Dads Cook Good Food

For dads who enjoy cooking for their families

Archive for the category “Soup”

Yummy Mie Ayam!


A month ago over lunch, Lina, a colleague of mine from Indonesia, saw me enjoying a bowl of Filipino chicken noodle soup (or chicken mami) complete with a garnish of carrots, Chinese lettuce and sliced boiled egg. Curious, she asked what the ingredients were and mused that it was very much similar to the chicken noodle soup she enjoyed at home.  If one thinks about it, chicken-based soup has variants the world over: Congee soup with shredded chicken, Pho Ga from Vietnam, Arroz caldo from the Philippines, the classic chicken noodle soup, and the Ethiopian Doro W’et, to name a few.

And so, about a week or two had passed, Lina showed me a photo of Mie ayam, a Chinese Indonesian noodle soup, which is apparently popular in Indonesia and sold in small restaurants, street vendors and hawker centers. It’s easy to prepare as I’ve cooked one for my family. My kids love the sweet and salty flavor. Hope that you enjoy this simple dish as much as I enjoyed cooking it! Selamat makan!

Mie ayam
(Chicken noodle – Chinese Indonesian style)



200 gm. yellow wheat dry noodle, boiled al dente
A quarter of a chicken, diced small
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 whole medium white onion, chopped
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or oyster sauce
1 tbsp. cooking rice wine
8 heads of bok choy, blanched
4 cups of chicken broth
1 tsp. sesame oil
Fried garlic slices, mushrooms and chopped scallions for garnish
White pepper to taste




1. Stir fry white onion and garlic until fragrant.


2. Add chicken, soy sauce, kecap manis or oyster sauce, and cooking wine. To enhance flavor, add diced fresh mushroom (or dried mushroom that has been soaked for at least an hour).


3. Prepare chicken broth. Add chopped garlic and white pepper to taste.



4. Blanche vegetables and noodles on a separate pot.


5. Finally, assemble everything on a soup bowl. First, pour one tablespoon of sesame oil and about two tablespoons of light soy sauce.


6. Add noodles and toss.


7. Top it with diced chicken and bok choy. Garnish with scallions and fried garlic slices.

8. Chicken broth is usually served in a separate bowl, or you can add the broth to the noodle bowl directly. Serve piping hot.




Sausage, Potato and Kale Soup

Kale soup

It’s the second weekend of spring and the air is still fresh and crisp. Still a good time for warm soup! Our kids are no exception as they still crave for warm and hearty soup, requesting it for their school lunch. I offered to prepare their soup the night before based on our family friend’s (Marichu) recipe. She is the same person who shared her crab cakes recipe which was featured in a previous issue of this blog.

Incidentally, I had to check with my wife whether I was doing it correctly. Despite her specific instructions, I still had a misstep. I unmindfully sautéed the potatoes with the sausage instead of adding them to the broth! Surprisingly, my kids still loved the soup and indeed, it turned out to be delicious!

Kale soup2


3 pieces of medium-sized potatoes (Yukon variety), cubed
2 heads of scallions, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chopped kale, stems and heart removed
500 grams of Italian sausage with casings removed
4 cups of no-salt chicken broth
½ cup of whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Prepare ingredients.

Kale soup3
2. Heat soup pan to medium-heat. Sautee scallions until they become clear and soft then add and sautee garlic.

Kale soup4

3. Add Italian sausage, break them into smaller pieces and sweat it for a few minutes until it turns brown.

Kale soup5

4. Add chicken broth and increase heat to high, bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes to enhance flavours.

Kale soup6

5. Reduce heat to medium-high then add potatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Kale soup

6. Finally, add kale and milk then stir. Continue simmering on medium-high for a few more minutes.

7. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

kale soup7.jpg

A tip: Before pouring the soup on the food flask thermos and to keep your kid’s soup warm in time for lunch, pour hot water on the thermos, cover and let this stay for about ten minutes. When ready, empty the flask and add the soup, cover tightly and pack this with your kid’s lunch. Remind and caution your kid that the soup will be hot!

