Fresh Dates

Fresh Dates

Fresh Dates

Ingredient Name:

Fresh Red Dates

Traditional Chinese Name:

红枣 (hóng zǎo)

 

Ah!  The sweet crunchy crunchy of little fruit, bursting with juices and sugars.  This is definitely not your traditional Chinese soup ingredient, but I walked by a vendor this morning who insisted I try them with soup!  She knows I’m always on the look out for new and interesting ingredients, so she suggested this sweetish, fruity soup paired with pork shank for the family.  I’d never thought to use fresh dates, but this is a unique find indeed!  The seeds are not easy to extract, so I kept them in.  They aren’t are fiery as their processed cousins, the dried red dates, because of how they are processed.  And, you can eat them raw!  If you happen to chance across this during your shopping, try them!  A great pairing with the snow pear!

What is it?

  • A small, round, red, seeded fruit (in its mature state) produced by date palm tree
  • When eaten raw, it’s got a sweet almost apple like taste with a crunchy texture
  • Commonly found in Asia, some parts of Europe and India
  • In Chinese cuisine, the dried dates can be found in both salty and sweet dishes, in soups, as dried snacks and in teas
  • Fresh dates aren’t so common in soups and are quite seasonal, so be sure to check availability

How do I prepare it?

      • Rinse and wash under cold water before usage to remove dirt and grim
      • You can remove the seeds similar to apples, but you can also slice (as shown) and use in soups
      • You don’t need to peel the skin, they can be eaten with the fruit
      • Suggest to cut and slice only if you’re going to use them, else you can keep them in the fridge for a week (similar to apples!)

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • You can purchase fresh dates from any supermarket or your local wet mart

      • They are seasonal fruits and usually available in late September

What is the cost?

      • Fresh dates cost around $12 HKD for a pack of 8-10, this will vary on season and vendor

Any benefits?

  • Red dates are known to assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure and assist the stomach and spleen in poor appetites
  • It is also commonly used to address stress in drinks and teas
  • Due to its sweetness, it is soothing to the throat and used to treat sore throats
  • Red dates are an excellent source of Vitamin C (and also packed with great antioxidants that help kill free radicals which increase aging)
  • A common ingredient found for Chinese confinements
  • Dates are high in fiber, helping with digestion and constipation
  • They are also known to help blood sugar control

Any precautions?

  • Be sure you are buying red dates from a reputable source as some red dates do carry diseases
  • For soups, use pitted dried dates. The seeds are known to create “fire” in the body and not usually ideal

Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?

The dried red dates is one of them!  Check it out in my video to learn more!

 

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Chicken Soup with Red Dates

Chicken Soup with Red Dates

Chicken_reddates_wolfberries_carrots_s

Soup Name: Chicken Soup with Red Dates

Traditional Chinese Name:  红枣雞湯 (hóng zǎo jī tāng)

Introduction:
This soup is an easy and sweet soup that is perfect to warm you up on a chilly autumn or winter’s day. Chicken is considered to be very nourishing (補) and can give your body a good kick of healthy heartiness (this is similarly recognized by Westerners who drink chicken noodle soup when sick).  To sweeten the soup, red dates are added. We also suggest adding a palmful of wolfberries to boost the qi or “chi” which is ideal for cool weather. Carrots round out this simple yet delicious soup. You can see from the photo that this recipe results in a rich, deeply-colored broth and I can assure you, it’s tasty, too!  (Yes, I’m drinking as I type this post.) Depending on whether you use a fresh, whole chicken or alternatives, the difficulty of creating this soup can vary from 1-star (from pre-washed and cut chicken with minimal preparation) to 4-star (whole chicken from scratch).

 

Amount serves: 6 to 8 soup bowls

What Ingredients are required?

1 fresh whole chicken, quartered
5 large, dried red dates (to taste depending on how sweet you like your soup to be)
10 g of dried wolfberries (small palm-ful)
2 large fresh carrots, sliced
2L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Prepare the chicken
  2. Wash and soak the dried wolfberries
  3. Add red dates to your soup water and bring to a boil
  4. When the water boils, combine all the ingredients together
  5. Boil on medium-high for at least 1 hour

Any benefits?

  • A warm soup that is perfect for autumn or winter
  • Chicken is very nourishing (補) and creates a healthful soup
  • Red dates are an excellent source of Vitamin C
  • Red dates are also used in throat-soothing drinks
  • Wolfberries are high in antioxidants and contain 6 essential vitamins, Beta-Carotene, Calcium, Potassium, Iron and Zinc
  • Wolfberries are also known to enhance the qi or “chi” in your body

Any tips or precautions?

  • Whenever using real, whole chicken, it’s useful to have an oil scooper on hand to help scoop out the fat and any large or small particles that float to the top of your soup. I usually need to use the scoop two or three times — once after the soup is fully boiled and still hot and there is an abundance of oil floating on the top, then once again after the soup has cooled slightly and you have additional oil and particles that have had time to float to the surface, and usually once again upon re-heating (possibly the next day).
  • Feel free to drink the same soup the next day after re-boiling. I like to make an extra big pot and any that isn’t finished can be drank and finished off the next day.

 

Blue Dates

Ingredient Name:  Blue Dates

Traditional Chinese Name: 藍枣 (lán zǎo)

What is this?
  • A long, round, wrinkled, dark coloured, seeded fruit (in its mature state) produced by the Ziziphus zizyphus trees
  • Commonly found in Asia, some parts of Europe and India
  • In Chinese cuisine, it can be found in both salty and sweet dishes, in soups, as dried snacks and in teas
  • Blue dates are more expensive than that of their red cousins
  • For drinks, the seeds can be kept as well (as it is recommended to remove the seeds from red dates)

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in cold water before usage
  • Add directly to soups (in cold water) or drinks

Where can I buy this?

  • You can purchase blue dates from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged
  • You can also purchase this in bulk from speciality stores

What is the cost?

  • A packge of around 30 dates cost $30 HKD
  • There are varying prices of blue dates depending on its rarity and quality

Any benefits?

  • Dates are known to assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure and assist the stomach and spleen in poor appetites
  • It is also commonly used to address stress in drinks and teas
  • Due to its sweetness, it is soothing to the throat and used to treat sore throats
  • Dates are an excellent source of Vitamin C
  • It is a neutral fruit

Any precautions?

  • Be sure you are buying dates from a reputable source as some dates do carry diseases

Additional Information?

  • Blue dates can normally be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for at least 6 months

Resources