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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Snow Pears (Dried)

Snow Pears (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Snow Pears or Pyrus Nivalis (dried)

Chinese Name: 雪梨幹 (xuě lí gàn) or 梨干 (lí gàn)

This is a great natural additive to any soup or drink, although it is more commonly used in drinks rather than soups.  You can do a combination of dried or fresh snow pears in both soups and drinks and this is almost a great staple to have “just in case” you feel like making a soup but the stores are closed or it’s a typhoon or snow storm.  And of course, no one is to stop you from eating it if you’re in dire hunger.

What is this?
  • An edible fruit grown from pear trees
  • It is usually round and found to grow well in cooler temperatures
  • The snow pear is often firm in handling and is often associated with being on the more sour and tangy side of taste
  • Snow pears are known to be a “cooling” fruit
  • It is often dried with the skin and seeds and dried in disks the size of diameter of the pear

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash the dried snow pears in warm running water
  • Use directly in soups and drinks

Where can I buy this?

  • Commonly found in wet marts in Hong Kong from the herbalist or dried food vendor
  • It is sometimes available in packages in supermarkets (although more as a snack than as an additive to soups or drinks)

What is the cost?

  • Dried snow pears are very affordable costing around $1-2 HKD for 2-3 slices

Any benefits?

  • Pears have 0 fat and provide a healthy intake of natural sugars
  • Pears are also packed with Vitamin A, C and E1
  • They contain excellent amounts of copper and potassium and are packed with carbohydrates
  • Pears also are the least allergenic of all fruits and is often found as a first foods for babies
  • They are said to assist with the lower of cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Pears are excellent laxatives due to their high fiber content

Any precautions?

  • Pears, especially Snow Pears, are known to be a “cooling” food
  • Women who are pregnant or menstruating should take caution when consuming Snow Pears

Any substitutes?

  • “Crystal” pears can also be substituted for Snow Pears in soups
  • Apples are also an ideal substitute

Additional Information?

  • Dried Snow Pears store very well in a sealed container
  • They can be kept in refrigeration for up to 3 months
Snow Pears

Snow Pears

Snow Pears

Ingredient Name:

Snow Pears or Pyrus Nivalis

Traditional Chinese Name:

雪梨 (xuě lí)

 

I love snow pears.  This is the edible fruit from the snow pear tree and this fruit is juicy, has high water content, slightly sweet, very crunchy, and has a light, lively flavour to it.  

They grow round, like soft balls, and have a very hard, rough exterior and an even crunchier interior.   You’ll find this type of tree or fruit in cooler climates.

Snow pears tend to be more cooling, or helps relieve heat from the body.  You can find this ingredient both in a dried and fresh version for soups and Chinese desserts. 

Some nice substitutes if you can’t find snow pears are crystal pears (bigger and crunchier and have a more transparent flesh), or apples.  Apples are also a yummy substitute for your dessert or soup.  You’ll sometimes find a combination of apples and snow pears as well.

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • In most asian supermarkets, this fruit tends to be in season all year round

      • Western supermarkets will also sometimes carry this fruit
      • Be sure to buy snow pears that are firm and blemish free (if the fruit is soft and mushy, it’s likely already going bad)
      • Snow pears are relatively affordable at $3-5 HKD / pear

How do I prepare it?

      • Wash the snow pears in warm running water
      • Halve the snow pear and core
      • Use halves for soups as the pears sometimes disintegrate if they are too small
      • I will also remove all the seeds and stems from the pear
      • I also keep the skin on, although this part sometimes tends to be slightly sour, but it helps keep the pear together in the soup or dessert and prevents it from melting into the hot water

What are the benefits?

        • Pears have 0 fat and provide a healthy intake of natural sugars
        • Pears are also packed with Vitamin A, C and E1
        • They contain excellent amounts of copper and potassium and are packed with carbohydrates
        • Pears also are the least allergenic of all fruits and is often found as a first foods for babies
        • They are said to assist with the lower of cholesterol and high blood pressure
        • Pears are excellent laxatives due to their high fiber content

What are the precautions?

      • Pears, especially Snow Pears, are known to be a “cooling” food
      • Women who are pregnant or menstruating should take caution when consuming Snow Pears

 

You can find references here:

 

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Watermelon

Ingredient Name:  Watermelon

Chinese Name:  西瓜 (xī guā)

What is this?
  • Fruit and plant of a vine-like herb
  • The fruit is sometimes classified as a melon
  • It is normally round with a smooth exterior rind usually in green and yellow and has a juicy, pulpy interior that is sweet and ranges in color from red, yellow, orange or pink
  • It is used in a variety of desserts, drinks, and often eaten raw

How do I prepare it?

  • Halve the watermelon
  • Slice away the skin or rind
  • Cube into large cubes

Where can I buy this?

  • In any supermarket

What is the cost?

  • Watermelon varies depending on size and season, however averages around $3-7 CAD/watermelon

Any benefits?

  • Watermelons contain 6% sugar by weight
  • They are high in Vitamin C and a good source of carbohydrates
  • Watermelons are very concentrated in their water content, coming in at around 91-92% in water weight

Any precautions?

  • Watermelons are known to be an extremely “cooling” food
  • Women who are pregnant or menstruating should take caution when consuming watermelon
  • It is actually forbidden in Chinese culture to consume watermelon if a women is less than 3 months pregnant as the watermelon may trigger premature contractions which lead to miscarriages or premature birth

References 

Winter melon

Winter melon

Winter melon

Ingredient Name:

Winter melon, white gourd, or ash gourd

Traditional Chinese Name:

冬瓜 (dōng guā)

For videos, visit us on YouTube.

 

  • The winter melon is actually a vine grown fruit that is eaten as a vegetable
  • The melon itself can grow to be very large, hitting 1-2 m in length and 30 pounds at full maturity, although smaller single serving of these melons are also available for double-boiling (which are super cute)
  • Both young and mature melons are used in Chinese soups
  • It is commonly used in dishes, stews, steamed and soups
  • People drink fresh melon juice
  • It is quite popular in Hong Kong to use baby winter melon (see picture below) in soups

How do I prepare it?

          • For the simple winter melon soup, you simply wash the melon, and cut into large cubes, keep the skin on so that melon doesn’t disintegrate, but this is up to you.
          • If you’re making the fancy winter melon soup, you will need to carve out the WHOLE melon and double boil it as a soup
          • For quick boil Chinese soups, I tend to peel and cut the melon into smaller cubes (for a faster boil)

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • You can purchase fresh winter melon at most Asian supermarkets – they will be cut into manageable sizes and packaged
      • In Hong Kong wet marts, you can purchase it by the weight, requesting the vendor to cut the amount you wish directly from the whole melon

Any benefits?

      • Winter melons are known to remove heatiness and helps detoxify the body
      • It is ideal in removing phelgm from the lungs
      • It is also particularly effective in regulating blood sugar levels
      • The winter melon skin can also be boiled/eaten for someone with heat stroke or edema due to heat

Any precautions?

      • Since it is a cooling food, it should be carefully consumed if pregnant (less than 3 months into term) or menstruating (can cause contractions)

      • If someone is experiencing diarrhea or loose stool, they should avoid consuming the winter melon seeds

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