Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth

Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth

Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth

Starfish? WHAT? Yah… starfish. I knew that the Chinese used starfish in soups, but I had never actually seen where I could buy starfish, nor tried soups with starfish before.  I happened to venture to Lamma Island in Hong Kong one day and ta-da(!) I found some dried starfish! What was even more special was that the lady who sold them was so warm and welcoming that she talked and walked me through the whole process and which ingredients that could potentially go into the soup. In short, starfish soups are designed to remove internal heat, so supplemental ingredients should compliment this.  Big learning from me on this soup – while it’s nice to show all the ingredients in my photos, I wouldn’t necessarily scoop any starfish for the kids to see. I actually served only the broth to the family and everyone drank it.  See, this is what my Mom did to me when I was a kid and now I’m doing it to mine! My rebuttal is basically – it’s good for you! Don’t mind what’s inside!

Soup Name: Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth

Traditional Chinese Name:  海星玉米淮山湯 (hǎi xīng yù mǐ huái shān tāng)

To see the full recipe, scroll down to skip my commentary.

The ingredients for the soup are: Dried starfish (for this soup, I used 2 whole pieces), one piece of dried tangerine peel, a handful dried scallops, a 1-inch length of fresh ginger, 2 fresh corn, 3-foot long fresh Chinese Yam, and pork shank.

Dried starfish

Dried starfish

To start, soak the dried starfish, tangerine peel and scallops in cool water for about 15 minutes. This will soften the starfish and peel so that you can remove “stuff” from them. From the tangerine peel, you can scrape off the “peel” or darker side, which is quite bitter and will make your soup bitter. You can do this with a knife. The same actually goes for the starfish. Once its softened, scrape off the bottom-side of the “scales”. These are the little bumps that you can find on the underside. Once it’s scraped, it should look clean like the photo below. Cut the starfish into pieces that actually fit into your pot!

Cleanly scraped starfish

Cleanly scraped starfish

Next, in a separate pot of boiling water, add sliced ginger (save 1 to 2 slices for the soup) and the starfish together and boil for 5 minutes. This will blanch the starfish from impurities, but also will help remove some of the “fishiness”. Some people also pan fry with ginger to remove “fishiness” – this is particularly useful on fish.  Remove and set aside.

Blanching starfish in boiling water with fresh ginger

Blanching starfish in boiling water with fresh ginger

Drain the water and boil a small pot to blanch the pork shank. Another necessary step to remove the impurities, although pork shank doesn’t have as much gunk as pork bones or even pork marrow. This step does help remove some of the fat as well. You can begin to boil your soup water at this time.

You can also prepare your vegetables by chopping them up into large bite-sized pieces. For the Chinese Yam, WEAR GLOVES! If you read my post on preparation of Chinese Yam, this is called out. The skin of the Chinese Yam will make your hands very itchy if you come into contact with it, so be sure to wear gloves. When the soup water boils, throw everything in together (including the 2 pieces of ginger hanging around).

Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in pork broth

Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in pork broth

Boil on high for 30 minutes and then reduce to a medium boil for another 2 hours. This will really bring out the healing, heat-removal properties of the starfish. The ginger isn’t to counter the heat-removal, that’s why you add a tiny amount – it’s to reduce the “fishiness” of the soup.  Once boiled, taste and salt as needed. Then serve and enjoy!

Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth

Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth

 

Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 bowls
Ingredients
  • 2 dried starfish, soaked, cleaned and quartered
  • 2 [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/corn/”]fresh corn[/url], quartered
  • 3-foot long [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chinese-yam-fresh/”]fresh Chinese Yam[/url], peeled and cut into 1-inch sections
  • 1-inch long piece of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/ginger-fresh/”]fresh ginger[/url], sliced
  • 1 piece of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/tangerine-peels-dried/”]dried tangerine peel[/url]
  • 1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/scallops-dried-conpoy/”]dried scallops[/url] (or conpoys)
  • 1 pound of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/pork-shank/”]fresh pork shank[/url]
  • 2L of water
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Soak in cool water, the dried starfish, dried scallops and dried tangerine peel for 15 minutes
  2. Begin to prepare the corn by quartering it and the Chinese Yam, by peeling and cutting 1-inch long pieces (be sure to wear gloves)
  3. Using a sharp knife edge, scrape off the top-side (darker side) of the tangerine peel in running water (to remove more of the bitterness)
  4. Using a sharp knife edge, scrape off the underside of the starfish until all the little rivets are gone
  5. Cut the starfish into suitable sized pieces for your soup
  6. Thinly Slice your fresh ginger
  7. In a separate pot, boil enough water to cover the starfish and once it’s boiling, throw in the ginger (saving 1-2 pieces for the soup) and blanch the starfish on high heat for 5 minutes
  8. Remove the starfish and set aside
  9. In the same pot, boil enough water to cover your pork shank and blanch that on high heat for 5 minutes
  10. Remove the pork shank and set aside
  11. Boil your soup water
  12. Once the water boils, add all the ingredients together (including the remaining ginger). Boil on high heat for 30 minutes and reduce to a medium heat for 2 hours.
  13. Taste and salt as necessary
  14. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth

Quick Boil Winter Melon Soup

Quick Boil Winter Melon Soup

 

This is the start of the “Quick Boil Series” of soups.  It was requested by a friend who wanted to know how to make healthy, but quick soups for those busy-body people.  In general, quick boil soups take around 10 minutes to prepare and about 25-30 minutes to boil and contain easy-to-find, supermarket type ingredients that are readily available so not a lot of planning is required.  This is one of my favourite quick boil soups – the winter melon. To start, quick boil soups usually require smaller cuts of vegetables or meats (so that they soften quicker and you can extract the flavours more quickly). The winter melon is a classic example of boiling it for around 30 minutes and you’ll find the flesh has become translucent and soft and edible. It’s simply delicious, suitable for the whole family and super easy to make!

Soup Name: Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth

Traditional Chinese Name:  冬瓜冬菇 玉米 雞熬湯(dōng guā dōng gū yù mǐ jī Áo tāng)

To see the full recipe, scroll down to skip my commentary.

What you’ll need in the simplest of terms are: dried Chinese mushrooms, a handful of dried conpoys (or scallops), a slice of winter melon, fresh corn, chicken breast and either chicken broth or chicken broth powder. To be honest with you, I don’t really measure or scientifically size the ingredients, I just put whatever amount I feel like depending on what I like to eat – which is more corn and more winter melon, so just go with what you like. It is, after all, your soup.

Start with soaking the mushrooms and dried conpoys. You’ll need a good 5 minutes to get the mushroom stems nice and soft, so for those who don’t eat them or prefer not to eat them, you can cut them off and then quarter or slice the mushrooms thinly. I keep these mushrooms in the freezer and they have been there for 6 months plus and are still great!

Chinese mushrooms ready for soup!

Chinese mushrooms ready for soup!

Mushrooms soaking in prep for quick boil soup

Mushrooms soaking in prep for quick boil soup

 

During this time, you can begin to boil your soup water. For a family of four, I used about 3 L of water and had plenty to go around. You can then begin to peel and slice your winter melon. In normal old fire Chinese soups, I would keep the skin on, but for quick boils, I would recommend removing the skin. This way, the winter melon softens much quicker, but you can add the skin into the soup for flavour.  The winter melons are normally sold like this (if they are the large ones). The vendors or supermarket will already pre-slice them for you, so simply shave the skin off lying it flat on one side.

Winter Melon

Winter Melon

After that, cube the winter melon so they are literally bite-sized. This makes them quicker to soften and cook and also, easier to eat!

cubed winter melon for soup

cubed winter melon for soup

The next things to do are slice the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces as well. Keep them cubed and consistent with the size of the winter melons. No real reason other than the fact that it’s symmetrically similar and will also cook faster. You can also slice your mushrooms into cubes or into thin slices as pictured below. Similarly, bite-sized for ease of cooking.

Sliced Chinese mushrooms ready for soup

Sliced Chinese mushrooms ready for soup

Same for the corn. The smaller the cut of the corn, the quicker it will cook and consistently “small” with the rest of the soup ingredients. In this case, I quartered them.

Fresh corn ready for soup

Fresh corn ready for soup

Once the water boils, throw all the ingredients together. People do ask me why I use boiling water in so many of my soup recipes, it’s because the immediate contact with heat cooks the meat or vegetables faster and prevents too much slow breakdown of the meat overtime and you’re able to save time by boiling it in parts.

