Bamboo Shoots (Fresh)

Ingredient Name: Bamboo Shoots (Fresh)

Traditional Chinese Name: 竹筍 (zhú sǔn)

What is this?

  • Fresh bamboo shoots are new growth harvested from the bamboo plant when shoots are around 2 weeks old
  • They have a hard exterior and a tender, edible core that has a slightly crunchy, spongy texture and a slightly sweet taste
  • If bought fresh, they need to be carefully prepared, boiled and peeled before eating
  • Fresh bamboo shoots are very popular in Asian dishes

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash the exterior of the plant and cut off the top pointy end
  • Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a vertical slice halfway into the plant and about 1/3 down from the top
  • Place the bamboo into a large pot and cover completely with cool water
  • Boil for 30 minutes with a handful or nuka (rice bran) and simmer another 1 hour to remove most of the bitter taste
  • Turn off the heat and leave in the hot water overnight (optional – to remove excess bitterness)
  • Once cool enough to handle, peel the tough exterior (scrape with your knife to ensure you remove all the hard pieces)
  • Cut in half, slice and enjoy!

Where can I buy this?

  • Fresh bamboo shoots are readily available in most wet markets in Asia
  • It may also be available in your local Asian supermarkets
  • If you are unable to find the fresh variety, bamboo shoots can also be purchased either pre-boiled or canned

What is the cost

  • Fresh bamboo is fairly inexpensive and it cost me about $5 CAD for 3 shoots

Any benefits?

  • Bamboo shoots are low in fat and calories and high in potassium and fiber, helping to lower cholesterol and prevent colon cancer
  • There are also a variety of amino acids and other minerals in bamboo shoots.  It is a good source of selenium.
  • Bamboo are also said to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and are believed to help treat infections

Any precautions?

  • Ensure your fresh bamboo shoots are well cooked.  If they are not properly cooked, they may be bitter to taste.  In addition, bamboo shoots contain some toxic properties that disappear once cooked thoroughly.

 Additional Information

  • If you are not using the cooked bamboo right away, cover with cold water and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

 

 

Bitter Melon and Crab Meat Stew

Soup Name: Bitter Melon and Crab Meat Stew

Traditional Chinese Name: 苦瓜蟹肉羹 (kǔguā Xiè ròu gēng)

Introduction:

I saw this in a magazine article one day and since I’ve recently developed a love for bitter melon (made only either with black bean and garlic sauce or mashed up in soups), I really wanted to try this out.  So I rushed to a wet mart after work and purchased 2 things (bitter melon and fake crab meat) and then made this in a whopping 20 minutes and it tasted fabulous!   It’s hearty enough that it eats like a meal, is super tasty and helps cool down the body in this dreaded heat (even though we’re technically in Autumn).

What ingredients are required?

2 fresh bitter melon (long ones are said to be less bitter than fat, round ones), seeded and chopped
15 pieces of fake crab, sliced lengthwise (or use real crab meat if you have it available)
3 fresh chicken eggs, scrambled
1/2 L of chicken broth
1 L of water
soy sauce for garnish (optional)

How do I prepare it?

  1. Rinse, seed and chop bitter melon into small pieces (doesn’t matter how ugly or ill-shaped as you’re going to blend it anyway)
  2. In boiling water, boil the bitter melon for about 10 minutes on high heat (or until soft)
  3. Set aside and in a blender, blend the bitter melon with 1/2 cup of the boiled water (to keep it moist and use as the soup base)
  4. Pour out the blended bitter melon into a clean pot
  5. Add chicken broth and boil on medium heat for 5 minutes
  6. Add in fake crab meat and boil for another 1-2 minutes
  7. Crack all eggs and scramble in a bowl.  While stirring the soup, slowly drizzle the egg into the soup ensuring consistency and that the egg doesn’t clump
  8. Boil on medium heat for another 5 minutes
  9. Serve and add a few drops of soy sauce if required

Any benefits?

  • Easy to make soup (not so easy to clean the equipment though)
  • Helps reduce heatiness and cleanse the body of toxins
  • Is said to help reduce acne, cold sores and other heaty conditions in the body
  • Aids in digestion and stimulating appetite
  • Excellent source of anti-cancer agents and improves the immune system

Any precautions?

