Everyone has some kind of a comfort food. For me, it’s gotta be soups and stews. Especially stews. Beef stews, chicken stews, vegetable stews.. any recipe that slow cooks the meats, veggies and potatoes til they break down and get so very tender.. the broth rich, thick, and full-bodied. Recipes online commonly name this type of stew “Grandma’s Stew” or something similar because it is so comforting on a cold (or hungry) night.
A hearty stew is usually made up of a few core ingredients- potatoes, onions, a type of meat (beef and pork are common and impart great flavour) and (surprise!) celery. I know how most of you feel towards celery. Trust me, no one knows celery better. In a desperate attempt to lose weight (the wrong way) more than ten years ago, I survived on ONE stalk of raw celery per day. I hated celery. I lost a lot of weight (so would anyone, on the crazy diet) and lowered my blood pressure to a healthy range (it was 160/100 at my peak- very scary) and still hated celery. But I knew it was, and still is, good for me. What I want you to know, though, is that cooked celery tastes NOTHING like its raw form. It tastes earthy and potato-ey if cooked in a stew, and is essential to making a great stew. It is also used in chicken pie fillings.
Please do not leave out the celery if you decide to cook this dish. Please do not cook this dish if you intend to leave out the celery- it will not do this stew justice.
The version I’ve done above is a cross between a soup and stew because today I decided to serve this with rice instead of bread. This was after about 1.5 hours of slow cooking on a lowered flame. The stew gets thicker as it simmers. After two hours of slow stove-top cooking, this is what you’ll get:
A beautiful comforting soup, great with some warm crusty bread roll.
Makes 4 servings
What I used:
500g pork shoulder, chopped into 2-cm pieces (use beef if whoever you’re cooking for takes beef)
1 large onion, wedged
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 litre chicken stock (use beef stock if whoever you’re cooking for takes beef)
1 small Beijing cabbage, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped into chunks
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
1 tomato, wedged
4 stalks celery (leaves and white stems removed), chopped to 1-cm pieces
1 can mixed beans (kidney beans, chick peas etc, optional)
5 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp corn flour
1. Marinate pork pieces in some oyster sauce, soy sauce and corn flour for 15 minutes.
2. Heat up the oil in a pot, brown meat on both sides then set aside.
3. In the same pot, fry the onions til slightly soft, then add the garlic. Fry for 1-2 minutes then add the celery.
4. Fry for 5 minutes. Add stock if too dry.
5. When the celery is softer, add the rest of the stock and return the meat to the pot. Scrape the sides of your pot with the stock to get all the goodness.
6. Add in the carrots, potatoes, tomato, cabbage and bring to boil. Lower flame and simmer for 1 hour.
7. Stir in tomato ketchup and oyster sauce. Continue to cook for 30 minutes or til consistency is to your liking.
How much I spent:
$2.35 for pork
$1.20 for Beijing Cabbage
$0.60 for potatoes
$0.40 for carrots
$0.30 for tomato
$0.40 for celery
Everything else from my pantry
Total cost per serving: $1.32
Because this is so good, I recommend that you make a batch of this in a large pot. Cover leftovers and refrigerate.. heat it up for dinner the next day. You can also freeze leftovers in an airtight ziplock bag (keeps for 2 weeks if frozen properly) and reheat when you feel lonely.