The black one is less common, but is actually more powerful than its red counterpart in density of antioxidants per weight. They can be eaten both raw or dried and are amazing when used in Chinese herbal teas.
This ingredient is a must have in your Chinese soup pantry. It is used in soups, stews, porridge, sweet soups, teas and a variety of Chinese dishes. My mom will use this for most chicken soup stocks, especially during my confinement and quite frankly, these little things don’t taste that bad either, slightly sweet, slightly tart, with a bit of crunch from the seeds. I actually really do enjoy eating them!
What are goji berries?
Dried black goji berries are definitely not as common as red goji berries, but are becoming more mainstream as the product makes it way around the world (from the Himalayan mountains) and is being domestically grown rather than wild.
It is also known to be far more potent and carries greater antioxidant and healing properties than its red counterpart.
These black goji berries are typically used in Chinese herbal teas more than soups or stews. You can also find them in Chinese desserts.
How do you prepare them?
For use in soups, you can presoak or rinse in warm water to rinse any processing residue. I normally just drop them directly into soups and teas.
This is one of our families’ favourite macaroni meals – ever! It actually started as a grandma recipe and we’ve been enjoying it since I was a child and since my children were little kids. So this recipe has a lot of fond memories. There are also a few variations of this, such as adding sliced ham, or bacon, or eggs on top. Very similar to the HK-styled macaroni in soup that you would find in HK cafes!
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 6 bowls of macaroni and soup
2 fresh carrots, cubed
3-4 celery stalks, deveined and cubed
half a cabbage, sliced
6 dried red dates
10 dried shrimp
2 tablespoons of miso paste
1 teaspoon of chicken powder
3 cups of uncooked macaroni
4L of water
Boil your soup water
Prepare your vegetables by cutting up the carrots, celery, and cabbage
When your soup water boils, throw in all the vegeatbles
Add in the dried ingredients (red dates and dried shrimp)
Add in miso paste and chicken powder to taste
Boil on medium high for 30 minutes, covered
In a separate pot of about 3L of water, boil on high. I add a pinch of salt as salt lowers the boiling point of water.
When this water boils, throw in the macaroni and continue to boil until desired softness from macaroni
I couldn’t contain myself when I saw these amazingly cute fish cakes in Jusco Supermarket during our visit back to Hong Kong! These Japanese supermarkets are AMAZING! And when I was here a few years ago, they didn’t have the same selection of fish cakes, so I simply had to buy (and try) them all!
To be honest, fish cakes are fish cakes are fish cakes, but the appeal is definitely in how cute they can be presented. Even for an adult 🙂
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 2 bowls
Your choice of fish balls or fish cakes
2 packs of fresh udon
1 tablespoon of chicken broth
Fresh vegetables (I went with baby lettuce as they were super fresh here at the wet mart)
1L of water
Green onions to garnish
Slice your fish cakes as needed into the thickness you’d like. If you’re frying, I tend to go with 1-2 cm in thickness, but in soup, any thickness is fine as these are already all pre-cooked.
Begin to boil your soup water
As soon as it boils, add in your fresh udon to boil until it completely loosens in the soup (use chopsticks to get a sense of this, it should be separately in strands). If you’re using frozen, you may need to boil it longer until it softens.
Add in your fish cakes or fish balls. Let that come to a boil for another 1-2 minutes.
Drop in your fresh vegetables and bring that to a boil. I’ll let that flash boil and then remove it from the heat right away.
Serve, garnish, and enjoy!!
Making quick boil udon discoveries:
Fish cakes are made of fish paste (ground fish) and some flavoring (pepper, salt, colors), but they essentially all taste the same!
They are available in most of the Japanese supermarkets in Hong Kong only, I couldn’t find them in the local ones. There are different ones available, just not these cute cartoon characters (which makes part of the appeal!)
You can slice as much as you need keep the rest in the fridge or freezer. I will also pre-slice a few and keep a variety pack in the freezer to defrost if I want to make single portions of this as part of a meal.
