Officially, summer has ended. But the humidity remains the same. Not exactly the ideal setting for long preparations in the kitchen–one of the reasons why I haven’t made siomai (steamed pork dumplings) in quite a while. So when my daughters saw trays and trays of siomai in the supermarket, they asked if we could buy some. Now, I am wary of frozen siomai. Eight times out of ten, they’re nothing but wrappers with a little filling that tastes like it’s made of 80% extenders. But I took my chances with a rather large tray of siomai at Rustan’s supermarket a few weeks back. They were okay. Not bad at all.
The kids wanted the siomai steamed and served a la dimsum. I wanted them with noodles, vegetables and broth. There really is no reason why they couldn’t be served except right off the styrofoam tray.
To prepare a single serving of siomai noodle soup, start by cooking some oriental style noodles in a little salted water. You can choose the more common egg noodles or you can try the flat rice noodles served in Vietnamese restaurants. A wide variety is available in supermarkets. So, when the noodles are done, drain, place in a large soup bowl cover and keep warm.
The best broth to go with oriental noodle soup is home cooked broth, the kind that is simmered for hours with bones, vegetables, herbs and spices. You really can’t come up with a good noodle soup if you rely on broth cubes. The broth is what makes a noodle soup either good or bad.
You can choose to reheat your frozen siomai in the soup with some vegetables then just pour everything into the bowl of noodles. Or, you can steam the siomai separately so that there is less chance they will be soggy before they hit the soup bowl. In my case, all the siomai were steamed. I just took a few pieces from the lot for my noodle soup.
What vegetables you want to go into your siomai noodle soup is entirely up to you. Carrots, pechay baguio, onion leaves and chinese broccoli are popular choices. If you want them tender crisp, you can blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes then arrange them on top of the noodles before pouring the broth in. Or, as I said earlier, you can simmer them for a few minutes with the broth.
Finally, never underestimate the importance of garnish. Toasted onion and/or garlic bits, fine slices of onion or garlic leaves are just wonderful with oriental noodle soups.