A luxe take on grandma's traditional Hockchew tofu soup

Hockchew tauhu mong.
Hockchew tauhu mong. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

(THE NEW PAPER) - Much as I relish eating, watching family and friends enjoy the food I prepare is the most rewarding part of the cooking process.

This year, I did not get to make and partake in my family's reunion dinner as my maternal grandmother died two days before the eve of Chinese New Year.

So this week's recipe is my tribute to her. It is my luxe take on an old family recipe of Hockchew tauhu mong (tofu soup) that she used to cook for my grandfather before he died in 1968.

He was an immigrant from the city of Fuzhou in the Fujian province of China. 

I never met him, but from what my late grandmother told me, he took pleasure in eating good food. He taught my grandmother how to prepare tauhu mong, among other classic Hockchew dishes.

I tweaked the recipe by using a rich collagen stock, dried scallops and enoki mushrooms.

The recipe is straightforward, but requires so much work slicing and cutting that I prefer to make a large portion. It keeps well and tastes even better kept overnight.

My only regret is that my grandmother is not around to taste my version of her signature soup. I am sure she would have approved as dried scallops were one of her favourite foods.

Hockchew tauhu mong

7 litres of water
360g chicken breast
900g chicken feet
5 dried scallops
120ml water (to soak dried scallops)
3 Tbs cooking oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
200g pork collar, sliced into 2cm by 1cm strips
6 dried shiitake mushrooms (40g), soaked and sliced
20g dried daylily flowers (also known as golden needles)
20g woodear mushrooms, soaked and thinly sliced
450g tofu, cut into 2cm by 1cm by 1cm pieces
200g enoki mushrooms, roots removed
12 medium-sized prawns (250g), deveined and halved
1 Tbs light soya sauce
3 flat tsp salt
Dash of pepper
3 Tbs potato starch
3 Tbs water
3 stalks of spring onion for garnish

1. Bring two litres of water to a boil. Place the chicken breast and chicken feet in the boiling water and allow the water to come to a rolling boil. Blanch for three minutes until there is no visible blood. Discard the water and rinse the chicken breast and feet. Set aside.
2. In a large pot, bring the remaining five litres of water to a boil and place the blanched chicken breast and chicken feet in the pot. Boil on high heat for 1½ hours and medium heat for another 1½ hours. Use a muslin cloth to strain the chicken stock. Reserve the stock and discard the bones.
3. Rinse the dried scallops and soak them in 120ml water for an hour.
4. Heat the oil in a wok. Fry the garlic until fragrant and add the sliced pork. Fry for two minutes.
5. Add the shiitake and dried scallops and fry for a minute.
6. Add the daylily flowers and woodear mushrooms.
7. Add the chicken stock and let the mixture come to a boil.
8. Add the tofu and enoki mushrooms. Once the soup comes to a boil, add the prawns and boil for one minute.
9. Add the light soya sauce, salt and a dash of pepper.
10. In a small bowl, mix the potato starch with 3 Tbs water. Add the starch mixture to the soup and stir.
11. Let the soup come to a gentle simmer and turn off the heat.
12. Garnish with spring onion and serve.

Serves 10