Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

Sugar Cane and Imperatae Drink

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 can be drank cold or hot. It is commonly found as a drink in most herbal dessert shops and is even bottled commercially.

There are a few options for this tea such as adding sugared dried winter melon and corn silk or baby corn.  The key ingredient is the imperatae, which is grass type plant that is cooling and sweet.  It targets the stomach, lungs, and bladder and supports heat removal, or excess of Yang qi in the body.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 60 minutes

Total time: 70 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

 

Cooking Instructions

  1. Begin boiling your soup water
  2. Begin boiling another pot of water to blanch Imperatae
  3. Cut carrots, corn, water chestnuts and sugar cane
  4. When second water boils, blanch Imperatae
  5. When soup water boils, add all ingredients together
  6. Boil on medium heat for a good 1 hour
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • This is a great tea for BBQ’ing or hotpot as it’s cooling and removes heat from the body, especially the stomach
  • It can served as a tea or soup
  • It is vegetarian, so perfect for any soup or tea drinker
  • This can be drank cold or hot (you’ll often find this as a heated drink served in the streets of Hong Kong)
  • You can make a big pot and store in the fridge for one week.  Just be sure to let it sit to room temperature or heat up before consumption
  • You can have a few variations of this soup or tea depending on ingredients at home (such as adding sugared dried winter melon, water chestnuts, or simply using sugar cane and imperatae)

For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

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Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

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 to drink it – especially with all the yummy insides that go with it! So I did manage to find a baby whole winter melon – which will fit into my soup pot, so here’s the recipe for it. You can actually use this on a whole winter melon, but you’ll need to just cut off whatever amount doesn’t fit into your pot and go from there. This is a pretty labour intensive soup with many steps, but so worth it!

Soup Name:

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

冬瓜盅 (dōng guā zhōng)

 

For soup and recipe videos, visit us on YouTube.

You’ll need: 1 whole winter melon, dried shrimp, dried conpoy, fresh shrimp, fresh pork, dried mushrooms, straw mushrooms, salt, cornstarch, oil and chicken broth.  In actuality, this is a quick boil soup first and then double-boiled within the winter melon – or at least, that’s how this recipe goes. The thicker the winter melon, the longer it will need to be double-boiled, but at least you make the soup base first.

To start, soak all your dried Chinese goodies for 10-15 minutes – this includes the mushrooms, the conpoys and the shrimp.

Cut up the mushrooms. We don’t need the mushrooms ends, so you can discard this. Cut the mushrooms into tiny cubes. The idea is to use consistency across all the soup ingredients so they are the same size.

You can start working on “emptying” the winter melon. Start by slicing the top straight across, these beautiful parts can be used in your soup (less skin). Using a sharp, thin, knife, cut about 1 inch away from the edge and completely remove all the middle. You can discard the seeds first and keep the flesh to be added back into the soup. Go deep and leave about 1-inch from the bottom, you’ll have to be careful here and just eyeball it. Try really hard not to puncture the winter melon!  Using any parts of the leftover winter melon, cube that into the same size as the mushrooms. This will be used for your soup later.

Same with your meats. Cube the raw shrimp and raw pork. After this, you can mix them together with a bit of salt, oil and corn starch, in preparation for frying.  In a pot, add a tiny bit of oil and pan fry the dried shrimp and conpoy. This makes the fragrance and all the flavours are ready to come out in the soup. In Cantonese, there’s a term called “exploding the fragrance” of the ingredients.

When cooked for about 3 minutes on medium-high heat, throw in the raw shrimp and pork and stir that around a little bit for another 5 minutes.

You will then have a beautiful and very fragrant medley of your meats for the soup. Good enough to just eat on its own – for sure! But don’t!! You need it for the soup!

Here’s where it gets tricky. I made a giant pot of soup – so much that it doesn’t fit into the winter melon, which is OK, because you can still drink the quick boil as a quick boil soup any way. I used 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts water – this is because I don’t like soup too salty, and you can always add more salt or chicken broth after.
So now, throw everything into your pot. The broth and the straw mushrooms (which are also diced) and the diced winter melon.

Let that boil on medium heat for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in your double-boiler, set it up so that you have a the winter melon sitting on a metal low dish (to catch any soup just in case) and add hot water to the outside double-boiler.

Once it’s set up, you can turn up the flame to a medium-high to get the water boiling. Once your other quick boil soup is read, scoop in generous amounts of the meats and “stuff” (fill about half) and then fill the rest with the soup. It won’t all fill, but tis is life sometimes!

