Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Did your parents or grandparents ever tell you that you’re too “yeet hay” (heaty) and would make you a cooling soup or tea or drink, such as watercress soup or winter melon and then go on to explain that it was good for you and would help with your heaty body?  This was me!  And you grew up understanding this term called “yeet hay”, but it wasn’t easily translatable in English, but yet… you know.  And now it comes back in full circle, understanding the principles in Traditional Chinese medicine, why there’s this re-balance in our diets!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

How to use this guide:

  • This is purely a reference guide on what to consider as your soup ingredients
  • Most Chinese soups have a combination of protein, vegetables or roots, and some simple herbs (such as dried longans or dried red dates)
  • It’s not as easy as a mix and match!  Although I wish it were.  I would really suggest doing some research on the combinations available, such as existing recipes out there or ask friends and family.
  • Do consult a physician if you’re unsure of your health and what to consume

 

Tips and examples:

  • Consider the complimentary tastes of ingredients (it’s not really a mix and match at random!).  There are pairings that have worked for the TCM principles above such as balancing yin and yang.
  • For example, the Cantonese dessert of silky tofu pudding (tofu fa) is usually combined with a ginger brown syrup.  This is because the tofu is highly cooling and the ginger will offset that.
  • For example, winter melon is best combined with pork rather than chicken (although I have tried that) to maintain the cooling effects of the soup.  Winter melon is promoted as a summer soup for this very reason, so making it with warmer protein will reduce that effectiveness.
  •  The external environment also has an impact to your yin and yang balance.  In the winter, we nourish the yang more to stay warm and in the spring, we want to reduce the yin to dispel moisture from the body.
  • For example, chicken soups and especially double-boiled soups are recommended in the winter to keep us warm.  Ginger is a great add to soups, including dried longans, which are all warming.  The same applies to summer and hot weather where the Chinese lean towards watercress, gourds, and melon soups.
  • Our internal state is probably the most important in determining which soup to make and how this principle helps.
  • For example, postpartum is an important moment for women in recovering their balance for the long term.  In postpartum, the body is in need of yang nourishment due to blood and fluid loss of childbirth.  This is why all the foods, soups, and teas created for confinement are hot or warming and tend to be packed full of ginger.
  • For example, the scratchy, bumpy, and inflamed tongue is a great example of too much heat (or yang) in our bodies.  This is common when we have lack of sleep (remember how yang is active) or eat too much fried food (another source of heat into our bodies), so having cooling teas or soups will help relieve the excess yang.

 

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Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

When you want to go meatless, but don’t want to trade off flavour!  

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

There are so many options when you want to replace meats in Chinese soups!  I try to keep the flavour profile of the soup without compromising it with the replacements.  I find vegetarian soups less oily, have more fiber, and provide a different offering to my soups!  I am able to venture into a more unique group of ingredients I don’t always traditionally use.

Some tips for Vegetarian Chinese Soups:

  • While you don’t need to blanch these ingredients, some do taste better if you pan fry it first (ie: soy products, mushrooms, even some vegetables such as potatoes)
  • Many vegetarian choices have great shelf life (dried mushrooms can last greater than 1 year, packaged nuts like chestnuts and peanuts can also last 3-6 months), although fresh peanuts last around 5 days in the fridge
  • Save your tummy as these ingredients eat like a meal
  • You can get creative to mix and match, or create your own!
  • Mushrooms have a rich, earthy, profile to the their taste, while nuts also have some earthy taste, but lighter
  • There are so many amazing fruits and vegetables available in the Asian repertoire such as gobo (or burdock root),  Japanese pumpkin, seabed coconuts, even normal coconuts can work!
  • Don’t forget to consider Chinese Herbs as replacements as well

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GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

ON YOUTUBE

ON INSTAGRAM

ON FACEBOOK

What’s the Best Chinese Comfort Food?  Hot Homemade Congee!

What’s the Best Chinese Comfort Food? Hot Homemade Congee!

What’s the Best Chinese Comfort Food? Hot Homemade Congee!

Growing up, I’ve had many variations of this watery Chinese porridge called “Congee” (aka, the 粥 in Chinese).  

And all of them, are memories of home and comfort.

I don’t know what it is about this dish, but the simplest of ingredients, the white rice (there are also variations of the rice used) can produce such a profound feeling when it’s mixed and cooked in the right proportions of water and toppings.

Follow this post to learn how to make this!

