Shimeji Japanese Mushrooms

Shimeji Japanese Mushrooms

Shimeji Japanese Mushrooms

Ingredient Name:

Shimeji Mushrooms

Traditional Chinese Name:

日本蘑菇 (rìběn mógu)

Video on “How to Prepare Mushrooms for Chinese Cooking” on YouTube. 

  • This is a mushroom native to East Asia and is a group of mushrooms which are widely cultivated
  • There are a variety of mushrooms that belong to this family (Mycorrhiza, Saprotroph, Hatake-Shimeji)
  • As a raw mushroom, the taste is slightly bitter
  • The texture is firm and slightly crunchy with a slightly nutty flavor when cooked (which ultimately translates into the soup taste)
  • Commonly used in stir-fried foods, soups, stews and sauces
  • This is also available as a dried product where you’ll need to rehydrate before usage

How do I prepare it?

For fresh shimeji mushrooms, cut off the stems where the bunch begins to grow, rinse in cool water, and use directly as is.  Be sure to be using fresh shimeji mushrooms.  They should be firm and dry to feel.  You’ll know they’ll begin to outlast their shelf life when they either dry out, shrivel and become wrinkly, or have a wet film around them (which is a sign they may begin to mold).

For preparing and using mushrooms, both dried and fresh, you can watch our video on “How to prepare and use mushrooms in Chinese cooking“.  

There’s also an amazing section below on preparing and using mushrooms as a meat substitute.

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • You can purchase these from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged (dried shimeji mushrooms)
      • They are also sold fresh in supermarkets and wet marts
      • You can also purchase this in bulk from specialty stores (online herbal shops)
      • Be sure that you’re buying from a reputable source
      • These mushrooms aren’t very expensive at all!  For a pack of 2 bunches, they cost $3-4 CAD.

Any benefits?

      • Shimeji mushrooms are amazing source of fiber, including Vitamin B
      • They are known to contain equivalent amounts of amino acids as meat, making them great substitutes for meat
      • The taste of dried shimeji mushrooms are acquired, but pack a punch in flavour when added to soups and stews
      • They are immune boosting and have antioxidant properties
      • You can use these in a variety of soups and stews and can be found in many recipes

Any precautions?

      • Be sure you are buying these from a reputable source as there are cases where they are fake

      • I like to soak them and then rub them a bit to ensure they’re clean.  This is to remove any potential drying agents or additives that are added as part of the drying process.

      • Be sure to soak them for at least an hour until they are soft or they’ll be hard to digest

Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?

Check it out in my video to learn more!

 

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White Peony Root

White Peony Root

White Peony Root

Ingredient Name:

White peony root, Chinese peony, Bai shao yao, Paeonia lactiflora

Traditional Chinese Name:

白芍 (Bái sháo)

This ingredient is neutral in nature and bitter and slightly sour to taste, targeting the liver and spleen.

 

Looking to start your Chinese soup pantry?  Watch this video on “The 7 basic Chinese soup pantry ingredients“.

 

This root is moderately common in making Chinese soups and herbal teas in Traditional Chinese medicine.  It has strong tonifying effects, particularly on the blood and is a neutral ingredient that has slightly sweet tastes.  

How do I prepare it?

    White peony roots are the roots of the white peony flower.  They are typically harvested when the flowers are 3-4 years in maturity and cut, boiled, dried and cut into 3-4 inch lengths as part of the processing.  These roots are typically white to beige in colour.
    To prepare white peony root for soup or herbal tonic usage, you just have to soak and rinse under cool water to wash it or any preservatives.  I tend to soak in cool water for at least 30 minutes and allow anything to seep out and then drop directly into your pot of soup.

Where can I buy it?

      • In most wet marts in Hong Kong

      • Available in your Chinese herbalist or Chinese medicine store
      • I’ve also seen this readily available in bulk packages as Chinese supermarkets

What is the cost?

      • Relatively affordable and common Chinese medicinal ingredient

      • As pictured above, 5-6 sticks cost around $5-8 HKD

Any benefits?

      • As the blood is stored in the liver, this Chinese herb supports Qi and blood tonification
      • Ideal in treating pain associated with menstruation and cramps
      • Often treated with hot flashes when mixed with calcium (so ideal for menopause)
      • Nourishes the “yin” of the body

Any precautions?

      • Be sure you are buying this ingredient from a reputable source

Looking to start your Chinese soup pantry?  Watch this video on “The 7 basic Chinese soup pantry ingredients“.