Throwing all the ingredients together

Throwing all the ingredients together

 

Boil on high heat until it really comes to a big boil again – which should be about 5 minutes. Once it’s boiling, reduce heat to a medium boil – but leave it covered (in order to maintain some pressure in the pot) for another 20 minutes. At this time, I will add either half a cup of chicken stock or 1 teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon. This way, enough time has passed for the flavours of the ingredients to come out and you can taste how much you want to further season the soup. Don’t forget to taste it along the way! You’ll know it’s close to being done with the chicken breast has turned complete white and opaque and your winter melon is a nice translucent colour.

 

Quick boil winter melon soup

Quick boil winter melon soup

Serve and enjoy! Don’t forget to scoop out the delicious ingredients to eat as part of your hearty soup.

Quick boil winter melon soup

Quick boil winter melon soup

 

Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: LadyTong
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 bowls
Ingredients
  • 2 medium-sized chicken breasts, bite-sized cubed
  • 1 2-inch thick slice of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/winter-melon/” title=”fresh winter melon”]winter melon[/url], skinned and bite-sized cubed
  • 2 fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/corn/” title=”Fresh corn”]corn[/url], quartered
  • 7-8 dried [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chinese-mushrooms/” title=”dried Chinese mushrooms”]Chinese mushrooms[/url], sliced thinly
  • 5 pieces of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/scallops-dried-conpoy/” title=”Dried conpoy”]dried conpoy[/url]
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon
  • 3 L of water
Instructions
  1. Being by soaking Chinese mushrooms in warm water for 5 minutes
  2. Start to boil your soup water
  3. Cube chicken breast
  4. Slice and cube winter melon – don’t throw away the skin (use it in the soup)
  5. Quarter corn
  6. Drain mushrooms and remove the stems with a knife of scissors and slice thinly
  7. When your soup water boils, throw all your cut ingredients into the soup (add the bouillon last)
  8. Boil on high for 5 minutes
  9. Reduce boil to a medium-boil for another 20 minutes
  10. Taste and add chicken bouillon (try 1 teaspoon first)
  11. Boil for another 5 minutes
  12. Serve and enjoy!

 

I personally love winter melon, especially when it’s softened and melts in your mouth! A great quick boil soup for any newbie or professional soup chef. Enjoy and thank you!

Lobster

lobster_soup01_web-2

Ingredient Name:  Lobster

Traditional Chinese Name: 龍 蝦 (lóngxiā)

What is this?

  • A type of shellfish
  • A large, 10-legged marine crustacean with a cylindrical body closely related to shrimp and crabs
  • For eating, lobsters are traditionally steamed or boiled and the meat extracted from inside the shell
  • Once the meat has been eaten, the remaining lobster shell and the head can make a great base for soup

How do I prepare it?

  • The easiest method to cook lobster is to boil it in salted water for approximately 15 minutes (times may vary depending on the size of the lobster)
  • Using a nutcracker, remove the meat and enjoy separately (Tip: it tastes great dipped in butter)
  • Save the shell and head for your soup

Where can I buy this?

  • Most international grocery stores will sell lobster
  • Typically, spring through autumn is lobster season
  • It is best to buy live lobster, with their tails flapped or curled up

What is the cost?

  • Lobster prices vary depending on the season.  The lobster featured above cost $80 HKD each.

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?

  • Lobsters are low in fat content and relatively low in cholesterol
  • They are a good source of omega 3-fatty acids and phosphorus, which aids in the formation of teeth and bones
  • Lobsters are also a good source of selenium, B12, Vitamin E and Niacin
Chilled Coconut Milk with Tapioca Pearls and Fresh Fruit

Chilled Coconut Milk with Tapioca Pearls and Fresh Fruit

Chilled Coconut Milk with Tapioca Pearls and Fresh Fruit

Soup Name:

Chilled Coconut Milk with Tapioca Pearls and Fresh Fruit

Traditional Chinese Name:

椰汁西米露 (Yē zhī xī mǐ lù)

 

I had a craving for a cold, sweet, coconut milk flavoured dessert and the only thing that came to mind was this commonly available dessert in Hong Kong that matched it.

I always thought it was hard to make, but after some research and discussions with the people at those dessert shops, it’s super easy!!