What makes Congee, Congee?

By definition, congee is watered rice, or gruel, or porridge.  The word originated from the root word “to nourish” (according to wiktionary).  Across many cuisines and cultures, you’ll see the variations of congee from generation to generation and country to country.  From as far as India to Japan to the South Asian Countries, they all have some variation of this dish.

So what makes congee, congee?  The most basic premise is that it’s some sort of grain (usually rice) that is cooked to a semi viscous state.  The viscosity (how fast or slow it flows as a liquid) depends on the type of congee.  

The Chinese version of congee exists in almost the same proportions as culture Regions available.  From Guangdong Province,  you’ll find the more liquid versions of the congee base and then quick boiled with preserved eggs or minced beef.  This is very typical of the congee you’ll find in Hong Kong.  And don’t forget, served with fried dough sticks!
The congee base is usually the same with variations on toppings and flavouring.  What I do is make this congee base for the kids, Cantonese-styled, and our toppings spread on the kitchen table is AMAZING!  We all like different toppings, so we’ll crack out preserved pork floss, vinegared cucumbers, spicy preserved radish, or pan fried salty peanuts!  Get creative!
In Thailand, it’s Jok (โจ๊ก, pronounced joke).  Pictured here is a fragrant Thai fish congee.  The congee base is made with rice and water, with a selection of toppings such as peanuts, fresh spring onions and parsley, and preserved salty duck eggs.  The Thai will also add spicy peppers and chilies, which I didn’t opt for.  Too exciting for me in the mornings!
In Taiwan, it’s also called Jook (粥) and the congee base is similar to that of the white congee in Hong Kong, but the toppings are out of this world!  Here I’ve got pork floss (there are so many beautiful variations of this), preserved and flavoured seaweed, preserved salty duck eggs, root vegetables such as lotus root and even yams, and all sorts of preserved vegetables such as cucumbers, and fresh cilantro, baby celery (a Taiwanese favourite), and spring green onions.
And in Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Mongolia, they all have their own variations of congee.  I love trying all of them as I travel and it’s truly amazing how one dish has evolved in so many ways through the cultures!

Making Congee

There are 2 basic ways to make congee.
  1. You make the congee base (with simply rice and water) and then spice it up
  2. You spice it up first and mix in the rice to create this blended, beautiful congee concoction

In the recipes below, you’ll find both variations.  Try them both and see how you like them.  It really depends on what you feel like eating.  If you’re having side dishes, like meats and vegetables, the congee is usually served plain (rice and water).  If you’re eating the congee like a meal, it usually has all the works inside.  

There’s no right or wrong to making or eating congee!  And the type of rice you use, can also vary.  I’ve used long grain rice before, round little rice, brown rice, purple rice, even Japanese rice.  They all work!

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 2 L of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Whatever toppings you want

To Stir or Not To Stir?

Ah, the age old question of whether you stir your congee or not.

From my experience, it depends on the type of congee you’re making.

For example, I also make the Chiu Chou style of congee where it’s got a thick base layer of congee and beautiful rice soup on top.  In this congee, you don’t stir AT ALL.  It’s basically, a quick boil for 20 minutes, turn off the heat, let it rest for 30 minutes to “bake”  and settle and serve.  My mom is Chiu Chou, so I’ll hear her repeat this technique to me many times over!

For the Cantonese-styled congee, I will mix.  I will stir fry the ingredients first, add in the rice and water and mix it around, ensuring that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Have your heat on medium to medium-high for that control.  I find when you max out the heat, it becomes harder to manage and this sticky congee to the bottom of the pot happens.

If you’re also using a thermal pot, insta-pot, or a pressure cooker, stirring is also suggested.   

 

CHECK OUT SOME OF OUR CONGEE RECIPES

POST YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPES BELOW IN THE COMMENTS!  WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR THEM!

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A Chinese Delicacy: How to Prepare Dried Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

A Chinese Delicacy: How to Prepare Dried Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

A Chinese Delicacy: How to Prepare Dried Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

Have you ever walked by those Chinese herbal or dried food shops and wondered what those fairly large beige bubble things were?  I certainly did growing up and just always found it foreign until I was introduced to it in foods, soups, and stews and told how expensive they were (my parents’ Chinese way of telling me to eat it). 

Fish maw is the fish bladder (air bubble) of the fish.  Not the fish stomach, which is a common misnomer.  

