How to make a Chicken and Coconut Chinese Herbal Soup (as frozen packs)

How to make a Chicken and Coconut Chinese Herbal Soup (as frozen packs)

How to make a Chicken and Coconut Chinese Herbal Soup (as frozen packs)

Soup Name: Warming Chicken and Coconut Chinese Healing Soup (as frozen soup packs)

Traditional Chinese Name: 椰子雞湯 (yē zi jī tāng)

Nature:  Warming

Taste: Sweet

You can follow this video first on “How to make Frozen Chinese Soups in bulk“.

 

The business case for making frozen soup packs in bulk!

This use case continues to amaze me!  Literally, this morning, I was like “I feel like soup” and I took out another one of these soup packs (this one to be precise because I made extra for me and my pescatarian friend) and tossed it into the rice cooker, topped up with water, added a few red dates and an hour later, had soup ready for lunch and dinner.

To start, I did a survey when I first initially created these for friends and the time saving is phenomenal.

On average, it takes someone 2-3 hours of time to make a Chinese soup (beginning to end with checking). Compared to using frozen premade soup packs using a rice cooker, it takes 5 minutes of work (and then 60 mins of no supervision) with an upfront investment of 2-3 hours to make 6 soup packs.  So on average, you are saving 14 hours of time over 6 soups.  The math isn’t perfect, but this was my best estimate based on answers from friends.  That’s HUGE!

    This soup is similar to a Warming Chicken and Coconut Herbal (Healing) Chinese Soup that I also made into frozen soup packs (except used corn as well).

    This soup pack is smaller than my average ones because I don’t have as many vegetables, and yet it packs the same delicious punch of all my soups!  

    If you have a wet vacuum sealing kit, you can consider adding the coconut water as well, which makes it deliciously sweet!  I ended up adding my coconut water into the fresh soup I was also making parallel to the frozen kits.

    Chicken and coconuts are great pairs in taste and a traditional soup in Cantonese soup repertoire.  It is often found served in Chinese restaurants and commonly made in Chinese households (especially in Hong Kong).

     

    What’s involved?

    Prep time: 60 mins

    Cook time: no cook time when preparing soup packs, but if I do cook 1 frozen soup pack in a rice cooker, takes about 60 mins

    Serves: 6 frozen soup packs (each with 2 servings) 

    Ingredients

    Note that this portioning makes 1 frozen pack of soup (that serves 2 people)

     

    • 1/4 rounded brown coconut flesh
    • 1/2 full chicken thigh
    • 5 frozen (or fresh or prepackaged chestnuts)
    • 6 dried red dates
    • 6 dried longans
    • 6 dried baby scallops
    • 6 dried wolfberries (or goji berries)
    • 1 sealable vacuum soup bag

    Preparing the soup packs

    1. Prepare your chicken thighs by cutting them smaller pieces
    2. In a shallow pan, you can pan fry the chicken on medium heat allowing the outsides to fully brown (there is a warning here that the chicken may not be fully cooked)
    3. If you’re using dried scallops, you can also optionally pan fry them on low heat with a bit of oil until they are golden brown to create a more fragrant taste
    4. Poke a hole and drain your coconut (you can watch this video on “How to prepare coconuts for Chinese soups
    5. Using a hammer in a safe place, break open the coconut and extract the flesh (I use these crab or seafood eating tools)
    6. Also measure out all the Chinese herbs into separate bowls, that way it’s much easier to distribute as you make your soup packs.
    7. Using your soup bags, stack your ingredients starting with the meat first and then I will sprinkle the herbs around the gaps in between and then the coconut on top, sliding them in between spaces as well
    8. Using your vacuum sealer, seal each pack and then freeze immediately for usage later.

