Cooking is something that my mom does for the family. She puts anheavy emphasis on education and wants my sisters and I to stay out of the kitchen. She also talks about how she never cooked until she married our father— and so, doesn’t expect us to learn either. But when we eat her dishes, she usually shares some tips on what to do. My mom often describes the recipe using “feelings” and measures based on the pots and utensils we have (e.g., 1/3rd of “this” pot). They are not standardized measurements like the ones found in the recipe above— however it could be derived if I measure the sizes of the pots. Often, she talks about looking at the color or texture of the soup, adding or subtracting ingredients to fit our tastes, or using substitute ingredients. We don’t have a consistent recipe each time. For example, most recently, we had some purple yam so my mom mixed it in with the mochi/sticky rice balls. She also adds small chunks of cane sugar into the mochi balls as a filling because she knows I have a sweet tooth. Additional condiments include coconut milk.
Every time I drink this soup, I feel really “warm” and think about my family. We tend to eat mochi in soup during the cold weather days and my mom likes to add other Chinese herbal ingredients (e.g., snow fungus) to make it a supplement. Doing this exercise made me think about food in a different way— not just thinking about the flavor. This activity helped me reflect on my experiences with food and family, and I appreciate it.
I don’t cook often but I am fortunate to eat my mom’s cooking. Here is a recipe I found on Google for red bean soup which is very similar to how my mom makes it and what my mom does. This soup is commonly served as a dessert or snack in Chinese cultures.
For particular measurements, please see the recipe found here: https://www.chinasichuanfood.com/red-bean-soup-recipe/
Pre-soak the azuki beans in water overnight if you are using an ordinary cooker. For a high pressure cooker, the soaking process is not a must but is still recommended.
Put rock sugar, soaked beans, water and orange peels in a large pot. Bring all the content to a boil and then cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the fire and let the beans cool down slightly, with the lid covered. Then re-start the fire and continue simmer for 30 minutes until the beans are completely soft. Season with sugar.
Serve the sago.
Cook the sago with boiling water for around 10 minutes and then set aside with lid covered for around 15 minutes. The white hearts of sago should almost disappear when cooked. In order to remove the sticky feeling of cooked sago, we need to rinse in cold water for at least 1 minute.
Blend the red bean soup until quite smooth and then mix with sago.
Serve with small sticky rice balls.
Mix 50g sticky rice flour with 45ml water. Knead well and then divide into 30 small portions and round each into a ball. Next time, cook the sticky rice balls in hot boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Transfer the sticky rice balls to serving bowls with red bean soup.
To cook the red bean soup within a high pressure cooker, there is no need to pre-soak the beans, just place red beans, water and tangerine peel and let the cooker help you to cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Higher pressure mode can greatly shorten the time” (Elaine, 2017).