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Three dishes one soup is an approach to daily dinner planning I first encountered on Thoughtworthy, a Singapore based philosophical minimalism channel on youtube. And I picked up a Singapore cookbook called Three Dishes, One Soup. You get a bowl of rice as well of course.

Yeah, I don't understand where that link title came from. it links to the cookbook.

Both of these sources credit the Chinese for the idea. But from the Chinese I've always read to use a dish for every guest + 1. The Japanese are said to have an idiom for the same idea of three dishes one soup for meal planning.

The principle is about a variety of foods from a variety of cooking methods that you can cook more or less simultaneously to get a healthy dinner together quickly. Also very much like Pepin's Fast Food My Way.

So your task is to prepare meals of three dishes and one soup. I'm fine if you count rice as one of the three rather than separate. But the soup is mandatory. From any cuisine or mix and match.

If you want ideas, there are a number of Asian youtube channels with this in their title for particular videos. And Pepin wrote two cookbooks in the Fast Food My Way concept.

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Immediate thought to me is nasi or bami rames :)
More explanation to follow, also about old and new name & spelling (just a teaser for what will surely come in the next couple of days/weeks)

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Three dishes one soup sounds like a great approach to daily dinner planning. I think it's really interesting that this principle is credited to the Chinese, and that the Japanese have an idiom for the same idea. It's cool to see how different cultures approach meal planning. I agree that having a variety of foods from different cooking methods is a great way to get a healthy dinner together quickly. Thanks for the tip about Asian YouTube channels and Pepin's cookbooks for some meal inspiration!

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My 2nd idea when having a glass of wine was to check the challenge proper as the old fashioned meal in the Netherlands was
Soup to start
1 potatoes
2 vegetables
3 meat
4 desert

And I can't see how it wouldn't fit the challenge :)

Oh, and by the way: me mentioning a dish/cooking style does absolutely not mean I'm claiming it.

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Okay, entry #1 from me. This is very much up my alley, so I figure, let’s start with classics: Japanese home cooking.

1. White rice in a rice cooker. No explanation necessary, I presume.

2. Misoshiru (miso soup), made a fairly standard home-cooking way.
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First, we need dashi. I like the little teabag things, which I can find various places here in the US, including the supermarket chain Wegman’s. The quality is very high, and if you keep the bag sealed and ideally in the freezer, the little sachets last for quite a long time – much longer, in fact, than the package claims. By comparison to what you can make with easily-available (in the US) kombu and katsuobushi, the teabags are simply superior, no question. My method for maximal flavor extraction from the teabags is based on the fact that you get all the flavor from kombu at around 145F. So I put the bag in the water and let it cook very, very slowly for an hour if I can manage it, then at the end crank the heat up just until it starts to simmer strongly.

Next we need at least 2 “garnishes.” As a rule, you want one garnish that cooks in the liquid for a few minutes, and one that cooks almost instantly when the hot soup is poured over it. It’s common to go for 3 garnishes, but really that aesthetic is more about suimono (clear soups) rather than the more homey misoshiru. In restaurants, you always get tofu (simmered), wakame seaweed (simmered), and scallion rings (instant-cooked). That’s a nice combo, but why not try something else? Use what’s in the fridge. I used dried fu (gluten) balls, simmered 5-10 minutes, and fresh baby spinach, flash-cooked by the soup. Once the fu were ready, I put them into the soup bowls, on top of the spinach. Time for the miso. I used mostly shiro (white) miso and just a little aka (red), because I like it that way. The miso sits in a sieve and the soup is brought to a near-boil. Stir the miso a bit until it just melts through the sieve and leaves a few chunky bits behind.
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Finally remove the sieve, stir the soup which should be at a near-boil, and pour over the fu and spinach in the bowls. Serve immediately, piping hot.

3. Tsukemono (pickles). In the classical meal, the three fundamental requirements are rice, miso soup, and pickles. Pickles are sometimes just quick-pickled with salt and maybe a bit of lemon, or they can be elaborate things that take weeks. In my experience, intricate pickles are kind of a Kansai regional thing (Kyoto-Osaka area), whereas they’re always pretty much the same (boring and salty) in Kanto (Tokyo area).

200g king oyster and shiitake mushrooms, sliced fattish. Put in a saucepan with 180g rice vinegar, 1 Tb soy sauce, 1 Tb mirin, 1 tsp sugar, pinch of salt, another dashi sachet, a little sliced red onion, and about 100g water. Bring to a boil and simmer fast for 4-5 minutes. Pour everything into a bowl and put something on the top to keep the mushrooms submerged, and chill for at least an hour. As you can see, I separated the king oysters from the shiitakes and onion when plating up.
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4. Simple pan-seared salmon.

Nothing much to say about this, really. We get a weekly delivery of 2 pounds of fresh fish, and you never know what you’re going to get – except that it usually involves salmon. Fortunately my family loves salmon. This is my simplest method: light salt, sear over medium-high heat on the skin until very crisp and brown, turn over and continue cooking until cooked through, serve immediately.

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5. Yellowfin tuna sashimi.