The idea is that the heat will soften the winter melon bowl and the flavours of the soup will just seep into the flesh and make it so deliciously yummy! Boil on a medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until you see that the winter melon has softened and turned translucent. This means, it’s ready!

Finally, serve! Use a hardy soup ladle and scoop the soup meats, the soup itself and don’t forget to go for the outer winter melon flesh – that’s why it’s cooked in the double-boiler!

This was one awesome soup and I was super proud that it was a huge success on my first attempt! I’ve also had requests to try it with a larger winter melon, so that will be my next project. There are so many variations you can make on the soup though, like including Chinese preserved ham, ham, go vegetarian?, carrots, onions – whatever!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 30 mins pre-boil on soup + 2 hours in double-boiler (or until the whole outer melon softens)

Total time: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Serves: 4-5 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 small whole winter melon (that has to fit in your double-boil pot) – emptied and cube the flesh
  • 7 fresh shrimp, beheaded and peeled
  • 1/2 pound of fresh pork
  • 5 dried conpoys (or scallops)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp
  • 10 small dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 5 fresh straw mushrooms
  • salt (for taste as needed)
  • oil (for frying the ingredients first)
  • cornstarch (to thicken the soup as needed)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak your dried Chinese ingredients in warm water for 10-15 minutes (Chinese mushrooms, conpoys, shrimp)
  2. Empty out the middle of your winter melon – keeping in completely intact with the exception of the top. Keep to 1-inch of melon left from the edge. Throw away the seeds.
  3. Cut all your ingredients into cubes – Chinese mushrooms (removing the stems), straw mushrooms, any left over winter melon, fresh shrimp, fresh pork
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cornstarch and oil to your fresh shrimp and pork and mix
  5. In a pot, add a tiny bit of oil and fry (drain water) the dried conpoy and dried shrimp for 5 minutes on medium heat
  6. Throw in the raw shrimp and pork and fry for another 5 minutes
  7. Keep on medium heat, add in 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts boiling water
  8. Add in the remaining winter melon flesh and straw mushrooms
  9. Boil on medium for 30 minutes
  10. In your double-boiler, raise your winter melon (in a metal deep dish) and add hot water.
  11. Once your soup boils, scoop in enough stuff and soup to fill the winter melon.
  12. Boil on medium high for 30 minutes – or until the winter melon flesh is translucent.
  13. Serve all, including scooping the winter melon flesh and enjoy

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Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Soup Name

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Traditional Chinese Name:  

冬瓜雞湯 (dōng guā jī tāng)

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

Here is a variation on the wintermelon soup using chicken as the protein instead of pork.  It’s slightly cooling, helping to repair your yin energy and release heat from the body. 

I used a new root that I normally don’t put into this soup, which is the Japanese gobo root.  It’s has earthy, dark, and rich tones, so only use 3-4 pieces of it.  Add in your Chinese herbal base of dried red dates, dried longans, dried scallops, and dried goji berries to lighten it up and you’ve got yourself a beautiful summer soup for the whole family!

 

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 30 mins on stove + 4 hours in thermal pot

Total time: 5 hours 

Serves: 8-10 bowls

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Boil 1 separate pot of water to blanch your protein
  2. You can also begin to boil your pot of soup water in the thermal pot with the 3L of cold water
  3. Prepare your chicken any way you’d like.  I tend to quarter it and reserve the breast for another meal, using only the legs and bones.
  4. In your blanching pot, drop in the chicken bones and meat into the boiling water and blanch for 5-6 minutes, or until the water re-boils.
  5. Slice the wintermelon into large pieces, keeping the skin on.
  6. Using gloves, peel the Chinese (or Japanese) Yam and cut into large 2-inch thick pieces
  7. Cut the gobo root into 2 inch long pieces, keeping the skin on
  8. When your soup water boils, transfer the meat, add in the dried herbal ingredients, and all the roots and wintermelon
  9. Boil on high for 30 minutes
  10. Transfer for a thermal pot for another 4 hours to let it finish cooking
  11. Serve and enjoy!

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

 

 

 

Chef tips:

  • Keep the skin on the wintermelon to prevent it from disintegrating into the soup
  • Use gloves when handling the Chinese or Japanese Yam root as it is slippery and can make your hands itchy
  • When using a whole chicken, you can save either the breasts or legs for another meal and use only the bones
  • Use a thermal pot to conserve energy and make the technology work for you!  

 

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

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

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 I’ve done here is used a “cheat”  chicken broth where I’m using a chicken stock as a base, but flavoring it a bit more with some additional ingredients.  A great use of veggie scraps sometimes in these cases.