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    Warming Sweet Yam with Ginger and Red Dates Dessert Soup

    Warming Sweet Yam with Ginger and Red Dates Dessert Soup

    Warming Sweet Yam with Ginger and Red Dates Dessert Soup

    Soup Name:

    Warming Sweet Yam with Ginger and Red Dates Dessert Soup

    Traditional Chinese Name:

    蕃薯糖水 (gān shǔ táng shuǐ)

    Nature:  Warming

    Taste: Sweet

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    Tips for an amazing sweet yam and ginger dessert soup:

     

    • I tend to use smaller cuts of sweet yam, about 1-inch cubes, because they are bite-sized and cook faster
    • Adjust your ginger accordingly.  The more you put in, the spicier it becomes.  When my girls were small children, I’d put less ginger, but now that they’re practically adults, I load on the ginger, especially during the winter and after their periods
    • Adjust your sugar as well based on taste.  You can also use brown sugar or cane sugar.  I’m not a fan of white processed sugar for this type of dessert soup because it doesn’t have that rich, golden flavour that the rock or cane sugar offers.
    • This dessert soup can keep in the fridge for a few days.  Just re-boil and serve and it’s just as delicious!

    This sweet dessert is traditional to Hong Kong and the Chinese.  Literally, in Cantonese it means “Sweet Potato Sugar Water”. The simplest form of it is found here, although variations can have different herbs and ingredients that make it far more unique.  It is a warm and heaty dessert (especially if you use more ginger) and said to be extremely nourishing and helps removes toxins.  I enjoy this dessert all year round and my children especially love it.  Keep the sugar and ginger content low if intended for children.

    What’s involved?

    Prep time: 5 mins

    Cook time: 30 mins

    Total time: 35 mins

    Serves: 6 bowls

    Ingredients
    • 2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes (can use any variety of sweet potatoes) – for this one, I went with the harder orange variety.  The skin and flesh are both orange.
    • 10 thin slices of ginger
    • 5 dried red dates, halved and cored
    • rock sugar (adjust accordingly to taste)
    • 2 L of water
    Cooking Instructions
    1. Start boiling your soup water
    2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into bite-sized cubes
    3. Slice ginger thinly (with or without skin) and drop into your soup
    4. Add in the dried red dates
    5. Cover and boil on medium for 30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft. I will use a chopstick to poke them, usually around 15 minutes on high heat will suffice.
    6. Add in your rock sugar and adjust taste accordingly.  I don’t like it overly sweet, so it’s really based on personal preference!
    7. Serve and enjoy!

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    Double-boiled Healing and Warming Chicken and Ginger with Red Dates Chinese Herbal Soup

    Double-boiled Healing and Warming Chicken and Ginger with Red Dates Chinese Herbal Soup

    Double-boiled Healing and Warming Chicken and Ginger with Red Dates Chinese Herbal Soup

    Soup Name:

    Double-boiled Healing and Warming Chicken and Ginger with Red Dates Chinese Herbal Soup

    Traditional Chinese Name:

    炖雞湯 (dun jī tāng).  This is the most generic soup name for a double-boiled soup (炖) chicken soup.  In general, when you use this term, it’s recognized as a healing, warm Chinese chicken soup, although the herbs may vary.  These are normally dense, highly flavourful, and packed with healing properties.

    Nature:  Very warm

    Taste: Sweet

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    Why the double-boil?

    Double-boiling is a common cooking method in Chinese soups, usually reserved for richer, deeper flavoured soups with more herbs and density in its nutrition.  It is served in smaller portions and normally contains chicken (and sometimes pork with the chicken) to enhance its flavour and density.  The idea of double-boiling is to allow a gentle heat without the velocity and bubbling of the liquid to disturb a gentle “coaxing” of the flavours out.  It’s a very deliberate (and long) way of cooking as most double-boiled soups require at least 3 hours of boiling. 

    Double-boiling itself will require a little more equipment instead of just one pot.  The double-boil is actually a pot within a pot.  The inner pot is usually made of clay, glass, or ceramic – something that’s NOT metal.  The outer pot can be anything that can hold the inner pot within it and enough water to cover at least half of the bottom of the pot.  What happens is the heat of the water then heats up the inner pot, which gently cooks the contents of the soup.  It will also never reach boiling within the inner pot because of heat transfer dynamics (oh, here we go again with thermodynamics).

