Soup Name: Chinese Yam with Apples and Corn in Chicken Broth (with Ginger)
Traditional Chinese Name: 蘋果玉米淮山雞湯 (píng guǒ yù mǐ huái shān jī tāng)
A simple, clean chicken broth with just a hint of sweetness and a tang of spice (from the ginger). Depending on who your consumer is, add less or more ginger. For confinement, don’t be scared to throw it all in! This soup is easy to make, it’s got basic neutral ingredients and is great for the whole family!
What Ingredients are required?
1 fresh whole chicken, quartered 4-5 whole apples, cored and quartered 2 fresh corn, quartered 2 fresh pieces of Chinese Yam about 1 foot in length, peeling is optional, quartered 150 g of sliced fresh ginger (for confinement purposes) 2 L of water salt to taste How do I prepare it?
Clean, prepare and blanch chicken in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes
Set aside to cool
Wash, prepare apples, corn and Chinese Yam
Slice ginger thinly
Boil your soup water, when it boils, add all the ingredients together
Boil on high for about 30 minutes and reduce to a simmer for 1 hour
Serve and enjoy!
With ginger, it’s a slightly warm soup, but without it, it’s neutral
Pregnancy, confinement and child friendly
Sweet and fresh to the taste
Excellent source of Vitamins and hearty to eat
For children, go easy on the ginger because that can really spice up the soup!
Be sure to clean, peel Chinese Yam with gloves as the outer skin of the Chinese Yam can make your fingers itchy (if you opt to peel the skin)
Soup Name: Green Papaya, Fish & Dried Octopus Soup
Traditional Chinese Name: 木瓜魚湯 (mù gua yú tāng)
A popular and very common soup for confinement, but not limited to this special group of ladies. For confinement, you must use GREEN papaya (ie: raw, raw, raw – smoking green). The dried octopus helps in milk production as well as adding some flavor to the soup. Use small fish where possible (to limit the exposure to mercury) and setting the soup overnight in a thermal pot really helps bring out the flavors. You can make a big pot and drink for about 2-3 days (while reheating it). This soup generates a very rich, milky broth that is super nutritious, delicious and suitable for the whole family. Another key ingredient for confinement is the ginger – don’t discount the power of ginger!
What Ingredients are required?
100 g of ginger, sliced thinly 2 fresh fish, halved (for this recipe, I used 2 fresh Bartail Flatheads) 2 large green papayas 1 dried octopus, quartered
1 tsp of oil (to fry the fish & ginger) 2 L of water salt to taste
How do I prepare it?
Cut and soak the octopus in a bowl of warm water
Thoroughly wash and clean the fish
In a shallow pan on medium heat, add oil and ginger and when the oil is hot, add fish
Fry the fish with the ginger on both sides until golden brown
Remove from stove to let cool
Boil your soup water
Wash and peel papaya skin, cut into large edible portions
When the water boils, add in fish, fried ginger, octopus and papaya
Boil on medium heat for 1.5 hours
Put into a thermal pot to keep warm or for reboil later
This soup is rich vitamin C, carotenes and antioxidants
It is said to aid in milk production for breastfeeding women (use green papayas in this case)
Be sure to use smaller fish (not the tiny fish, but a foot in length is OK) as the larger the fish, the more mercury content
You can consider using a soup bag for the fish, although the little fish tend to stick together if you just halve it
Traditional Chinese Name: 木耳红枣茶 (mu er hóng zǎo chá)
This tea is posted as a post natal/confinement tea and is drank only within the first 0-5 days of confinement to help eliminate the lochia (not going to go into detail what lochia is, but please google it if you’re not sure). It’s a simple tea with 3 ingredients (the meat is optional if you’re vegetarian) and very easy to make. It’s a sweet, slightly tart tea and must be drank hot/warm. It’s one of the better tasting teas I know available for confinement! You can boil a whole big batch for 5 days worth, refrigerate and then reheat when needed or boil fresh batches everyday. It is recommended to drink 1-2 glasses a day (depending if you’ve got other teas or soups already filling your tummy!). Do not add additives like sugar or salt. Keep it clean, light and natural.
Traditional Chinese Name: 鮑魚清雞湯 (bào yú qīng jī tāng)
This soup is a powered up version of the Chicken Herbal Soup. Packed with the natural sea-sweetness of the abalones and herbs, it’s a great soup for the cold winter months or confinement. You can eat the abalone as whole pieces (usually the smaller ones are cheaper, but it’s still an expensive soup), or sliced thinly and dipped in soy sauce. Regardless, don’t waste the abalone! In addition, I know it says Chicken soup, but the Chinese commonly also add a small pork shank or pork bone to their otherwise known as Chicken and even Fish soups. You can’t get away from the staple pork.