And one of a Chinese Soup Chef’s best friend, the soup bag is used here.  I highly recommend getting a few at home.  Be sure to wash and boil first before usage.  Since they are made of cotton, you can throw them in the wash as well or wash by hand.  They keep EVERYTHING in, including onion skins, seeds, flower petals, fish bones, the works.  Instead of straining, just use one of these which you can just drop into your soup and voila!  easy to remove ingredients.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 45 mins

Cook time (broth): 30 mins

Cook time (wontons): 10 mins

Total time: 1 hour 30 mins

Makes: 50 wontons

Equipment needed:

Ingredients (for cheat chicken broth):

  • 500 mL of chicken broth

  • 1 L of cold water
  • 1-2 pieces of star anise
  • 5 dried scallops
  • 5 dried longans
  • 1 whole garlic
  • 1 whole fresh onion
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 leek

Ingredients (for wontons):

  • 500g of ground chicken

  • 6-7 fresh shrimp, deveined and diced

  • 20 bunches of fresh chives, diced

  • 3 bunches of fresh green onions, diced

  • 1 tablespoon diced garlic

  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper

  • 1 teaspoon of cooking wine

  • sesame oil to taste

  • 50 wonton skins

Cooking Instructions

  1. Begin to boil your chicken broth in your soup pot
  2. Chop up the soup “cheat”  ingredients and put them all into the soup bag
  3. Add directly to your chicken broth and boil on medium heat for 30 minutes
  4. For the wontons, mix in ground chicken, diced shrimp and all the seasoning together
  5. Chop up the chives and fresh green onions and add them in
  6. Mix well together until the meat creates strands (it should be pretty sticky)
  7. Put a small amount of meat into the middle of your wonton and using your finger, wet all around the edges and fold as you’d like (there are so many techniques out there, I just like to squish it at the top to form a little package)
  8. Wrap them all as to ensure the wonton skins don’t dry out
  9. Remove the soup bag from your soup, ensuring there’s nothing remaining in the soup
  10. Add in 10-15 wontons.  This should bring the soup down from a boil.  
  11. Once the soup begins to boil, add in 200mL of water to reduce the temperature.  This will keep the wontons whole and not boiled and destroyed in the voracity of the boil.  Do this 2 additional times meaning, when it boils again, add 100mL of water.  I know this will dilute the soup somewhat, so you can also do this in a separate pot of water or add more chicken broth.
  12. Once it begins to boil the 3rd time around.  Strain out, scoop some soup, garnish and serve!

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Chinese Winter Melon and Parma Ham Stew

Chinese Winter Melon and Parma Ham Stew

Chinese Winter Melon and Parma Ham Stew

Soup Name

Chinese Winter melon and Ham Stew

Traditional Chinese Name:  

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

I was inspired to make this soup one day when I walked by the wet mart and saw the vendor carving up this giant fresh winter melon and I thought, “Gosh, that’s be amazing to use!”.  I didn’t want to make a soup that day, but really wanted something savory, tasty, and soft.  So another way to make winter melon is to stew it!  And normally, you can pair winter melon with Chinese ham, but I went for a western spin and decided to make a fusion version with Parma Ham instead (which is equally salty).

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 45 mins

Total time: 1 hour

Serves: 4-5 people

Ingredients

  • 1 slice of fresh winter melon (about 2-3 inches thick is good)
  • 1 bowl of smaller dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 1 bowl of fresh, cored gingko bilobas
  • 1 pack of Parma Ham
  • 9-10 cloves of fresh garlic
  • A sprinkling of preserved Chinese vegetables

Cooking Instructions

  1. Start by soaking the Chinese mushrooms in room temperature water for about an hour to soften them
  2. I like to use giant butcher’s knives for chopping most things because the weight and leverage just lessens the work!  Chop your winter melon into large-sized pieces, removing the seeds and keeping the skin.  This will help keep in place as it softens in your stew and not disintegrate into a million pieces and become blah…
  3. The go about removing the ends of the mushrooms.  A sharp knife or kitchen scissors will do the job!
  4. In your soup pot, with a bit of oil and on medium heat, pan fry the garlic cloves until they are brown (and smell yummy!), then you toss in the mushroom and pan fry for about 3 minutes.
  5. Drop in the gingko bilobas and also fry for 3 minutes
  6. Then you extract the Parma Ham and just place it on top of the other ingredients and stir slightly
  7. Add in 2 cups of boiling water and a sprinkling of Chinese preserved vegetables and mix it altogether
  8. Cover and boil for 45 minutes, stirring every once in a while so it doesn’t stick, or that you still have enough liquid in the pot