    What’s involved?

    Prep time: 15 mins

    Cook time: 3 hours 

    Total time: 3 mins 15 mins

    Serves: 4 bowls

    Ingredients

    • 500 g of chicken breast (keep whole)
    • 10 whole dried red dates (pitted)
    • 10 slices of fresh ginger
    • 7-8 cups of cold water (average is 2 cups per bowl if you’re making individual portions)

    Cooking Instructions

    1. In your outer pot, fill with enough water to cover up to 3/4 of your inner pot in height (to maximize the surface area of heat that the inner pot is boiling in).  You don’t want the water to be boiling inside and spilling into the inner pot though, so this will take some experimentation with your equipment. 
    2. Begin to boil your outer pot on high heat while you prepare your inner pot
    3. Add in the chicken breast (whole), sliced ginger, and red dates and cold water
    4. Cover the inner pot and lower into your outer pot (doesn’t matter if it’s boiling or not).  I will lower it in before it boils actually as it’s easier, but some people do say to put it in boiling water.  You can read this exploratory article on whether to use hot or cold water for blanching meats to read the science behind it for meats. 
    5. Turn the heat up until the outer water begins to boil softly and keep it at the temperature for the next 3 hours.  You can check on the water to see if it it needs refill, making sure it remains 3/4 covering the inner pot for maximum cooking effectiveness.
    6. Once that’s done, you can scoop from the inner pot and serve and enjoy!  

    The back story to this specific soup is that it was designed to:

    • Increase yang deficiency and rebalance the body
    • Warm the body and improve blood and Qi flow
    • Support older women and men to harmonize yin and yang in the body (especially women 40+ and men 50+)
    • Reduce stress and relax the shen (spirit) 

     You can explore this article on “what it means to have cold hands and feet” and how this soup can help!

     

    Would love to hear if you have any further suggestions and thoughts in the comments below!

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    Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

    Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

    Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

    Soup Name:

    Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht (with oxtail)

    Traditional Chinese Name:

    羅宋湯 (luó sòng tāng)

    Nature:  Warming

    Taste: Savory, sweet, and slightly sour

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    Did you know the secret ingredient to an HK-styled Russian Borscht is Worcestershire sauce (and some lemon juice)?

    Falling off the bone oxtail?

    Soft delicious veggies?

    Savory and a hint of tart delicious broth?

    Yes, the Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht is a classically adopted fusion soup that is very different and uniquely different to the traditional European borscht (no beetroots or cream).  Instead, it’s a tomato based beef broth and a range of choice vegetables diced small. 

    I love the subtle tart flavours of the soup, but yet incredibly savory and hearty.  This soup indeed eats like a meal!

    What’s involved?

    Prep time: 30 mins

    Cook time: 120 minutes 

    Total time: 150 mins

    Serves: 8 bowls

    Ingredients

    • 1 full oxtail
    • Optional pieces of beef flank
    • 3 potatoes, peeled and largely cubed
    • 2 carrots, peeled and largely cubed
    • 2 celery stalks, peeled and largely cubed2 tomatoes, quartered
    • 1 onion, halved
    • 6 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 head of cabbage, slicked thin
    • 3 dried dates
    • Fresh green onions

    Flavouring

    • 1 small can of tomato paste
    • 1 lemon
    • 5 dried bay leaves
    • 6 black peppercorns
    • 2 tablespoons of sugar
    • 2 teaspoons of salt
    • 2 tablespoons or Worcestershire sauce
    • 11-12 cups of water
    • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

    Cooking Instructions

    1. In your soup pot, with a bit of oil on med heat, pan fry the garlic cloves and oxtails until golden brown and fragrant (they smell so good!).  I don’t blanch and will do this instead.
    2. Add the cubed beef flanks and potatoes, allowing them to also brown nicely
    3. Add in your soup water, about 11-12 cups of water and turn on high heat
    4. I will then drop in my vegetables, tomatoes, celery, onion, carrots, and the dried dates
    5. Cover and let it come to a full boil, then reduce to med heat for another 1.5 hours
    6. Here you can now add in the flavouring of the soup (this is what really makes it distinct as a the HK-styled Russian Borscht)
    7. I will also throw in the cabbage
    8. Cover and let that simmer for another 30 minutes
    9. Garnish with fresh green onions, serve, and enjoy!

