After the Chinese New Year party, my fridge was full of the kind of ingredients that make a girl like me very happy: braised pork belly; roasted chicken; eggs pickled in soy sauce; and shredded beef — just to name a few.
However, I was feeling a little full. So I decided to stick with soup. I made broth from the leftover chicken parts, just a very simple clear, salted broth. Then I decorated a bowl with the various odds and ends. It reminded me of the combinations you’ll get when you eat Ramen out these days.
My favorite spontaneous addition: a slice of persimmon gelee with chili flakes that I had made just after Christmas. (Gelee keeps an awfully long time.) The gelee was sweet and mildly spicy, and while it looked pretty in the bowl, seconds later it dissolved into the broth creating an unusual depth and sweetness. Other additions included the leftover kimchi, chicken skin that I put back in the oven until crispy, the pickles and the belly I had braised for the bao. One night I took an egg yolk and whisked it into the soup just before pouring. It made me wonder why I didn’t add egg yolks to all my soups.
It seemed not to matter how I mixed and matched these items. I ate variations on this soup for a week and never tired of it.
I purchased hard-boiled duck eggs in little cans at Mitsuwa, the Japanese grocery store. This was my planned protein alternative for vegetarians who still wanted to try the steamed buns (bao). I thought about making Thousand-Year Eggs but then I saw in the recipe that they really do take a long time. So I improvised. I added leftover coffee from the morning (Thousand-Year Eggs call for tea, so not so much of a stretch). I added soy sauce, maple syrup and a dash of liquid smoke. Mix it until you like the flavor. From experience, I recommend going heavy on the syrup and light on the smoke.