I finally had enough curiosity to try to make them myself and got an hour crash course from the vendor in Hong Kong who basically walked me step by step (after I bought a bunch from them), having the vegetable vendor verify (after buying ingredients for the soup), and all the nearby old ladies share their various fish maw recipes.  What a way to immerse myself into Chinese cooking!

Check out how to prepare dried fish maw in the video and a selection of fish maw recipes.

There are many sizes, makes, cuts, and types of fish maw available!  So explore them all!  

Preparing Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

Preparing fish maw for use in soups, stews, or Chinese dishes can take up to 3 days depending on the size and thickness of the fish maw.  In the video, I’m using thicker fish maw, so it took 2 full days.  In some soups, the fish maw are much smaller, so you can just boil as you would like any meats.

Day -2:  Blanch your fish maw in boiling water for 15 minutes.  I used a ceramic pot so I could just change the water in the pot rather than switch it around.  The Chinese are very particular about their ceramic pots versus metal based pots because of the potential metallic flavours absorbed by the food.  Once you have boiled it you can let it sit overnight.

Day -1:  Change out the water and replace the fish maw pot with room temperature water in the morning.  Then put in the fridge until evening (12 hours) and replace the water again for overnight (12 hours).   

Day 0:  Pour out the water and rinse the fish maw.  It should still be pretty rubbery and thick.  Cut into desired pieces for your dish.  You can even save them in portions in the freezer for up to 6 months. Enjoy!

 

Recipes that use Dried Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

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Soup Name: Turkey Chinese Congee Traditional Chinese Name: 火雞粥 (huǒ jī zhōu) Introduction: What to do with a 19 pound turkey for a family of 6? Well, after carving it, you have more meat leftover than carcass and I’ve taken half of the carcass for congee and the other...

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Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

I could not contain my excitement when I got my new Thermal Induction Pot! Check out the video above for the unpack and how to use it.

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

 What makes this pot so special?

  • Due to its engineered induction design, the pot itself will retain heat and continue to cook by itself
  • This pot doesn’t need power!  It’s 100% energy efficient cooking.  You’ll need to use the inner pot to cook on a stove to a boil for about 30 minutes before putting it into your thermal pot.
  • Easy to clean
  • The inner pot can be used with or without the external thermal base (use it like a normal pot)
  • They come in a lot of various sizes:  3L, 4L, or 5L is what I’ve seen available
  • Durable outer base
  • Safe to use

 Where to buy this?

  • In Hong Kong, there are many Japanese and Chinese brands available, such as Zojirushi, Tiger, and Thermos.  I’ve got a Zojirushi at home in HK and I love it!
  • In Toronto though, I could only find Tiger and Thermos physically in Chinese Appliance and Home Stores (check First Markham Place).
  • There are also limited options Online that are Tiger, Thermos, and SunPenTown.
  • Having used both Tiger and Zojirushi, they operate quite similarly and produce the same outcomes!

Thermos 4.5L Stainless Steel Thermal Pot

    Thermos 4.5L Shuttle Chef Thermal Pot

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      Basic Chicken Soup (Base)

      Soup Name:  Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base) Traditional Chinese Name:   清雞湯 (qīng jī tāng)  Here is another version of the basic chicken soup.  I'll make this so that it can serve as a base for noodles, macaroni, with rice, or for double-boiling...

      Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

      Soup Name: Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink Traditional Chinese Name: 竹蔗茅根 (zhú zhè máogēn)   For videos, visit us on YouTube. A traditional Chinese drink which helps cool the body and reduce heatiness. It’s natural sweetness is perfect for hot summer days and this...

      Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

      Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese SoupsDid your parents or grandparents ever tell you that you're too "yeet hay" (heaty) and would make you a cooling soup or tea or drink, such as watercress soup or winter melon and then go on to explain that it...

      Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

      I’ve always been in awe with the restaurant-styled whole winter melon soups – I mean, how on earth did they do that? They must have some giant double-boiler inside and it always taste so yummy! It’s a true favourite of mine when I go to Chinese restaurants to be able...

      The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of Chinese Confinement

      THE DO's and DON'T's Of Chinese Confinement It all starts with one key principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine:  Re-balance the Yin and Yang in the body. The energy in the body post birth is normally in an increased yin (cooling) state due to the loss of blood and...

      Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

      Soup Name: Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese SoupFor more videos, visit us on YouTube.No time?  Cost saving?  Want something quick?  I've been making these quick boil Chinese soups for awhile now!  You can still make healthy and delicious soups without that...

