Dried Octopus

Ingredient Name: Dried Octopus

Traditional Chinese Name: 章魚幹 (Zhāng yú gàn)

What is this?
  • This is basically the dried preserved carcass of a small octopus (an eight-legged mollusc that lives in the ocean)
  • It is prepared by sun drying them with salt
  • It is salty and slightly “fishy” in taste with a rubbery and hard texture
  • Commonly used in soups, stews and other Chinese dishes (usually sliced very thinly)

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage and soak in warm water for about an hour to soften it
  • For soups, you can cut them into thin slices (for consumption) or simply half it

Where can I buy this?

  • Readily available at most Asian supermarkets (packaged)
  • Definitely available in Hong Kong wet marts (sold in the dried food vendor stalls)

What is the cost?

  • Very affordable
  • One average-sized octopus (as picture above) cost me around $30 HKD
  • The prices do vary depending on size, breed and availability

Any benefits?

  • This is a perfect ingredient for soups as it is makes the soup extremely tasty (without adding salt)
  • Octopus is rich in calcium, phosphorous, and iron
  • It aids in the prevention of anemia, relieves fatigue and restores eyesight and improves liver functions

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to purchase from a reputable source
  • Sometimes the octopus is really salty, so if you want to reduce the saltiness, soak in warm water for a few hours
  • Dried octopus is high in cholestorel
  • People who are allergic to shellfish may be allergic to octopus

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place (up to 3 months)
  • You can freeze them as well for longer storage (up to 6 months)
  • This is a similar ingredient to the dried cuttlefish, both are prepared and used in a similar fashion


American Ginseng Heat Reducing Soup

Soup Name: American Ginseng Heat Reducing Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 旗參海底椰理氣降火湯 (Qí cān hǎi dǐ yē lǐ qì jiàng huǒ tāng)


This soup is great for reducing internal heat where you may have sore throat, canker/cold sores, sore muscles (from the fire in your bones) and overall heatiness in your body.  It’s not actually particular to any season, but more to a condition of the body caused by illness or circumstances.  It is healing for the throat, lungs and respiratory system and eliminates unwanted heat.

What ingredients are required?

chicken (whole), skinned and quartered
2 g of dried American ginseng, sliced
10 g of dried lady bell root
15 g of lucid asparagus root
2 g of mulberry root
15 g of malt
80 g of pearl barley
5 honey dates
30 g dried mussels
1 large piece of dried tangerine peel
20 g of soloman’s seal
2 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Rinse and soak for 10 minutes all the herbs (everything except the Chicken)
  2. Boil your soup water
  3. Prepare chicken and in a separate pot of boiling water, blanch your chicken for 5 minutes
  4. Rinse again the herbs in cool water
  5. When soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
  6. Boil on high heat for 30 minutes and reduce to a medium boil for another 1.5 hours
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Helps reduce heatiness and internal fire from the body
  • Excellent for the respiratory system
  • Helps nourish the lungs, assist with cough and soothe the throat (especially sore throats)

Any precautions?

  • It is a slightly cooling soup, so take with precaution when in your first trimester of pregnancy
  • Be sure to purchase herbs from a reputable source


American Ginseng

Ingredient Name: Ginseng, American ginseng, panax ginseng

Traditional Chinese Name: 花旗參 (Huā qí cān)

What is this?
  • The brownish-beige ginseng is commonly grown in the United States (hence the name)
  • It produces a strong bitter, “golden” flavor
  • This ginseng is available in various forms such as whole, shredded, powdered, and in teabags
  • American ginseng is said to be a cooling agent
  • Ginseng is used in Chinese herbal medicine, soups, stews, stuffed in foods, as tablets, in skin care products, teas, desserts and many other uses

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • High quality American ginseng can be purchased from your local herbalist
  • It is sometimes also available in Asian supermarkets in both shreds or whole

What is the cost?

  • The cost of American ginseng varies depending on the size, age and rarity of the Ginseng species

Any benefits?

  • Ginseng is said to promote blood circulation, prevent fatigue and strengthen the body’s immune system
  • American ginseng is said to aid in menopausal women with “hot flashes” and help regulate menstruation and reduce PMS (although not to be taken during menstruation as it is cooling and will cause contractions)
  • It is also a good fever reducing agent
  • This type of ginseng also helps in loosening a dry, hacking cough
  • Mixed with honey and hot water, it makes for a great sore throat “tea” as it is soothing and helps cool the body and throat

Any precautions?

  • Not recommended for people with weak stomachs
  • Use in moderation
  • American ginseng is a cooling ingredient and should be taken with precaution during pregnancy and during menstruation
  • As it is cooling, reported side effects are headache and insomnia
  • Be sure to purchase ginseng from a reputable source as there are often replicas and lower grade ginseng sold at a higher price

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place
  • Ginseng can be stored for many years
  • Some very expensive ginseng are kept as a whole root (the bigger, the better) and stored in a liquid to preserve it

Other references

Mussels (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Baby Mussels (dried)

Traditional Chinese Name: 青口幹 (qīng kǒu gàn)

What is this?

  • A dried and processed type of salt of fresh water shellfish of the clam family with elongated shells
  • The shells are often black, brown, beige in color and are found without the shells when they are used in soups
  • The mussels used in these soups are smaller in size
  • Dried and prepared mussels are more commonly used in Chinese soups than fresh mussels (which are not common at all)
  • Dried mussels are also used in various Chinese dishes along with black moss
  • They are often tougher in texture than their relative clams and to some are an acquired taste

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in water for 10-15 minutes and rinse before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • You can buy dried mussels at supermarkets, wet marts or Chinese herbalists
  • Canned, processed mussels can also be used for soups – which are available at supermarkets

What is the cost

  • The prices vary depending on size, breed, availability and whether they are imported or organic

Any benefits?

  • Mussels are an excellent source of B12, Selenium, Zinc, Iron and folate
  • They are also an excellent source of protein
  • Compared to meats, they have less fat
  • They are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (which help reduce heart disease)

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to buy from a reputable source
  • Dried and processed mussels should have a salty, fragrant smell to them so be sure to take a good whiff before purchasing (this is more common to the bulk buys available in Asian markets)

Additional Information

  • Dried mussels can be kept frozen for up to 6 months (and taken out when needed for soups)
  • Dried mussels can also be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months in a sealed container
  • Keep mussels in a dry environment



New milestone of 100K pageviews per month!

I just want to happily broadcast that TheChineseSoupLady.com is now enjoying (for the first time) over 100K (yes, one hundred thousand) pageviews per month with October 2011 being the first month and November steadily on target to go beyond that!

I’ve taken a screen shot of the statpress plugin for my blog from my admin panel and was thrilled to see the stats today while posting a new soup.  I don’t have that much time these days to religiously follow the statistics, but it is always a pleasant surprise to see the statistics improving steadily (in every way).  I am still crunching away at trying to get my cookbook published and am happy to update that I have signed with an agent in the US.  We will shortly be reaching out to publishers to cast my net and see where the voyage will take me.

In all honesty, I didn’t realize that with 1 single passion, some free time, and a load of perseverance, that I would be where I am today.  Thank you to my supporters and readers.  Thank you to my family for helping me realize my dreams (in this arena) and this is the start of a great journey yet to be completed!!  WAHOO!!