Chayotes, Chestnuts and Longan Vegetable Soup

Soup Name: Chayotes, Chestnuts and Longan Vegetable Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 合掌瓜栗子素湯 (hup jeung gwa lì zi sù tāng)

Introduction:

This naturally sweet soup is rich in flavors and oil free.  It’s a refreshing soup to drink in the summer and can be served chilled as it’s really quick and easy to make.  I really like that it’s meat free because you can taste the chestnuts, the longans and all the vegetables.  You can add various vegetables such as onions, green radish or tomatoes.

What ingredients are required?

3 fresh chayotes, quartered
3 fresh carrots, peeled and quartered
2 fresh corn, quartered
20 fresh chestnuts, peeled
20 dried longans
2 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Soak the longans in warm water for 10 minutes
  2. Start boiling your soup water
  3. In a separate pot of boiling water, boil the chestnuts on high for 5 minutes
  4. Drain chestnuts of boiling water and with gloves or a towel, peel the chestnuts of both the outer and inner skin
  5. Wash and prepare chayotes, carrots and corn
  6. When soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
  7. Boil on high for 30 minutes
  8. Salt as necessary (taste it first!)

Any benefits?

  • Oil free soup
  • Can be served hot, warm or chilled
  • All natural ingredients
  • Naturally sweet soup, so no sugar is required
  • Excellent source of Vitamin C
  • The soup is overall rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants

Any precautions?

  • Beware to purchase the dried longans from a reputable source

 

Salted Mustard Greens with Tofu in Fish Soup

Soup Name: Salted Mustard Greens with Tofu in Fish Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 酸菜豆腐魚湯 (suan cai dòu fu yú tāng)

Introduction:

This quick boil soup is an excellent pre-dinner appetizer.  With its slight sour tang and refreshing clarity, it is relatively easy to make and very healthy for the whole family.  Depending on the type, brand and preservation process of the mustard greens, your soup color can range from pale yellow to a bright yellow (as picture above).  With a variety of textures in the soup, it serves as a great supplement to dinner and is an excellent source of protein.  This is considered a great summer soup.

What ingredients are required?

5-6 large slices of grass carp fish, preferably from the tail or backside
3 fresh slices of ginger
1 tsp of salt
1/2 package of preserved/salted mustard greens, largely sliced
1 pack of fresh stiff tofu, cubed
2 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Soak the preserved mustard greens in warm water for 10 minutes
  2. Wash and rinse your fish in running water, slice into large pieces (so that they don’t disintegrate as easily in the soup)
  3. Pat dry with a paper towel and salt lightly
  4. In a frying pan, heat oil until hot and fry ginger and fish slices until golden brown
  5. Set aside the fish when finished (it doesn’t have to be completed cooked, but at least with lightly golden surfaces)
  6. Boil your soup water
  7. Rinse preserved mustard greens in running water and slice into edible pieces
  8. Rinse tofu and cut into large pieces
  9. Slice the century eggs in half
  10. When the soup water boils, add ginger, fish, preserved mustard greens, and tofu together
  11. Boil on high for 30 minutes

Any benefits?

  • Naturally salted because of the mustard greens, so no salt needed!
  • High source of protein and low in fat
  • Excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, and E, folic acid, calcium, carotenes, manganese, copper, potassium, iron and fiber
  • Great for your bones and plenty of anti-oxidants

Any precautions?

  • If you’re concerned about the level of saltiness of the preserved mustard greens, you can soak them longer (for at least an hour)
  • Be sure to buy preserved mustard greens from a reputable source and be sure to check the expiry date
  • Be sure to use stiff tofu as this is the only type that will sustain its shape and form when put in boiling water.  Soft tofu will break apart, while still tastes OK, the soup doesn’t look as clean
  • Remove all the bones of the fish as I am not boiling with a fish bag (or take caution when serving children)

Fresh fish slices

Fried fish slices set aside before adding to the soup

Century Egg with Chinese Parsley Soup

Soup Name: Century Egg with Chinese Parsley Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 芫茜皮蛋魚湯 (yán qiàn pídàn yú tāng)

Introduction:

This quick boil soup is a great soup base (although just as great by itself) in the Chinese repertoire of soups.  While some people don’t like Chinese parsley at all (like me), the strong taste of the herb is heavily muted when boiled in this fashion.  As a result, the soup is slightly sweet and has a refreshingly mild taste to it.  You can use a variety of meats and other vegetables as desired.

What ingredients are required?

