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

Featured Blog of The Day On Foodista.com on June 9, 2010

TheChineseSoupLady.com is going to be featured as the Blog Of The Day on June 9, 2010 at Foodista.com!  It’s a great recognition in the foodie community and it’s part of our success to have readers worldwide appreciate and support our foodie cause.

So a continued thank you to our supporters and readers and many thanks for your words of appreciation and advice.  It has been a wonderful and fruitful journey, but will share more later on the other opportunities that TheChineseSoupLady.com is exploring.  Check us out on June 9, 2010!

Thanks,

Lisa

Loquat Leaf (Dried)

Loquat Leaf (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Loquat Leaf (Dried)

Traditional Chinese Name: 枇杷葉 (pípá yè), 琵琶葉 (pípá yè)

 
What is this?
  • The dried leaf of the loquat leaf plant (which produces an oval orange fruit that has a very large seed)
  • The leaves are usually 10-25 cm in length and dark green in color with a leathery texture
  • The loquat fruit is very common in Chinese and Japanese cultures

How do I prepare it?

  • The leaves are normally bought dried and pre-cut
  • Simply rinse in warm water before usage

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
  • 30 g cost around $5 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Leaves are said to soothe the digestive and respiratory systems
  • They also aid in helping your body release anti-oxidants (to reduce aging)
  • Can help skin inflammation if applied topically

Any precautions?

  • Avoid eating the seeds of the loquat fruit (and young leaves) as it is carcinogenic and releases cyanide when digested (although in low amounts)

Resources

Chinese Pumpkin with Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup

Soup Name: Chinese pumpkin with sweet potato and tomato soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 三甘湯 (sān gān tāng)

Introduction:
The name is quite interesting because I learned about this soup from my vegetable vendor in the wet mart in Hong Kong.  The 3 (三 – sān) implies 3 keys vegetables ingredients, that being:  Chinese pumpkin, sweet potato and tomatos.  The base of this soup is rich in vitamins, extremely sweet and a neutral soup for the whole family to drink.  You can add other ingredients to this vegetable soup pending your creativity and physical needs.

What Ingredients are required?

1 pound of fresh pork shank (optional if you want a vegetarian soup)
1/2 fresh Chinese pumpkin
5 fresh tomatoes
3 fresh sweet potatoes
10 dried longans
2 fresh onions

2-3 L of water
1 teaspoon of oil (optional to pan-fry onions)
How do I prepare it?

  1. Boil your soup water
  2. Blanch pork in boiling water
  3. Cut up pumpkin, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and onions into large cubes
  4. In a shallow pan, quickly fry the onions (optional step, but it really enhances the flavour of the onions in the soup)
  5. When water boils, add all the ingredients together
  6. Boil on high for 30 minutes, reduce to simmer for another hour.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Excellent soup for children (including the rich broth and hearty ingredients)
  • Soup is rich in Vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene
  • Ingredients are great for the eyes and aides in digestion

Any precautions?

  • None!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin (Chinese)

Ingredient Name: Pumpkin (Chinese variety)

Traditional Chinese Name: 南瓜 (nán guā)

The Chinese pumpkin is similar to the Japanese pumpkin in taste and do produce a very similar sweetness to soups.  It’s a great texture to eat when boiled soft and packed with nutrients.  Not always the easiest ingredient to find (even in wet marts), but if you can find it fresh and available, pick one up!

What is this?
  • A gourd that is part of the squash family
  • This type of pumpkin is seedless and come in relatively large sizes
  • There are a variety of pumpkins that come in skin colours of orange, yellow, green, white, red and gray
  • They are cooked in a variety of ways:  boiled, in pies, soups, cakes, cookies, seeds, fried, baked, steamed, desserts
  • Pumpkins provide a good source of carbohydrates and are extremely high in Vitamin A, C,  and betacartone (the stuff that’s good for your eyes)

How do I prepare it?

  • Cut the pumpkin into halves and quarters first using a large knife
  • You can then slowly peel away the skin by resting the pumpkin flat on one-side and slicing away the skin
  • Some people will boil the skin with the soup (although this completely up to you)

Where can I buy this?

  • Most asian supermarkets will carry Chinese pumpkin
  • Your local wet mart will also carry it

What is the cost?

  • On average, a half-sized Chinese pumpkin will cost $20-$25 HKD (as pictured above in size)

Any benefits?

  • Pumpkins are extremely high in Vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene
  • They are a good source of carbohydrates

Any precautions?

  • Be careful of cutting pumpkins, it is not an easy task

Resources