Lotus Root with Dried Octopus in Chicken Soup

Lotus Root with Dried Octopus in Chicken Soup

Soup Name:

Lotus Root with Dried Octopus in Chicken Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

章魚幹蓮藕雞湯 (zhāng yú gàn liánǒu jī tāng)

Nature:  This soup is neutral

Taste:  This soup is sweet to taste

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This is a simple, easy-to-make soup that doesn’t require many ingredients. It’s a heavy sweet (not a light sweet) and appropriate for spring weather. This soup is quite neutral and ideal for children and adults. The dried octopus & dried mussels do give the soup a little bit of a “fishy” taste if you put too much, but use less if you’re concerned. It’s a similar taste to dried scallops almost. A naturally delicious soup for the whole family.

This combination of octopus and chicken works amazing with many types of roots, such as arrowroot, lotus root, or fresh Chinese yam.  It goes nicely with earthy tastes as it really brings out the flavours of the roots.  And the amazing thing is that it eats like a meal!  I will serve the roots and the chicken meat, with a small plate of soy sauce, and it’s delicious! 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour and 30 mins

Serves: 4 bowls

Ingredients
Cooking Instructions
  1. Prepare chicken (see chicken post) and blanch in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and set aside
  2. Soak dried octopus and baby mussels in water for about 30 minutes
  3. Boil your soup water
  4. Slice octopus in slices or quartered
  5. Peel and cut arrowroot into large cubes
  6. Add all the ingredients into your boiling soup water
  7. Boil on high for thirty minutes and reduce to medium boil for another hour
  8. Serve and enjoy!

An alternative which is often used with lotus roots is to stuff the lotus root with green or yellow (mung) beans.  The beans are slightly cooling, but you can drop in a slice of ginger to balance it out.  This is a very popular way of making lotus roots in southern China, particularly Guangzhou and is often served in large portions for large families.

Lotus roots can also be stuffed with sticky rice (yum!), pan fried, sliced, marinated raw in a beautiful vinaigrette, and a host of other preparation method!  It’s definitely one of my favourite and most diverse roots in the Chinese menu! 

 

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Mussels (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Baby Mussels (dried)

Traditional Chinese Name: 青口幹 (qīng kǒu gàn)

What is this?

  • A dried and processed type of salt of fresh water shellfish of the clam family with elongated shells
  • The shells are often black, brown, beige in color and are found without the shells when they are used in soups
  • The mussels used in these soups are smaller in size
  • Dried and prepared mussels are more commonly used in Chinese soups than fresh mussels (which are not common at all)
  • Dried mussels are also used in various Chinese dishes along with black moss
  • They are often tougher in texture than their relative clams and to some are an acquired taste

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in water for 10-15 minutes and rinse before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • You can buy dried mussels at supermarkets, wet marts or Chinese herbalists
  • Canned, processed mussels can also be used for soups – which are available at supermarkets

What is the cost

  • The prices vary depending on size, breed, availability and whether they are imported or organic

Any benefits?

  • Mussels are an excellent source of B12, Selenium, Zinc, Iron and folate
  • They are also an excellent source of protein
  • Compared to meats, they have less fat
  • They are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (which help reduce heart disease)

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to buy from a reputable source
  • Dried and processed mussels should have a salty, fragrant smell to them so be sure to take a good whiff before purchasing (this is more common to the bulk buys available in Asian markets)

Additional Information

  • Dried mussels can be kept frozen for up to 6 months (and taken out when needed for soups)
  • Dried mussels can also be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months in a sealed container
  • Keep mussels in a dry environment