A honking big steak showed up in that fish delivery – first time that’s happened! – so I sliced some and served with a little standard wasabi (the fake stuff in the tube) and good soy sauce.

Complete meal: soup + 3 (and a side of sashimi)
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Absolutely delicious, and very pretty -- perfect for Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival), which coincidentally happened to be today.

Note, by the way, that this ethos of soup + 3 is also very reliant on using whatever you happen to have on hand, instead of going out to buy stuff and making a project of it. For me, that's what Japanese home cooking is all about. (By no means is that unique to Japan, obviously, but this is something I think a lot of people get wrong about Japanese cooking.)

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BTW for those unfamiliar with this system, here's a pretty good writeup of the Japanese version. You can get very, very elegant and elaborate about this, of course, but my feeling is that at least with Japanese cooking and Taiwanese cooking -- the two parts of Asia where I have any idea what I'm talking about -- it's fundamentally very simple and about using what's at hand.

Note, for instance, that in this post she's talking about the teishoku set meal, in which the rice and pickles are sort of part of the "soup," such that it's really rice-soup-pickles plus three. In my experience, that's not really how it's done at home -- but it's very standard at any basic washoku (Japanese cuisine) restaurant, many of which are usually called teishoku places.

At home -- at grandma's house, anyway, or that of a traditionalist -- grandma makes some kind of pickle and some kind of "dish" (one of the -mono, classified by cooking method, thus nimono [simmered], mushimono [steamed], aemono [sauced], yakimono [grilled], etc.) every day, plus rice and miso soup. The "dish" is made a little large, volume-wise. Tomorrow, she serves all the pickles she's got going at the moment (probably 3 quite different kinds) plus the new "dish" and some little leftover bits and pieces of yesterday's "dish." If someone is coming over, she'll buy a little slab of fish to cut (or have cut) a little sashimi... and there you go: rice, pickles, soup, plus 3 dishes. But you can see that it's really more about doing what I did plus the leftovers.

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Great meal & write up Chris
Donkey's years ago I was in Japan for about half a year and miso soup was something that was very often part of the meal.

When is something still a soup and when does it become stew or curry?
Just been checking out some recipes and in most sayur & soup are grouped together, but in some of the English ones sayur becomes stew ?
Inquiring minds want to know :)

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Nasi rames, or nasi campur, or mini rijsttafel on a plate

I'm going to split this up in more posts, so I am starting at the end.
My meal (excuses for the white blob, which is a hard boiled egg cut in 2)
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Left top is ayam asem pangang (roasted tamarind chicken)
Going clockwise:
Atjar from unripe paw paw
Free-style beef rendang
Hard boiled egg
And in the centre we got jasmine rice topped with sayur kari

Following the challenge
We got rice.
I use 2 rice to 3 water by volume.
Bring to the boil, stir, put lid back, heat on very low and then, because I only have a stove with 2 burners, move to a coolerbox lined with a duvet. Cooks it beautifully and stays warm forever.
(I use this cooler for making beer, so it's ready for use and no effort)
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The rice is fluffed just before use with a fork

The soup (sayur/sajoer)
This is normally part of a rijsttafel to provide extra moisture.
There are loads of different ones. I made one without coconut as the rendang already has coconut

Piece of chicken, onion and some sliced ginger are boiled to make a "stock"
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Meanwhile it's time to prepare a boemboe/bumbu (spice mixture)
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Coriander & cumin in the little white bowl,
Red onion, ginger, garlic and turmeric. I kept the chili's for later

They were all pounded together and later on combined with shrimp paste and my homemade garlic/onion/chili paste
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The paste was fried in some oil. The chicken iin the stock seperated from the bone and moved with the stock to the spice mixture.
Brought to the boil and added potato and a couple minutes later yardlong beans
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Other dishes to follow

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The rendang
As said, I' styling here, but there are so many different recipes that mine will be somewhere.
The main idea of a rendang is to cook whatever in coconut cream or milk and keep cooking till it starts frying in its own fat

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We got beef neck, red onions, garlic, lemon grass and ginger. Plus a previously made bumbu of garlic, chili and onions (in the jar)
(Not in the picture: coriander, galangal & daun djeruk purut (lime leaves) & coconut milk)

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All sort of sliced before pounding

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Onions & meat are also cut. I'm leaving the bones in
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Time to fry the bumbu.
I'm using a bit of coconut milk and heat it to try and break it so I can fry in the fat. This does not always work, but this time it did
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Meat, onions and coconut milk are added. Plus some water. I'm using a lot less coconut milk than usual as I don't want it to be too rich
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Now just keep simmering.
I took it off the heat just before it broke and started frying. It would now be called kalio.
I figured this to be the best point to reheat later
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And the finished product after reheating. You can see it changed quite a bit
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Then the other dishes:
The hard boiled egg could have been one in sauce or a salted egg (telor asin), but it's a plain one with salt. I ran out of place on the stove

The acar was made a while back and is shredded unripe pawpaw in vinegar, with garlic, coriander, chili, sugar & salt

The chicken was marinated in tamarind, chili paste and kecap (sweet soy) and grilled.
I grilled from raw. The more common way in Indonesia would be to cook in sauce and finish on the grill
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