The crab is a crustacean with a short tail and typically two large claws and multiple legs
Crabs often have hard shells, but there are species of soft-shelled crabs
The most edible types of crabs include: flower crabs, snow crabs , blue crabs, edible or brown crabs , Dungeness crab, and mud crabs
Crabs primarily come from the ocean, but there are crabs that are extracted from fresh water (most popular in Asia is the Shanghainese Hairy Crabs available around Oct – Nov of every year)
Crabs are used in various dishes across Chinese dishes such as stir-fried, with noodles, steamed, in congee, or in soup.
How do I prepare it?
The Chinese way is to peel off the shell (as quickly as possible) and then chop the crab down the middle in half ensuring it’s completely dead
Also remove the gills and brain (would recommend you google where these parts are) and then quarter them for congee. Don’t throw anything else – especially the jiggly, yellow, green, or orange “cream” – this is the best part and comes out into whatever dish you are making
You can rinse in warm running water if you’d like
Another way to prepare crab is to simply steam them in boiling water – or drop them in a pot of boiling water. This is if you want to eat the crabs as is.
Where can I buy this?
In Asia, especially in Hong Kong, the best and freshest crabs come from the wet marts (or supermarkets)
Be sure to buy the crabs that are moving and whole
If they are tied up, press right between their eyes and there should be movement, indicating they are still alive
You can keep them alive in water at home until you’re ready to cook them (or in the fridge)
What is the cost?
This really depends on the breed, size, location, and season
When I bought mine around Autumn, with a nice fresh water crab, they cost $100 HKD each (and not very large)
Crab meat is extremely low in fat and high in protein
Crabs are rich in chromium, which helps insulin to metabolize sugar, and thereby lowers the blood glucose levels in the body
Crabs have a healthy dose of antioxidants, which help help kill free radicals in the body (free radicals are what make you age)
Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids
The cream of the crab is extremely high in cholesterol and should be avoided by those who need to watch their intake
Don’t overcook the crab meat, this will destroy a lot of the vitamins and minerals contained within the meat
Be careful of the claws and potentially sharp points in the legs and head
When serving children, be sure to fully check for any sharp parts of the crab, especially if you’re making soup or congee, the parts of the crab will dissintegrate
Lobster is a popular seafood in Chinese cuisine. Traditionally, it can be fried with ginger and scallions, or for a modern take, Chinese restaurants are increasingly offering lobster cooked in a creamy cheese sauce atop a bed of tender egg noodles. As with most proteins, when you’re finished eating the actual dish, don’t toss the left-over bones or shells! Save them because they can be used to create a delicious soup instead. Lobster shells are the perfect base for a seafood broth, particularly the head which contains a lot of the rich creamy roe and flavours.
Soup Name: Lobster Broth
Traditional Chinese Name: 龍蝦湯 (lóngxiā tāng)
For this particular soup, we quickly devoured the meat of three small, boiled lobsters (we dipped the meat in salted butter of course) and carefully saved the shells, including the back, legs, claws and especially the whole heads. When making lobster broth, leaving the meat in the shells seems wasteful as I don’t feel the meat contributes that much flavour to the richness of the broth, so feel free to enjoy the meat separately first.
In the below recipe, stir-frying the ingredients first is optional — however I find it does help to bring out the flavours, particularly if the shells are slightly caramelized around the outside. Also, feel free to add carrots and other root vegetables to create a hearty, healthy meal.
As a tip, when making any seafood soup (or seafood dish), one of the key ingredients when cooking in a Chinese-style is to use fresh ginger. Not only does ginger add to the complex flavours of the seafood, it is also key because it cuts through any potential fishy tastes and smells.
The below recipe can be used stand-alone (as a soup), as the soup base for noodles, or it can also be poured on top of cooked rice to make a sort of lazy Chiu Chow-style congee. Enjoy!
Recipe Type: Soup
Serves: 6 bowls
2 L water
3 lobster shells (with head)
5 slices of ginger
1 garlic clove
1 small onion
1 stalk, spring onion
Salt to taste
Start boiling the water in a large soup pot
Stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger in 1 tbsp of cooking oil for 3 minutes until onions are soft (stir-frying is optional, but will help to enhance the flavours)
Add the lobster shells and spring onion and stir-fry for another 5 minutes (optional)
Put everything into the soup water (on high heat)
When the water is boiling, turn down the heat to medium and continue to boil for 1 hour.
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