  • Consume with caution if pregnant (especially in the first trimester) as it is a pretty cooling soup (and can cause contractions)
  • Be sure to remove all the seeds (as they are toxic)

 

Bitter Melon sliced open before seeding (use a tablespoon to scrape out the seeds & fiber)

 

Boil the bitter melon so that it becomes soft before blending

You can consider partially blending the bitter melon to give it a variety of texture and sizes

Vegetarian Vegetable Broth

Soup Name: Vegetarian Vegetable Broth

Traditional Chinese Name: 蔬菜湯 (shūcài tāng)

Introduction:

This is basically vegetables and water, but to think that a combination of the right vegetables can be so tasty!  You really don’t need to add any additives such as salt, sugar or meat because it really is delicious as it is.  Consider using a variety of vegetables as well, such as red beets (which I will try as a recommendation from a friend), potatoes, yams, Chinese yams and more.  This soup is ideal for any age group, condition and individual!

What ingredients are required?

3 fresh carrots, cut into large pieces
2 fresh corn, cut into large pieces
1 whole Japanese pumpkin, largely sliced with skin
3 whole red onions, sliced
2 fresh sweet potato, cut into large pieces
3 fresh tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Rinse and prepare all vegetables and set aside
  2. Begin to boil your soup water
  3. When soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
  4. Boil on high for an hour
  5. Serve and enjoy!  NO SALT NECESSARY!

Any benefits?

  • Oil free soup
  • Excellent source of protein and vitamins (especially beta-carotene)
  • Easy to make soup
  • Ingredients are readily accessible and available in most supermarkets

Any precautions?

  • Serve soup with tomatoes to children one year and older
  • No other known precautions, so enjoy!

Red or Purple Onions (Fresh)

Ingredient Name: Red or Purple Onions (Fresh)

Traditional Chinese Name: 洋蔥 (yáng cōng)

What is this?

  • The onion is a vegetable
  • It is virtually found in dishes and recipes in every culture around the world
  • Onions come in a variety of sizes (small ones are called shallots) and colours (like the red or yellow onion)
  • This type of onion has a mild to sweet flavor and its skin and meat and tinged with red or purple color
  • Onions are durable vegetables and will store for up to 1 month in the fridge (in fact, the also grow green onions out of the tops!)

How do I prepare it?

  • Peel the dried outer skins of the onions until you reach the meaty portions (while discarding the outer layer)
  • For soup usage, slice into large bite-sized cubes

Where can I buy this?

  • You can buy fresh onions in any supermarket
  • They can be found usually alongside white onions

What is the cost

  • A bag of roughly 10 medium-sized yellow onions cost around $1.50 – $2.00 CAD
  • Other onions (red or spanish) are usually sold individually and can cost more

Any benefits?

  • Onions are a good source of antioxidants
  • It is said that onions are beneficial to women (especially those going through menopause or are at risk for osteoporosis) by destroying osteoclasts so they do not break down bone
  • Onions contain sulfides (similar to those found in garlic) that may help lower blood pressure
  • Onions are highly versitile in growth.  They can be grown virtually anywhere (even your own backyard!)

Any precautions?

  • Excess consumption can lead to stomach distress and irritation which can result in nausea and/or diarrhea
  • Onions secrete an acid, which leads to the stinging of eyes when the onion cells are cut.  To avoid this, you can either cut onions submerged in water, under running water or semi-frozen

 

Onions do add significant flavour to soups and they become soft and tasty when boiled over a period of time.  I am a big fan of onions, whether its raw, cooked, diced, sliced or boiled.  A must have in every kitchen.  Red or purple onions in particular also add a nice color the soup if used in large amounts!

Chopped red or purple onions


Fake Crab Meat

Ingredient Name: Crab stick, fake crab meat, imitation crab meat, imitation crab

Traditional Chinese Name: 魚漿 (yú jiāng)

What is this?

  • A finely processed seafood made from fish that tastes and looks like crab leg meat
  • It is usually made from Alaska Pollock with crab flavoring and red coloring to give it the color it has
  • They are made cooked and can be eaten cold and from the package
  • They are soft, slightly chewy and stringy in texture
  • Crab sticks are often used in salads, hot pots, sushi, and various other Asian dishes

How do I prepare it?

  • Remove from package
  • Rinse in warm water
  • Use directly as is

Where can I buy this?

  • Most supermarkets will carry this product (even Western ones)

What is the cost

  • Imitation crab is very affordable
  • On average a package of 10-12 sticks (about 454 g) cost around $20 HKD

Any benefits?

  • It is lower in cholesterol than real crab, easier to buy and always in season
  • Imitation crab is already pre-cooked, so it is great for quick boil soups to give it extra flavoring and texture

Any precautions?

  • Eat in moderation as it is a processed food
  • Imitation crab meat contains a lot of carbohydrates (which contribute to blood sugar fluctuation)
  • The meat also contains MSG or flavor enhancers, so consume in moderation

Additional Information

  • You can store fresh, packaged crab meat in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months
  • Best to use before the expiry date (as it is usually labeled on the package)