This soup has a very distinctive smell and taste of a Chinese medicinal shop. It’s definitely a love or hate initially, but can be acquired. The key ingredient is the “dong quai” or “angelica root” that creates that fragrant (debatable?) scent. I’ve learned to love it after so many years of being in Hong Kong and once you taste the soup, wow!
This soup is the ultimate warming winter hot pot delight. You literally feel yourself getting hot and sweaty after one bowl. It’s literally a powerful tonic that replenishes blood and Qi, improves circulation, and detoxifies the body.
This powerhouse healing ingredient is the key ingredient to your Chinese herbal soup! The dong quai is warm, slightly sweet and slightly bitter, and a common herb used to promote warmth, replenish blood, and replenish yang. This is why it’s such a common ingredient used in post partum and confinement recipes. It’s also commonly used in healing tonics.
I will only use this ingredient for this type of herbal soup as it’s got a very distinct pungent scent and taste. When combined with sweeter ingredients such as red dates and goji berries, it’s really quite delicious!
Add your dried herbal base directly into a pot and add in 3L of cold water
Cover and boil on high heat for 30 minutes.
Cut your chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces
In a shallow pan, put them skin side down to render the fat out of the chicken and crisp up the skin (no oil needed!)
Add salt and garlic to flavour as needed
Once the soup is boiled for 30 minutes, you can move your crispy chicken to the soup. I will usually rinse in warm water first to get rid of the extra oil, bone bits, and debris
Cover and boil on medium for 2 hours (checking that it doesn’t boil over)
At this point your soup is done! You can drink as is or prepare to add your hot pot ingredients
Prepare your hot pot ingredients an add to your soup
Boil on high for 10 minutes
Serve and enjoy!
Drink your soup first with some of the ingredients added. I won’t even begin the hot pot yet and just enjoy a soup as is!
For your protein, use chicken (or pork). This compliments the herbal base very well versus pork or red meats.
For your hotpot ingredients, use less intense flavor ingredients and ones that will absorb more the flavours of the soup such as leafy light coloured vegetables like napa cabbage or regular cabbage versus choy sum or gailan. Tofu is a great additive as well and fresh mushrooms work well.
You can add udon or vermicelli as part of your meal
If you’re going to cook other meats or seafood, save that for the end as it will change the flavour of the herbal soup
This soup is ideal for colds, flus and cough. If you’ve got a sore or scratchy throat, achy body, tiredness and/or headache – this soup is for you! From an Eastern perspective, the Chinese don’t recommend drinking chicken soup when you’re sick, which to me, sounds off, but you can’t argue thousands years of tradition through Chinese medicine. My herbalist recommended this relatively “neutral” soup for me and is considered 滋陰 (zī yīn), which means treating yin deficiency by reinforcing body fluid and nourishing the blood. If you look at the herb base, it’s pretty basic and ideal for most soups – the kicker is to add sea whelk (or conch or sea snail). You don’t need to add fresh sea snail (they can get pretty expensive if you buy them live from the wet mart), but definitely add pork. This soup ended up tasting delicious and sets a great base for adding vegetables of your choice – like corn, onions, or chayotes – all neutral vegetables.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 15 mins
Serves: 8 bowls
1 pound of pork shank (or pork marrows and bones for confinement)
In a separate pot, blanch both the sea snails and pork in a pot of boiling hot water for at least 5 minute (to remove impurities, fat and scum), remove and set aside 2. Soak all the herbs in warm water for at least 10 minutes and rinse in warm water 3. Boil your soup water 4. When you soup water boils, add all the ingredients together 5. Boil on high for 30 minute and then reduce boil to a medium boil for another 1.5 hours 6. Serve and enjoy!
One of the more affordable seafood you can use for soups is dried sea snail. They come in thin, hard slices and add a sweet, sea-salt taste to the soup (similar to dried conpoys). Plus, these things are storage friendly and can be stored in your freezer or fridge for up to 6 months.
A typical neutral soup base for Chinese soups. The dried sea snails are interchangeable with dried conpoys, which is a great substitute if you can’t find sea snails. The dried versions produce similar tastes to the soup as they are both seafood and go through similar drying processes.
Introduction: An extremely easy and common Chinese tea/drink that is one of the traditional cooling teas. It relieves heatiness, expels heat from the body and is overall healthy for the body. Although slightly bitter in after taste, adding some honey or rock sugar can help make this tea delicious. There are a variety of recipes for ginseng tea with varying Chinese herbs, but this is the most basic.
What Ingredients are required?
1-2 pieces of dried ginseng (pending how bitter you’d like it) 1 tablespoon of honey 2-3 L of water
How do I prepare it?
Cut up long ginseng piece into slices (for releasing more ginseng flavor into the tea)
Add ginseng to water and boil covered for 30 minutes
Strain and add honey
Can be served chilled
Another way to prepare this tea is without boiling. You can simply steep the ginseng like normal tea leaves in a cup of hot/boiling water. Stir to distribute flavor and then add honey or rock sugar.
Excellent for removing heatiness from the body
Great anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties
Extremely easy to make
Can help reduce fatigue, lower cholesterol and prevent infections
Ginseng is a cooling food and should be avoided in women who are in their first trimester or in postpartum (confinement)