Pig’s Feet with Ginger in Black Vinegar, Ginger and Vinegar Trotter Soup, Pig’s Feet and Ginger Soup
Traditional Chinese Name:
猪脚姜 (zhū jiǎo jiāng)
This is the ultimate traditional confinement food (or soup) in the Cantonese cuisine repertoire. This dish is so amazing that people eat it just for the taste and not for confinement.
It is consumed by men and women alike because it is flavorful and delicious. The ingredients aren’t the easiest to obtain and it is not a remotely easy dish to make, but during confinement (when the mother can eat a bowl a day), it’s worth it to make a large pot and give to friends. Traditionally, families will make large pots of this dish and give it out to friends and family to let them know that there is a new baby.
For more information on what confinement is and the Chinese ingredients associated with confinement, please see our Confinement Soups page.
Some things to note on the directions for this soup is that it’s more a guide, rather than a true recipe.
Since my mom is a pro at this, she doesn’t really follow measurements and simply makes it according to personal taste – so I’ve tried to adapt this recipe to that style.
Some prefer it more spicy (add more ginger), some prefer it more sour (add more black rice vinegar), some prefer it sweeter (add more sweet vinegar or brown sugar) or some prefer super hard boiled eggs (keep them boiling in the vinegar for at least 2 days).
Regardless of how your taste ventures, make sure you have a bit of spare ingredients to adjust the taste to your preference.
Prep time: 60 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins (for the soup)
Total time: 2 hours 30 mins
Serves: 10 bowls
1 whole pig’s feet, halved and cut into edible sections
Ginger is the highlight of this dish. That’s what makes it so potent, effective (to drive away the wind from the body), and gives it that little bit of spicy kick.
This part needs a good 1-2 days after you’ve purchased your ginger in bulk. Usually, when I see people buying ginger at the wet marts in bulk, we all know what’s cooking!
For this soup, the ginger pieces are kept rather large in chunks with their skin off. Once you peel the skin, don’t throw it out! For confinement, it is the perfect foot soak (or bathe if you’d like) for post partum.
Ginger preparation instructions:
Wash ginger and then leave to air dry for at least 1 day
Peel skin off ginger and dry both skin and peeled ginger (the skin is often used for bathing and soaking feet during confinement)
Cut ginger into large pieces
In a pan (or wok) on high heat with no oil, fry your ginger while stirring quickly for 5 minutes
Take out of wok and set aside
Preparing the Vinegar Soup Base
Be sure to use a clay or ceramic pot for these types of soups. Traditionally, that’s all they had back then and it does keep the flavour of the soup quite pure and can be stored in the pot and re-boiled as often as needed. In Hong Kong, the pre-made vinegar and even the soup itself are served, stored, and sold in clay pots. It becomes quite the workout to lug these things around!
In a large clay pot, add your sweet vinegar and turn on high heat until boiling
Add in prepared ginger
Reduce heat to low and boil (with cover) for an hour (until ginger is cooked)
Set aside until ready to add pig’s feet. I say this because during some confinements, people will have made the ginger-vinegar soup ahead of time in preparation for the birth of the baby.
Preparing the Pig’s Feet
There are also 2 parts to the preparation of raw pig’s feet. The first is to ensure the protein itself is clean and suitable for consumption. That means removing the hairs, the tougher parts of the skin, and the nails. The second part is to blanch it in boiling water. Interacting with the boiling water will immediately release all the insoluble protein, blood, bone bits, and fat, rendering it ready for soup production.
To remove the hair from the pig’s feet, you can either burn it off over a gas grill (with a hot flame) or using a sharp knife, scrape it off
Wash thoroughly in warm water
Half and cut the pig’s feet into edible sizes
Wash again in warm water (to remove the grits and bones)
In a pot of boiling water, blanch your pig’s feet for 5-7 mins
Preparing the Soup
When ready to eat, scoop out as much ginger-vinegar soup as you’d like to prepare for your portion of pig’s feet (so that you can continue to use, add more or keep your soup base)
Put into a smaller clay pot and apply medium heat until boiling. Add in blanched pig’s feet and black rice vinegar (to taste). The black rice vinegar will help soften the pig’s feet more. Add hard boiled eggs if desired.
Cover and boil on medium heat for 30 minutes (or until desired softness of feet).