiew and sesame oil.
Bring stock to a boil in a pot with the ginger, garlic and kiam chye.
Put seasoned minced pork in a large bowl, add about a ladle of stock into the bowl and quickly stir with a fork or chopsticks to separate the minced pork into loose bits as they cook partially, then pour the mixture into the pot to cook, stirring gently.
Add mushrooms into the pot to cook, then remove and set aside.
Add fish slices into the pot and remove and set aside when just cooked (submerge into the pot a small sieve with a handle and cook the fish over it, so the slices are easier to retrieve).
Add tomato into the soup and simmer perhaps 2-3 minutes.
Season soup with salt and pepper if necessary.
In a separate saucepan/pot of salted boiling water, blanche the chye sim till just cooked. Remove and set aside.
Cook mee sua in a pot of boiling water, one portion at a time, over a sieve, gentling moving the noodles apart with a fork or chopsticks to keep them from sticking together (1 to 1.5 lumps mee sua per portion would be about right).
Once mee sua is tender (which doesn’t take long), remove from pot by lifting the sieve (hence draining it at the same time), transfer into a bowl. Put one portion of fish, mushroom and vegetables over the mee sua, in each bowl, and pour soup over it.
Top with fried shallots and garlic and garnish with spring onion and Chinese parsley and serve with a small saucer of chill padi and soya sauce.

Serves 4.

Note: You could add a tbs of toasted hei bee (dried shrimp) to the stock for even more flavour (and omit the kiam chye), or add some dried seaweed to the soup.

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