Korean Ginseng

Ingredient Name: Ginseng, Korean ginseng, panax ginseng

Traditional Chinese Name: 高麗參 (gāo lì cān)

One of the more expensive breeds of ginseng available on the market, it is usually recommended for consumption during confinement.  There are many types, sizes, makes, and species of ginseng available on the market and while they don’t smell fragrant in a beautiful way (to me at least), I don’t mind drinking it once in awhile.

What is this?
  • The red type of ginseng that has a surface color of reddish brown to dark brown
  • This type of ginseng varies from 7-16 cm in length and look like root with multiple legs
  • The cross section of Korean ginseng often represents that of a tree (with circular rings) in multiple colors (see pictured above)
  • Ginseng is used in Chinese herbal medicine, soups, stews, stuffed in foods, as tablets, in skin care products, teas, desserts and many other uses

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • High quality Korean ginseng can be purchased from your local herbalist
  • It is sometimes also available in Asian supermarkets

What is the cost?

  • The cost of Korean ginseng varies depending on the size, age and rarity of the Ginseng species

Any benefits?

  • Ginseng is said to promote blood circulation, prevent fatigue and strengthen the body’s immune system
  • This type of ginseng is warming, especially when added to soups and stews

Any precautions?

  • Not recommended for people with weak stomachs
  • Use in moderation
  • Be sure to purchase ginseng from a reputable source as there are often replicas and lower grade ginseng sold at a higher price

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place
  • Ginseng can be stored for many years

Other references

Pig’s Feet

Ingredient Name: Pig’s Feet, Pig Trotter

Traditional Chinese Name: 猪脚 (zhū jiǎo)

The Chinese use ALL parts of the pig and the feet are no exception.  They can be used in stews, soups and various Chinese dishes – but is most commonly used with the use of black vinegar and ginger.

What is this?
  • The feet and/or legs of the pig or swine
  • They contain large bones and some meat and are often cooked with the skin
  • When referring to pig’s feet, it often means the feet and the whole leg of the pig

How do I prepare it?

  • To rid the feet of hairs, you can torch the hairs off (often done by the pork vendor at the wet mart)
  • To completely off the hairs, use a sharp large knife and skin off the hairs
  • Wash thoroughly and blanch in hot water before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • Most wet marts in Hong Kong will carry pig’s feet at the pork vendor
  • Some Asian supermarkets will carry this product, although not as common in the West

What is the cost?

  • 1 whole leg (as pictured above) costs around $50 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Pork contains many nutrients (including 6 essential vitamins)
  • It is a good source of iron, zinc, Vitamin B6 and protein
  • It is said to be a healthier red meat substitute over beef
  • The feet of pig contains a good source of Calcium (from the bone marrows)

Any precautions?

  • It is often a fattier cut of the pork and when used in stews, you will need to skim off any excess oil boiled out in the process
  • Pork must be cooked thoroughly before consumption as there is still a potential risk of salmonella
  • Consumption of meat must be done in moderation

Additional Information

  • Can be kept frozen for up to 3 months
  • Consumption of cooked pig’s feet should be within 3-4 days
  • The above picture is 1 pig’s leg halved and sectioned (including the feet)
Pig’s Feet with Ginger in Black Vinegar

Pig’s Feet with Ginger in Black Vinegar

Pig’s Feet with Ginger in Black Vinegar

Soup Name:

Pig’s Feet with Ginger in Black Vinegar, Ginger and Vinegar Trotter Soup, Pig’s Feet and Ginger Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

猪脚姜 (zhū jiǎo jiāng)


This is the ultimate traditional confinement food (or soup) in the Cantonese cuisine repertoire.   This dish is so amazing that people eat it just for the taste and not for confinement. 

It is consumed by men and women alike because it is flavorful and delicious.  The ingredients aren’t the easiest to obtain and it is not a remotely easy dish to make, but during confinement (when the mother can eat a bowl a day), it’s worth it to make a large pot and give to friends.  Traditionally, families will make large pots of this dish and give it out to friends and family to let them know that there is a new baby. 

For more information on what confinement is and the Chinese ingredients associated with confinement, please see our Confinement Soups page.

Some things to note on the directions for this soup is that it’s more a guide, rather than a true recipe.

Since my mom is a pro at this, she doesn’t really follow measurements and simply makes it according to personal taste – so I’ve tried to adapt this recipe to that style.

Some prefer it more spicy (add more ginger), some prefer it more sour (add more black rice vinegar), some prefer it sweeter (add more sweet vinegar or brown sugar) or some prefer super hard boiled eggs (keep them boiling in the vinegar for at least 2 days).

Regardless of how your taste ventures, make sure you have a bit of spare ingredients to adjust the taste to your preference.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 60 mins

Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins (for the soup)

Total time: 2 hours 30 mins

Serves: 10 bowls


  • 1 whole pig’s feet, halved and cut into edible sections
  • 10 large pieces of old fresh ginger (roughly 5000 grams)
  • 2 large bottles of sweet vinegar (1000 mL)
  • 1 large bottle of black rice vinegar (500 mL)
  • hard-boiled eggs

Preparing the Ginger

Ginger is the highlight of this dish.  That’s what makes it so potent, effective (to drive away the wind from the body), and gives it that little bit of spicy kick.

This part needs a good 1-2 days after you’ve purchased your ginger in bulk.  Usually, when I see people buying ginger at the wet marts in bulk, we all know what’s cooking!

