Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

When you want to go meatless, but don’t want to trade off flavour!  

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

There are so many options when you want to replace meats in Chinese soups!  I try to keep the flavour profile of the soup without compromising it with the replacements.  I find vegetarian soups less oily, have more fiber, and provide a different offering to my soups!  I am able to venture into a more unique group of ingredients I don’t always traditionally use.

Some tips for Vegetarian Chinese Soups:

  • While you don’t need to blanch these ingredients, some do taste better if you pan fry it first (ie: soy products, mushrooms, even some vegetables such as potatoes)
  • Many vegetarian choices have great shelf life (dried mushrooms can last greater than 1 year, packaged nuts like chestnuts and peanuts can also last 3-6 months), although fresh peanuts last around 5 days in the fridge
  • Save your tummy as these ingredients eat like a meal
  • You can get creative to mix and match, or create your own!
  • Mushrooms have a rich, earthy, profile to the their taste, while nuts also have some earthy taste, but lighter
  • There are so many amazing fruits and vegetables available in the Asian repertoire such as gobo (or burdock root),  Japanese pumpkin, seabed coconuts, even normal coconuts can work!
  • Don’t forget to consider Chinese Herbs as replacements as well

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Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

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What’s the Best Chinese Comfort Food?  Hot Homemade Congee!

What’s the Best Chinese Comfort Food? Hot Homemade Congee!

What’s the Best Chinese Comfort Food? Hot Homemade Congee!

Growing up, I’ve had many variations of this watery Chinese porridge called “Congee” (aka, the 粥 in Chinese).  

And all of them, are memories of home and comfort.

I don’t know what it is about this dish, but the simplest of ingredients, the white rice (there are also variations of the rice used) can produce such a profound feeling when it’s mixed and cooked in the right proportions of water and toppings.

Follow this post to learn how to make this!

What makes Congee, Congee?

By definition, congee is watered rice, or gruel, or porridge.  The word originated from the root word “to nourish” (according to wiktionary).  Across many cuisines and cultures, you’ll see the variations of congee from generation to generation and country to country.  From as far as India to Japan to the South Asian Countries, they all have some variation of this dish.

So what makes congee, congee?  The most basic premise is that it’s some sort of grain (usually rice) that is cooked to a semi viscous state.  The viscosity (how fast or slow it flows as a liquid) depends on the type of congee.  

The Chinese version of congee exists in almost the same proportions as culture Regions available.  From Guangdong Province,  you’ll find the more liquid versions of the congee base and then quick boiled with preserved eggs or minced beef.  This is very typical of the congee you’ll find in Hong Kong.  And don’t forget, served with fried dough sticks!
The congee base is usually the same with variations on toppings and flavouring.  What I do is make this congee base for the kids, Cantonese-styled, and our toppings spread on the kitchen table is AMAZING!  We all like different toppings, so we’ll crack out preserved pork floss, vinegared cucumbers, spicy preserved radish, or pan fried salty peanuts!  Get creative!
In Thailand, it’s Jok (โจ๊ก, pronounced joke).  Pictured here is a fragrant Thai fish congee.  The congee base is made with rice and water, with a selection of toppings such as peanuts, fresh spring onions and parsley, and preserved salty duck eggs.  The Thai will also add spicy peppers and chilies, which I didn’t opt for.  Too exciting for me in the mornings!
In Taiwan, it’s also called Jook (粥) and the congee base is similar to that of the white congee in Hong Kong, but the toppings are out of this world!  Here I’ve got pork floss (there are so many beautiful variations of this), preserved and flavoured seaweed, preserved salty duck eggs, root vegetables such as lotus root and even yams, and all sorts of preserved vegetables such as cucumbers, and fresh cilantro, baby celery (a Taiwanese favourite), and spring green onions.
And in Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Mongolia, they all have their own variations of congee.  I love trying all of them as I travel and it’s truly amazing how one dish has evolved in so many ways through the cultures!

Making Congee

There are 2 basic ways to make congee.
  1. You make the congee base (with simply rice and water) and then spice it up
  2. You spice it up first and mix in the rice to create this blended, beautiful congee concoction

In the recipes below, you’ll find both variations.  Try them both and see how you like them.  It really depends on what you feel like eating.  If you’re having side dishes, like meats and vegetables, the congee is usually served plain (rice and water).  If you’re eating the congee like a meal, it usually has all the works inside.  

There’s no right or wrong to making or eating congee!  And the type of rice you use, can also vary.  I’ve used long grain rice before, round little rice, brown rice, purple rice, even Japanese rice.  They all work!

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 2 L of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Whatever toppings you want

To Stir or Not To Stir?

Ah, the age old question of whether you stir your congee or not.

