Zojirushi Mini Thermal Pot (Experiment)

Zojirushi Mini Thermal Pot (Experiment)

A friend informed me of a new mini “food jar” or also known as “Thermal pots” that is very popular in Hong Kong these days. For starters, this jives with me because:

  • I love thermal pots and their heat saving efficiency
  • I love anything that can make soups
  • I love Japanese technology and products
  • I love to drink the soup that I make in my thermal pots
  • Go Green!

So, I bought one, or two, or three and gave some away as gifts.

Mini Thermal Pot from Zojirushi

Mini Thermal Pot from Zojirushi

Wait wait.. the good part is that this thing isn’t only for making soups – it can make rice, congee, soups, eggs, sauce, spaghetti, noodles, and basically whatever your good, creative imagination can come up with given the constraints of such a tiny jar.

I actually have no association with this product or the company, but it’s nice to share cool finds when I see them. The price ranges from $280 – $350 HKD depending on where you buy it from and it’s super cute in size, is portable and easy to clean.

Here’s what it looks like opened. Simple two-pieces. No brainer – right?

Mini Thermal pot - two pieces!

Mini Thermal pot – two pieces!

It’s made from stainless steel on the inside and uses the space efficiently. Another love of mine – efficiency.

Mini Therm Pot - Stainless Steel Interior

Mini Therm Pot – Stainless Steel Interior

So my first experiment was to make an egg. Apparently, to make a semi-solid egg, it takes about 30 minutes to “bake” in boiling water.

  1. First, rinse the pot in boiling water and let it sit covered for about 5 minutes (this is the trick to get the insides warm first so you don’t lose valuable cooking heat to the pot).
  2. Put a room temperature egg into the pot – another trick. Don’t use eggs directly from the fridge because again, the temperature difference is too significant.
  3. Cover the egg completely with boiling water – for the purpose of this experiment, I just used 98 degree Celsius water from my hot water dispense (too lazy to boil water)
  4. Put on the lid securely and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  5. And ta-da!
  6. Oops, for mine, I kind of forgot about it and came back about 45 minutes later and found this… still awesomely yummy with a bit of sea salt. 
Thermal pot with an egg

Thermal pot with an egg

Cooked egg with Mini Thermal Pot

Cooked egg with Mini Thermal Pot

More yummy experiments to come later. I’ve used the thermal pot to keep food warm though, like congee when my daughter was sick and it stayed toasty warm for over 6 hours! Definitely a neat find and will be trying other foods soon! YUM and YEAH for green technology!

Winter Moisturizing Tea

Winter Moisturizing Tea

Winter Moisturizing Tea

Soup Name

Winter Moisturizing Tea

This soup or tea is completely designed for the dry, cold, dry, cold, super dry, or super cold winter conditions. It’s a vegetarian (meatless) moisturizing tea suitable for the whole family and tastes super yummy.

You can consider adding fresh snow pears or fresh apples to sweeten it further, just take caution with the amount of rock sugar you add. It’s a combination of the all the ingredients that help being moisture to the lungs, body, skin and internal organs. You can drink this to your heart’s delight!

Do note that snow pears are mildly cool ingredients, so not recommended if you’re in confinement or need to avoid cooling ingredients.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
Serves: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 dried snow fungus, soaked and cut into quarters (removing the center, see video below)
  • 4 pieces of dried snow pear
  • 20 g of apricot kernals
  • 1 pieces of dried tangerine peel
  • 2-3 large dried dates
  • 20 g of dried lily bulbs
  • 1-inch diameter wide rock sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 L of water

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak the dried snow fungus in warm water until it is completely covered. Let it sit for about 15 minutes until it has become soft and large. Using a pair of scissors, cut it quarters while removing the hard yellow middle.
  2. In a separate bowl, soak in warm water the dried tangerine peel for 5 minutes.
  3. Once the tangerine peel softens, using the face of a knife, scrape off the darker side of the peel (this is the bitter part) just slightly.
  4. Start to boil your tea water
  5. When the water boils, add all the dried snow pear, apricot kernals, tangerine peel, dried dates, dried lily bulbs together.
  6. Boil on medium heat for 1 hour.
  7. In the last 5 minutes, drop in the rock sugar and mix.
  8. Serve and enjoy! Ideal to drink hot in the winter time!

