There’s a bit of a new fad in town. In case you didn’t notice it, the 板面 (handmade noodle) stalls have started selling spinach and pork soup. Most times if I do eat at food courts and hawker centers I will choose a fish soup without noodles to keep things low carb, but the spinach and pork soup is a welcome addition. There’s something so comforting about a hot bowl of soup – I think it’s the perfect lunch regardless of the weather.
I’ve always found it ironic that in South East Asia where the temperatures run above 30 degrees Celsius that hot food (both in temperature and spice level) abounds. And that cold foods like sandwiches are the mainstay in temperate western countries. When I was a young adult traveling to Europe I remember living off sandwiches on a budget but finally having to give in to a more expensive cooked meal (yes I had to find some overpriced Chinese takeaway) just to satisfy my cravings.
Speaking of traveling, now that the borders are opening up my Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of travel pics again. There is a wanderlust stirring within but also a giant inertia to organize any trips as we’ve been almost riveted in place thanks to the pandemic. Some new habits are also hard to break – I was just in a planning meeting yesterday and there was almost no appetite to run in person seminars and conferences as it was not clear if people actually would bother to come in person for an event. I guess ZOOM’s bottom line will still be very healthy for the next 1-2 years at least.
Anyway it’s been pretty nice catching up with some of my non-local patients who have started to come back since Singapore has opened its borders. We’ve been comparing notes about how we’ve survived for the past 2 years. One thing I’m really thankful for as a paediatrician is that schools were kept open for most of the pandemic and I think the impact on the kids has been less dire than for some of our neighboring countries who have only started to reopen schools in person. But even our local kids feel the effects of lack of social interaction during recess time as well as the scaled down co-curricular activities. I’ve never figured out how the schools can run sports CCAs like basketball on ZOOM! It’s wonderful to see sports meets and performances coming back.
This whole pandemic had made the home the center of operations for most people. Even though I have a healthcare job, there are certain days that I can work from home as it’s possible to teach or have meetings with ZOOM. It’s made me more of a homebody that before. I think I’ve always loved cooking at home and this pandemic I’ve probably gotten used to not eating out as much. Lunches are pretty simple and as only my parents and I are at home, a simple one pot meal usually suffices. The one thing I usually keep is a good amount of home made chicken stock – l love making this with chicken feet to achieve the gelatinous collagen broth that is a perfect rich base for any noodle soup.
This rendition of a hawker favorite is slightly amped up. I made proper pork balls but the usual hawker version tends to just spoon in some clumps of pork mince. No particular reason to make pork balls here except for the fact that I love Chinese chives (koo chye) and these are great in a meatball! In the end this was a very flavorful noodle dish with the pork balls, century egg and salted duck egg. And the generous amount of spinach kept it looking healthy!
Spinach and Meatball Noodle Soup
- 300 g minced pork
- 50 g chinese chives, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp almond flour
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp chinese cooking wine
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 4-6 cups chicken stock
- 1 bunch chinese baby spinach
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tbsp wolfberries
- 1 century egg, cut into small 1 cm pieces
- 1 salted duck egg, cut into small 1 cm pieces
- 4 portions of shirataki noodles
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp sugar substitute
- 1.Soak the dried mushrooms and wolfberries in hot water for 10 minutes, then slice the mushrooms into thin slices.
- Mix the ground pork, chinese chives, almond flour, soy sauce, sesame oil, chinese wine and fish sauce together. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls and set aside.
- Bring the chicken stock to boil. Add the meatballs in and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms in and cook for another 1-2 more minutes. Add the spinach and cook for less than a minute, then turn off the heat.
- Place the shirataki noodles and a few teaspoons of century egg and salted egg into each bowl and top with a few meatballs, spinach and soup broth. Serve hot.