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Ang-moh Fish Soup

Fish soupThe first time I tasted fish soup that is entirely different from the good old hawker favourite fish slice bee hoon soup was two years ago, when I first moved to Germany. Granted, I have tried some fish chowder at an American style restaurant in Sg before. But a clear fish soup, nope.

Actually Bremen is not known for seafood. In fact, all the prawns and most of the fish I have eaten thus far were frozen. It’s ironic because we are an hour’s drive from Bremerhaven where there is a big port and two hours’ drive from Hamburg’s Fisch Markt. Still, the fish rarely make it here fresh. They are either already smoked or marinated.

I suppose the first fish soup I had was probably made also with frozen fish but really, my non-gourmet savoury tongue couldn’t tell. It was served at a local cafe with a variety of typical german and other european dishes. I figure the fish soup is somewhat Italian in origin because the soup is tinged with tomato red. The taste of fish is strong but not overpowering, and that without the use of ginger. Nonetheless, this fish soup experience didn’t motivate me to recreate it in my own kitchen.

The most recent fish soup I had at Gosch Sylt, a renowned seafood bistro in the Lloyd Passage in the city, did just that. A. recommended the soup to me a couple of weeks back but it took some convincing for the Mister to agree to lunch  there because it’s been branded a place for snobs. We didn’t regret the decision though because the fish soup was absolutely inspiring and the Mister’s salmon steak was well worth the price.

This photo brings you to the Gosch Sylt website.

I took a really long time to savour the soup so as to remember the taste, in order to decide which herbs to use later. A. advised that I should try to get fish bones but really, we both know that’s somewhat far fetched. A jar of gourmet fish stock has to suffice.

I’m the sort of cook who prefers recipes with few and preferably easily obtainable ingredients. So here’s my version of an ang-moh fish soup, which is simple yet satisfying.


Ingredients

  • 300g of 2-3 different types of fish, preferably deboned filets ( I used salmon and sutchi)
  • 100g mussels (optional but recommended as they add flavour and texture)
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 800 ml fish stock
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 -2 tbs dried parsley
  • 1-2 tsp dried tarragon (optional; sharpens taste of soup)

Method

  • Cut fish into bite-sized pieces
  • Bring fish stock to a boil and add white wine
  • Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add fish (and musels) to soup
  • Add parsley, salt, (tarragon) to taste
  • Simmer soup for another 20 mins

Makes 2 generous portions

Drink up your DHA!

Fish soup with baguette

Preggie notes:

  • As we know, DHA is an important aid in fetal development, especially of the brain. Fish is definitely an excellent source. Choose wisely though because some fish may contain either too high a level of mercury or pollutants.
  • White wine? During pregnancy? Well, after half hour of simmering, the alcohol in the wine has mostly vaporised, leaving only the desired taste of wine.

Hot mug deprivation no more

Narumi Tea cup
One of the first things I learnt about pregnancy is what I shouldn’t eat or drink. The intake of caffeine has been found to be detrimental to fetal development so naturally, I stopped drinking coffee, tea and coke. For the uninitiated, drinks containing guarana or mate should also be avoided because the caffeine content is even higher.

It was winter during my first trimester and I was desperate to wake up to a cup of hot something. I relied heavily on milo and horlicks as alternatives for hot drinks because the only decaf cappuccino I bought tasted really bad. Then I explored yogi pregnancy teas. They were not quite my cup of tea because of the strong spiced tastes. I also read about red raspberry tea leaves and tried. It was alright but didn’t become a favourite. Only after further research did I find out that the drinking of red raspberry tea is controversial and some advocate abstinence during the first trimester.

Last month, more than halfway through my pregnancy, I discovered that I could have drunk rooibos or honeybush tea months back. Comically, we always had rooibos vanilla tea in stock because it’s one of the Mister’s favourites. But it didn’t come to his mind as well that it’s naturally caffeine free. Anyhow, a box of rooibos vanilla and rooibos cream caramel made a preggie very happy for weeks after.

If you are in Germany, this is a must try. It’s the best caramel tea I ever had. Not only does the scent fill the nose, the flavour comes through on the tongue as well.

Then I started to miss Earl Grey. Searches for decaf earl grey were futile, even in the organic supermarkets, until I went shopping for tea one day with a friend. There is a tea shop in a tourist area in Bremen known as Schnoor. It’s a lovely place with the highest grade teas. There, I found, for the first time, rooibos earl grey. I was really excited. But 100 grams cost 10 euros. I couldn’t justify the price. We moved on and went into another popular tea shop, Bremen Tee Handelskontor.