The ingredients are pretty common in Hong Kong or your local Asian supermarket.  And you can buy them in bulk and store them in a dry, sealed container for many months – or in the fridge for even longer.

 

Preparing the Snow Fungus (video)

For snow fungus, you’ll need to soak them in warm water for some time – pretty much until they explode into giant balls.  Normally, people don’t eat the hard middles, but you can still cut it out and put it in with the soup. The tricky thing with snow fungus is that it dissolves into the soup. This means, the soup gets thicker and stickier the longer you boil it with snow fungus (scientifically speaking is that the viscosity of the liquid increases). You can remove the snow fungus halfway through if you don’t like it so thick.

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

 

This soup is ideal for colds, flus and cough. If you’ve got a sore or scratchy throat, achy body, tiredness and/or headache – this soup is for you!  From an Eastern perspective, the Chinese don’t recommend drinking chicken soup when you’re sick, which to me, sounds off, but you can’t argue thousands years of tradition through Chinese medicine.  My herbalist recommended this relatively “neutral” soup for me and is considered 滋陰 (zī yīn), which means treating yin deficiency by reinforcing body fluid and nourishing the blood.  If you look at the herb base, it’s pretty basic and ideal for most soups – the kicker is to add sea whelk (or conch or sea snail). You don’t need to add fresh sea snail (they can get pretty expensive if you buy them live from the wet mart), but definitely add pork. This soup ended up tasting delicious and sets a great base for adding vegetables of your choice – like corn, onions, or chayotes – all neutral vegetables.

Update on Jan 8: Boy, do my readers really keep me on my toes! Someone asked why the Chinese don’t recommend chicken soup when you’re sick, so I ran to see my herbalist this morning who gave me an answer like this. Basically, the idea is that chicken bones / carcasses itself are way fatter than pork and normally people will put veggies such as carrots with chicken soup – which is a big no no. Carrots are a cough inducing and don’t help colds or coughs very much. As for the chicken, well, I could borderline say that if you’re using chicken breast or skinny (fatless) chickens, it should be OK? I’m still researching this, but will share more when I find something more concrete.

Soup Name: Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  清豬骨海螺湯 (Qīng zhū gǔ hǎiluó tāng)

 

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup
Recipe Type: Chinese Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/pork-shank/”]fresh pork shank[/url]
  • 2 fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/sea-snail-fresh/”]sea snails[/url], shelled and halved
  • 5 pieces of dried [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/sea-snail-fresh/”]sea snail[/url]
  • 15 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/longan-dried/”]dried longans[/url]
  • 3 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/large-dried-dates/”]dried large dates[/url]
  • 10 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/red-dates/”]dried red dates[/url]
  • 5 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chinese-yam-dried/”]dried Chinese yam[/url]
  • 10g of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/yuzhu/”]dried yuzhu[/url]
  • 10g of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/wolfberries-dried/”]dried wolfberries[/url]
  • 3 L of water
  • salt (for taste)
Instructions
  1. In a separate pot, blanch both the sea snails and pork in a pot of boiling hot water for at least 5 minute (to remove impurities, fat and scum), remove and set aside
  2. Soak all the herbs in warm water for at least 10 minutes and rinse in warm water
  3. Boil your soup water
  4. When you soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
  5. Boil on high for 30 minute and then reduce boil to a medium boil for another 1.5 hours
  6. Serve and enjoy!

 

One of the more affordable seafood you can use for soups is dried sea snail. They come in thin, hard slices and add a sweet, sea-salt taste to the soup (similar to dried conpoys). Plus, these things are storage friendly and can be stored in your freezer or fridge for up to 6 months.

Dried Sea Snail

Dried Sea Snail

A typical neutral soup base for Chinese soups. The dried sea snails are interchangeable with dried conpoys.

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Fresh sea snails are an ideal addition to soups. Although VERY EXPENSIVE (you have to eat the meat given how much they can cost), they add a deliciously sweet flavour to the soup. Get the ladies at the wet mart to break the shell for you and they’ll give it to you like this – ready for washing and blanching in boiling hot water.