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    GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

    FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

    Healing Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup with Fish Maw

    Healing Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup with Fish Maw

    Healing Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup with Fish Maw

    Soup Name:

    Healing Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup with Fish Maw

    Traditional Chinese Name:

    花膠雞湯 (huā jiāo jī tāng)

    Nature:  Warming

    Taste: Sweet and savory

    For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

     

    The star of this soup is FISH MAW.  This takes collagen to the next level! 

    This soup is packed with natural collagens that help retain moisture, firmness, and bounce in the skin.

    To make this soup, you’ll need to plan it a few days in advance because of the fish maw preparation.  I would suggest allowing 2-4 days to fully hydrate your dried fish maw.  This depends on the size and quality of the fish maw.

    A few tips for preparing your fish maw:

    • I like soaking them in a glass bowl.  That way, I can see it in the fridge when I open and close the fridge door as it soaks.  You can check for murky water, spots on the fish maw, and generally that it’s soaking cleanly as it should.
    • I use tap water (in Canada), although some people recommend using cold boiled water as it’s cleaner
    • After they’ve soaked, I will also flash blanch them in boiling hot water (after the water boils with my blanching chicken since I’m blanching anyways)
    • Cut the fish maw after soaking them.  They’ll be sufficiently soft.

     

    What makes this soup amazing?

    • For starters, it’s collagen packed!  Interesting fact though is that fish skin has more collagen than fish maw (according to this one study [source 1])!!!  I guess I’m going back to fish skin as an ingredient as it’s also way cheaper!
    • You don’t need salt or any other flavoring for this soup.  Don’t even think about adding chicken broth (I usually don’t for Chinese soups)!
    • This is a great soup base for other vegetables or additives should you choose to embark on this mission.
    • It’s a hearty soup which can double as a meal (just add rice!)
    • It’s PERFECT for postpartum, as it’s a warm soup with healing ingredients.

    For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

    What’s involved?

    Pre-work: 2-4 days to soak & hydrate the fish maw

    Prep time: 30 mins

    Cook time: 120 minutes 

    Total time: 150 mins

    Serves: 8 bowls

    Ingredients

    Cooking Instructions

    1. With the pre-soaked and re-hydrated fish maw, I will remove them from the fridge, strain out the water, and slice into 1-inch thick pieces (or however you’d like to eat them basically)
    2. At this time, you can prepare your chicken however you’d like.  I usually save the 2 breasts for a meal, keeping only the bones and thighs and feet.  
    3. In a separate blanching pot with cold water, add in as much water to fully cover the chicken and 2 slices of fresh ginger and add in your fresh chicken (there is much debate about whether to blanch in cold or hot water, but I have found it!  Incoming post!).  Use high heat to bring to a full boil.  You’ll begin to see the foam, debris, blood, and bones surface.  Just be careful it doesn’t overboil!
    4. As your blanching water comes to a boil, flash boil your sliced fish maw by dropping them in and fishing them out right away(just to be sure all the impurities are boiled out)
    5. At this point you can set your blanching pot aside and strain
    6. In your soup pot, add a teaspoon of oil and panfry a few slices of ginger with your fresh (or defrosted) abalone on med heat until they are golden brown.
    7. I will also throw in largely cut potatoes at this time and brown them a bit as well.
    8. Add your soup water and turn this on high heat
    9. Then add in the rest of the ingredients:  dried red dates, dried longans, dried sugar dates, dried Chinese Yam (or fresh), and dried scallops.  Cover and continue to boil on high heat for 30 minutes.  Once this is bubbling along nicely, I’ll reduce to a med high boil, still covered. 
    10. Boil for another 1.5 hours.
    11. At this point, you can drop in your prepared fish maw and let that boil for another 30 minutes on med high heat.
    12. Serve and enjoy!
    1. Cruz-López, Honorio et al. “Comparison of collagen characteristic from the skin and swim bladder of Gulf corvina (Cynoscion othonopterus).” Tissue & cell vol. 72 (2021): 101593. doi:10.1016/j.tice.2021.101593