Rooibos Earl Grey

To my delight, they have an enormous variety of rooibos tea, from rooibos chocolate to rooibos Apple-Amaretto. Obviously I bought my first love, Earl Grey. At 3,80 Euros for 100 grams, it’s a winner in quality and price.

So if you are pregnant or allergic to caffeine, look out for rooibos or honeybush tea. Even original non-flavoured rooibos will leave you wanting another cup because it’s lighter than black tea and has no bitter aftertaste (even without sugar). It’s be claimed that rooibos tea leaves contain a high level of antioxidants and drinking two cups of tea bring health benefits. According to wikipedia, “animal studies suggest it has potent antioxidant, immune-modulating and chemopreventive effects. In addition, rooibos tea has not been found to have any adverse effects.”

If you are craving coffee, try coffee from the brand Café Hag.  I had a pot once during a ‘kaffee und kuchen’ session with a friend at a hotel cafe. It was my first coffee in months and it was pure enjoyment. It’s mild, not sour and does not leave a bitter aftertaste. If you prefer something stronger, try Dallmayr. Nescafe Instant Cappuccino is however unpalatable. Retrieve it foc from my kitchen cabinet anytime.

Narumi tea cup antique

Who’s Dr. Hauschka?

The first time I started to talk excitedly about Dr. Hauschka, the Mister didn’t get it. “Who’s Dr. Hauschka? Sounds like your new lover…” he commented amusedly as I went on and on about how good Dr. Hauschka is.

If you are like me, who suffers from sensitive and acne prone skin all my life, you would understand the elation I felt when the skin showed signs of improvement after such a short period of product usage.

I bought the trial kit above for 11,50€ at the pharmacy. It includes everything you need (except a make-up remover) to get started on a new skincare routine.

Before this, I was never one to believe in using a whole product line. But after reading numerous conflicting reviews about what works and what doesn’t, I came to the conclusion that some products are made to work together.

Let’s start with cleansing. The cleansing cream resembles that of a mild scrub. However, it is not meant to be used like one. Indeed, don’t ever do that. Good old lazy me didn’t bother to read the instructions carefully and ended up with almost 2 weeks of dry flaky skin on the forehead and chin. And I only scrubbed for a couple of days. Apparently you have to use the ‘press and roll’ technique with this cleansing cream. It’s not difficult; just a little more tedious. Watch this video on Youtube to understand what that means. The cleansing cream does not leave your skin feeling tight. For those used to the squeaky clean feel, it may feel a little uncomfortable to have a thin film of something lingering. But trust me, it would not bring on a breakout you are expecting from an improperly cleaned face.

Next comes the toner. Since the trial bottle did not come with a spritzer, I dabbed it on my fingers to press onto my skin. It’s definitely more economical. But if you don’t have patience for it, use the toner in a spray bottle. The toner leaves the skin with a nice supple feel.

Next comes the normalizing day oil. According to the brand, the skin produces oil in order to protect it from being more dehydated if your face is dry. Thus, by applying a layer of oil on your face, you trick the skin into thinking that there is sufficient protection and thus reduce sebum production. This theory clearly works because the morning after my very first application at night, I awoke to a smooth face with very calmed acne spots. Previously, even with the application of acne cream, some acne spots refuse to subside and remain red and angry. The reviews on http://www.makeupalley.com about the normalizing day oil, for instance, are mixed. One member then suggested that the oil should be used with the toner as the toner probably contains ingredients that prep the skin. By the way, it is advised not to use the normalizing day oil at night. The skin should be left to balance itself during the night. Toner will do.

“The 7 facts that will change your skin” on the Dr. Hauschka website are very interesting and I personally found truth in most of them. Perhaps my skin is very sensitive but I do always have new spots whenever I use a product that is not suitable.

The trial kit also includes 3 items for the once-a-week routine of deep cleansing – steam bath solution, cleansing clay mask powder and revitalising mask cream. The face should be steamd by a bowl of hot water into which the solution has been poured. I find this step very refreshing as the skin feels very supple and hydrated after. The purpose nonetheless is to open the pores in preparation for the deep cleansing.

The cleansing clay mask has to be made on your own with some water and a spritz of toner. It should then be applied to your face using a brush, which is less messy; or in my case (suitable brush nowhere in sight), with fingers.

Even though I do a lot and have also spent a lot in order to maintain blemish-free complexion, I think I never quite understood my skin until this recent discovery of Dr. Hauschka. It has led me to observe changes more closely in order to know what to do.

