Beetroot

Beetroot

Ingredient Name:  Beetroot, red beet, garden beet, or beet

Traditional Chinese Name: 紅菜頭 (hóng cài tóu)

What is this?

  • A dark, red root that brings a rich, bright red color to your soup
  • The texture of the beetroot (when boiled in soup) is similar to that of the white radish and takes awhile to soften relative to other rooty veggies (carrots and potatoes)
  • Be sure to select beetroots that are firm in texture with a vibrant colour (not squishy or soft feeling) – this means they are fresh!
  • This root brings a mild and sweet taste to the soup that is awesome!

How do I prepare it?

  • Cut off the top (or the leaves) as I don’t use it in my soups
  • You can treat this like any other root (ie: carrot, potatoes)
  • Rinse under warm water to wash away the dirt and remove the skin by peeling or slicing away
  • Slice or chop into edible sizes (as the beet doesn’t dissolve or soften as quickly as carrots or potatoes)

Where can I buy this?

  • Most supermarkets will carry this

What is the cost?

  • In Hong Kong, 1 root (as pictured above) costs around $22 HKD (which is pretty expensive for a veggie!) at the wet mart

Any benefits?

  • The beetroot provides an excellent source of folate, manganese, potassium and iron
  • Excellent in supporting blood supplement and helps lower blood pressure (because the beetroot contains nitrates which help open the blood vessels and helps with circulation)
  • They are also packed with Vitamins and antioxidants
  • Beetroots are also a great source of fibre, so it can be definitely eaten like a meal as part of your soup

Any precautions?

  • Consumption of beetroot may turn your urine or stool slightly reddish, there is nothing to fear in this as it is harmless. Just let it pass through your system.
  • The colour of the beetroot will stain your hands, so either wear gloves or use some lemon juice to help remove

 

Gobo Root or Greater Burdock

Gobo Root or Greater Burdock

Gobo Root or Greater Burdock

Ingredient Name:

Gobo root, Gobo, Greater burdock, Edible burdock

Traditional Chinese Name:

牛蒡 (niúbàng)

For videos, visit us on YouTube.

 

  • The root of a of the greater burdock plant family that is mainly cultivated for its root and is considered a vegetable
  • The roots are brown and roughly 1-2 inches in diameter and can grow up to 1 meter in length
  • It has a white, slightly brown flesh that is crunchy in texture
  • Most commonly found in Japanese cuisine and specifically in Chinese medicine
  • It is sweet, earthy, and dark to taste and adds a wonderful flavor to soups, although it can be quite strong, so use less first and adjust as you need.  Do taste it!
  • Can be used fried, raw, processed or made into a drink

How do I prepare it?

          • Rinse the roots in warm water and optionally peel off skin prior to usage
          • I would suggest to soak in warm water for 10-15 minutes to remove the muddy harshness flavor associated with the root, but some like that earthy taste, which adds to the flavor, so this is your call
          • Cut into large bite-sizes for soups and consumption

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • Available in most Asian supermarkets

      • 5-6 foot long pieces cost around $5 CAD

Any benefits?

  • High in dietary fiber and low in calories and fat
  • Contains high amounts of calcium, potassium, iron and amino acids
  • As a Chinese medicine, it has a diuretic effect and promotes bowel movements
  • It is also effective in removing wind heat from the body as well as phlegm
  • Helps to reduce blood sugar, blood fat and blood pressure

Any precautions?

  • Some burdocks resemble another plant called nightshade and contamination may occur
  • Be sure to buy burdocks from a reputable source

Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?

This is a great starter video to build our your basic Chinese soup pantry.  A handful of these ingredients are actual amazing with one simple chicken.  It’s your basic Chicken Herbal Soup here!

 

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Figwort Root

Ingredient Name: Figwort Root, Radix Scrophulariae (Chinese scientific name)

Traditional Chinese Name: 玄參 (xuán shēn)

What is this?
  • The dried root of a flower plant of the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae)
  • There are a variety of figwort plants and are often named by their location (ie: The one pictured above is from Zhejiang)
  • There are uses for both the figwort plant leaves and roots
  • The root is extracted at the end of the season (winter) and dried for usage
  • Considered a mildly cooling Chinese herb

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage to ensure all dirt and soil is removed

Where can I buy this?