The thing I love about it is that you can make the base, primarily made of coconut milk, and then add whatever fruit, toppings, additives you want to make it your own. This worked great for the kids!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 40 mins

Cook time: 30 mins + 2 hours chill

Total time: 3 hours 10 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 3 cups of water
  • rock sugar (as sweet as you like – taste if first!)
  • 1 cup of small tapioca pearls
  • fresh fruit, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • condensed milk (optional to sweeten if not sweet enough)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak the tapioca in cool water for 30 minutes first. In a pot of cold water, boil tapioca pearls on medium heat for around 10-15 minutes. Check the consistency and transparency of the pearls. When they are done, they’ll be completely transparent, but be careful they don’t start to melt.
  2. Remove from heat and run through cold water to separate. You can either leave in a bowl with cold water or just leave them in a bowl when sufficiently cooled. Set at room temperature is OK.
  3. In a separate pot, boil the water with the rock sugar.
  4. When the rock sugar has completely melted, reduce heat to a low boil and add in coconut milk and whole milk. Boil and stir together for about 5 minutes. Taste to see if it’s sweet enough. If not, you can add more rock sugar and boil on low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  6. When ready to eat, in a serving bowl, ladle in as much coconut milk as you like, add the tapioca pearls and load on the fruits!
  7. Enjoy!

To start, the base is simply coconut milk, whole (or skim) milk, water, and rock sugar. Some recipes call for evaporated milk, but after sampling it with just the milks, water and sugar, it was smooth and rich enough for me.
You can find these types of tapioca (or sago) pearls from the supermarket or wet mart.

They come in a variety of sizes, flavours and colours. Typically, for this dessert, use the smaller, white pearls that turn transparent when boiled. They are flavourless and turn into a chewy ball of … chewy.

First, soak the tapioca in warm water for about 30 minutes. This will soften and expand them slightly. You then need to boil the tapioca until it’s completely cooked. You’ll know it’s completely cooked when the entire ball turns transparent. Semi-cooked will show a white spot in the middle.

The problem is that smaller balls will cook faster and then start dissolving on you, so just take care to judge how well done on average your tapioca pearls are. The trick is that you rinse the tapioca in COLD, running water after you’ve cooked it. Some people continue to soak them in a bit of cold water, or just leave them to sit cool.  If you keep the warm, they will continue to cook and then merge into one giant ugly ball of tapioca!

Next, start to boil your water and let the rock sugar dissolve. Taste to see how sweet you prefer it because everyone is different. I went with a less sweet version and if people wanted it sweeter, I gave them condensed milk to mix in – just as yummy!

 

Reduce heat to a low simmer and mix in the coconut milk and whole (or skim) milk. You don’t want to boil the coconut milk too much or it starts to break down and separate, so give it enough heat to mix together.  Boil for around 10 minutes and remove from heat.  This dessert is best eaten cold, so I moved it to the fridge to cool for a few hours.

The last thing is to put it together – your way.  I personally love fresh fruit with mine, so when the coconut milk mixture was sufficient cooled, I added the tapioca pearls and fresh strawberries.  It’s great with fresh, chilled melons, pears, mango, durian or whatever your great imaginative mind comes up with!

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Sago Tapioca Pearls

Raw Sago

Raw Sago

Ingredient Name:  Sago Pearls

Traditional Chinese Name: 西米 (xī mǐ)

What is this?

  • The extract of the tapioca root which are rolled into balls (hence tapioca pearls)
  • It is a form of starch which is commonly used around the world (to make noodles, bread)
  • A lot of Chinese desserts incorporate the tapioca pearls (white kinds)
  • There are the brown tapioca pearls (added sugar) which are commonly used in tea drinks (which originated from Taiwan)
  • Tapioca comes in all sizes, flavours and colours – but are primarily white and when boiled become transparent
  • When cooked and boiled as is, it becomes a chewy ball with a sticky texture

How do I prepare it?

  • For round, white sago pearls, simply boil starting with cold water for at least 15 minutes
  • You’ll know its completely cooked when the ball is completed transparent
Sago tapioca half cooked

Sago tapioca half cooked

 

Where can I buy this?

  • Most Asian supermarkets will carry the white tapioca balls (in various sizes)

What is the cost?

  • Tapioca pearls are relatively affordable
  • A small bag cost around $10 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Tapioca is primarily made of carbohydrates and contains no fat
  • It has a variety of uses and can store for quite some time (up to 6 months in a dry place)
  • They are actually really fun to eat for kids (and adults!)

Any precautions?

  • After cooking the tapioca, immediately run it through cold water to prevent the balls from sticking together
Cooked sago pearls

Cooked sago pearls