Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year’s!!

Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!!

As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what’s called “New Year’s Cake”.  It’s basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and chewy.  These days, there are so many variations of this dish, such as coconut flavored, red dates, ginger flavored, and a range of colors that these cakes come in. 

The characteristics of this dish is defined by it’s shape as well as it’s name.  It’s round because when wishing people good health, fortune, and happiness, you want it to go endless (so it doesn’t end).  It’s name also implies “year high” in Cantonese, which means, wishing you a fruitful and boundless growth in the year.  

So don’t forget to enjoy this over the New Year’s!  It’s really only available during this time commercially, or you make your own.  This year, I had an Auntie give me a few batches.  I will be trying my own next time for sure time permitting!

 

Name:

New Year’s Rice Cakes

Traditional Chinese Name:

年糕 (nian gao)

This dish is sweet to taste and slightly warming

Visit us on YouTube for cooking videos.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 20 mins

Serves: 1 batch (5″ diameter) serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of sweet rice cakes (5″ in size)
  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 2 eggs

Cooking Instructions

  1. Cut up the sweet rice cakes into your chosen size (thickness and length).  I like square pieces because they’re easier to eat and handle when cooking, especially when they get soft!  I tend to use about 1/2 inch in thickness.
  2. In a bowl, scramble 2 eggs (use 2 eggs for a 5″ size, if you want to make half, use 1 egg)
  3. In a shallow pan on low-medium heat, add your butter until it’s melted
  4. Then swash the sliced sweet rice cakes fully in the eggs and lay gently on the pan
  5. Cook on low-medium heat until they soften and lightly brown and turn over and repeat until the cakes are soft and you can poke them (squishy soft!)
  6. Serve right away and enjoy!

Tips

  • use eggs to prevent them from sticking to each other
  • use butter (oil works) in a warm pan
  • low-medium heat max. It’s a slow cook, so allocate time
  • 2 eggs for 1 round 5.5″ rice cake
  • serve right away so it’s soft, this is best!

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Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Tea Name:

Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Traditional Chinese Name:

菊花茶 (jú huā chá)

This tea is sweet and sour to taste and cooling in nature.

Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.

Taking a moment?  Want something calming and soothing?  Try this sweet and sour chrysanthemum and roselle honey tea! 

I love the sweet tart flavour of this tea and the calming benefits it brings.  This tea is perfect for hot summer days, cooling the body if you’re feeling too heaty, and calming the spirit and mind.

It’s a yin enhancing tea, so if you’re feeling too heaty, unsettled, or too dry, you can take this to relieve the excess heat and also moisten your lungs and stomach.  

What’s involved?

Prep time: 2 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 7 mins

Serves: 2 cups of tea

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Add all the dried flowers together with the 2 cups of water and boil on medium heat for 5 minutes or until the tea begins to colour a beautiful dark pink (this is the the hibiscus flower color coming out into the tea)
  2. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the tea to cool before adding honey (as heat will destroy the nutritional properties of honey)
  3. You can add boiling water 2-3 times before the flavours run out (which is why I love these dried flowers)

Benefits

  • This tea is cooling and helps relieve heat in the body (excess yang or yin deficiency)
  • It helps calm and soothe the body and mind
  • Hibiscus is actually a hang over tea!
  • These ingredients store comfortably in room temperature for months.  Just be sure they are in dry conditions.
  • Both these dried flowers are very affordable and are commonly found in supermarkets, herbal shops, and even western herb shops
  • Honey is a neutral ingredient that is calming, relieves pain, and detoxifies the body.  Be sure to let the tea temperature drop a bit as honey loses its beneficial properties in hot temperatures.

  • Roselle, also known as hibiscus, is a calming and cooling herb that actually aids in coughs and hangovers!  It’s got slightly sour tones, so compliments nicely with honey.

Precautions

  • These are cooling ingredients, so if you’ve got yang deficiency, I would add a slice of ginger to balance it out

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HOW TO CHECK IF YOU’RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION?

I’m always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full blown experiment on my end.  I truly wanted to see if this was working!  And so I applied some learning from my Engineering background and took a stab at testing this theory.  It’s not an exact science and was something fun to try!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.

