Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year’s!!

Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!!

As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what’s called “New Year’s Cake”.  It’s basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and chewy.  These days, there are so many variations of this dish, such as coconut flavored, red dates, ginger flavored, and a range of colors that these cakes come in. 

The characteristics of this dish is defined by it’s shape as well as it’s name.  It’s round because when wishing people good health, fortune, and happiness, you want it to go endless (so it doesn’t end).  It’s name also implies “year high” in Cantonese, which means, wishing you a fruitful and boundless growth in the year.  

So don’t forget to enjoy this over the New Year’s!  It’s really only available during this time commercially, or you make your own.  This year, I had an Auntie give me a few batches.  I will be trying my own next time for sure time permitting!

 

Name:

New Year’s Rice Cakes

Traditional Chinese Name:

年糕 (nian gao)

This dish is sweet to taste and slightly warming

Visit us on YouTube for cooking videos.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 20 mins

Serves: 1 batch (5″ diameter) serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of sweet rice cakes (5″ in size)
  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 2 eggs

Cooking Instructions

  1. Cut up the sweet rice cakes into your chosen size (thickness and length).  I like square pieces because they’re easier to eat and handle when cooking, especially when they get soft!  I tend to use about 1/2 inch in thickness.
  2. In a bowl, scramble 2 eggs (use 2 eggs for a 5″ size, if you want to make half, use 1 egg)
  3. In a shallow pan on low-medium heat, add your butter until it’s melted
  4. Then swash the sliced sweet rice cakes fully in the eggs and lay gently on the pan
  5. Cook on low-medium heat until they soften and lightly brown and turn over and repeat until the cakes are soft and you can poke them (squishy soft!)
  6. Serve right away and enjoy!

Tips

  • use eggs to prevent them from sticking to each other
  • use butter (oil works) in a warm pan
  • low-medium heat max. It’s a slow cook, so allocate time
  • 2 eggs for 1 round 5.5″ rice cake
  • serve right away so it’s soft, this is best!

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How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

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HOW TO CHECK IF YOU’RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION?

I’m always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full blown experiment on my end.  I truly wanted to see if this was working!  And so I applied some learning from my Engineering background and took a stab at testing this theory.  It’s not an exact science and was something fun to try!

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.

Why is blood circulation important to TCM?

Blood is a vital substance that circulates the in the vessels and carries nutrition throughout the body.  It is important in maintaining vital activities in the body, including nourishing and moisturizing it.

The circulation of blood relies on the pushing function of the qi.  This is why it’s equally important to have strong qi.  Blood and qi are like interconnected and interdependent.  Qi is the motivating source for the circulation of blood.

The better your blood circulates:

  • The more moisture and nourishments that travels to your organs, tissues, body, limbs, and mind continuously.
  • The more distributed our qi is because blood is the carrier of qi.  If our blood becomes collapsed and stagnant, so will our qi.
  • The more vigorous and lively we are because blood also carries oxygen.
  • The easier it is to stay warm (as body energy and warmth is generated from qi) and maintain good body function.

 

How to do a foot soak

The most basic is to simply soak your feet in warm water.  What my own Chinese doctor has suggested is to soak it until you break a sweat from your forehead.  At this point, you’ll know that the warm blood has worked it’s way up throughout your body enough to literally – break a sweat!

I was curious about testing time, so I’ve structured my foot soaks quite scientifically, but you don’t have to.  You can just soak until you feel that sweat and finish up.

What you’ll need:

  • A consistent source of hot (or warm) water
  • A comfortable place to sit
  • Some water (or drinks) to stay hydrated
  • A book or something to occupy your time
  • A towel (to dry off with afterwards)
  • A change of clothes or sweater (as you’re sweating, you’ll want to cool off gently)

If you’re testing time, add in:

  • A timer

Try foot soaks once a week!  It’s a great time to meditate and spend some “ME” time.

Ever wonder why you do a hot foot soak before you get a foot massage (in most Chinese spas)?

Click on the video below to hear about how I turned this concept into more of a science experiment (for myself) and how I knew I was improving my blood circulation.  A highly fascinating thing to try!

 

The teas and soups I drank to improve blood circulation

To improve blood circulation, there are a few soups or teas you can consider making to help you with this.  Keep in mind, the key principles and things to note are:

  • We want to encourage a more yang state in the body, which means more active and flowing 
  • To generate yang states, this is generally associated with consumption of warmer soups and teas (see below for the ones I was consuming)
  • If you’re feeling too heaty (excess yang), you can hold off on the warming ingredients and go with the neutral ones for improve circulation (or reducing stagnant blood)

 

Warming ingredients to help with blood circulation:

 

Neutral ingredients to help with blood circulation:

 

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The Hong Kong Grocery Shopping Experience

The Hong Kong Grocery Shopping Experience

The Hong Kong Grocery Shopping Experience!