1 fresh big fish stomach, largely sliced
3 fresh slices of ginger
1 tsp of salt
2 fresh bunches of Chinese parsley
4 century eggs, washed and halved
2 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Wash and rinse big fish stomach in running water, slice into large pieces (so that they don’t disintegrate as easily in the soup)
  2. Pat dry with a paper towel and salt lightly
  3. In a frying pan, heat oil until hot and fry ginger and big fish stomach slices until golden brown
  4. Set aside the fish when finished (it doesn’t have to be completed cooked, but at least with lightly golden surfaces)
  5. Boil your soup water
  6. Rinse Chinese parsley in running water
  7. Wash and peel century eggs in running water, be sure to remove all the shell and coating
  8. Slice the century eggs in half
  9. When the soup water boils, add ginger, fish, century eggs, and Chinese parsley together
  10. Boil on high for 30 minutes
  11. Salt as necessary (but taste it first!)

Any benefits?

  • Excellent in removing heat from the body
  • Mildly cooling soup that is great for the hot summer
  • Easy soup to make
  • Great soup base for the addition of other meats and vegetables

Any precautions?

  • Menstruating or women in their first trimester should consume with caution as it is a cooling soup
  • Be sure that the fish stomach has not disintegrated, if it has, use a strainer to catch the pieces if serving to children (or use a soup bag)

Chinese Parsley or Cilantro

Ingredient Name: Chinese Parsley, Cilantro

Traditional Chinese Name: 芫茜 (yán qiàn)

What is this?

  • A fragrant plant (herb) that has a strong and pungent, unique flavor
  • The seeds are known are coriander and often used as a spice
  • It is a small plant that has a very green leaf and stem in color
  • It is commonly used fresh, but is also available dried (although not as fragrant because that is lost in the drying process)
  • Used in Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and South African dishes
  • This herb is commonly self-grown (in the home or backyards)

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse fresh Chinese parsley in running water, discarding any wilted or dying leaves and stems
  • For soups, keep as whole stalks (for those who don’t prefer to eat it) or dice

Where can I buy this?

  • Most supermarkets will sell this product fresh

What is the cost

  • Chinese parsley is very affordable
  • At the wet mart in HK, it cost around $5 HKD a small bunch

Any benefits?

  • Excellent source of antioxidants which help both reduce aging in cells (by killing free radicals) and slowing down the spoiling process of foods containing this ingredient
  • Said to have some antibacterial characteristics
  • Helps remove heavy metals and toxins from the body
  • Helps in the reduction of bad cholesterol in the body
  • Excellent source of iron and Calcium and helps fight anemia
  • Helps reduce heatiness in the body

Any precautions?

  • It is considered a cooling ingredient and should be avoided in early pregnancies, breastfeeding mothers and during menstruation

Additional Information

  • Use fresh Chinese parsley within 3-4 days of purchase and keep in the fridge

Century or Thousand Year Old Egg

Ingredient Name: Century Egg, Thousand Year Old Egg, Preserved Egg

Traditional Chinese Name: 皮蛋 (pídàn)

What is this?

  • An egg that dates back as early as the 1640’s in literature and discovered by the Chinese
  • The preserved egg of a duck, chicken or quail that is preserved in clay, ash, salt, lime that preserves the egg (the process takes a few weeks to a few months depending on the process)
  • The yolk becomes semi-solid and is gray to dark green in color and has a creamy texture and is said to have a “golden” taste (but is slightly bitter)
  • The egg white becomes a brown jelly like substance (and is almost flavorless)
  • The eggs have a strong hydrogen sulfide and ammonia smell
  • This traditional Chinese egg is served and prepared in various ways (appetizer, in soups, in congee, with tofu, rice and others methods) or used as a condiment

How do I prepare it?

  • Bought with the clay still in tact is common both in supermarkets and wet marts
  • Rinse the entire egg under water while peeling away both the outer layer and shell
  • Use a sharp knife to cut into pieces

Where can I buy this?

  • Most Asian supermarkets will sell them in packs
  • Wet marts will also sell them individually

What is the cost

  • 1 pack of 4 from the supermarket costs around $30 HKD
  • The price varies depending on the producer

Any benefits?

  • It is an excellent way to preserve eggs (especially from spoiling)
  • Adds a unique flavor and texture to other dishes that is difficult to replicate with other ingredients

Any precautions?

  • In recent studies, it has been shown that century eggs have high amounts of lead oxide (by the way they are produced to speed the curing process)
  • This type of egg (especially raw) is not for everyone and is usually an acquired taste
  • Extremely high in cholesterol so consume with caution

Additional Information

  • You can store this ingredient in a tight sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 months (be sure to check expiry label if applicable)