Japanese Honeysuckle

Ingredient Name: Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera Japonica, Suikazura, Er hu, Shuang hua

Traditional Chinese Name: (Jīnyín huā) literal translation of “gold silver flower”

What is this?

  • A species of invasive vine native to Eastern Asia (Japan, Korea, China)
  • The raw flower is between white and yellow in color and the vines can grow up to 10m tall
  • Extremely common in Chinese medicinal uses
  • Considered cold (helps cool the body and detoxify)
  • It is an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient
  • Used as a dried ingredient in drinks and Chinese medicine
  • Western countries see this plant as a pest or weed

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water prior to use

Where can I buy this?

  • This is available in most Asian supermarkets
  • Also available in Chinese herbals stores

What is the cost

  • 10 g cost around $2-3 HKD
  • Extremely affordable

Any benefits?

  • Is a cooling food
  • Excellent in dispelling heat and toxins in the body
  • Used to treat conditions such as fevers, skin rash, sore throat and other heaty conditions

Any precautions?

  • Not be consumed by women who are pregnant – especially in first trimester as it’s a cooling food
  • Consume with caution for people with pre-existing cold conditions

References:

Black Glutinous Rice

Ingredient Name:  Black glutinous rice, glutinous rice, black sticky rice, wax rice, sweet rice, pearl rice

Traditional Chinese Name: 黑糯米 (Hēi nuòmǐ)

What is this?

  • A type of short-grained Asian rice that becomes sticky when cooked
  • It is relatively dense compared to other varieties of rice
  • This rice has a long history with the Chinese (as far back as 2,000 year) and has many usages in Asia
  • The black colour is either a different strain of glutinous rice or is the rice that still contains its bran
  • Its usage is in desserts, with dim sum, as a meal with meats and vegetables or in soups (although not so commonly)

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water and use

Where can I buy this?

  • In most supermarkets, health food stores or speciality stores
  • Available at wetmarts in Hong Kong
  • You can buy them prepackaged or in the volume you want from the vendors

What is the cost?

  • It is very affordable with a few dollars for a few grams

Any benefits?

  • Gluten free rice that is ideal for gluten-free diets

Any precautions?

  • As with all starches, consume in moderation

Additional Information:

  • Store in a dry, cool container away from open air and moisture
  • You can store cooked glutinous rice in the fridge for up to 5 days and frozen in your freezer for up to 6 months

References:

Fat Choy or Black Moss

Ingredient Name:  Fat choy, black moss, hair moss or hair weed

Traditional Chinese Name: 髮菜  (fa cai)

What is this?

  • Literally translated as “hair vegetable”
  • A type of bacteria that when dried has the appearance of hair
  • Grows in specific parts of China and is currently over harvested and production is limited by the Chinese government
  • Real black moss is dark green in colour (not black) and doesn’t disintegrate with over boiling in soup

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water before usage
  • Add to soup 30 minutes before soup is finished boiling

Where can I buy this?

  • This product can be found in most Asian supermarkets and herbal shops
  • It is available in Hong Kong wet marts

What is the cost?

  • Real black moss costs around $50 HKD for 30 grams

Any benefits?

  • Black moss absorbs the flavour of your soup or dish and can become tasty after being cooked

Any precautions?

  • It is researched to contain no nutritional value
  • When consumed in large quantities, can lead to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s,  Parkinson’s and dementia
  • Due to its limitation in production on the mainland, there are many variations of the “real” thing.  It is often mixed with starches and other similar ingredients
  • It is indigestible and merely passes through the system
  • Consume with caution and limit exposure to children/babies/pregnant women

Resources

Blue Dates

Ingredient Name:  Blue Dates

Traditional Chinese Name: 藍枣 (lán zǎo)

What is this?
  • A long, round, wrinkled, dark coloured, seeded fruit (in its mature state) produced by the Ziziphus zizyphus trees
  • Commonly found in Asia, some parts of Europe and India
  • In Chinese cuisine, it can be found in both salty and sweet dishes, in soups, as dried snacks and in teas
  • Blue dates are more expensive than that of their red cousins
  • For drinks, the seeds can be kept as well (as it is recommended to remove the seeds from red dates)

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in cold water before usage
  • Add directly to soups (in cold water) or drinks

Where can I buy this?

  • You can purchase blue dates from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged
  • You can also purchase this in bulk from speciality stores

What is the cost?

  • A packge of around 30 dates cost $30 HKD
  • There are varying prices of blue dates depending on its rarity and quality

Any benefits?

  • Dates are known to assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure and assist the stomach and spleen in poor appetites
  • It is also commonly used to address stress in drinks and teas
  • Due to its sweetness, it is soothing to the throat and used to treat sore throats
  • Dates are an excellent source of Vitamin C
  • It is a neutral fruit

Any precautions?

  • Be sure you are buying dates from a reputable source as some dates do carry diseases

Additional Information?

  • Blue dates can normally be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for at least 6 months

Resources

Lotus Seeds

Ingredient Name: Lotus Seeds
Traditional Chinese Name: (lián zi)
What is this?
  • Dried lotus seeds (also known as lotus nuts) are the interior of the lotus plant
  • There are two types of commercial lotus seeds:  Brown peel (pictured above) or white (pictured below)
  • They are usually cored or split in half in order to remove the bitter tasting germ of the seed
  • Lotus seeds are most commonly used in soups or Chinese desserts

How do I prepare it?

  • You will need to wash the seeds prior to usage
  • Soak the seeds in warm water for at least an hour (although some people will prefer to soak them overnight)

Where can I buy this?

  • It is rare to purchase fresh lotus seeds
  • You can purchase lotus seeds from either Asian supermarkets in packages, or from speciality stores in bulk

What is the cost?

  • A bag is relatively affordable, coming in at around $2.00 CAD / 14 oz

Any benefits?

  • Lotus seeds are said to relieve heatiness
  • They are nutritous, low in fat and restorative to one’s health
  • In additiona, lotus seeds benefit the heart, spleen and kidneys
  • Some people will consume lotus seeds to help relieve symptoms of diarrhea and improve appetite
  • Traditionally, lotus seeds are associated with weddings as the Chinese words mean “continuous sons” and therefore represent the continuation of succession in the family

Any precautions?

  • Lotus seeds should not be consumed by people who are constipated
  • Many lotus seeds have been bleached with perioxide, so be wary of super white lotus seeds

For Chinese desserts, this is a must have for all kitchens.  In soups, it’s a semi-must have.