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Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Soup Name

Fresh Crab Congee

Traditional Chinese Name:  

蟹粥 (xiè zhōu)

 

This crab congee is super easy to make! The key ingredient really is just the crab.  It’s a warming, traditional comfort food that can also be luxurious and delicious. If you get nice female crabs, the roe comes all out into the soup and really adds a special flavour.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 55 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of white rice

  • 10 cups of water (to start)

  • 6-7 dried scallops or conpoys

  • 7-8 slices of fresh chicken strips

  • 2 fresh female crabs, prepared and quartered

  • 1 tablespoon of preserved Chinese vegetables

  • fresh spring onions

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the crab (see my post on fresh crab on preparation), cut into quarters and set aside
  2. Prepare the fresh chicken by cutting in thin strips
  3. Begin to boil your water and throw in the rice using high heat
  4. Stir every once in awhile to ensure that the congee doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot
  5. When the water boils, add in chicken strips, dried scallops (or conpoys)
  6. When the water boils again, throw in the prepared crab
  7. Continue to stir the congee occasionally and add one cup of boiling water as it thickens. How thin or thick is a personal preference, so you can add less or more water as you desire.
  8. Reduce heat to a medium simmer, cover the pot and let it continue to boil for another 30 minutes. Revisit the pot to stir it, ensuring you stir it right from the bottom.
  9. Add in the preserved Chinese vegetables and mix again.
  10. Let it boil for another 5 minutes.
  11. Serve and top with your favourite toppings such as fresh parsley, green onions, chives or any of the delicious preserved Chinese goodies like garlic, radish, baby cucumbers or pork floss

Here’s how I made it!

To start, you’ll need: 2 fresh live crabs, fresh chicken slices, ginger slices, fresh green onions, dried scallops, and preserved Chinese vegetables (as shown).

I’ve made this many times trying different types of crab.  The best and most flavourful crabs ideal for congee are smaller crabs that really aren’t as expensive (at around $70 HKD per crab). While they are smaller, the seem to seep a crab-y and seafood, ocean flavour into the congee, including the roe and cream of the crab into the soup.  I’ve also tried more expensive crab (at around $170 HKD per crab) which had more meat, but somehow, it was more just crab by itself and the congee by itself – the two never really blended.  But definitely explore yourself and see what works best for you and your family.

You can see my other post on how to prepare fresh crab. A few tips:

  • Using a big knife, chop off the sharp edges of the legs, shell, claws and any other sharp parts
  • Using also the back side of a big knife, create cracks in the legs and hard places (so that you can easily eat it out of the congee)
  • Do not throw away any of the eggs, roe, or cream (found at the head primarily) – the Chinese call these the best parts!
  • Buy female crabs

Slice the fresh chicken into thin strips. How much you use is really up to you. Since I like my protein, I tend to add more protein everywhere I go! The dried scallops can also be rinsed under warm water ahead of use. And take a few slices of fresh ginger. I tend to keep the pieces quite large so that I can isolate them in the congee and not scoop them out. I also don’t use a lot as I am not a fan of ginger and neither are the children, but you do need a little bit to eliminate any fishy taste in the congee, although I find the crab doesn’t really emit this. 

Start boiling your congee water (the bigger the pot, the better!) it’s easier to add more hot water than let it reduce to the appropriate amount. I’ll throw in the rice right away and wait until the water boils. Once it boils, I will add in the chicken, scallops, and ginger.

    Once that boils, then feel free to add in the prepared crab. Be sure to stir this pretty often to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.  This will also help keep the heat even throughout the pot as it might be quite crowded with all the stuff inside.

    Boil this on medium heat for another 30 minutes.  The rice will thicken and you can add a cup of boiling water (or really hot water from the nice Chinese hot water boilers) to thin it out.  How thick you’d like your soup is completely up to personal preference. I like my congee a bit thinner, with more liquid, but this is up to you.

    When it’s almost done (with about another 5 minutes until serving), throw in a handful of preserved Chinese vegetables.  I use a very specific one that comes in a ceramic pot and is called “dong choy”.  It’s very salty, so use with caution. I don’t add any additional salt after that.

      When ready, serve and enjoy! I also top with chives or parsley or fresh green onions.  There’s also some other cool Chinese condiments that go with congee, such as preserved baby cucumbers, radish, onions, shallots, dried pork floss, or vinegar soaked garlic.

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