      Homemade Do-it-yourself Wontons in a “Cheat” Chicken Broth

      Did you know that wontons literally means "cloud swallow" in Cantonese?  These little delights are like clouds and bite-sized enough to be swallowed in one gulp! For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Check out the video on how to create awesome wontons at home!   What...

      Turkey Chinese Congee (Porridge)

      Soup Name: Turkey Chinese Congee Traditional Chinese Name: 火雞粥 (huǒ jī zhōu) Introduction: What to do with a 19 pound turkey for a family of 6? Well, after carving it, you have more meat leftover than carcass and I’ve taken half of the carcass for congee and the other...

      A Do-It-Yourself Japanese Shabu Shabu Experience

      Check out this 2 part homemade broth and Japanese-styled shabu shabu experience!Serves: Party of 4-6 Prep Time:  30 mins Cook Time:  3 hours and 15 mins Eat Time:  Endless For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Check out the video on how to create an awesome and...

      Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

      I could not contain my excitement when I got my new Thermal Induction Pot! Check out the video above for the unpack and how to use it.For more videos, visit us on YouTube. What makes this pot so special? Due to its engineered induction design, the pot itself will...

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      7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients

      7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients

      7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients

      What do you do when you move half way across the world?

      Rebuild my Chinese soup pantry!

      For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

      Check out the video for what ingredients I used for my basic Chinese soup pantry ingredients.  I keep these stocked all year round and constantly filled because that’s how useful they are!  You’ll find at least 2 or 3 of these in each of my basic soup recipes!  You can buy these at your local Chinese supermarkets or herbal shops.

      For the all ingredients shown here:

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      Basic Chicken Soup (Base)

      Soup Name:  Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base) Traditional Chinese Name:   清雞湯 (qīng jī tāng)  Here is another version of the basic chicken soup.  I'll make this so that it can serve as a base for noodles, macaroni, with rice, or for double-boiling...

      Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

      Soup Name: Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink Traditional Chinese Name: 竹蔗茅根 (zhú zhè máogēn)   For videos, visit us on YouTube. A traditional Chinese drink which helps cool the body and reduce heatiness. It’s natural sweetness is perfect for hot summer days and this...

      Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

      Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese SoupsDid your parents or grandparents ever tell you that you're too "yeet hay" (heaty) and would make you a cooling soup or tea or drink, such as watercress soup or winter melon and then go on to explain that it...

      Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

      I’ve always been in awe with the restaurant-styled whole winter melon soups – I mean, how on earth did they do that? They must have some giant double-boiler inside and it always taste so yummy! It’s a true favourite of mine when I go to Chinese restaurants to be able...

      The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of Chinese Confinement

      THE DO's and DON'T's Of Chinese Confinement It all starts with one key principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine:  Re-balance the Yin and Yang in the body. The energy in the body post birth is normally in an increased yin (cooling) state due to the loss of blood and...

      Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

      Soup Name: Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese SoupFor more videos, visit us on YouTube.No time?  Cost saving?  Want something quick?  I've been making these quick boil Chinese soups for awhile now!  You can still make healthy and delicious soups without that...

      Homemade Do-it-yourself Wontons in a “Cheat” Chicken Broth

      Did you know that wontons literally means "cloud swallow" in Cantonese?  These little delights are like clouds and bite-sized enough to be swallowed in one gulp! For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Check out the video on how to create awesome wontons at home!   What...

      Turkey Chinese Congee (Porridge)

      Soup Name: Turkey Chinese Congee Traditional Chinese Name: 火雞粥 (huǒ jī zhōu) Introduction: What to do with a 19 pound turkey for a family of 6? Well, after carving it, you have more meat leftover than carcass and I’ve taken half of the carcass for congee and the other...

      A Do-It-Yourself Japanese Shabu Shabu Experience

      Check out this 2 part homemade broth and Japanese-styled shabu shabu experience!Serves: Party of 4-6 Prep Time:  30 mins Cook Time:  3 hours and 15 mins Eat Time:  Endless For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Check out the video on how to create an awesome and...

      Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

      I could not contain my excitement when I got my new Thermal Induction Pot! Check out the video above for the unpack and how to use it.For more videos, visit us on YouTube. What makes this pot so special? Due to its engineered induction design, the pot itself will...

      GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

      FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

      ON YOUTUBE

      ON INSTAGRAM

      ON FACEBOOK