Why is blood circulation important to TCM?

Blood is a vital substance that circulates the in the vessels and carries nutrition throughout the body.  It is important in maintaining vital activities in the body, including nourishing and moisturizing it.

The circulation of blood relies on the pushing function of the qi.  This is why it’s equally important to have strong qi.  Blood and qi are like interconnected and interdependent.  Qi is the motivating source for the circulation of blood.

The better your blood circulates:

  • The more moisture and nourishments that travels to your organs, tissues, body, limbs, and mind continuously.
  • The more distributed our qi is because blood is the carrier of qi.  If our blood becomes collapsed and stagnant, so will our qi.
  • The more vigorous and lively we are because blood also carries oxygen.
  • The easier it is to stay warm (as body energy and warmth is generated from qi) and maintain good body function.

 

How to do a foot soak

The most basic is to simply soak your feet in warm water.  What my own Chinese doctor has suggested is to soak it until you break a sweat from your forehead.  At this point, you’ll know that the warm blood has worked it’s way up throughout your body enough to literally – break a sweat!

I was curious about testing time, so I’ve structured my foot soaks quite scientifically, but you don’t have to.  You can just soak until you feel that sweat and finish up.

What you’ll need:

  • A consistent source of hot (or warm) water
  • A comfortable place to sit
  • Some water (or drinks) to stay hydrated
  • A book or something to occupy your time
  • A towel (to dry off with afterwards)
  • A change of clothes or sweater (as you’re sweating, you’ll want to cool off gently)

If you’re testing time, add in:

  • A timer

Try foot soaks once a week!  It’s a great time to meditate and spend some “ME” time.

Ever wonder why you do a hot foot soak before you get a foot massage (in most Chinese spas)?

Click on the video below to hear about how I turned this concept into more of a science experiment (for myself) and how I knew I was improving my blood circulation.  A highly fascinating thing to try!

 

The teas and soups I drank to improve blood circulation

To improve blood circulation, there are a few soups or teas you can consider making to help you with this.  Keep in mind, the key principles and things to note are:

  • We want to encourage a more yang state in the body, which means more active and flowing 
  • To generate yang states, this is generally associated with consumption of warmer soups and teas (see below for the ones I was consuming)
  • If you’re feeling too heaty (excess yang), you can hold off on the warming ingredients and go with the neutral ones for improve circulation (or reducing stagnant blood)

 

Warming ingredients to help with blood circulation:

 

Neutral ingredients to help with blood circulation:

 

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White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

Soup Name:

White radish with mushrooms and vermicelli in Chicken Soup

Chinese Name:

白蘿蔔冬菇粉絲雞湯 (bái luóbo dōng gū fěn sī jī tāng)

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

Sometimes, I want something relatively easy and quick to whip up all in one-pot!  Make a bit of rice or noodles on the side and serve up this dish as a meal for your family.

This soup has got a healthy selection of protein and packs a volume of vegetables.  You can design the vegetable of your choice, and my family loves to eat siu choy (or napa cabbage), but normal cabbage, lettuce, also go well.

You can also be selective in your mushrooms.  I kind of just went with a whole bunch of fresh mushrooms from the supermarket such as fresh oyster, brown, and shiitake mushrooms.  Dried mushrooms also work well, but do need more time to rehydrate.   

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 30 mins

Total time: 45 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients
  • 3 chicken thighs
  • 1 whole white radish, peeled, cubed
  • mushroom selection (your choice, I went with fresh oyster mushrooms, fresh brown mushrooms, and fresh shiitake mushrooms)
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms (for flavour)
  • 1 pack of dried vermicelli
  • 2 small napa cabbage (or vegetable of choice) – something with a lighter taste (so the whiter / paler the vegetable is better)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried conpoys
  • 1 tablespoon of dried longans
  • 1 tablespoon of white miso paste
  • 3-4 L of water

 