For this soup, the ginger pieces are kept rather large in chunks with their skin off.  Once you peel the skin, don’t throw it out!  For confinement, it is the perfect foot soak (or bathe if you’d like) for post partum.  

Ginger preparation instructions:

  1. Wash ginger and then leave to air dry for at least 1 day
  2. Peel skin off ginger and dry both skin and peeled ginger (the skin is often used for bathing and soaking feet during confinement)
  3. Cut ginger into large pieces
  4. In a pan (or wok) on high heat with no oil, fry your ginger while stirring quickly for 5 minutes
  5. Take out of wok and set aside

Preparing the Vinegar Soup Base

    Be sure to use a clay or ceramic pot for these types of soups.  Traditionally, that’s all they had back then and it does keep the flavour of the soup quite pure and can be stored in the pot and re-boiled as often as needed.  In Hong Kong, the pre-made vinegar and even the soup itself are served, stored, and sold in clay pots.  It becomes quite the workout to lug these things around!
    1. In a large clay pot, add your sweet vinegar and turn on high heat until boiling
    2. Add in prepared ginger
    3. Reduce heat to low and boil (with cover) for an hour (until ginger is cooked)
    4. Set aside until ready to add pig’s feet.  I say this because during some confinements, people will have made the ginger-vinegar soup ahead of time in preparation for the birth of the baby.

    Preparing the Pig’s Feet

      There are also 2 parts to the preparation of raw pig’s feet.  The first is to ensure the protein itself is clean and suitable for consumption.  That means removing the hairs, the tougher parts of the skin, and the nails.  The second part is to blanch it in boiling water.  Interacting with the boiling water will immediately release all the insoluble protein, blood, bone bits, and fat, rendering it ready for soup production.
      1. To remove the hair from the pig’s feet, you can either burn it off over a gas grill (with a hot flame) or using a sharp knife, scrape it off
      2. Wash thoroughly in warm water
      3. Half and cut the pig’s feet into edible sizes
      4. Wash again in warm water (to remove the grits and bones)
      5. In a pot of boiling water, blanch your pig’s feet for 5-7 mins

      Preparing the Soup

          1. When ready to eat, scoop out as much ginger-vinegar soup as you’d like to prepare for your portion of pig’s feet (so that you can continue to use, add more or keep your soup base)
          2. Put into a smaller clay pot and apply medium heat until boiling.  Add in blanched pig’s feet and black rice vinegar (to taste).  The black rice vinegar will help soften the pig’s feet more.  Add hard boiled eggs if desired.
          3. Cover and boil on medium heat for 30 minutes (or until desired softness of feet).
          4. Serve and enjoy!

      FOLLOW OUR Confinement STORIES

      A selection of confinement Chinese Soups

      What is confinement and confinement stories

      Baby 5 & 6 Confinement story

      Some confinement foods for your tummy!


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      A warm and healing soup, it’s often recommended for cold winter days or confinement.  The turtle meat is said to be a nourishing meat (similar to chicken) and should be avoided if you are sick.   From our experience, even when properly cleaned, soft-shelled turtle meat may have a taste of the “sea” and may require ginger to counter the taste.

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      What Ingredients are required?

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      1 pound of fresh pork shank
      15 dried longans
      6 slices of dried Chinese yam
      3 slices of ginger
      8 dried dates (for sweetness.  Use red dates for confinement soups.)
      3 – 4L of water

      How do I prepare it?

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      2. Wash turtle meat and shell
      3. In a pan, fry meat and shell with ginger on high heat until cooked
      4. Blanch the pork in a separate pot of boiling water
      5. Boil your soup water
      6. Soak and wash dried longans, Chinese yams, and dates
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      8. Boil on high for 30 minutes and then simmer on medium heat for another 3 hours.
      9. Serve and enjoy!

      Any Benefits?

      • A nourishing soup ideal for confinement
      • Good for urinary infections and bladder
      • Helps with asthma and breathing complications (such as shortage of breath)
      • The shell is an excellent source of collagen

      Any precautions?

      • Thoroughly clean and wash turtle, including the shell
      • This soup is “heaty”
      • Do not drink turtle (or chicken) soup if you are sick

      (Confinement) Deer Antler Healing Soup

      Soup Name: (Confinement) Deer Antler Healing Soup

      Traditional Chinese Name: 鹿茸高麗參雞湯 (Lù róng gāo lì cān Jī tāng)


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      1 fresh whole chicken, prepared
      1 pound of fresh pork shank
      5-6 slices of deer antler, washed
      5-6 slices of Korean ginseng, washed
      5 large red dates
      1 L of boiling hot water

      How do I prepare it

      1. Blanch the pork and chicken in a pot of boiling water
      2. In a separate pot of boiling water, add all the ingredients together and boil on high heat for 30 minutes
      3. Here you can either turn your soup onto medium and let it continue to simmer for another 2 hours or transfer soup into a ceramic pot and double boil for 2 hours (the objective to intensive the flavor of the soup with the Chinese herbs)
      4. Serve hot

      Any benefits?

      • Effective drink in removing “wind” from the body
      • Helps warm the body
      • Assists in helping those in confinement get lots of fluid into the body and to help flush the system
      • Also helps to improve water levels in the body (especially for those mothers who are breastfeeding)

      Any precautions?

      • The “heatiness” of this drink may be too much for some people (especially those with naturally “colder” bodies)
      • Be sure to buy high quality ingredients from a reputable source as expensive Chinese herbs often have counterfeits
      • These types of soups are not recommended for children