Dear Future Children

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Lately I find myself drawn to observing babies/toddlers/children everywhere I go. Some are adorable with their chubby little toes and fingers, their high-pitched voice, their enthusiasm and excitement at all things in their sight. Some are just a bunch of nuisances (for lack of a better word). They cry; they kick; they make scenes. So dear reader, what are the perks then, of being a parent, besides speaking in silly voices to your baby without being judged? I wonder how my parents felt when I was growing up. Was I a bundle of joy or was I a nuisance?

I cried a lot when I was a baby, my parents said. But aside from that, I have always been an easy kid, food-wise. I ate (almost) everything my mother and my aunts fed me (except for beansprout, we don’t like each other much.) Broccoli, lettuce, mushroom, spring onions, bitter gourds, things that are not on other kids’ wish list. My mom’s cooking was simple, but she made sure that I had the nutrition I needed. A meal was always balanced: some soup, some vegetables and some protein, served with white rice. I embraced each meal, listening intently as she talked about how bitter gourds would cool my heaty body or how ginger would boost my immune system.

Maybe that’s one of the perks of being a parent: watching your children grow up healthily, feeling assured that you’ve done everything in your power to nurture them so. That peace of mind.

Dear future children, maybe I’m not going to be those moms that keep a spick-and-span house, volunteer at school events or bring you to the beach every weekend, but like my mom, I will make sure you eat real proper food. That I can.

Cook’s notes:

  • The taste of bitter gourds varies; the larger ones (with a lighter shade) are usually more bitter than the smaller ones. Adjust the seasoning accordingly and to your taste (some prefer a more profound bitterness).
  • The meatball mixture could be used for any type of light vegetable soups. Prawns add more umami to the broth.

What you’ll need:

Soup:

400 gr bitter gourd, washed and thinly sliced
100 gr minced pork
100 gr prawns, shelled and devein
2 shallots, minced
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 stalks of spring onion, thinly sliced to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Caramelized prawns:

300 gr prawns, deveined (I prefer prawns with their shells on)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 bird’s eye chili, thinly sliced

Here’s how:

To make the soup:

  • For the meatballs:

Smash the prawns with the side of your knife until they are all flat and combine with the minced pork, minced shallots, fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper

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Using hands, shape the mixture into small balls and set aside

  • In a pot, add in 400 ml of water
  • When the water boils, drop in the meatballs and let simmer for 5 minutes, skim any foam off the surface if necessary
  • Drop in the bitter gourd slices and cook until they turn translucent (around 7-10 minutes)
  • Serve hot and garnish with pepper and spring onions

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To make the caramelized prawns:

  • Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan on medium heat
  • Add in the shallots and garlic and fry until fragrant.
  • When the garlic slightly changes color (don’t wait for it to turn brown), add in the prawns and chili and turn the heat to high

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  • Add in the sugar, fish sauce and water. Toss the prawns so they cook on both sides
  • Reduce the heat and let simmer until the sauce thickens

Serve hot with rice

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