From my experience, it depends on the type of congee you’re making.

For example, I also make the Chiu Chou style of congee where it’s got a thick base layer of congee and beautiful rice soup on top.  In this congee, you don’t stir AT ALL.  It’s basically, a quick boil for 20 minutes, turn off the heat, let it rest for 30 minutes to “bake”  and settle and serve.  My mom is Chiu Chou, so I’ll hear her repeat this technique to me many times over!

For the Cantonese-styled congee, I will mix.  I will stir fry the ingredients first, add in the rice and water and mix it around, ensuring that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Have your heat on medium to medium-high for that control.  I find when you max out the heat, it becomes harder to manage and this sticky congee to the bottom of the pot happens.

If you’re also using a thermal pot, insta-pot, or a pressure cooker, stirring is also suggested.   

 

CHECK OUT SOME OF OUR CONGEE RECIPES

POST YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPES BELOW IN THE COMMENTS!  WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR THEM!

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A Chinese Delicacy: How to Prepare Dried Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

A Chinese Delicacy: How to Prepare Dried Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

A Chinese Delicacy: How to Prepare Dried Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

Have you ever walked by those Chinese herbal or dried food shops and wondered what those fairly large beige bubble things were?  I certainly did growing up and just always found it foreign until I was introduced to it in foods, soups, and stews and told how expensive they were (my parents’ Chinese way of telling me to eat it). 

Fish maw is the fish bladder (air bubble) of the fish.  Not the fish stomach, which is a common misnomer.  

I finally had enough curiosity to try to make them myself and got an hour crash course from the vendor in Hong Kong who basically walked me step by step (after I bought a bunch from them), having the vegetable vendor verify (after buying ingredients for the soup), and all the nearby old ladies share their various fish maw recipes.  What a way to immerse myself into Chinese cooking!

Check out how to prepare dried fish maw in the video and a selection of fish maw recipes.

There are many sizes, makes, cuts, and types of fish maw available!  So explore them all!  

Preparing Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

Preparing fish maw for use in soups, stews, or Chinese dishes can take up to 3 days depending on the size and thickness of the fish maw.  In the video, I’m using thicker fish maw, so it took 2 full days.  In some soups, the fish maw are much smaller, so you can just boil as you would like any meats.

Day -2:  Blanch your fish maw in boiling water for 15 minutes.  I used a ceramic pot so I could just change the water in the pot rather than switch it around.  The Chinese are very particular about their ceramic pots versus metal based pots because of the potential metallic flavours absorbed by the food.  Once you have boiled it you can let it sit overnight.

Day -1:  Change out the water and replace the fish maw pot with room temperature water in the morning.  Then put in the fridge until evening (12 hours) and replace the water again for overnight (12 hours).   

Day 0:  Pour out the water and rinse the fish maw.  It should still be pretty rubbery and thick.  Cut into desired pieces for your dish.  You can even save them in portions in the freezer for up to 6 months. Enjoy!

 

Recipes that use Dried Fish Maw (or Fish Bladder)

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Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

I could not contain my excitement when I got my new Thermal Induction Pot! Check out the video above for the unpack and how to use it.

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

 What makes this pot so special?

  • Due to its engineered induction design, the pot itself will retain heat and continue to cook by itself
  • This pot doesn’t need power!  It’s 100% energy efficient cooking.  You’ll need to use the inner pot to cook on a stove to a boil for about 30 minutes before putting it into your thermal pot.
  • Easy to clean
  • The inner pot can be used with or without the external thermal base (use it like a normal pot)
  • They come in a lot of various sizes:  3L, 4L, or 5L is what I’ve seen available
  • Durable outer base
  • Safe to use

 Where to buy this?

  • In Hong Kong, there are many Japanese and Chinese brands available, such as Zojirushi, Tiger, and Thermos.  I’ve got a Zojirushi at home in HK and I love it!
  • In Toronto though, I could only find Tiger and Thermos physically in Chinese Appliance and Home Stores (check First Markham Place).
  • There are also limited options Online that are Tiger, Thermos, and SunPenTown.
  • Having used both Tiger and Zojirushi, they operate quite similarly and produce the same outcomes!

Thermos 4.5L Stainless Steel Thermal Pot

    Thermos 4.5L Shuttle Chef Thermal Pot

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      GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

      FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

      ON YOUTUBE

      ON INSTAGRAM

      ON FACEBOOK

      7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients

      7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients

      7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients

      What do you do when you move half way across the world?

      Rebuild my Chinese soup pantry!

      For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

      Check out the video for what ingredients I used for my basic Chinese soup pantry ingredients.  I keep these stocked all year round and constantly filled because that’s how useful they are!  You’ll find at least 2 or 3 of these in each of my basic soup recipes!  You can buy these at your local Chinese supermarkets or herbal shops.