Cooking Instructions
  1. Soak the vermicelli in cool water for at least 10 minutes
  2. Chop chicken into large pieces and in a shallow pan fry skin down (no oil as needed as a lot of the fat will be rendered out).  Fry on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, flipping as it browns.  The chicken doesn’t need to be thoroughly cooked as it will be going into the soup anyways, you just want the edges to be a nice golden brown with a crust.
  3. Boil your soup water.
  4. Peel and chop white radish into cubes.  Size is up to you depending on how much time you have.  The less time, the smaller the pieces should be.
  5. When the soup water boils, throw in the pan-fried chicken thighs and white radish and boil on high for 10 minutes
  6. You can drop in the dried mushrooms, conpoys, and dragon eyes (in this case, I don’t rehydrate the mushrooms as they need a good hour sometimes, so dropping them in directly is OK)
  7. Cut up your napa cabbage in small pieces and drop into your soup, along with your selection of mushrooms
  8. Continue to boil for 10 minutes on medium heat
  9. Drop in 1 tablespoon of white miso and stir it around to make sure it’s dissolved.
  10. Finally drop in the hydrated vermicelli and boil for another 10 minutes on medium heat, covered.
  11. Top with chopped green onions or cilantro for taste.
  12. Serve and enjoy!  You can add rice or noodles as part of the meal.

Some time saving tips!

  • You can pre-soak the vermicelli first thing in the morning.  This stuff stays pretty supple throughout the day and will only soften when boiled.  If you’re going to soak them, I’d suggest to also soak the dried shiitake mushrooms, too!
  • The quicker you want your soup to cook, especially the white radish, cut the pieces smaller.  I like larger pieces because you can fish them out, but smaller will help if you’ve got a time crunch!
  • You can replace the miso paste with a soy sauce soup base (with chicken broth) as well.  I don’t use any broth powder in this case as miso is perfect on it’s own!
  • Tofu is also a great quick cook ingredient to add if you want more variety.  All types of tofu!
  • Don’t be afraid to cook the chicken on HIGH heat.  Just make sure you monitor it and turn and rotate the chicken as it browns.  Remember, you don’t need to fully cook it, you just want enough of a beautiful crust and brown so it’s crispy and already bursting with flavours!

For videos, visit us on YouTube.

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How to Prepare for Sleep (with TCM Concepts)

How to Prepare for Sleep (with TCM Concepts)

HOW TO PREPARE FOR SLEEP

(USING TCM CONCEPTS)

Learn to prepare for better sleep and how you can transition your body and mind from a yang to a yin state as evenings nears and you’re preparing to go to bed. Learn some simply Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts and how to apply this to your lifestyle and life to create a healthier and more balanced life!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.

 

How to use this guide:

 

  • Some tips and tricks to help replenish yin and increase yin while yang recedes as part of our evening and sleep routines.
  • Do see a Chinese medicine practitioner as this information is not a replacement for a doctor.

 

Some applied TCM concepts to help:

  • Avoid yang enhancing (or warming) foods right before sleeping. This includes: spicy and fried foods, caffeine, herbs such as garlic and ginger, dong quai, or red dates. These foods increase yang and get your blood flowing, which is not what we want!
  • Allow the body and mind to come into a yin state. This means being in that calm, steady, slower flow so that it can really slow down. Don’t exercise before sleep or this heightens the yang in your body. If your mind is very active, like you’ve just had an argument, you were studying, or doing some work, spend some time to help it transition into a yin state by doing some meditating, breathing, counting sheep (now we know why we count sheep!), or anything to slow down the yin in the mind is helpful.
  • Reduce the temperature to allow for our body to transition into yin as yang recedes. As Yin is the cooler, slower state, a lower thermostat will allow our body to be in more yin and supporting deeper sleep.  Read more here on “Using TCM concepts in our every day lives“.

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

For further reading, I’ve found some more scientific and published articles.  Here are some to read up on: 

 

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Soup Name: Easy one pot cabbage and sukiyaki pork in soup for dinner This soup is slightly cooling because of the cabbage.   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Looking for a simple, healthy, easy-to-make Chinese soupy dinner?  I've found one! If you love napa...

