Today I celebrate my dad’s birthday. He’s 83 – a good age for a relatively healthy man. I’m grateful he’s still with me, although in my heart of hearts I grieve a little as I see the relentless progress of aging in his slower and less stable walking and his quieter demeanour over time. Still it’s wonderful that he has done so well as I actually see him walking more stably since starting weekly physiotherapy this year. He has a fantastic appetite and enjoys the antics of his grandkids and dog.
Growing up we weren’t a very traditional Chinese family – we did observe the festivals but we never took traditional Chinese medicines or ate the herbal foods that were supposed to boost the body’s immunity. Of course we ate Chinese food but we didn’t have over the top stuff like abalone or Buddha jumps over the wall. Birthday celebrations usually featured simple fried noodles. I think because I grew up with both parents working, food was simple as neither had time to do much in the kitchen. I had an aunt who is a good cook and she was the one who would make an extra effort on special occasions.
I remember my aunt did make birthday Mee Sua for my own grandfather. He was a traditional man who loved his pork belly and pig’s stomach and intestine…so I vaguely remember that the birthday noodle soup would definitely have pigs stomach in it. Dad also reminded me that they had a version of Mee Sua that was deep fried first before boiling which apparently gave extra fragrance to the dish. Anyway in my low carb world, Mee Sua or wheat vermicelli is a no-no. So I was excited when Umami Keto came up with an egg white noodle that looked like Mee Sua. The great thing about this noodle was that it was equally light as regular Mee Sua, but it didn’t become mushy at all. This is the one time I would say it was better than the original!
So today’s lunch was birthday noodle soup with chicken and lots of yummy goodies like ginkgo nuts, scallop, abalone and quails eggs. Kid#1 and kid#2 weren’t too fond of the ginkgo nuts and quails eggs and abalone and dumped them into Grandpa and Grandma’s bowls! Sigh…at least the oldies managed to enjoy more good ingredients!
Anyway at the lunch table it was nice to hear grandpa and grandma reminisce…chicken (a whole drumstick) was something you would only see at birthday celebrations (only the birthday kid would get the chicken drumstick) or at Chinese New Year. I guess I’m just grateful we have access to delicacies and we don’t think twice nowadays about eating chicken regularly. It does make one think however that in the midst of our celebrations we need to remember those who don’t have enough and would never dream of having a meal like this.
Low Carb Birthday Noodles
- Soup stock
- 2 chicken carcases
- 200 g pork soft bones
- 1 peeled white onion, quartered
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 L water
- 6 chicken drumsticks
- 6 dried mushrooms
- 6 fresh scallops
- 1/3 cup gingko nuts (about 20-25 nuts)
- 1 tbsp wolfberries
- 12 quails eggs (boiled and peeled)
- 2 cans of small abalone
- 200g packet of nai bai vegetable (or other green vegetable)
- 6 packets of egg white noodle or any other shirataki noodle
- 1-2 red chillis, sliced (optional)
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce for the chillis (optional)
- Add the soup stock ingredients into the Instant Pot and cook on manual high pressure for 45 minutes. Allow NPR and drain the stock and discard the bones. If not pressure cooking the soup stock, you can put the ingredients into a stock pot and simmer for about 1.5 hours, then drain the stock.
- Bring the soup stock to a boil and boil the chicken drumsticks for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, soak the mushrooms in hot water for about 20 minutes, then cut off the stem and cut the cap in half. Add the mushrooms into the soup.
- Soak the wolfberries in a cup of hot water as well and set aside.
- Open the abalone cans and pour the brine into the soup. Set the abalone aside. You may want to taste the soup to adjust any seasoning.
- Set out the bowls and place the egg white noodles into each bowl. Blanch the following ingredients one by one in the stock: scallops, abalone, gingko nuts, quails eggs and nai bai vegetables. Carefully plate the abalone, scallops, gingko nuts, quails eggs, and nai bai vegetables in a ring around the noodles. Distribute the wolfberries and mushroom halves into each bowl.
- Finally, top with a chicken drumstick in each bowl, and ladle some soup on top. Serve hot with some cut red chilli in soy sauce on the side.