When I was at university my best friend got me interested in Chinese medicine and the five elements theory. I was really fascinated by cooking according to the five elements and bought a lot of books. People probably thought we were witches as we had really, really long hair, were wearing bohemian clothes and talked about yin and yang, Earth becoming weak and not supporting Metal, etc. I had a poster on the wall which looked like a pentagram, but was simply a chart with all the foods I was using in a different section (element they belonged to). I’m still into all that jazz but my friend went even further. After studying ancient Greek and Latin, Agriculture, Biology, Nursing and Art, she started studying Chinese medicine. I was ecstatic when I found out, but she warned me that 7 years is one hell of a commitment and she might drop out at some point. Fingers crossed she won’t.
Last time she visited me she recommended me a book: ‘Ancient Wisdom Modern Kitchen’ by Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir and Mika Ono. The book is a hit, absolutely amazing.
And because it’s Chinese New Year I’m going to share a recipe with you for my favourite soup. The inspiration is taken from the book but it’s my variation. Enjoy!
Watercress – miso soup
2 cups of mushrooms (fresh enoki or mitake if you can find them, I’m sometimes using any mushrooms I can get – chestnut or portobello)
2 1/2 vegetable stock or water
1/2 block of tofu (I’m using a whole pack of marinated quorn tofu)
3-4 tablespoons of white miso
1 spoon of red miso
1 spoon of sesame oil
bunch of watercress
chopped green onion
small bunch of Japanese udon noodles
1. Wash and chop mushrooms.
2.Bring the vegetable stock/water to the boil. Add mushrooms, udon noddles, sesame oil and tofu, simmer over low heat, covered with the lid slightly ajar for about 8-13 minutes. Turn of the heat.
3. Remove 4 tablespoons of the stock from the pot and, in a bowl, mix it with the miso paste, making sure there is no lumps left.
4. Gradually pour miso mixture back into the pot and stir.
5. Divide watercress among the serving bowls. Spoon the soup over watercress. Garnish with the green onion.
Happy Dragon’s Year!