  • Most herbal shops will carry this
  • Wet marts in Hong Kong will also sometimes carry this

What is the cost?

  • Extremely affordable
  • 5 g cost around $5 HKD (as pictured above)

Any benefits?

  • Excellent for reducing heatiness in the body and clearing toxins
  • Ideal for soup and drink compositions that remove fire from the body
  • Great for healing the throat and lungs and provides benefits to these bodily functions (ie: sore throats, coughing)
  • Nourishes the Yin

Any precautions?

  • As it is mild cooling, pregnant women in their first trimester should take caution as cooling ingredients can cause contractions
  • Has a distinct pungent smell

Resources

Rhizoma Imperatae

Rhizoma Imperatae

Rhizoma Imperatae

Ingredient Name:

Rhizoma Imperatae, Mao Gen or Cogon Grass

Traditional Chinese Name:

茅根 (mao gen)

 

The imperatae is a rhizoma (or underground stem) that has roots and shoots underground and looks almost like a type of grass.  They are long, thin stems that are beige in colour and can be found fresh or dried.  In traditional Chinese medicine, the imperatae is cooling in nature and sweet.  It tends to be used for teas (rather than soups) and is great for dispelling heat in the body (especially heat collected from eating too much barbeque or hot pot!).  It is great for addressing the stomach, lungs, and bladder.  You’ll commonly find this ingredient paired with sugar cane in the Cantonese soup repertoire.

How do I prepare it?

    This is a relatively simple ingredient to clean and use.
    I’ve only bought the dried version of this plant and only rinse with cold water to be sure it’s clean for boiling.  
    You can also soak in cool water first before usage.
    I honestly haven’t tried eating it as it is usually discarded as part of the soup remains after boiling.  This is true if you’re making a big batch and saving it as a drink or tea for later.  

    Where can I buy it and cost?

        • You can purchase from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged
        • You can also purchase this in bulk from specialty stores (online herbal shops)
        • This is also available in Chinese medicine stores or those dried Asian herbal shops

    What is the cost?

        • These aren’t very expensive at all 

    Any benefits?

        • Ideal for clearing heat, especially in the stomach, bladder, and lung
        • It’s also known to increase urination
        • It targets the stomach, bladder, and lungs
        • From a TCM perspective, it’s known to stop bleeding due to heat in the blood
        • It is cooling in nature
        • Sweet ingredients will also detoxify the body

    Any precautions?

        • As it’s cooling, you should avoid this if you have yin deficiency

        • This should also be avoided if you’re going through postpartum confinement (since you want more Yang in your body anyways)
        • Be sure to consult with your doctor before consuming any medicine

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    Sweet potatoes

    Sweet potatoes

    Ingredient Name:

    Sweet potatoes

    Traditional Chinese Name:

    蕃薯 (gān shǔ)

    Nature:  Neutral

    Taste:  Sweet

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    Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite sweet starches used in Chinese soups and desserts.  It’s versatile, readily accessible in most countries and cultures, and compliments nicely with most meats and simple Chinese herbs (such as red dates and longans).  It can also be served as a savory or a sweet dish, which means having some in the fridge all the time, makes soup crafting so much easier!  As well, as a side note, you can also use it in western dishes or as a side for dinner… and they have amazing shelf life!

    How do I prepare it?

        • Wash thoroughly in cool water
        • Peel skin prior to use and remove ends
        • For soups, I will use larger cuts and for desserts, I will use bite-sized pieces

    What is the cost & where to buy?

        • The price will range depending on the brand, type, and size of sweet potato, although they aren’t very expensive (unless you’re buying imported and if i do, it’s usually Japanese, but I’ve also found Hawaiian ones in Canada are also super delicious!)

    Any benefits?

        • From a Traditional Chinese medicine perspective, sweet potatoes are neutral and blend nicely with all sorts of soups and desserts (both cooling and warming soups)
        • Sweet potatoes are extremely rich in beta-carotene, dietary fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin B
        • They are a good source of simple starches
        • Choose orange fleshed sweet potatoes for a boost of beta-carotene over their paler counterparts
        • Sweet potatoes have amazing shelf life, usually a few weeks in the fridge if they are fresh

    Any precautions?

        • Be sure to buy firm sweet potatoes with minimal softness (when it’s soft, it’s not fresh and may be end of shelf life)

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