Fresh Sea Snail

Fresh Sea Snail

YUMMY soup! I literally had 4 bowls myself and the children also loved it. A great soup for the whole family.

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

 

Vietnamese Pho – Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

 

One of my favourite soups of all time is the Vietnamese beef broth that is made for pho noodles, or specifically, Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup.  I first truly learned it while travelling to Vietnam and took a cooking course given by locals, and my life has never been the same! After learning the original base, you can pretty much tweak it as you like.  The good thing is that I live in Asia, and all the ingredients are readily available. The challenge is that to make a good beef soup base, you need to boil it for quite some time – we’re looking at a solid 3 hours or more (like all broths).  Even if you can’t find all the ingredients, no worries – just improvise!

Soup NameVietnamese Pho – Beef Noodle Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:  越南牛肉河粉 (Yuè nán niú ròu hé fěn)

If you want to skip my running commentary, just go to the bottom for the full, quick-read recipe.

First, you need FRESH ingredients. I’m talking about fresh beef bones, fresh vegetables, and fresh beef slices.  For this round, I used beef ribs. They are giant bones, so you’ll need a giant pot! I use a thermal pot to save electricity and it does the boiling for me so I can go out!  The recipe usually calls for fresh beef knuckles or leg bones (with plenty of marrow goodness) – but these tend to be more fatty in nature, so just be sure to skim off the oil (and scum) when it surfaces.

Fresh Beef Bones

Fresh Beef Bones

Start by blanching all the bones in a separate pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes. This will remove impurities, scum and oil off the bones in preparation for your soup.

You can also begin to char the fresh ginger and fresh onions – usually done with an oven or on an open flame. This will bring out the wonderfully natural flavours of these ingredients.  I can already smell the onions as they broil in the oven and I’m not even on to making the soup yet!

Fresh ginger and onions for Vietnamese Pho

Fresh ginger and onions for Vietnamese Pho

Charred fresh ginger and onions

Charred fresh ginger and onions

Next are the spices. In Asian supermarkets, you can usually buy them pre-packaged as a bundle, but if not, you’ll need a handle of each for the flavouring.  Pick up some star anise, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, fennel, and coriander. You’ll also need a soup mesh bag to keep all the spices together because at some point, you’ll need to remove them and it’s way easier this way!

Soup mesh bag with spices for Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

Soup mesh bag with spices for Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

For the soup base, you’ll also need fish sauce, salt, and rock sugar. In the meantime, just throw in the blanched beef bones, charred ginger and onions, spices, salt, fish sauce and rock sugar into a large pot of boiling water and boil uncovered for at least 2 – 2.5 hours.

Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup base

Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup base

I was taught that at around this point, you should remove all the floating ingredients of the broth and taste test the soup for saltiness or flavour. You can adjust the taste by adding either more fish sauce, more salt or more sugar depending on what fits your taste.  Do this in small amounts so that you never go overboard because it’s pretty darn hard to remove dissolved salt – or at least correct without adding more water, which will then dilute the beef stock.  I personally don’t even take out the ingredients and taste it like that and serve. Whatever tickles your fancy as a chef.

Also start to soak your dried Vietnamese pho noodles.  Soak in a large pot of cool water for at least 15 minutes – or whatever the instructions of the noodles are. You can even use Thai noodles, Chinese rice noodles, or whatever noodles you like. Actually, it doesn’t really matter because you’re eating it!

At this point, I lay out the bowls – layering first the bottom with thinly sliced fresh white onion rings and bean sprouts. Or you can leave it up to your guest to lay their own, kind of like a buffet.

Fresh onions and bean sprouts ready for Vietnamese Pho

Fresh onions and bean sprouts ready for Vietnamese Pho

Put in noodles to the bowl, as much as you’ll eat.  I then blanch the fresh beef slices quickly in the broth and lay them on top as well and then ladle out that heavenly soup goodness so that it covers the beef completely.  Be sure the soup is still boiling at this time.  Top with fresh mint, cilantro, parsley, basil, more bean sprouts, chilli peppers and lime to finish it off. And ta-da! Yummy Vietnamese Pho, made from scratch!