Antonio’s Arroz Caldo

arroz caldo

Named after Daddy Robert’s son, this chicken rice porridge is a combination of simple ingredients: spring chicken, ginger, garlic, onions, safflower, salt and pepper. My idea was to keep the ingredients basic and all-natural and avoiding the addition of chicken bouillon or fish sauce.

Arroz caldo (literally hot rice) or lugaw (in Tagalog) is a well-known Filipino dish that serves as a complete meal, a merienda (snack), or as soup. It is a comfort food for Filipinos, usually during cold or rainy weather. It is an elixir for those who are feeling under the weather. Its preparation and ingredients are akin to the Chinese congee and other rice porridge dishes in Asia.

Antonio’s Arroz Caldo

1 whole young chicken (spring chicken)
½ cup medium grain sticky rice and ½ cup Milagrosa rice
4 cloves of garlic, chopped and minced
1 thumb sized ginger, cut into strips
4 hardboiled eggs
1 onion head, finely chopped
1 tbsp. safflower (Kasubha)
1 scalion, cut diagonally
Lemon wedges
Salt (kosher)
1 tbsp. ground pepper
3 tbsp. canola oil
6-8 cups of water

1. After washing the chicken, chop the chicken into appropriate serving portions.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium size pot over medium heat. Sauté garlic and ginger until light brown. Add chicken pieces and stir to allow the chicken to absorb the garlic and ginger. Add salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is golden brown.

3. Add rice and mix with the chicken and herbs until rice is well coated.

rice soup
4. Deglaze pan by adding water slowly. Once deglazed, add the rest of the water until chicken is covered.

5. Stir occasionally to prevent rice from sticking on the pot and until you get a smooth consistency. Do this for about 40 minutes.

6. Add kasubha for colour and flavour then add scallions and cook for 5 minutes.

7. Finally, add hardboiled egg. Serve with toasted garlic, lemon wedges, fish sauce and sprinkle with more scallions if desired. Enjoy!

*The secret to delicious arroz caldo is deglazing and good chicken stock. As mentioned earlier, I tried to maintain all-natural ingredients (salt, pepper and herbs) without having to add chicken bouillon or fish sauce. You can make the chicken stock in advance but for this one, deglazing the pot then slow cooking the porridge allows the flavours of the chicken and herbs to blend and gives the porridge a delicious taste.

A taste of seafood that’s simply good!

seafood soup

Time really flies when you’re having fun! It’s almost two years since we began sharing recipes and stories about reasons why dads can also cook good food.  I noticed that these past two years, we’ve shared recipes that are not only from us but from other people as well. We thought that tweaking some of these recipes a bit to suit our taste would be okay.

The recipe today is no exception!  It was adapted from Skipper/Sy’s  Asian Seafood Noodle Soup but with simple ingredients. Also, because winter is a mere two weeks away, I thought of sharing a recipe for dads and moms whose concern is having a tasty meal that is complete yet within a shoestring budget.  Hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did!



½ lb. shrimp, medium size, washed, de-shelled and deveined

2-3 pcs. strips of pork belly (or low salt bacon), cut

1 pack fish balls, cut into two and fried

3-5 leaves from Chinese cabbage, chopped

1/4 cup mung bean sprouts

4-5 pcs. of fresh shitake mushrooms, washed and cut in half

8 cups of seafood stock (a combination of fish and shrimp bouillon dissolved in 8 cups of water)

1 pack of Cantonese style steamed noodles (yellow)

2-3 tbsp of soy sauce

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. scallions, minced

2 tbsp. toasted onions

1 tbsp.  ground pepper

Salt to taste

How do we do it? Let’s begin by…

noodlesfishballschinese cabbagedissolve brothpork belly

1. Preparing the ingredients: set aside noodles, slice and fry the fishballs in oil, chop the Chinese cabbage, wash the bean sprouts, dissolve the fish and shrimp broth cubes in hot water, and slice the pork belly.

saute pork

2. Warm wok or sautéing pan. Pour vegetable oil then stir fry pork belly, adding some soy sauce until a brownish glaze can be seen at the bottom of the pan then set aside. Note that when using bacon; add a few drops of soy sauce only for additional flavouring. Use the bacon/pork belly oil for sautéing.


3. Split the shrimp into half; add some salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Then fry in wok using the bacon oil for 10-15 minutes until the shrimps turn pink then set aside. Remember not to overcook!


