Tag Archives: Soup

Mocotó – Ready for the Brazilian hangover medicine?

25 Jun

Friday, Central Public Market in Porto Alegre (GPS 30.027512 Lat. S; 51.227875 Long. W), capital of our state (Rio Grande do Sul), 350 km north of where I live. This Market was opened to the public 140 years ago, and is one of the most traditional places in that city for buying regional products. It also has a couple of delicatessen, where you can find from dried Norwegian codfish to Arabian dates and French “fois gras”. For me, who live in a small town, such market is always a wonderful source of food and ingredients. I enjoy the vision, the atmosphere, the noise and the smell of such formidable place. My money is never enough to buy everything I want, but luckily always enough to fill the car trunk.

Central Public Market of Porto Alegre - Southern Brazil

Central Public Market of Porto Alegre - Southern Brazil

Inside the Central Public Market in Porto Alegre - Southern Brazil

Inside the Central Public Market in Porto Alegre - Southern Brazil

Since it’s winter on this side of the globe I went there to have “mocotó” with my wife and a couple of friends.

“Mocotó”, which literally means “cow’s feet”, is a traditional Brazilian white beans soup. The basic ingredients are cow’s feet, of course, cow’s stomach (tripe – “dobradinha”) and white beans. In southern Brazil we also add sausages and olives.

Mocotó - Cow's feet

Mocotó - Cow's feet

Folded cow's stomach

Dobradinha - Cow's stomach (tripe)

Sausages - with and without hot chili

Sausages - with and without hot chili

Preparation is rather time consuming, and involves a lot of washing and cleaning the feet and stomach with acidified water (using lime juice or vinager) and then cooking for about 1 hr in a preassure cooker. The feet are then refrigerated overnight and the protein (collagen) then carefully scraped out and used to prepare the soup. The stomach and sausage are sliced into bite sized pieces. Meats are then fried in olive oil with onions and garlic. Water and white beans are added and left to cook until beans are soft. When ready the soup is served very hot (after all it’s a winter’s dish) garnished with green olives and chopped parsley and boiled egg. A few drops of a very hot chili sauce are added just before eating to improve its power of heating the body during these cold winter days.

A "mocotó" dish - The best medicine for hangover

A "mocotó" dish - The best medicine for hangover

There are several small restaurants in the Market which serve this dish, but we chose “Naval”, a rather typical place, since they have been around for over 100 years.

The food was wonderful and at a very nice price, as we spent around US$ 12,00/person, including a couple of beers.

In Brazil it’s believed that mocotó is one of the best medicines for hangover, but I bet you won’t regret trying it even if you’re sober.

Tripe on Foodista

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Chinese Style Chicken and Noodle Soup

4 Jun

I don`t like even the idea of having a hot liquid sliding down my throat in a hot summer day, but everything changes during the winter.  It`s the only season I find a soup acceptable.  And since winter is back to the south side of the planet, lets make it tasteful and simple.

Prepare a good chicken and vegetable stock.  You can make one by boiling for 45 min to 1 h (depending on the size and type of the vegetables used – do not overcook) a chicken breast , some vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc) with the spices you like (cloves, black peppercorns, finely sliced ginger, etc).  I usually drop a small piece of star anise in mine. Don`t forget the salt. Pour through a fine strainer and you`re done. Separate the chicken breast and cut it into bite size pieces. You can keep the stock frozen for one week or two.

Interesting to mention that Chinese don`t really make their stocks spicy, as they believe that spicing may mask the flavor of the chicken.  Spices may be added later depending on the use of the stock.  Such thin soups are even employed as beverage during a meal (no, they usually don`t drink jasmine tea with their meals).  Also, employing the whole chicken, rather than specific cuts or the bones, to prepare the stock, as done in Europe, is much more common.

Put the stock back in the pot and bring it to boil.  Place a Chinese steamer over it and cook, for a few minutes, some sliced carrots, green beans, etc. Put the noodles in the stock and let them cook for a couple of minutes.

Place the noodles in a bowl and add the chicken breast and vegetables.  Some sliced red pepper (I usually unseed them) and coriander (or parsley) are added on the top.  Pour some hot stock in the bowl and add 1-2 spoons of soy sauce.  You`re ready to go.

My Chinese chicken and vegetables soup bowl

My Chinese chicken and vegetables soup bowl

After eating the chicken, noodles and vegetables with the aid of your chopsticks (筷子 = kuàizi) drink the stock directly from the bowl. By the way, a few words on chopsticks from “Study in China“:

When the Chinese began to use chopsticks as an eating instrument is anybody’s guess. They were first mentioned in writing in Liji (The Book of Rites), a work compiled some 2,000 years ago, but certainly they had their initial form in the twigs which the primitive Chinese must have used to pick up a roast after they began to use fire. It is likely that people cooked their food in large pots which retained heat well, and hasty eaters then broke twigs off trees to retrieve the food. The earliest evidence of a pair of chopsticks made out of bronze was excavated from Yin Ruin’s Tomb 1005 at Houjiazhuang, Anyang, Henan province, dated roughly 1200 BC.

The pieces of food were small enough that they negated the need for knives at the dinner table, and chopsticks became staple utensils. It is also thought that Confucius, a vegetarian, advised people not to use knives at the table because knives would remind them of the slaughterhouse.

Simply a pair of chopsticks can fulfill all the functions at table, and compared with western table wares of “waving knife”, they have a sense of “harmony.” And chopsticks are seen as lucky items in ceremonies by many nationalities.

Chinese chopsticks are usually 9 to 10 inches long and rectangular with a blunt end. Bamboo has been the most popular material because it is inexpensive, readily available, easy to split, resistant to heat, and has no perceptible odor or taste.

Some Chinese bamboo chopsticks

Some Chinese bamboo chopsticks

The use of chopsticks requires some etiquette, with small differences among distinctive countries.  Some Chinese rules are:

  • Don`t  tap chopsticks on the edge of one’s bowl, as beggars make this noise to attract attention;
  • Don`t spear food with a chopstick;
  • Don`t  point chopsticks towards others seated at the table;
  • Don`t stuck the chopsticks vertically into a bowl (specially of rice) as this resembles incense burning, which remindes death in general.
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