Sweet Potato Barley Soup

Having an afternoon dessert soup, herbal tea with an occasional snack is a norm. With the children and grandchildren back from the shop and schools respectively; momsie is happy to serve. This afternoon is not an exception.

We were seated at the table in the patio overlooking a small green patch leading out to momsie’s queer haphazard garden. Margaux and Tic Toc rode wheels and played adventure “make-believe” characters.

Momsie asked if i had liked a sweet potato barley soup. I never tried this combination. Always just singularly barley or sweet potato.

I find it very creative. Most times, if you cooked them singularly you will find that the barley and sweet potatoes be left behind uneaten on a bowl. However, when combined every mouth bite of sweet potatoes with a hint of barley refreshing.

I am very keen on sweet dessert soup and hubby is not. So we share very differing opinion on this dessert served this afternoon.

Honestly, I find it an economical way to dish out a brightly coloured dessert for the whole family to enjoy.

INGREDIENTS for 6 – 8 persons:-

200 gm       sweet potatoes, diced up to biteful size

50  gm        white barley

1.2 litre       water

2 pcs           pandan or screwpine leaves

Boil everything together in medium heat for 15/20 minutes, add diced sweet potatoes and boil another 10 minutes. Add sugar to desired sweetness.

yong tau foo 釀豆腐

When was the last time you had a joyous Yong Tau Foo meal?

I am sick of all the half passed six Yong Tau Foo (YTF) being served on our plates daily.

If you noticed, the plastic-liked ones, full of cornstarch or synthetic food additives to make a Q-Q bite. I mean they can get away today because the younger generations don’t quite get to taste what we tasted decades back.

Back then, there weren’t wholesalers out there mass producing to serve the pasar malam vendors; wet market food sellers; etc. Every independent store owner were proud cooks and operators. Unlike the absentee ones today replaced by foreign worker cooks.

I remember way back when I was 8 or 9 years old. Fine, that makes it some 40 years back.

My best YTF came from a Hakka village in Salak South where I grew up. The old lady fondly addressed as “Pak Meh” used kurau salted fish, pork and fish paste to laced all the tofus and vegetables. I can remember the aroma and the sizzling sound of delicious meat patties against the brinjals and bittergourds. Heavenly smells and flavoursome bites.

Today, I don’t have to search very far. Momsie’s the answer.

I did not pre-inform her my intention to do YTF, therefore ingredients are not suffice. Fret not, mom is a queen of improvising ingredients and we all should learn too.

A little experiment here and there.


200 gm     pork

100 gm     fish fillet

2/3 pcs     chinese mushrooms

10 pcs       fried tofu or taukua

2 pulps     garlic

1 stalk      spring onion

1 inch      red carrot

1 tsp         salt

1 tsp         cornflour

salt and pepper and a dash of soya sauce

For convenience, you may buy the already pre-minced pork however, momsie’s advise is to choose pork belly that is generously striped with lean and fats. Fresh pork belly meat gives better flavour and bite. Slice thinly , you can easily mince them with a chinese cleaver knife on a thick chopping board.

When the meat is moderately mince, add in garlic, carrots and fish. Notice here that we use prawns to substitute the lack of fish. Mince further.

Move the mince ingredients into a deep bowl. Add in crushed salted fish, finely chopped scallion, salt, pepper and cornflour. Again, we have substituted crushed chopped anchovies/ikan billis for the salted fish. Use hands to fold in all ingredients to the mince meat heartily onto the bowl. When you feel the meat paste sticky and do not fall apart, they are ready.

Momsie is concerned about the quality of tofu that we are using. She could not buy from her regular vendor and we made do with these ugly and crinkled ones from the nearest mini market in Tanjong Minyak. Looks can be deceiving. Fret not.

Old wives advice to get the meat paste well onto tofu would be to dust the holes to be filled with cornflour. Momsie’s tip is to steam the stuffed tofu first.

All the tofu are stuffed and we have some meat paste left. So momsie’s decided to stuff some lady’s fingers from her garden. You can look out for whatever that is available in your kitchen or fridge; chillies, brinjals, bittergourds, mushrooms etc.

Walaw ……. freeze and eat them anyway, anytime in the future!!