Thursday, August 20, 2009

easy as A-B-C

Weeknight dinners are getting more and more interesting for Da and me. My mother currently works on saturdays only. As such, she has time on weekdays to display her culinary skills.

In line with the "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper" theory, Da and I have been trying to have simple dinners. As such, if we do eat rice, we try to restrict our rice consumption to lunch time.

Da and I met for lunch at Amoy hawker centre today. Looking at the two dishes below, would you be able to guess which was purchased from a Malay stall and which was purchased from a Chinese stall? Both rice dishes looked appetising and were equally delicious.

The rice dish on the round plate was ordered from the Malay stall. It comprised a piece of rendang, some tahu goreng and some stir-fried vegetables. It cost Da S$3.50.

The rice dish on the oblong plate was ordered from the Chinese stall. It comprised a slice of Assam fish with some ladies' fingers, brinjal and carrots. I also ordered two other types of vegetables. This cost me S$3.50. The stallholder also gave me a complimentary bowl of green bean soup.

What I have noticed is that stallholders are creatures of habit. You may have requested for "less rice" (or even "half the portion of rice"). They will say "okay" and promptly proceed to ladle the usual portion of rice! It may not necessarily be that they are not paying attention when you make your request. It is probably more of a case that they are so used to scooping a certain amount of rice that out of habit, their hand "automatically" scoops that amount of rice onto your plate despite the fact that they have heard your request for less rice.

Da had to work late and I decided to leave the office earlier without waiting for him. I had some groceries to purchase from the supermarket. When I contacted my mother to ask whether she wanted to join me for grocery shopping, she agreed but informed me that she had cooked "ABC soup" and suggested that we consume the soup before proceeding to the supermarket.

ABC soup? It is a simple clear soup comprising hearty ingredients such as large pieces of potatoes, carrots, pork ribs, mushrooms, corn, etc. The vegetables and pork bone give sweetness to the soup and you do not need to add additional seasoning unless you are used to drinking salty soup.

When Da and I used to visit Da's friend (SNC - God rest his soul) in Perth, Australia, SNC informed us about a "soup diet" that was created by a doctor. It was initially to help patients lose weight quickly before an operation. However, the medical profession has found the diet so effective that they have recommended it to other patients who need to lose weight as well. SNC had tried the diet and found it effective for him. For the "soup diet", there are only vegetables in the soup. There is no meat in the soup nor are there ingredients that contain high carbohydrates (such as potatoes). There is no limit to amount of soup that you can take in a day - it is up to your preference. However, as the soup does not contain any meat nor carbohydrates, your body's system becomes very clear and you lose weight easily.

The ABC soup is not a soup diet. However, like the soup diet, it is clear soup and it contains plenty of vegetables. The addition of the pork ribs / pork bone is to make the soup sweet. You can substitute it with corn if you prefer (or add both, if you like!).


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