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Ginger Peel (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Fresh Ginger Peel (Dried)

Chinese Name: 薑皮 (jiāng pí)

I am writing about the ginger peel specifically because while normal people don’t use the skin very often, the Chinese highly value this “by-product” when it comes to confinement.  It is commonly used for bathing purposes (either literally soaking the ginger peel in water and then rinsing your body with it or soaking your feet).  What normally happens is that ginger is purchased in bulk (huge, huge amounts for confinement – especially the pig’s feet in ginger dish) and none of the ginger is wasted.
Peel the ginger in its entirety.  The peel is dried, while the ginger itself is cut up and used in various dishes and soups and stews.  For me, I am not a heavy believer of washing my body in ginger peel water, but did end up soaking my poor sore feet.  The tradition falls back to historical (pre-electricity) Chinese confinement practices.  Back in the days, after a woman gave birth, she was susceptible to virus, bacteria, disease because of the weakened condition of her body (for more information, you can do some leisure reading on the confinement practice).  Ginger, being a heaty ingredient, enabled her body to stay and keep warm.  Which is why she pretty much lived, consumed and breathed ginger.  This also accounts for the reason why women were not allowed to wash their hair for a period of time after child birth – very likely because back then, drying the hair increased her risk because at some point, her hair would become cold (especially in the winter).  Well, these days, we have the handy hair dryer and for those in colder climates, the benefit of a heating system – so the question is, do these traditions still apply?
Regardless, some traditions hold true and strong.  My mother argues that the Chinese have thousands of years of history behind it and that as a western raised girl, I shouldn’t discount the power of generation-passed knowledge.  Which is partially why I write and blog about everything I learn, because this is something I want to pass to my children eventually.  Whether they take it with a grain of salt or think I’m off my rocker is a whole other story….

So to end this post, you’ll find within thechinesesouplady.com, we’ve got a host of information on confinement.  That’s because collectively as a group of sisters, we’ve gone through 6 confinements personally and spoken to more sources than we can count on the practice.   Veggie vendors, meat vendors, herbalists, the neighbor, your child’s classmate’s grandmother – everyone has a say and angle on confinement best practices and approaches.  So please enjoy our collection of confinement soups and best practices.

Snow Pears (Dried)

Snow Pears (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Snow Pears or Pyrus Nivalis (dried)

Chinese Name: 雪梨幹 (xuě lí gàn) or 梨干 (lí gàn)

This is a great natural additive to any soup or drink, although it is more commonly used in drinks rather than soups.  You can do a combination of dried or fresh snow pears in both soups and drinks and this is almost a great staple to have “just in case” you feel like making a soup but the stores are closed or it’s a typhoon or snow storm.  And of course, no one is to stop you from eating it if you’re in dire hunger.

What is this?
  • An edible fruit grown from pear trees
  • It is usually round and found to grow well in cooler temperatures
  • The snow pear is often firm in handling and is often associated with being on the more sour and tangy side of taste
  • Snow pears are known to be a “cooling” fruit
  • It is often dried with the skin and seeds and dried in disks the size of diameter of the pear

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash the dried snow pears in warm running water
  • Use directly in soups and drinks

Where can I buy this?

  • Commonly found in wet marts in Hong Kong from the herbalist or dried food vendor
  • It is sometimes available in packages in supermarkets (although more as a snack than as an additive to soups or drinks)

What is the cost?

  • Dried snow pears are very affordable costing around $1-2 HKD for 2-3 slices

Any benefits?

  • Pears have 0 fat and provide a healthy intake of natural sugars
  • Pears are also packed with Vitamin A, C and E1
  • They contain excellent amounts of copper and potassium and are packed with carbohydrates
  • Pears also are the least allergenic of all fruits and is often found as a first foods for babies
  • They are said to assist with the lower of cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Pears are excellent laxatives due to their high fiber content

Any precautions?

  • Pears, especially Snow Pears, are known to be a “cooling” food
  • Women who are pregnant or menstruating should take caution when consuming Snow Pears

Any substitutes?

  • “Crystal” pears can also be substituted for Snow Pears in soups
  • Apples are also an ideal substitute

Additional Information?

  • Dried Snow Pears store very well in a sealed container
  • They can be kept in refrigeration for up to 3 months
Sea Snail (Fresh)

Sea Snail (Fresh)

Sea Snail (Fresh)

Ingredient Name:

Sea Snail, Conch, Gastropod

Traditional Chinese Name:

螺 (luó)

This is a cooling and sweet ingredient.

 

Another one of those ingredients that you don’t really see in soups growing up as a child – unless you happen to eat it, which our family did not.  It’s actually just as common to use the dried sea snail in soups (which are said to be more flavorful).  The meat itself doesn’t have much flavor, but like pork shank or pork bones, simply dip in a bit of high quality soy sauce and it’s pretty delicious.  The one thing I discovered while on my soup making adventure is that some ingredients cost a fortune!  So while some soups can eat out of your pocket, there are many that are economical.  Yes, that’s the concept of all Chinese cuisine right?

Just like all seafood, the conch is a cooling ingredient across the Traditional Chinese Medicine spectrum.  

 

How do I prepare it?

 

    I talk about how to prepare this ingredient in the soup “Recovery Herbal Soup”.  I’ve used both dried and frozen conch here, so great references if you’re looking to use this in your own soups!
    To prepare the dried conch, simply soak in cool water until it soften, or you can drop directly into boiling soup water.
    For fresh conch, I will definitely blanch them and give them a little scrub-a-dub before using them in soups.  The opportunity here is that fresh or frozen conch also make amazing side dishes (that could parallel abalone, I’d say) when dipped with soy sauce!

