Early on in the lockdown, Mama Chu being Mama Chu sent my sister and I each a care pack that included things like disinfectant wipes and face masks alongside multiple packs of noodles (vermicelli, Korean sweet potato and soba), chicken stock, little packets of pickled vegetables, chilli bean sauce and cans of quail eggs. You know, all the essentials. I laughed a little and felt a lot of gratitude and love. Whether or not you have your own Mama Chu assembling care packs for you, this is a dish that’s supposed to be a flexible assortment of whatever is in your pantry and fridge at the time.
The recipe: Drizzle enough vegetable/peanut/rice bran oil into a pot on medium-high heat to be able to stir-fry some sliced ginger, half a diced red onion and half a diced tomato. Be present to the sound of sizzle and smell of joy for a moment before turning down the heat to medium. Throw in a few cut up pieces of fish tofu, a coil of dried vermicelli, half a roughly chopped carrot and one sliced celery stalk. Get a couple of cups of chicken stock in there and bring it to a boil. Throw in the sad bok choy from your crisper (or whatever greens are needing some TLC) and the cute quail eggs from the care package (or your favourite Asian grocer,) then add a tablespoon of soy sauce and a couple of flicks of sesame oil. You’ve just made a hearty noodle soup! Serve it with thinly sliced spring onions and chilli oil and, when you’re finished, call your mama to tell her you love her.
Tips: If you don’t have fish tofu, it’s worth getting, especially if you’re missing hot pot in these colder months. If you don’t like fish, substitute tofu, thinly sliced beef, shiitake mushrooms or whatever tickles your heart. This is a dish to keep you warm and merry on the inside.
What we’re listening to: I’ve been making this soup pretty regularly for lunch, sitting in the living room when it’s rainy outside and listening to Look at Me, a super-short, fun podcast hosted by Benjamin Law and Chris McCormack exploring different Australian animals. Have you heard of the plains-wanderer? The lady wanderers have got some real sass.
Leftover potential: Double the recipe if you want extras. Be warned though: my idea of a serve may be larger than yours. I’m a fan of bowls so brimming with soupy noodles that I have to sip the edges before moving it to eat.
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