Japanese Pumpkin with Century Egg in Pork Broth

Japanese Pumpkin with Century Egg in Pork Broth

Japanese Pumpkin with Century Egg in Pork Broth

Tea Name:

Japanese Pumpkin with Century Egg in Pork Broth

Chinese Name: 

皮蛋南瓜豬骨湯 (pídàn nán guā zhū gǔ tāng)

Nature:  Warm

Taste:  Sweet, Salty

For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

This soup was an accidental creation! LOL.

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.

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 1 hr 30 mins

Total time: 1 hr 45 mins

Serves: 8 bowls of soup

Ingredients
Cooking Instructions
  1. Rinse and soak the apricot kernals for 10 minutes in warm water
  2. Boil your soup water
  3. Wash pork bones and in a separate pot of boiling water, blanch your bones for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Wash and cut up pumpkin, while keeping the outer skin on (this helps keep the pumpkin from disintegrating)
  5. When soup water boils, add the pork bones, the pumpkin and the apricot kernals
  6. Boil on high heat for 30 minutes and add the century eggs
  7. Reduce heat and boil on medium for another hour
  8. 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)

Try this alternative with Japanese pumpkin (with corn and carrots) in MILK!  It’s actually a Japanese recipe using Hokkaido milk.  Oh so yummy!

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Simple Tomato Fish Soup

Simple Tomato Fish Soup

Soup Name:

Simple Tomato Fish Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

番茄魚湯 (fān qié yú tāng)

 

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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).

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hours 30 min

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients
  • 4 medium-sized golden threadfin bream (or any other appropriate substitute)

  • 3 fresh tomatoes, quartered

  • 3 fresh potatoes, largely cubed

  • 2 L of water

  • 1 teaspoon of salt (to marinate the fish)

  • 1 teaspoon of oil (to fry the fish)

Cooking Instructions
  1. After the fish is cleaned, wipe the fish with paper towels or a cloth to remove excess water
  2. Cover the fish with a small amount of salt (inside and out)
  3. Let it sit for an hour and then drain any water
  4. Peel and cut the potatoes and tomatoes
  5. OPTIONAL: Some people will prefer to fry the potatoes until they are crispy on the outside to prevent disintegration in the soup
  6. Start boiling your soup water
  7. In a pan, add oil and fry the ginger with the fish on low-medium heat (until the fish is completely cooked and the skin is a slightly browned)
  8. Put the fish into a soup bag and add to water
  9. Add all the ingredients
  10. Boil for at least an hour
Any benefits?
  • This neutral soup is ideal for confinements
  • It is also ideal for children (who are able to eat tomatoes)
  • It is highly nutritious, contains no fats and can be used as a soup base for noodles, macaroni and other dishes

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My Confinement Story

My Confinement Story

You may have noticed that over the past few months we have been posting many pregnancy and confinement soup recipes to this site.  As this blog closely follows the soups we are making for ourselves and for our families, you’ve probably already guessed that we have had a pregnancy in the family.  Actually, we’ve had TWO!

On September 1, our sister Carol delivered a healthy baby boy and exactly one month later, on October 1, I (Tracy) welcomed my second daughter into the world.  Carol and I and our babies both enjoyed very normal delivery experiences.  Besides feeling only slightly weaker, after my daughter was born, I felt happy and healthy and ready to begin my month of post-pregnancy “confinement”.

There was so much to learn and celebrate as we experienced our Chinese culture.  This was definitely our growth story!

Before I begin, you should know that my sisters and I are not into “extreme confinement”.  That is, we do not strictly confine ourselves to our home, we shower regularly (and wash our hair, but do blow dry right away) and we even turn on the air conditioner (can’t survive +35C in Hong Kong)! That said, we do, however, take our confinement food (especially our soups, of course!) seriously.

Now that my confinement is done, here is a brief summary of my personal confinement story from a soupy perspective.

The Constants

There were several soups I was required to drink throughout the entire confinement period.   Every day, I drank three to five BIG bowls of soup.   Each bowl was the equivalent of five or six smaller bowls (similar to the soup sizes served in Chinese restaurants) and it gave me a pleasant and warm feeling of being warm and full for most of the day.   My confinement lady (a.k.a. our wonderful mother who is a true Chinese soup lady) cooked at least three different soups every day made from ingredients purchased fresh each day from the nearby wet markets in Hong Kong.  The constant soups I drank throughout the day were:

Papaya Fish Soup

This soup is delicious and healthy and is used to help with milk production. When I was engorged (too much milk!) I continued to drink fish soup without the green papaya; instead, we substituted healthy vegetables such as sweet corn and tomatoes.

Chicken Herbal Soup

Everyday, a large pot of chicken soup was made with TWO fresh chickens (black silkie chickens were preferred).  Using two chickens made for a very dense and nutritious soup. Drinking “heaty” soups is essential during confinement and so staple herbs included dried longans and fish stomach (pronounced as “fa gao” in Cantonese).  Wolfberries and red dates for sweetness were also staples in the soup. Whenever I felt too heaty, we would not include any fish stomach or longans in the soup.

Here is another variation of this soup.

 

Pig’s Feet with Ginger in Black Vinegar

Another “constant” in the second half of my confinement period (after the 13th day) was the traditional ginger and vinegar “soup”. Almost every day, I would eat a small bowl of some pork meat and a boiled chicken egg which had been sitting and marinating in the tangy and delicious stew for days… yum!

The Uniques

Occasionally, my mom also made other drinks and soups for me to drink based on my specific needs.  This would vary depending on how far along the confinement you’re at and how you’re feeling.  And when I say unique, some of these are truly unique and new for me!  The amazing thing about this experience is seeing the difference between Western and Eastern, and blending it so it’s really customized for me.  For example, crocodile meat and soft-shelled turtle are common staple meats available in supermarkets in Hong Kong.  