      For the all ingredients shown here:

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      GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

      FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

      ON YOUTUBE

      ON INSTAGRAM

      ON FACEBOOK

      Quick Boil Chinese Soup Tips

      Quick Boil Chinese Soup Tips

      Quick Boil Chinese Soup Tips

      So I’ve had various enquiries as to what constitutes a great quick boil and what are some tips I use for quick boils. It started out as a conversation with a colleague who said “I don’t have time to make these old fire Chinese soups!”, and I thought, well… there is a whole repertoire of quick boils soups available, why don’t I show my readers some and demonstrate just how easy and simple Chinese soups can be?

       

      As a start, quick boil soups are soups that you typically can make under 30 minutes of boil, with 10-15 mins of prep time and is ready for immediate consumption.  Basically, you either have limited time or your stomach is demanding something quick.

       

       

      Here are some common ingredients used in quick boil Chinese soups:

       

      • Melons make great quick boil candidates (winter melon, bitter melon, fuzzy melon, even watermelon and honey dew can be used!).
      • Fresh leafy greens such as bak choy, choy sum, napa cabbage are easy editions. Leafy vegetables tend to fare better in quick boil soups rather than old fire (or double-boiled soups).
      • Those great (smelly) dried Chinese seafood you find at the wet mart or Chinese herbalists are excellent! These include dried scallops (or conpoys), snails, conch, octopus, squid (cuttlefish), shrimp and whatever else you can find are excellent flavour enhancers when needed on such short notice.
      • Dried Chinese vegetables such as Chinese mushrooms, monkey head mushrooms,  and dried bak choy are also great quick boil additions! You’ll just need to soak the first thing you do if you’re preparing this soup.
      • Ready to go meats such as preserved Chinese Ham, cooked beef, fish, cuttlefish balls that are ready-to-serve or even any leftover meats such as pork ribs, steamed pork patty, chicken wings can be thrown into a quick boil.
      • Tofu! Tofu is a delight to add to quick boil soups. Tofu balls, large tofu chunks, ready-to-serve-tofu, tofu slices, however you can find them – you can definitely use them! A great vegetarian protein addition.
      • Easy meats such as fresh chicken wings, drumsticks, breasts, or sliced beef are good – you can even use frozen ones and use room temperature water to thaw quickly by soaking them in the water and changing the water a few times.

       

      Here are also a few tips and tricks I’ve used for quick boil soups. Actually, I’d almost say they are critical to the success of the soup because you’ve got one constraint against you – time.

       

      • Use small cuts for everything – small cubes are best, especially for melons and vegetables such as carrots. Or go thin, like 2 cm thin slices of carrots, radish, mushrooms, etc..
      • Shuck corn if you like the corn separate, this will cook way faster. You can also use the cobs as part of the soup base.
      • Cut meats into smaller bite-sized pieces as well – they will also cook faster and as the water boils, it will release the flavours from more parts quicker.
      • Broths are your friends. If you need to enhance flavours, use chicken, beef or vegetable broth to boost the taste of the soup. Be sure to use MSG free ones.
      • Consider using the soup to help boil other parts of your dinner. For example, I will use the soup to boil broccoli for the children or choy sum for us. It’s a win-win situation!
      • If you’d like the soup to last a few days, you can definitely store leftovers in the fridge to be reheated up to 2-3 days later. I like making a bigger batch so I can consume later as to economize my efforts.

       

      Try any of these quick boil soup recipes

      Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

      Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

      Soup Name: Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese SoupFor more videos, visit us on YouTube.No time?  Cost saving?  Want something quick?  I've been making these quick boil Chinese soups for awhile now!  You can still make healthy and delicious soups without that...

      Chinese Winter Melon and Parma Ham Stew

      Chinese Winter Melon and Parma Ham Stew

      Soup Name:  Chinese Winter melon and Ham Stew Traditional Chinese Name:    For more videos, visit us on YouTube.I was inspired to make this soup one day when I walked by the wet mart and saw the vendor carving up this giant fresh winter melon and I thought,...

      Fish Maw Chicken Egg Drop Soup

      Fish Maw Chicken Egg Drop Soup

      Soup Name:  Fish Maw Chicken Egg Drop Soup Traditional Chinese Name:      For more videos, visit us on YouTube.In the Chinese repertoire of soups, there's a type of soup called a "gung" (羹) in Cantonese.   These soups are traditionally thickened with corn...

