This page is about Chinese Confinement in the early days. True “body-recovering” doesn’t actually happen until past days 10-12. That’s when you take out the heavy artillery. For now, the first 10-12 days (some say 8-10) should be light, mild and “taking it easy”. This doesn’t mean you can eat “cooling foods” or take showers and let your hair to air dry, it means your diet is light. From various sources at the wet mart and Chinese herbalists, the advice is to drink these light teas and lay off the power herbs.
I will continue to add as I learn more here, but here’s a start.
The key highlight of this tea is the wood ear. Wood ear in Traditional Chinese Medicine is known to reduce hypertension (lower blood pressure), support blood flow and circulation, tonifies and nourishes the blood and Qi, and alleviates coughs, moistening the lungs and removing phlegm.
To make this super potent, after you boil the tea, remove the wood ear and slice into small pieces and serve as a snack (or with the tea).
I’ve also made wood ear salads, which allows you to still consume wood ears with more diversity in your diet!
For post partum:
This tea I drank as a confinement tea and within the first 0-5 days of confinement to help eliminate the lochia. It’s a simple tea with 3 ingredients (the meat is optional if you’re vegetarian) and very easy to make. It’s a sweet, slightly tart tea and must be drank hot/warm. It’s one of the better tasting teas I know available for confinement! You can boil a whole big batch for 5 days worth, refrigerate and then reheat when needed or boil fresh batches everyday. It is recommended to drink 1-2 glasses a day (depending if you’ve got other teas or soups already filling your tummy!). Do not add additives like sugar or salt. Keep it clean, light and natural.
Soak your dates and wood ear for 10-15 minutes in cool water
Boil your soup or tea water
When the water boils, add all the ingredients together and boil on a medium boil (covered) for 1.5 hours
Serve hot/warm directly as is
You can pre-soak the wood ear first thing in the morning. This will soften until you need to boil them.
Be sure to buy and use pitted red dates as the seeds are quite fiery (not in a good way). Some red dates come pre-seeded, but if not, you can use a sharp knife and remove them or halve them first and remove.
My parents were graced with grand child #7 two days ago and this story is the journey of confinement #7 for sister #2. We welcome baby Ashley to the family and because she was early, our personal “Pu Yuet” – who is grandma, is still stuck in Toronto waiting eagerly to board a flight to Hong Kong to help. So both myself and sister #3 have taken over with my mom’s guidance to provide the ultimate confinement diet for my sister #2.
This journey is an inclusive “diary” of the discoveries of food, drinks, soups, teas, traditions and little knick knacks that normal people don’t follow.
I will continue to add to this post as part of the whole story with subsequent posts. Stay tuned and thanks for your continued support. I also welcome any advice or guidance as well. It’s incredible how vendor A will tell you to do A and vendor B will tell you to do B. The knowledge of wealth comprised within that tiny wet mart near my house is incredible and part of my interest now is document it and share it with you.
This soup is a powered up version of the Chicken Herbal Soup.
Packed with the natural sea-sweetness of the abalones and herbs, it’s a great soup for the cold winter months or confinement. You can eat the abalone as whole pieces (usually the smaller ones are cheaper, but it’s still an expensive soup), or sliced thinly and dipped in soy sauce. Regardless, don’t waste the abalone!
In addition, I know it says Chicken soup, but the Chinese commonly also add a small pork shank or pork bone to their otherwise known as Chicken and even Fish soups. You can’t get away from the staple pork.
I had originally wanted pumpkin in pork broth and somehow my helper saw that I had purchased century eggs, she thought it was a good idea to throw it in. At first, when I saw the soup, I didn’t think anything of the rich, milky color. Most pork bones soup are milky in color because of the marrow (at least for me, I am usually inclined to use pork bone marrow instead and end up eating the marrow).
The thing that threw me off was when I tasted it. There was a very distinct, golden taste. Just like wine, I like to savor the taste of the soup and try to separate the ingredients through taste. There was something definitely different about this soup. After asking my helper what else she added, she sheepishly told me the century eggs and I burst out laughing.
It was different and unique and I loved it. See, so it goes to show that there is no fixed recipe for making good soup. Just some general knowledge of what pairings to make and desire.
Rinse and soak the apricot kernals for 10 minutes in warm water
Boil your soup water
Wash pork bones and in a separate pot of boiling water, blanch your bones for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Wash and cut up pumpkin, while keeping the outer skin on (this helps keep the pumpkin from disintegrating)
When soup water boils, add the pork bones, the pumpkin and the apricot kernals
Boil on high heat for 30 minutes and add the century eggs
Reduce heat and boil on medium for another hour
Serve and enjoy!
Why Japanese Pumpkin?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the pumpkin is amazing for dispelling damp and wetness in the body and both the pumpkin flesh and seeds are sweet and warming
This ingredient targets the stomach and large intestines
The pumpkin itself is a delicious and nutritious additive to the soup and is high in zinc and vitamin A
Boil in the soup keeping the skin on so that the flesh doesn’t disintegrate into the soup and melt, although you could also use that to create a thicker cream like broth (which isn’t very common in Chinese soups)
Tomatoes are the ideal partner in fish soups. It helps alleviate some of the fishy scent as well as bring a sweet and slightly sour taste to the soup. This soup is ideal for confinements and children (at least one year in age as tomatoes are considered too acidic to young children) and is very neutral and healthy. There is virtually no fat in the soup and the broth is rich in flavor and nutrients. It is a great soup base for other ingredients such as other vegetables (celery, onions, carrots, corn, pumpkin) or additives (chestnuts, water chestnuts).