What’s the best way to blanch meats for Chinese Soups?

What’s the best way to blanch meats for Chinese Soups?

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO BLANCH MEATS FOR CHINESE SOUPS?

(Do you use cold water?  Boiling water?  With ginger?  With instant coffee?  With salt?  What’s the best way for flavour and taste experience?)

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

You can explore more about some Traditional Chinese Medicine theories in these posts.

Why I blanch my meats…

I will either blanch or panfry most of my fresh protein for a few reasons:

  • I don’t like the foam that accumulates at the top of the soup once the protein comes to a boil (usually bones will do that) – this is from the protein boiled out that coagulates, trapped inside the air bubbles of the soup and then create a foamy layer at the top.  This foam tastes rather unpleasant…
  • I want to remove any extra bone bits, blood, fats, or other protein that boil into the soup.  Admittedly, I’m not the cleanest chicken chopper and may take a few swipes at the back or legs of a chicken and want to be sure I don’t have any dangerous bone bits floating around.
  • Remove as much excess fat as possible.  This is particularly true for chicken or duck based soups.

What’s “blanch-able”?

  • I will blanch most of my meat or seafood proteins that I use for soups (except fish – see below)
  • All pork bones, this includes ribs, leg bones, feet, all organs, neck and back bones).  Pork bones that have marrow, blood portions, or cut bone parts tend to produce the most foam
  • While organ meats don’t produce foam, blanching them in fresh ginger will help remove the “fishy” taste and smell and produce a cleaner tasting soup
  • All chicken parts, including head, feet, back, and organs.  Chickens tend to be a fattier meat and the blanch will help remove some of the fat bits
  • All duck parts as well, for the same reason that duck is a fattier protein.  Using roast duck is actually super tasty, but does have high fat content
  • Most seafood to be blanched in water with ginger as well to remove any “fishy” taste and smell
  • Fish can flash boil, such as salmon, but I will often just panfry them with ginger, garlic, and green onions prior to using them in soups
  • Anything else you blanch?

Do you blanch your proteins for Chinese soups? 

If so, what’s your experience on method?

  1. Wolke, R. (2002) Stock Options, Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/food/2002/01/23/stock-options/910157e7-935a-4906-9d1e-ef3e395a4f5b/ (Accessed: 6 December 2023).
  2. Francis, A. (2022) What in the World Is That Foamy Scum on My Chicken Stock? Available at: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/soup-scum#:~:text=What%20is%20that%20scummy%20stuff,at%20Drexel%20University%20in%20Philadelphia. (Accessed: 5 December 2023).

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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

For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

 

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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What are good replacement ingredients for peanut allergies in Chinese Soups?

What are good replacement ingredients for peanut allergies in Chinese Soups?

Here are suggestions for replacement ingredients for peanuts in Chinese soups

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

You can explore more about some Traditional Chinese Medicine theories in these posts.

Principles for soup making for peanut replacements…

My selection of replacement ingredients are primarily based on a few factors:

  • Maintaining the same flavour profiles that peanuts would otherwise provide (that rich, earthy, dark tone)
  • Staying with ingredients that are still vegetarian (or vegan)
  • Pantry friendly ingredients make replacing easy.  Peanuts are an easy ingredient to use (especially prepared peanuts), so to mirror the same effort, it is important that I’m not creating more work in soup making! 

Research suggests that avoiding all nuts is overkill…

According to a 2017 article published in Forbes, “most people with a peanut allergy aren’t allergic to tree nuts—almonds, cashews, walnuts and the like—while most people who are allergic to a particular tree nut can safely eat others, scientists have found.” [Reference 1]

And from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “Fewer than 5-10% of peanut allergic people have an allergy to other legumes. The majority of individuals with peanut allergy are also able to tolerate tree nuts (almond, Brazil nut, cashew, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, walnut).” [Reference 2]

    What other ingredients have worked for you to replace peanuts (for allergies) in Chinese soups?

    Why I like using other tree nuts (in replacements of peanuts) in Chinese soups…

    I particularly like using chestnuts and walnuts, although chestnuts more.  Chestnuts are super tasty in their own right and even more so when roasted!  There are 2 options with chestnuts:

    • You can buy them fresh from the supermarkets.  I’ve tried both pre-roasting and non-roasted for soups.  Equally delicious, but also equally quite a bit of work!
    • You can buy prepared chestnuts (pre-roasted or pre-peeled).  They are usually sold as snacks and come in the perfect portion. I will also keep a stash of this in my pantry.  (LOL, the more I post, the more I realize I have so many things in my pantry on a regular basis… I may as well become a supermarket).

    TIPs for extracting chestnuts:

    • Use a heavy knife (or hammer) to hit the chestnuts directly to split them open.  You may need a few entry points, but once you feel the chestnut can split from its shell, that’s perfect.
    • I don’t mind keeping the outer skin of the chestnuts.  It will eventually come out during cooking as it shrinks differently from the chestnut flesh itself.  You can remove this after roasting or boiling in soups.
    • Fresh chestnuts are firm and completely filled in its shell.  As the chestnut dries out, you’ll be able to feel air pockets in it as you squeeze on them.  When the chestnuts aren’t fresh, they aren’t as flavourful, but can still be used.  Just use more!  So long as they haven’t gone bad.