Even though the acne spots have been calmed and I have very few new bumps since I started using the trial kit, I continue to have countless whiteheads on my chin. I notice then that they tend to diminish the day after using the cleansing mask only to appear again after two days. This figures why the steam and cleansing mask routine should be done approximately once in about 5 days.

The final item to be discussed is the revitalising cream. And so I was really contented with the texture of my complexion and the absence of new spots. But what really bugs me is the presence of old acne scars, caused by the use of strong medicated acne cream. They have left very ugly dark patches all around, especially on the nose. The Mister pointed out that dark spots have also appeared on my cheeks out of nowhere and I was reminded of this temporary skin decoloration that occurs during pregnancy. That may also have been the reason why my old acne spots are so dark.

I thought to myself, “there must be something in the range of Dr. Hauschka products to resolve this problem.” Indeed there is – the revitalizing mask. It comes in the form of a very thick cream.There are two ways to use this mask. One, you apply a thick layer on your face for 20 mins and wash off. Two, which is the interesting one, you apply a thin layer on your face at night and during the day under your make-up in order to soften acne scars. One unexpected effect of using the mask as a make-up base is the glow it adds to a dehydated face. I have tried it now for a few days. I can’t decide yet whether I would continue the routine because new bumps have appeared here and there. Naturally their appearance would be attributed to the new layers of revitalizing mask since I didn’t change any other parts of the routine. For the next couple of days, I would apply the mask only to very dark acne scars. Then I can tell whether it’s indeed the cause of the new spots. It would probably take a month or two before I can tell whether it works to diminish the scars.

In general, all Dr. Hauschka products smell similar, right down to the cover stick. It’s herby in smell and not otherwise perfumed. I would say though it’s worth the compromise.

Since the skin takes at least a 28-day cycle to turn around and it’s now damage control time for undoing all the disastrous effects of the past winter, I would persevere and hope to see a totally diffierent complexion this summer. I will update again then!

My pseudo high protein low carb diet

I have been on a high(er) protein, low(er) carb diet for the longest time. But I threw all caution into the wind and binged on instant noodles and porridge during my first trimester. I’m not sure if my mil was all that amused that I simply had to eat instant mee goreng after a huge Christmas dinner. Anyhow, the comfort eating couldn’t be helped. I would probably have felt worse otherwise, being pretty much alone here and without Chinese food!

I also forgot that my required daily calorie intake is not 2000 but much lesser. I got to thinking one day about this average calorie intake and somehow can’t be convinced that if the Mister and I have a 30kg weight difference, both of us should be taking in 200 calories per day. So I googled around and found a number of websites with calorie intake calculators. I tried a few and after some averaging, my personal calorie intake per day should be around 1400 to 1500 calories. Since then, I’ve been rather successful in gauging how much I can eat to maintain the figure I like.

As I finished up the second trimester, I lost the need to comfort eat and became more conscious of what I should be putting into my mouth in order to maximise fetal growth and not anal growth. So I’m back on a pseudo (high protein low carb) diet! Although all I can think of is cakes, cakes and more cakes…

It’s been more than a decade since I finished a whole bowl of rice or noodles. I don’t find it difficult to part once again with these staples. Protein is after all what my little girl needs for growth. My beloved rice, spaghetti and bee hoon will be suitably converted to enhance an already big part of me because exercise is now for strengthening not for losing weight. Nonetheless, I don’t eliminate them completely from my main meals. I just eat half the portion. The amount of fruits I take each day also contributes anyway to the carb count as sugar. In cutting down the carb portion of lunch and dinner, there is then room for stress-relieving dark chocolate and fetal growth-spurting durian.

An article caught my attention while I was looking for information on going on a hplc diet during pregnancy. This report sortof justified my perculiar eating habits. It’s a research study done on pregnant mice and the researchers concluded that the female offspring of pregnant mice on a high protein low carb diet metabolise fat better. For sure, one should notice that a research has limited extrapolations on humans. Still, I choose to believe that similarities exist.

In an attempt to feed my perpetually hungry tummy with stuff that fit my particular diet, I have been spending time in the kitchen, preparing food in ‘bulk’. A friend has crowned me the ‘freezer queen’ because we discussed cooking for self once and I told her I usually cook a few portions at one go and freeze them. I would rather eat microwaved homecooked food than to grab a wurst or kebap, the only two available food choices within 100 metres. At least I can control the amount of fat I’m taking in.

My obssession with food persists…