4. Sauté the ginger until the aroma comes out, approximately for 5 minutes. Add onions and caramelize for 3-5 minutes. Here you can actually see the brownish colour that came from the pork belly.


5. Add some of the seafood stock slowly and deglaze the pan. Deglazing adds the pork belly and shrimp flavours to the soup. Add the rest of the stock and boil in high heat. Once stock boils, reduce to medium heat and let stock simmer for 10-15 minutes.


6. On a separate pan, sauté the shitake mushrooms for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are wilted, add some soy sauce then set aside.


7. Meanwhile, heat a pot half-filled with water. Add some salt and oil then at rolling boil, cook the noodles using a spider strainer basket or spider skimmer for 1-2 minutes.


8. Place the cooked noodles in individual bowls. Add the rest of the ingredients: fish balls, shrimps, pork, Chinese cabbage, shitake mushrooms scallions and some sesame oil.

seafood soup

9. Add to each bowl some seafood stock. Top with toasted onions and scallions. Serve and enjoy!

Warming up to good soup

Beef noodle soup

Slurp…ah! Nothing beats taking good, warm soup on a cold night. Although winter is still officially two weeks away, the noticeable frigid (sub-zero) longer nights have made my family and I look forward to soup, soup, and more soup!

But I’m beginning to run out of ideas, too. Fellow dad, Robert, was kind enough to share the beef noodle soup recipe (which was adapted from Vanjo Merano’s Panlasang Pinoy), below. The taste of this soup brought back memories of delicious beef noodle soup of the Binondo Noodle House paired with warm siopao asado.

Alas, the beef noodle soup had to stand alone without the soft meat steamed bun. However, the soup was such a treat that nary a peep was heard when everyone took it; except of course, for some occasional slurping from the kids!

Ah, soup is indeed an elixir for the weary soul! Who would ever think that soup can be this powerful? Now I can say that I fear not Old Man Winter for this mighty beef noodle soup will surely save the day…or night! 😉

BEEF MAMI (Beef Noodle Soup)


1 pack wonton noodles (1 pack contains 4 servings of dry yellow thin noodles)
Chinese cabbage, chopped
scallions. chopped
1 lb beef brisket, cut into cubes, can also add beef tendons if available
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 medium-sized onion, minced
4 cups water
1 piece beef cube
2 pieces star aniser
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt

beef  noodle gisa

Cooking Procedure:

1. Boil a big pot of water with some salt.
2. Add meat, boil and remove scum.
3. Lower temp and simmer till meat is tender. Remove meat from stock.
4. Heat pan and add oil. Saute the garlic, ginger, and onion.
5. Put-in the meat and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes
6. Add the soy sauce, ground black pepper, sugar, and star anise and continue sauteeing.
7. Add 1 cup of beef broth and simmer until the sauce thickens a bit.
8. Reboil the soup stock. Dip 1 serving of noodle using a kitchen spider strainer basket  into the boiling pot of soup for about 1 minute. Loosen it to allow thorough cooking.
9. Place cooked noodles in an individual soup bowl. Put some cooked meat with its sauce. Put some chopped Chinese cabbage and scallions.
10. Repeat 11 until all 4 bowls are done.
11. Pour soup into the bowls. Serve with warm siopao.

Beef noodle soup

This beef noodle soup was made extra special by our kid who included a note of affection for my wife.

Pho-tastic Soup!

Pho soup

Now that spring has finally dawned on us, the frigid nights are temporarily a thing of the past. However, the mild weather reminds me of a family trip to Baguio City; not to mention an occasional rain and thunderstorm in the morning or early evening. I remember taking some hot soup then with vegetables and some La Union seafood thrown in good measure. This experience was very much similar to enjoying fish tinola at a small restaurant in the cooler hinterlands of rain-fed Bukidnon. Yes, despite the higher price (no pun intended) I had to pay, the experience of sipping good seafood soup is possible even in a mountain resort city or a landlocked province. With these experiences in mind, I thought of taking an extra mile by cooking seafood pho despite the limitation of being in an ocean-less city!