    Why I also like dried mushrooms…

    Some dried mushrooms carry that same rich, earthy tones that peanuts can also produce.  This allows the peanut replacement to hold the same flavour profile as the soup was originally designed for.  For examples:

    • If I’m using lotus roots (or arrow roots), adding mushrooms is quite complimentary and eliminating peanuts doesn’t change the taste of the soups.

    Thank you for the additions!

    My community definitely delivers and you guys are so full of great ideas and suggestions.

    The other amazing peanut substitutes include:

    • lotus seeds – YES!  I completely forgot about this ingredient which is actually a seed and not a nut!  It does carry the same nutty, earthy tones and are often used in Chinese soups, desserts, and stews.
    • gingko nuts – ALSO A YES!  I am a huge fan of gingko biloba nuts.  These starchy and rich nuts are said to be amazing for your brain and memory!  They are often used in desserts, soups, and stews.  

     

       

      1. Ritalrubin@gmail.com (2017) Avoiding all nuts simply because you’re allergic to one might be, well, Nutty, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ritarubin/2017/03/28/avoiding-all-nuts-simply-because-youre-allergic-to-one-might-be-well-nutty/?sh=71cfab0d4a1b (Accessed: 27 November 2023).
      2. Everything you need to know about peanut allergy (no date) American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Available at: https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/peanut-allergy (Accessed: 27 November 2023).

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      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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      Delicious One Pot Vegetable Vermicelli Soup for Dinner

      Delicious One Pot Vegetable Vermicelli Soup for Dinner

      Delicious One Pot Vegetable Vermicelli Soup for Dinner

      Soup Name:

      Delicious One Pot Vegetable Vermicelli Soup for Dinner.  Literal translation from Chinese is “Mixed vegetables vermicelli pot soup”.

      Traditional Chinese Name:

      雜菜粉絲鍋湯 (zá cài fěnsī guō tāng)

      Nature:  Neutral

      Taste: Sweet and savory

      For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

       

      We literally served this one-pot meal in the middle of the table with bowls and chopsticks and chowed down!

      The final product!

      So this soup sets a great soup base for your choice of meats and toppings.

      I added on top:

      • Dried red dates
      • Dried longans
      • Fresh chicken breast slices
      • Fish cakes
      • Fish cakes with mochi middles
      • Fish balls with Unagi stuffing

      You could think of it like a hot pot, but the idea is to boil it all in one place so it’s ready to serve and eat right away.  

      GET CREATIVE!

       

      What’s involved?

      Prep time: 30 mins

      Cook time: 30 minutes 

      Total time: 60 mins

      Serves: 8 bowls

      Ingredients

      Soup base:

      • 1 piece of chicken thigh (marinade is soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil) – be a chef… use any proportions that make sense 🙂 
      • 1 pack of dried green bean (mung bean) vermicelli
      • 1 fresh white radish, thinly sliced
      • 2 potatoes, thinly sliced
      • Mix of fresh green vegetables (I used, baby napa cabbage, cabbage, broccoli)
      • fresh green onions
      • 5 dried red dates
      • 5 dried longans
      • 2 L of water

      Cooking Instructions

      1. In a bowl, take out your dried green bean vermicelli and add in cold water, ensuring it’s completely covered and let it soak (to soften)
      2. Cut your chicken thigh into one-inch strips and marinade with soy sauce, white pepper, and sesame oil (I eyeballed the proportions but used about 1 teaspoon of soy, half a teaspoon of white pepper, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil)
      3. In your soup pot, add 1 teaspoon of oil on medium heat and panfry your chicken thighs until they are golden brown
      4. Add in your peeled and thinly sliced potatoes into the pot, panfrying the sides until they are golden
      5. Add in 2L of water to your pot
      6. Cover and let it come to a boil on high heat
      7. Reduce heat and add in the sliced white radish, dried red dates, and dried longans
      8. Cover and let that gently boil for 45 minutes
      9. In the final 15 minutes, add in your softened green bean vermicelli and all the vegetables into the pot covered
      10. Everything should be nicely softened and ready to eat!
      11. Your choice now to add other ingredients (like you would with hotpot).  In this case, I added fresh chicken meat (thinly sliced), random selection of fish balls.
      12. Garnish with fresh green onions
      13. Serve and enjoy!

      Tips for making this soup:

      • For a more neutral soup, use neutral vegetables (both in nature and in taste) such as leafy greens like napa cabbage, cabbage, broccoli, gai lan, choy sum
      • Vegetables such as watercress are more cooling and spinach as a particular unique taste that may throw off the soup
      • Add in a few Chinese herbs of choice that are slightly more warm (such as dried red dates, dried longans, even 1 piece of dong quai would be amazing!)
      • Chop your root vegetables thin like the potatoes and white radish.  It makes it easier to cook and eat.  This is literally a quick boil soup!  So you want your ingredients to cook quickly and thoroughly.
      • Get creative with the vegetable base!
      • Vermicelli and vegetables go last.  They cook really fast!

      For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

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