Winter Melon with Chicken and Mushrooms Rice Soup

Soup Name: Winter Melon with Chicken and Mushrooms Rice Soup Chinese Name: 冬瓜雞湯飯 (dōng guā jī tāng fàn)   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Sometimes, you just want something simple, something warm, something soupy, but all-in-one.   There's a concept called...

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Tea Name: Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea Traditional Chinese Name: 菊花茶 (jú huā chá) This tea is sweet and sour to taste and cooling in nature.Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.Taking a moment?  Want something calming and soothing?  Try...

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

Soup Name: White radish with mushrooms and vermicelli in Chicken Soup Chinese Name: 白蘿蔔冬菇粉絲雞湯 (bái luóbo dōng gū fěn sī jī tāng)   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Sometimes, I want something relatively easy and quick to whip up all in one-pot!  Make a bit of...

How to Prepare for Sleep (with TCM Concepts)

HOW TO PREPARE FOR SLEEP (USING TCM CONCEPTS) Learn to prepare for better sleep and how you can transition your body and mind from a yang to a yin state as evenings nears and you're preparing to go to bed. Learn some simply Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts and...

GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

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Tips and Tricks for Making Amazing Chinese Soups

Tips and Tricks for Making Amazing Chinese Soups

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR MAKING AMAZING CHINESE SOUPS

There are so many little tips and tricks in the school of Chinese soup making that it’s incredible!  And, it seems that different regions in China also have different tips and tricks!  I love how there’s a wealth of knowledge out there waiting to be captured, shared, and loved by the next generation and by those who love making and drinking Chinese soups!

If you have any more tips and tricks, please share!  It’s always a wonder to learn these!

There’s no right or wrong in how to make Chinese soups.  The simple act of bringing together raw and dried ingredients to create a concoction of love to share with our friends and family is highly rewarding!

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring our love of Chinese soups to the world!

Here are a few videos on HOW-TO prepare certain ingredients:

 

There are so many interesting and unique ingredients that we see in the herbal stores, the specialty stores, and from our own Chinese doctors or at the wet mart.  I’ve often wondered, what is that?  Why do Chinese people eat it?  How do I even prepare it?  Along my journey, it was really speaking to so many people, being curious, and trying that I’ve figured it out!  I’m sure there are other ways to prepare it, I’ve heard a few techniques, so definitely try and see which one works for you!

EXPLORE MORE

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Tea Name: Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea Traditional Chinese Name: 菊花茶 (jú huā chá) This tea is sweet and sour to taste and cooling in nature.Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.Taking a moment?  Want something calming and soothing?  Try...

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

Easy One Pot Cabbage and Sukiyaki Pork in Soup for Dinner

Soup Name: Easy one pot cabbage and sukiyaki pork in soup for dinner This soup is slightly cooling because of the cabbage.   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Looking for a simple, healthy, easy-to-make Chinese soupy dinner?  I've found one! If you love napa...

Winter Melon with Chicken and Mushrooms Rice Soup

Soup Name: Winter Melon with Chicken and Mushrooms Rice Soup Chinese Name: 冬瓜雞湯飯 (dōng guā jī tāng fàn)   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Sometimes, you just want something simple, something warm, something soupy, but all-in-one.   There's a concept called...

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Tea Name: Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea Traditional Chinese Name: 菊花茶 (jú huā chá) This tea is sweet and sour to taste and cooling in nature.Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.Taking a moment?  Want something calming and soothing?  Try...

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

Soup Name: White radish with mushrooms and vermicelli in Chicken Soup Chinese Name: 白蘿蔔冬菇粉絲雞湯 (bái luóbo dōng gū fěn sī jī tāng)   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Sometimes, I want something relatively easy and quick to whip up all in one-pot!  Make a bit of...

How to Prepare for Sleep (with TCM Concepts)

HOW TO PREPARE FOR SLEEP (USING TCM CONCEPTS) Learn to prepare for better sleep and how you can transition your body and mind from a yang to a yin state as evenings nears and you're preparing to go to bed. Learn some simply Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts and...

GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

ON YOUTUBE

ON INSTAGRAM

ON FACEBOOK