This pork and daikon soup, a peasant food so simple and inexpensive, is rarely found in the menu of Chinese restaurants. I have been loving Chinese food for as long as I can remember and I wondered why I never heard of it until recently. Then I reminded myself that it is because I do not know every Chinese dish that exists—it will take more than one lifetime for anyone to completely learn and fully understand Chinese cooking. China is vast, regional cuisines vary and what we know as Chinese food is more an interpretation and adaptation—a fusion born when Chinese immigrants of old settled in the islands and tried to recreate traditional Chinese dishes using local produce. It is only in China where authentic Chinese food can be had; elsewhere in the world, Chinese food is more local adaptation than authentic.
The recipe for this pork and daikon soup, therefore, is my interpretation of a deceptively simple dish. Why deceptively simple? Because making this soup is not just a matter of boiling the ingredients. The broth must be clear, not cloudy. And achieving that level of clarity requires the additional step of pre-boiling the pork to remove impurities.
Then, there is the matter of choosing the cut of pork to go into the soup. You need a cut with bones. It is the bones that create a rich and tasty broth.
- 500 grams pork ribs, cut between the bones
- daikon, about 250 grams, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 2 cloves garlic
- a half-inch piece of ginger
- pepper (optional)
- sliced scallions
- Place the pork in a pot. Pour in enough water to cover. Bring to the boil then boil (not simmer) continuously for five to seven minutes.
- Scoop out the pork ribs and rinse well under the tap.
- Throw out the water in the pot.
- Place the pork in a clean pot (or wash the one you had used). Pour in six cups of water. Add the garlic, ginger and about a tablespoonful of salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer the meat for about 40 minutes.
- Taste the broth and add more salt, as needed.
- Add the sliced daikon. Continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle the Chinese pork and daikon soup with sliced scallions before serving.
And just what did we have with this lovely soup?
Chinese-style roast pork ribs and duck fat fried rice.
What is duck fat fried rice? Well, I don’t throw out duck drippings. We roasted a whole duck on New Year’s Eve and I kept the rendered fat in a jar. I used about two tablespoonfuls of the duck fat to cook a simple fried rice with eggs and peas.