Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Taiwanese Meat Soup (Ro Geng)

In Mandarin, this is called "Ro Geng". In Taiwanese language, this is called "Bah Geng". My roommates from Taiwan used to make this soup in a pot and I can smell the soup even when my doors were closed.

I used the following recipe as my reference:

This recipe is interesting in that it doesn't involve any complicated techniques or particularly exotic ingredients, but the prep work can kill you if you don't plan ahead and expect to be in the kitchen for a long time. This recipe will make a large pot (six quart pot, not filled all the way to the top) of ro geng, which was perfect for dinner for three and leftovers the next day.

Pork butt (shoulder), about 1 lb
Fish paste, about 1/2 lb
two 32 fl oz. chicken stock + enough water to cover the vegetable
a small napa cabbage, or half a large one
ten shitake mushrooms, fresh or soaked overnight in water
2-3 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in water
three carrots
one 16 oz. can of slivered bamboo (not whole, not sliced--slivered!)
one package fresh enoki mushrooms, or canned if you can't find fresh
one package wood ear mushrooms if you can find them and if you like them
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup black vineger
dash of white pepper
dash of sesame oil
1/4 cup cornstarch mix with 1/4 cup cold water
fresh cilantro

This dish is as much about texture as flavor. Cut the meat against the grain into three inch long slices. Because pork butt has so many sections, you're going to have to turn the meat a lot and constantly check that you're cutting against the grain. It helps if the meat is slightly frozen. Just be sure to trim all the biggest chunks of fat and throw them away. This is probably the toughest part of the recipe to get right.

Cut napa cabbage in half horizontally (that is, separate the top leafy part from the bottom white part). Stack the two halves, and cut into finger-thick strips the other way.

Cut the carrots into long thin strips similar size to the slivered bamboo strips.

Slice the shitake and wood ear thinly.

Cut the dirty part off the enoki and separate them lightly.

Chop cilantro. Whether you include the stems is up to you. I like to leave just a little stem for crunch.

Add chicken stock to a pot of water (about a gallon total). Of course if you have homemade chicken or pork stock you can use that. Bring to a rapid boil.

Meanwhile, mix the pork slices and fish paste until all the pork is evenly coated.

When the water comes to a boil, start dropping the coated pork in one slice at a time. Be sure not to let the pork drop in the water in clumps.

Turn down the flame to a simmer and add the dried shrimp.

After 10 minutes of slow simmer, add the napa, bamboo, mushrooms, and carrots. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Add soy sauce, black vinegar, and a teaspoon of salt. Taste, and add more if needed.

Cover and let everything cook together at a bare simmer for half an hour or until the vegetables are soft.

Mix cornstarch with cold water and mix well. It should be the consistency of whole milk. Make sure there are no lumps. Bring the soup to a light boil. While stirring, add half the cornstarch mixture in a thin stream. Stir well so you don't get big clumps. Let the soup simmer so it thickens up. You're going for a gooey consistency kind of like gravy, but thinner than clam chowder out of a can. Add more cornstarch mixture if needed.

Add a dash of sesame oil and white pepper upon serving. This stew is good the next day or straight out of the pot.


APPLEHUU said...

Chinese foods is very delicious~~~

Welcome to China!

Unknown said...


the ngau lam that you are refering to is served either dry (khon loh) or with soup. it is beef brisket stewed(mun) with ginger and star anise , both soya sauce, dark and light and the noodle that goes with it, is the wantan noodles.

correct me if i am wrong.