I love the diversity of grocery shopping in Asia, especially in Hong Kong!  You’ve got so many choices, market types, and variety!  Part of the beauty of being in Hong Kong is this exact accessibility to a lot of the Asian cuisines, ingredients, and shared experiences.

There’s no right or wrong in how to make Chinese soups.  The simple act of bringing together raw and dried ingredients to create a concoction of love to share with our friends and family is highly rewarding!

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring our love of Chinese soups to the world!

TYPES OF GROCERY STORES:

The Japanese Superstores

 

You’ve got your Juscos, Apitas, AEONs, Don Don Donki, and other Japanese department stores that come with a lower level grocery store.  These are clean, bright, and carry a happy variety of Japanese products.  They also have a fantastic selection of sushi, seafood, and cooked foods!  

A lot in these shops are imported, so don’t expect a lot of English labels, but they do over label with some Cantonese and minimal English.  And, most of their products are super cute and have fantastic packaging!

The Wet Mart

One of my favourite and places to shop when it comes to making Chinese food and soups.  This is as local as it gets!  It does take some getting used to, once you overcome some of the smells, the wet floors, and the truly open market concept.  The amazing thing about wet marts is that you buy the amount you want.  There are some prepackaged items such as tulip bulbs, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, but in general, meat, seafood, and vegetables are sold in whatever amount you want!  And they fascinating thing is that everything is calculated in terms of “catty”, which is equivalent to 604.8 g!  Sometimes, I just make the size of meat or vegetables I want and they adjust accordingly.  Explore my video on my wet mart shopping experience!

 

The Local Chains

These are the most common ones that are distributed everywhere.  You can find them in most of Hong Kong, in almost every neighbourhood and they carry a variety of local and mixed groceries and goodies.  I tend to go to these for basics such as rice, toiletries, and condiments.  The great thing is that they do something localize it more depending on the area it’s in.  Some may carry more western goods, while others also lean towards Japanese or Korean.  I like these.  They are predictable, stable, and also do online shipping, which is amazing when you want to buy the heavy things like toilet paper, drinks, water, rice.

 

The Independents

These are the mom and pop shops.  There are a few categories which include:  dried foods, convenience stores, candy, fruit stands, herbs, frozen foods, etc…  These are also amazing and really have that neighbourhood feel to them.  You get to know the owners closely and then share experiences and ideas.  This is where some of my soup ideas and how to use the ingredients come from!

 

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Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

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GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

ON YOUTUBE

ON INSTAGRAM

ON FACEBOOK

Hot and Sour Soup

Soup Name: Hot and Sour Soup

Chinese Name: 酸辣湯 (suān là tāng)

Introduction:

This American-style Chinese hot and sour soup is a very popular thick soup that contains strong flavors not typically found in traditional Chinese soups (namely spicy and sour flavors).   It can commonly be found in many Chinese restaurants in Western countries.   There are numerous different ways to make this soup, including a vegetarian option (remove the meat-based ingredients).   As variations of this soup vary widely as do preferences over levels of sweetness, sourness and spiciness, many ingredients can be added “to taste”.

What Ingredients are required?

  • 1 pound fresh pork tenderloin (optional)
  • 1 block  fresh tofu
  • 1 handful dried lily flowers
  • 1 handful cut wood ear
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbls soy sauce
  • 2 tbls rice vinegar (can substitute regular vinegar)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (thickener)
  • 1 tsp sugar (to taste)
  • 1 tsp white pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • Chili oil to taste
  • Sesame oil to taste
  • 2 L of water or chicken broth

How do I prepare it?

  1. Wash and soak the wood ear for 1 hour.  Trim any hard parts and then cut into 3 cm slices
  2. Wash and soak the lily flower in room temperature water for 30 minutes and trim and remove hard pieces
  3. Wash and cube the tofu
  4. Wash and slice the pork tenderloin into short, thin strips
  5. Boil your soup water / broth
  6. Add in the above ingredients and boil until the pork is cooked
  7. Add soy sauce, vinegar, white pepper and sugar
  8. Beat the eggs in a bowl.   While the water is at full boil, slowly dribble the egg into the soup in a circular pattern to create thin ribbons of cooked egg in the soup
  9. Mix the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of hot water until fully dissolved.   Pour mixture into the soup and boil to thicken.
  10. Finally, add sesame oil, chili oil and sprinkle the top with green onions
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Lily flower is said to moisten lungs and alleviate coughs
  • Wood ear is said to increase fluidity of the blood and improve circulation
  • Once you have the ingredients, this soup is easy to make and the flavors can easily be adjusted during the cooking process to suit your personal preferences

Any precautions?

  • Spicy food is considered “heaty” and should be eaten in moderation