Black Bean, Rice and Ginger Water

While I was still at the hospital (the day of delivery), I started to drink an almost tasteless concoction made of water with boiled black beans, rice and ginger.  This drink is said to help reduce “wind” in the body and “warm” it up to help with the healing process after giving birth.  Instead of drinking water, whenever I felt thirsty, I was encouraged to drink this for the first week after delivery.  After my milk came in, we stopped drinking this and focused on fish and chicken soups instead.

Soft-shelled turtles are a “healing” meat and are often consumed even outside of confinement / pregnancy.  I drank this soup for only two days half-way through my confinement period to continue to help with the healing process.  This should be consumed only if you are not sick as it is believed to “feed” your sickness as well.

DEer Antler with Korean Ginseng Soup

My sister drank this during her confinement as it is also considered a “healing” drink and popular among Chinese as a confinement soup.  However, when it came time for me to drink this soup, I was already feeling too “heaty” and so we did not make this for me.  Similar to turtle soup, this should be avoided if you are ill or have a fever.

Foods to avoid

All “cooling” foods and soups should be avoided during confinement.   I occasionally craved the cooling foods, but was a “good girl” and resisted until after my confinement month was done.   Even now, I am still only nibbling at “cool” foods and soups and will continue to do so until after the third month.   Foods I avoided include:

 

I also avoided foods which are believed to be slightly “poisonous”:

  • Beef
  • Duck
  • Crab and other shellfish

Although I’m sure there are many other cooling and poisonous foods which should be avoided, these are the foods which stood out for me because I eat or drink them on a regular basis and had to consciously avoid them.

And here ends my confinement story.  I’m happy to say the month is now done and I feel more free to do and eat what I please.  If you have other tips or foods to eat or avoid during confinement, please share with us and our readers by posting to our comments.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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!

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      Turtle with Lean Pork Soup

      Turtle with Lean Pork Soup

      Turtle with Lean Pork Soup

      Soup Name:

      Turtle and Lean Pork Soup

      Traditional Chinese Name:

      水魚瘦豬肉湯 (shuǐ yú shòu zhū ròu tāng)

      This soup is very warming in nature and sweet to taste.

       

      For videos, visit us on YouTube.

      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.

      See a lighter variation of this soup here: Longan Meat in Turtle Soup

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

      This is the first time that I have bought and tried soft shell turtle (to my knowledge).  These types of turtles are actually bred for consumption and considered a prize delicacy in East Asia (ie: China).  They are also harvested in the US (with set limits) for breeding and consumption as well (especially common to have Turtle soup in New Orleans).  Ever since coming to Asia, I have developed an open mind to the types of food that is culturally different from my upbringing.  The turtle definitely falls into this category.  It is so commonplace that you can find soft shell turtles at your local wet marts.

      To prepare soft-shell turtle, my vendor (and mom) told me to pan-fry them with ginger.  This will help eliminate any fishiness in flavours and create a fragrant base for your soup.

       

      What’s involved?

      Prep time: 30 mins

      Cook time: 3 hours

      Total time: 3 hours 30 mins

      Serves: 4 bowls

      Ingredients
      Cooking Instructions
      1. Pre-marinate the pork with salt and let sit for at least one hour (overnight is best).  I’ll quickly rinse under cool water before usage.
      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
      7. When the water boils, add all the ingredients together
      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

      For videos, visit us on YouTube.

      A selection of confinement Chinese Soups

      What is confinement and confinement stories

      Baby 5 & 6 Confinement story

      Some confinement foods for your tummy!

      The DO's and DON'T's of confinement

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      (Confinement) Deer Antler Healing Soup

      (Confinement) Deer Antler Healing Soup

      (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)

      This soup is very warming in nature and sweet to taste.

       

      For videos, visit us on YouTube.

      A pretty traditional (although the ingredients aren’t easy to find) Chinese confinement soup.  High quality Korean ginseng is not a cooling ingredient and is extremely beneficial in aiding the body in healing.  You can really taste the fire or “hotness” in this soup as it literally does warm your body.  While this soup does not contain your more mainstream ingredients, it is a traditional recipe that is passed down from generation to generation.  There are a few variations of this soup, but a majority of the time, the key ingredients are always there. 

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

      This is what dried deer antler’s look like.  Small, ovalish, and brown thinly sliced wood-like herbs that are hard to texture and feel.  This ingredient is designed for warming the Yang and targets vital essence and blood, which is why it’s so commonly used for confinement, healing, and post surgeries.  

      To be honest, I don’t commonly use this Chinese medicine in soups, but really only for confinement purposes.

      What’s involved?

      Prep time: 30 mins

      Cook time: 2 hours

      Total time: 2 hours 30 mins

      Serves: 2 bowls

      Ingredients
      Cooking Instructions
      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?
      • This soup is warming and healing
      • Great for confinement, post surgery, and healing
      • It is designed to remove “wind” from the body and particularly helpful for nourishing essence and blood
      • Both deer antlers and Korean Ginseng are super warming ingredients 
      • This tonic (literally that’s what I call it rather than a soup) targets the kidneys and liver (vital parts in TCM)

      For videos, visit us on YouTube.

      A selection of confinement Chinese Soups

      What is confinement and confinement stories

      Baby 5 & 6 Confinement story

      Some confinement foods for your tummy!

      The DO's and DON'T's of confinement

      CHECK OUT OTHER SIMILAR HEALING HERBAL SOUPS

      Learn more about how these types of teas and soups can help improve your overall blood circulation and how you actually know that it's working?

      It's not a perfect science (still working to perfect it), but I'd say the methodology and thinking is sound 🙂

      Would love to hear your thoughts!

       

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