Vietnamese Pho – Beef Noodle Soup
Recipe Type: Vietnamese Pho
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 4-5 pieces of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/fresh-beef-bones/”]fresh beef bones[/url]
  • 2 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/onions-fresh/”]fresh onions[/url], halved
  • 2 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/ginger-fresh/”]fresh ginger[/url] pieces (2″ long each), halved
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp of fennel seeds
  • 5 whole [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/star-anise/”]star anise[/url]
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup of fish sauce
  • 1 inch chunk of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/rock-sugar/”]rock sugar[/url]
  • 1/2 tbsp of salt
  • additional salt to taste
  • 3 L of water
  • 1 pack of dried Vietnamese noodles
  • 1 pound of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/beef-slices/”]fresh beef slices[/url]
  • fresh limes
  • fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chinese-parsley-or-cilantro/”]cilantro[/url]
  • fresh mint leaves
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh bean sprouts
  • 2-3 fresh chilli peppers, chopped small
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the beef bones to remove impurities, scum and fat
  2. Using an oven, char the halved onions and ginger in a pan until nicely browned, remove from oven and let cool
  3. Start to boil your soup water in a separate large pot
  4. Once your soup water boils, add in the beef bones, onions, ginger and spices (put into a mesh bag), fish sauce, rock sugar and salt
  5. Boil on medium heat for at least 3 hours
  6. Prepare the noodles by soaking them or following the instructions on the package
  7. Taste the soup at this point on whether you need to add more sugar, fish sauce or salt and add accordingly
  8. In a serving bowl, lay the bottom with sliced fresh onions, bean sprouts and noodles
  9. Blanch the freshly sliced beef quickly in the soup and lay on top of the noodles
  10. Ladle enough soup to cover the sliced beef and noodles
  11. Add as desired, fresh mint leaves, cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, parsley, chilli peppers and lime
  12. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Fresh Beef Bones

Fresh Beef Bones

Fresh Beef Bones

 

Ingredient Name:  Fresh Beef Bones

Traditional Chinese Name: 牛骨 (niú gǔ)

What is this?

  • In soups, beef bones are primarily used to make beef stock
  • Not a common ingredient used in Chinese soups at all – in fact, beef is not a common ingredient for “old fire” soups traditionally compared to pork – if you consider it from a historical perspective, having a cow back in those days meant you were wealthy
  • Bones are rich in nutrients (calcium & magnesium), collagen, easy to digest and rich in flavour
  • Shown in the picture are the ribs of the cow – I used this for my pho base because it’s relatively low in fat, but you can consider using cow knuckle and leg bones as well
  • The amount of fat on the bones will vary depending on which part. The ox-tail (of beef tail) is often a fatty part of the cow, but the most commonly purchased bone part from the vendor! He usually has the tail on reserve already for clients.

How do I prepare it?

  • Make sure the pieces you buy can fit into your pot (that’s probably the first most important thing!)
  • Blanch the bones in boiling water for at least 5 minutes to boil out the impurities and fat – this will produce a brown film of “gunk” which you should just throw out

Where can I buy this?

  • Most Asian wet marts will carry beef bones at the beef vendor
  • Supermarkets may also carry beef bones, which are already cut up into manageable pieces for you to take home

What is the cost?

  • The cost will vary depending on supply, but in Hong Kong, 3 bones (as pictured above) cost me $30 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Bones (any animal) are an excellent source of nutrients and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and silicon
  • The broth created from bones are easy to digest, are high in amino acids, collagen and gelatin
  • Bones broth is actually known to help fight colds and viruses because of these amino acids that help boost immune system and heal disorders like allergies, asthma and arthritis
  • Nothing beats real stock with real bones – store bought stock (which are primarily enhanced with flavour enhancers) has nothing over real stock

Any precautions?

  • Be careful of an over fatty cut of the bone – knuckles, ox-tail, or any other cuts that come with fat should be either cut off or boiled off and then removed from the soup
  • Consider purchasing animal products that you know are pasture-fed and free of antibiotics and hormones
  • Be sure to remove any scum that boils from the soup or blanching process