Pho (pronounced as fa, not fo) is a Vietnamese clear soup, which is a combination of soup stock (usually beef or chicken boiled with coriander, ginger, onions, anise, nutmeg, salt, rock sugar), meat, rice noodles, fresh vegetables (bean sprouts), hoisin sauce, Sriracha sauce (hot sauce) and herbs (mint leaves) served in a bowl. It’s a complete meal in itself; where anyone can add more ingredients (e.g. beef balls, fish balls) to it and is best eaten when it’s piping hot (a term I attribute to my mother’s description of her soup recipes)! I have cooked beef pho on several occasions so I knew that it would be challenging to switch to seafood pho. Given the fact that fresh seafood in our city is close to none, the next best thing is to buy the cultured ones; for example, fish grown in fishponds. But because I was on a tight budget, I bought some frozen seafood (shrimps), ‘hybrid’ seafood (fishballs) and cultured seafood (salmon’s head). It turned out that this was a wise move! 😀

However, the next hurdle was preparing the pho. I knew that even if I would use the ever-reliable Crockpot and switch on the exhaust fan to high gear, steam from the broth will still fill our kitchen with a powerful fishy stench. My family almost disowned and abandoned me the day I prepared the fish stock! Lemon scented air fresheners hardly worked. It was only when I added the Pho herb bag, star anise, ginger and all the other herbs did the stench slowly disappeared like magic! Lesson learned: herbs can be added even when boiling the fish and not just peppercorns, salt and water alone! It occurred to me that salt and fish head in boiling water recreates a humid summer day in our kitchen, complete with ‘seashore scent!’ Harharhar… 😀

At the end of this seemingly arduous preparation, everyone was rewarded with delicious seafood pho. My family’s patience and fishy gripes were rewarded with hot, tasty and delicious pho that they enjoyed to the last drop! Talk about the power of food!



Pho ingredients

For the initial fish stock:
1 salmon head, cleaned, gills removed
2 cloves of garlic, grated
3 pcs star anise
1.5 litres of water
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cracked peppercorn

For the Crockpot:
1 medium-sized onion, charred/grilled in oil
1 thumb-sized ginger, charred/grrilled in oil and grated
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 Pho herb bag (usually available in Asian or Vietnamese groceries)
1 pc fish or shrimp bouillon for additional flavouring
1 tbsp. pepper
½ inch of yellow rock sugar
1.5 litres of water

For the soup bowl:
1 cup of bean sprouts, washed
1 pack of Vietnamese rice noodles
200 gms. of fish balls, sliced and fried in olive oil
500 gms. of shrimps, deveined and de-shelled and fried in olive oil
Lime wedges
¼ cup scallions, chopped
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha sauce (optional)


1. Place all the following ingredients in a pot: salmon head, water, salt, some of the grated garlic (2 cloves), cracked peppercorns and star anise. Bring it to a gentle simmer then boil for ten minutes. Throw away the scum that rises to the surface and make sure that you have your exhaust fan on to high gear to lessen your kitchen’s fishy smell!

2. Once the salmon head is cooked (you can tell by checking the flesh if it’s soft), drain and discard water, transfer the fish to the Crockpot and pour fresh warm water. Add the slightly burnt ginger, 2 cloves of grated garlic, charred onion, pepper, yellow rock sugar, and fish bouillon and the pho herb bag.

Pho bag

3. Cook for 4 hours in HIGH heat or 8 hours in LOW heat.

4. Once the stock is cooked, remove the pho bag. Check for taste and adjust seasoning. Jaden Hair emphasized that this is important. In addition, ensure that Crockpot is in a warm mode to keep the broth hot.

Pho broth

5. Meanwhile, pour boiling water over the noodles and leave for 5 minutes then drain.

Pho noodles

6. Divide noodles in bowls and add the following ingredients: fried fishballs, scallions, fried shrimps, bean sprouts, mint leaves, hoisin sauce, and sriracha sauce if desired.

Mint leaves

7. Ladle the hot soup stock, squeeze a wedge of lemon or lime, serve and enjoy!

Pho soup

*The Dads give credit to Merrilees Parker’s Seafood Pho recipe which was featured in Lifestyle Food: and Jaden Hair’s Beef Pho featured in her Steamy Kitchen website from which this pho recipe was adapted from.

