My herbalist recommended I make this soup given the recent change of temperature and humidity. She actually only provides the “dried goodies” – see below – in terms of herbs. She will tell you that you additionally need a pork shank and chayotes to complete the soup. This soup is targeted to help reduce wetness in the body and aid with the dampness that comes with Spring in Hong Kong. It’s slightly sweet to taste, and surprisingly, my children drank it all!
Start boiling your soup water and immediately (while the water is still cold) throw in all the dried herbs (figs, honey dates, apricot kernals, lily bulbs, lotus seeds) 2. In a separate pot, blanch the pork shank for 5 minutes, drain and set aside 3. Once the water boils, add in cubed chayotes (with the skin on so it won’t completely disintegrate in the soup) and pork shank 4. Boil on high for 30 minutes 5. Reduce to a medium boil for another 1.5 hours (or put it in a thermal pot) 6. Salt to salt 7. Serve and enjoy!
It’s almost Spring time! Can’t you feel the warm sun on your face? Can’t you feel gentle wind without that bitter, cold bite?
Spring is a unique season – well, there are only 4 – so that’s pretty unique already. What makes Spring so different is one key thing (especially in Asia) – humidity. You can’t run from it – especially if you happen to live on an island in Asia or even South East Asia. And like all seasons in the Chinese circle of life, there are soups that are targeted for this season to help:
reduce moisture in your body
tone & strengthen Qi & blood
relieve heaviness in the head and body
For me, being a western-raised Chinese, the key is removing dampness (all the others aren’t as tangible to me). I can feel it in my blankets, in my bedsheets, on the walls and especially on my skin. To remove the “feeling” of dampness in my home, the humidifier is the next great thing after sliced bread in the Spring. I have 2 of these machines that run around the clock in my house to make sure that both my bedsheets and walls don’t start molding on me – it happens – especially given that I live facing a harbor. Spring is a great prelude to Summer, so I’m neither a hater nor a lover. So how do you deal with the dampness that affects the body? Drink soups – in great quantities.
Over the past 8 years living in Hong Kong, there are the same key soups that my meat, veggie and herbal vendors all tell me to make. Even the old ladies that I knock elbows with at the market tell me the same thing, and of course, my own mother. So it’s not coincidence that through generations of knowledge and teaching, the Chinese have narrowed down their soup recommendations for various personal and environment conditions.
There are always KEY ingredients associated with the Spring and you can mix and match the various vegetables and additives as needed for this season. You can also use a combination of pork, chicken and fish with the proposed “Spring” ingredients for variety.
Some Spring ingredients:
old cucumber – with its diuretic effect, it helps you urinate and release the moisture in your body.
adzuki beans – another natural diuretic, this ingredient can dispel both excess body moisture and heat. It also helps strengthen the spleen.
black eye beans – similar to adzuki beans in dispelling excess moisture from the body.
lentils – helps to also dispel moisture from the body and a great source of protein.
barley, job’s tears – another natural diuretic and used to promote urination and has mildly cooling properties.