      Bitter Melon Soup with Corn and Pork Meatballs

      Bitter Melon Soup with Corn and Pork Meatballs

      Soup Name: Bitter Melon with Corn and Pork Meatballs Soup Traditional Chinese Name: 簡單菜湯 (Jiǎn dān cài tāng)  For videos, visit us on YouTube.I made this after work one day and managed to pick up fresh veggies and meat from the wet mart on the way home. Sometimes...

      Quick Boil Pumpkin and Corn Vegetarian Soup

      Quick Boil Pumpkin and Corn Vegetarian Soup

      Soup Name: Quick Boil Pumpkin and Corn Vegetarian Soup Traditional Chinese Name: 簡單菜湯 (Jiǎn dān cài tāng)What started as a simple vegetable soup, turned into an interesting mix of hot and cold vegetables because I could! The children had the soup warm, served with...

      Vegetarian Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes and Corn Broth with Orzo

      I know, the orzo doesn't make it very Chinese, but my family loves small-sized pasta that I decided to turn this soup into a solid meal for the children. This is another quick boil vegetarian soup that can be done in under 30 minutes. For my kids, I added pan-fried...

      Snow Pear and Dragon’s Eye Sweet Dessert Soup

      Snow Pear and Dragon’s Eye Sweet Dessert Soup

      Soup Name: Snow Pear and Dragon's Eye Sweet Dessert SoupOne day, in the thick of a winter evening, when all the children lay sleeping, I suddenly had this urge for something sweet, crunchy and hot.  No panic.  Taking a peek in the fridge, I found one giant snow pear...

      Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth

        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...

      Simple Vegetable Soup for Children

      Simple Vegetable Soup for Children

      Soup Name: Simple Vegetable Soup for Children Traditional Chinese Name: 簡單菜湯 (Jiǎn dān cài tāng)  At the last minute, I needed to stay home and make dinner - so while scrounging through my staple supplies of groceries, I found 3 simple ingredients to whip up a...

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      Vegetarian Lotus Root with Chestnuts and Carrots Chinese Soup

      Soup Name: Vegetarian Lotus Root with Chestnuts and Carrots Chinese Soup Traditional Chinese Name: 蓮藕栗子素湯 (Lián'ǒu lìzǐ sù tāng)  This is a great, earthy, slightly nutty light soup great for the whole family and vegetarian friendly! I'm using dried mushrooms to...

      Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

      When you want to go meatless, but don't want to trade off flavour!  For more videos, visit us on YouTube.There are so many options when you want to replace meats in Chinese soups!  I try to keep the flavour profile of the soup without compromising it with the...

      Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

      Soup Name: Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese SoupFor more videos, visit us on YouTube.No time?  Cost saving?  Want something quick?  I've been making these quick boil Chinese soups for awhile now!  You can still make healthy and delicious soups without that...

      What is Chinese ABC Soup? A Guide to Getting Started with Chinese Soups.

      New to Chinese Soups? Start here with a Chinese ABC Soup! Serves: 6 large bowls Prep Time:  15 mins Cook Time:  2 hours and 30 mins For more videos, visit us on YouTube.I get the question of "How do I start with Chinese Soups?" or "Chinese soups can be awfully...

      What’s the Best Chinese Comfort Food? Hot Homemade Congee!

      Growing up, I've had many variations of this watery Chinese porridge called "Congee" (aka, the 粥 in Chinese).   And all of them, are memories of home and comfort. I don't know what it is about this dish, but the simplest of ingredients, the white rice (there are also...

      Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

      Soup Name: Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese SoupFor more videos, visit us on YouTube.No time?  Cost saving?  Want something quick?  I've been making these quick boil Chinese soups for awhile now!  You can still make healthy and delicious soups without that...

      Homemade Do-it-yourself Wontons in a “Cheat” Chicken Broth

      Did you know that wontons literally means "cloud swallow" in Cantonese?  These little delights are like clouds and bite-sized enough to be swallowed in one gulp! For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Check out the video on how to create awesome wontons at home!   What...

      Turkey Chinese Congee (Porridge)

      Soup Name: Turkey Chinese Congee Traditional Chinese Name: 火雞粥 (huǒ jī zhōu) Introduction: What to do with a 19 pound turkey for a family of 6? Well, after carving it, you have more meat leftover than carcass and I’ve taken half of the carcass for congee and the other...

      A Do-It-Yourself Japanese Shabu Shabu Experience

      Check out this 2 part homemade broth and Japanese-styled shabu shabu experience!Serves: Party of 4-6 Prep Time:  30 mins Cook Time:  3 hours and 15 mins Eat Time:  Endless For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Check out the video on how to create an awesome and...

      Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

      I could not contain my excitement when I got my new Thermal Induction Pot! Check out the video above for the unpack and how to use it.For more videos, visit us on YouTube. What makes this pot so special? Due to its engineered induction design, the pot itself will...

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