Musings about Chicken Binakol and Ilonggo food

Namit gid (It’s really delicious!) was the first thought that came to mind when I saw the photograph of Chicken Binakol (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Water) from the recipe book, Kulinarya. I’ve cooked most of their soup-based dish but never dared chicken binakol. I was threatened by the thought of cooking it (not because it rhymes with palakol-Filipino word for ax! Lol 😀 ) and that it entails ingredients, such as young coconut, that may be difficult to find in temperate Canada. Also, having only worked and lived in Iloilo for ten months as a Jesuit volunteer (Jesuit Volunteers Philippines or JVP), my only attempt to break into Ilonggo cuisine was cooking batchoy out of memory (see previous article on Chicken Teriyaki). You see, I was a bit spoiled by the Jesuits of Iloilo,  because, unlike my co-volunteers, I had the privilege of having a cook prepare my meals. In fact, every meal turned out to be a culinary treat because I lived with Jesuit priests coming from Germany, the United States, China, Bohol and Bacolod so I also ate what they ate. 😀

Similarly, thanks to my Ilonggo colleagues, students and co-volunteers who brought me to places where food was delicious and affordable. I still pine for the lemon-grass flavoured chicken inasal (grilled chicken with lemon-grass and spices) with sinamak (spiced vinegar) of Joe’s Chicken Inato and Tatoy’s. And I distinctly remember the taste of seafood at Breakthrough or the afternoon snack of batchoy at Ted’s Oldtimer’s, which caused my blood pressure to shoot up. I recall enjoying the soft, tasty cheesebread of Tibiao’s with the barrio folk of Barrio Obrero. Finally, I remember munching some crunchy biscocho from Wewin’s or chewy butterscotch brownies from Biscocho Haus after having the best take-out pancit from Roberto’s on my birthday. Wow! All that gastronomic memories and excuses for not cooking chicken binakol!

But I digress. I thought that the best way to overcome my craving for Ilonggo food (and yes, fear!) for cooking chicken binakol is to try cooking it. Thanks to a nearby Asian supermarket, I found most of the ingredients I needed. And the best part of preparing binakol was, after 1 ½ hours, we all had a delicious and warm meal after a busy day at work! Namit gid!

*Iloilo, for your information, is one of the bigger island provinces of the Visayas group of islands in the Philippines.

CHICKEN BINAKOL (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Water)
1 500 gm. chicken breast, bone in
1 bunch of spinach
1 ½ cups of chicken broth*
¼ teaspoon peppercorns
¼ cup fish sauce (Patis)
2 stems of spring onions, chopped
1 knob of ginger, sliced
2 stems of lemon grass, bulbs crushed
1 can of young coconut, sliced
2 cups of coconut water


        1. Prepare all ingredients.

          2. Pre-heat a pot over MEDIUM heat then add oil and sauté garlic, onion, ginger, and lemon grass.

          3. When the onion starts to glaze (or turns translucent), add the chicken breast and peppercorn. Toss and mix the sautéed herbs and spices on the chicken for about 3 minutes then add the fish sauce. Let it stand for about 3 minutes until the chicken’s skin turns a bit brown.

          4. Add the chicken broth then the coconut juice to the sautéed chicken.

          4. Cover and let the soup boil for about 30 minutes (or until the chicken meat is cooked).  Remove the excess fat and scum that rises to the surface** to ensure a clear soup+.  Reduce to LOW heat to allow the broth to simmer.

          5. Remove the cooked chicken breast quickly from the pot and carve the chicken into bite-size strips.

          6. Return the chicken strips to the pot and add the young coconut strips. Bring the broth to a boil and finally, add the spinach leaves and spring onions.

          7. Serve* and enjoy! This recipe is good for 4-6 servings.

+Kulinarya suggests cooling the soup and refrigerating until the excess fat from the chicken forms on the surface.

**I used Knorr Chicken Bouillon for this one so be mindful when adding fish sauce to avoid having a salty soup. However, for a tastier soup, you can use chicken broth made from boiling chicken bones, salt and pepper.

*If you have time and extra money, you can serve the soup on a young coconut nut 🙂 . In North America, some Asian supermarkets sell young coconuts for a reasonable price.

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