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    Warming Chicken and Coconut Herbal (Healing) Chinese Soup

    Warming Chicken and Coconut Herbal (Healing) Chinese Soup

    Warming Chicken and Coconut Herbal (Healing) Chinese Soup

    Soup Name:

    Warming chicken and coconut herbal (and healing) Chinese soup

    Traditional Chinese Name:

    椰子雞湯 (yē zi jī tāng)

    Nature:  Warming

    Taste: Slightly sweet and savory

    For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

    Oh!  This soup!  It delivered – and more!!

    Warm with intense flavours of rich coconut and savory chicken, it really hits the spot when it’s cool (or cold) and you just want a warm blanket to hug you.

    I made a rather large pot in the morning and grazed on it all day.  As it continued to sit in its own broth and stew away, the soup became more and more intense and became a rich, earthy tone at dinner.  You can tell this by the colour of the broth.  SUCCESS!

    3 key things for this soup:

    • Don’t drink the coconut water!  Save it for the soup!
    • Use the smaller round coconuts  (brown fruit) instead of the traditional larger coconuts.  Their flesh is sweeter and so is the coconut water.
    • Pan fry the chicken thighs (rather than blanch) to give it a savory, toasted flavour to the soup. 
    What’s involved?

    Prep time: 45 mins

    Cook time: min 2 hours

    Total time: 2 hours 45 mins

    Serves: 6 large bowls

    Ingredients
      Cooking Instructions
      1. Prepare your coconut.  This means, poking holes at the top, drain the coconut water in a separate bowl.  Using a hammer, just smash smash smash the coconut to shreds.  Remove the outer shell from the coconut meat and cut into 2×2 inch pieces.
      2. Cut your chicken thighs into 3 pieces and in your soup pot (or a shallow pan), pan fry on medium heat until the skin and edges are crispy.
      3. Add in your water to your soup pot and set it on high until it completely boils
      4. Cut your cut into quarters and drop into the soup
      5. Drop in all the Chinese herbs
      6. Pour in the reserved coconut water
      7. Cover and boil for 20 minutes and then reduce boil to a medium simmer for another 1 hour and 40 minutes
      8. Taste, salt as needed, serve and enjoy!

      What I love about soup is that it doesn’t go from clear water to broth in the snap of a finger.  At what point does it make this transition?  Fascinating.

      Do you see how deep, dark, and rich that broth looks?

      The best thing about this soup post making is that you can eat it all!  The chicken thigh is falling off the bone, tender, and tastes like coconut.  I don’t even need to dip it in soy sauce like I do with pork shank.  The corn is bulbous and some of them are filled with soup.  I don’t even need to butter it!  And the coconut meat is soft, flaky and rich.  You can really taste the coconut flavours.  This soup was super nice.  I’ll need to make another batch.  The only downfall is that preparing a coconut is like going to battle – me vs the coconut.

      Here are some tips on using fresh coconut in Chinese soups! 

      • Reserve the coconut water (where possible!).  It’s delicious, sweet, and adds an amazing fragrance to the soup!  I ended up drinking one because I had 2.  LOL.
      • Use a hammer to smash it open.  I’ve seen people do it with a butcher’s knife (back side), but hammer works!  
      • Put a towel to absorb the impact of the smash underneath the coconut.
      • You can use a butter knife to cut out the flesh if it sticks to the shell.
      • Rinse the freed coconut flesh under water to remove debris, shell, dirt before adding to your soup.
      • Boil for at least 1 hour to soften slight, but coconut meat doesn’t really become that soft.  It’ll stay slightly crunchy and textured.
      • Don’t overcomplicate the soup with a lot of ingredients to allow the highlight of the soup (the coconut) to shine!

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