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • You can buy fresh conch at most Asian supermarkets (they reside in the live tanks in Chinese supermarkets)
      • Frozen conch is definitely available in the frozen sections and cost for 1 conch is about $12 CAD
      • Fresh sea snail or conch costs around $100-120 HKD in wet marts depending on size and breed
      • Did you know that abalone is actually a type of sea snail?  These are the expensive kinds!

Any benefits?

      • Sea snails are great additions to soup as the add that little bit of salty, seafood flavour and compliment the main protein quite nicely (such as chicken and pork)
      • Great protein that is low in fat
      • You can eat them as part of the meal.  I’ll usually cook it as a whole and then remove from the soup and slice it up to be served before service.
      • According to Traditional Chinese medicine, sea snails are nourish the Yin and the kidneys and to improve eyesight

Any precautions?

      • Be sure to thoroughly clean fresh conch or sea snail before boiling them

      • If you’re buying them whole, you may need to crack the shell yourself (but the seafood vendor may also do it in Asian supermarkets and wet marts)
      • You’ll want to only keep the centre, fleshy part of the conch (not the ends or guts or stomach) as the primary portion to consume, but actually all of the conch is edible

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Wood Ear

Wood Ear

Wood Ear

Ingredient Name:

Wood ear, cloud ear, tree ear, black fungus

Traditional Chinese Name:

木耳 (mu er)

Nature:  Neutral

Taste:  Sweet

Benefits:

  • Lowers blood pressure and alleviates hypertension
  • Tonifies and nourishes blood and Qi
  • Moistens lungs and eliminates cough

Here’s how to build your “Basic Chinese Soup Pantry

This is one of those ingredients that is definitely an acquired taste and appreciation.  As a young girl, anything black and strange looking is something that I don’t touch or explore, but as I got older and tried the in soups, stews, dishes, and appetizers, I have grown into a beautiful fondness for this wood ear fungus!

The wood ear is an edible fungus that is used in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, but more western cuisines recently.  It’s often found in soups, stews, sitr-frys (with other vegetables), vegetarian dishes, and appetizers (taken cold and often soaked in a vinaigrette).  

It has a light, earthy flavor and a slightly crunchy, spongy texture and never seems to get completely soft (which makes it such a great ingredient because it doesn’t disappear!). When cooked with other ingredients, it is great at absorbing the flavors around it.

How do I prepare it?

      • Soak for at least 30 minutes in warm water (it will expand to many times it’s original size)
      • Trim any tough or gritty parts off
      • Rinse and it is ready for use
      • Here’s a video on preparing a wood ear appetizer and you can follow how to prepare wood ear

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • You normally buy wood ear fungus as dehydrated hard mushrooms, that come in a dark brown or black colour (with some some silver linings in some breeds)
      • Depending on the breed, it comes in all various sizes (some as small as quarters and as big as the size of your palm)
      • You can purchase these from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged
      • You can also purchase this in bulk from specialty stores (online herbal shops) – both loose and prepackaged
      • Be sure that you’re buying from a reputable source
      • The cost of wood ear fungus is not very expensive.  A 150g bag can cost around $11 HKD or around $3 CAD.

How to prepare it?

      • The most basic way to prepare wood ear mushroom is to rinse under cool water to rinse off any dirt, preservatives
      • Soak them fully in cool water (fully submerged)
      • You’ll know they’re fully hydrated and ready to use when they feel slightly squishy, but can fold and bounce back into its hydrated shape
      • And if you can slice with a knife through the wood ear, it’s fully hydrated

Any benefits?

      • Wood ear is one of the key ingredients from my herbalist and Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor to support lowering and managing blood pressure as well as alleviating hypertension
      • Helps tonify and nourish the blood and Qi
      • Targets, moistens, and supports the health of the lungs
      • Helps relieve cough (especially long-term cough)
      • Is also a good source of collagen and anti-aging

Any precautions?

      • Generally safe for consumption

      • They aren’t the easiest to digest

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Tea Name: Warming Healing Mandarin Chinese Herbal Tea Traditional Chinese Name: 保暖茶 (bǎo nuǎn chá) – direct translation here is “keep warm tea”. This is a very generic name for teas that keep you warm. Nature:  Warming Taste: Sweet and slightly bitter (You can read...

How to make an Apple Cinnamon Chinese Herbal tea for Eliminating Damp-Wind and Damp-Heat

Tea Name: Apple Cinnamon Chinese Herbal Tea for Eliminating Damp-Wind and Damp-Heat Traditional Chinese Name: 蘋果祛濕茶 (píng guǒ qū shī chá) – direct translation here is “apple remove damp” tea. There are many damp removal Chinese herbal teas and this one blends flavours...

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