Cooking: Hong Kong style Borscht (羅宋湯)

After seeing a recipe posted on Made with Lau, I though “I haven’t had that in years, I should try that recipe.” So here it is, with my own modifications.

This dish has a curious story, it originated with russian immigrants and merchants that arrived in China about a hundred years ago, and they brought with them some of their recipes. The locals learned those recipes, and over time, adapted them to their own tastes, and local ingredients.

The eastern european version of borscht is a beef stock soup with beets and cabbage, typically served with a dollop of sour cream. But beets don’t grow very well in the climate of the south east asia, and dairy products are likewise uncommon in the region, so what evolved was a beef, cabbage, and vegetable soup… but the name stuck.

ingredients (2 servings)

  • 3 cups, beef stock
  • 300g beef shanks
  • 1/2 cup, carrots diced
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup, celery diced
  • 1 cup, green cabbage roughly chopped
  • 1 cup, waxy potato, cubed
  • 1 cup tomato, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced fine
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbs ginger thiny sliced
  • salt & pepper
  • bay leaf

I had a freezer full of beef bones, and a saw some beef shank at the local market, so I decided i would use this to make a homemade beef stock. If you have prepared beef stock on hand, you can skip this step, and start with the step of preparing the beef shanks.

I started by tossing the beef bones in some salt, pepper and vegetable oil, with some onion skins, a garlic clove, celery, and carrot chunks in a baking pan, and roasting them in the oven for about 30-40 minutes at about 400F (about 205C)

then I transferred the roasted bones and root vegetables into a slow cooker, with the bay leaf, and let it simmer on high for 3 hours, while I went about my business doing other things.

Later I seasoned and pan seared the beef shanks for about 3 minutes on each side.

and then i dropped the seared beef shanks into the same slow cooker that contained the beef stock that had been simmering all day. I chose beef shanks because they’re affordable, and are well suited for soups and stews, but any tough cut of beef will do.

after a two hours, I removed the beef shanks, discarded the beef bones and root vegetables, and tore up the beef from the shanks, leaving a the cooked beef shank meat, and a pot full of rich brown beef stock.

the next step is preparing the vegetables. After cubing/dicing/chopping all my vegetables, I sautéed them in my pan (wok) for about 1 minute

then added the sautéed vegetables to my pot of beef stock, and simmered it on low for about 30 minutes

then i added the shredded beef shank to the soup, for a couple of minutes, to warm it back up

Plate and serve.


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