Starfish? WHAT? Yah… starfish. I knew that the Chinese used starfish in soups, but I had never actually seen where I could buy starfish, nor tried soups with starfish before. I happened to venture to Lamma Island in Hong Kong one day and ta-da(!) I found some dried starfish! What was even more special was that the lady who sold them was so warm and welcoming that she talked and walked me through the whole process and which ingredients that could potentially go into the soup.
In short, starfish soups are designed to remove internal heat, so supplemental ingredients should compliment this. Big learning from me on this soup – while it’s nice to show all the ingredients in my photos, I wouldn’t necessarily scoop any starfish for the kids to see. I actually served only the broth to the family and everyone drank it. See, this is what my Mom did to me when I was a kid and now I’m doing it to mine! My rebuttal is basically – it’s good for you! Don’t mind what’s inside!
To start, soak the dried starfish, tangerine peel and scallops in cool water for about 15 minutes. This will soften the starfish and peel so that you can remove “stuff” from them. From the tangerine peel, you can scrape off the “peel” or darker side, which is quite bitter and will make your soup bitter. You can do this with a knife. The same actually goes for the starfish. Once its softened, scrape off the bottom-side of the “scales”. These are the little bumps that you can find on the underside. Once it’s scraped, it should look clean like the photo below. Cut the starfish into pieces that actually fit into your pot!
Next, in a separate pot of boiling water, add sliced ginger (save 1 to 2 slices for the soup) and the starfish together and boil for 5 minutes. This will blanch the starfish from impurities, but also will help remove some of the “fishiness”. Some people also pan fry with ginger to remove “fishiness” – this is particularly useful on fish. Remove and set aside.
Drain the water and boil a small pot to blanch the pork shank. Another necessary step to remove the impurities, although pork shank doesn’t have as much gunk as pork bones or even pork marrow. This step does help remove some of the fat as well. You can begin to boil your soup water at this time.
You can also prepare your vegetables by chopping them up into large bite-sized pieces. For the Chinese Yam, WEAR GLOVES! If you read my post on preparation of Chinese Yam, this is called out. The skin of the Chinese Yam will make your hands very itchy if you come into contact with it, so be sure to wear gloves. When the soup water boils, throw everything in together (including the 2 pieces of ginger hanging around).
Boil on high for 30 minutes and then reduce to a medium boil for another 2 hours. This will really bring out the healing, heat-removal properties of the starfish. The ginger isn’t to counter the heat-removal, that’s why you add a tiny amount – it’s to reduce the “fishiness” of the soup. Once boiled, taste and salt as needed. Then serve and enjoy!
Soak in cool water, the dried starfish, dried scallops and dried tangerine peel for 15 minutes 2. Begin to prepare the corn by quartering it and the Chinese Yam, by peeling and cutting 1-inch long pieces (be sure to wear gloves) 3. Using a sharp knife edge, scrape off the top-side (darker side) of the tangerine peel in running water (to remove more of the bitterness) 4. Using a sharp knife edge, scrape off the underside of the starfish until all the little rivets are gone 5. Cut the starfish into suitable sized pieces for your soup 6. Thinly Slice your fresh ginger 7. In a separate pot, boil enough water to cover the starfish and once it’s boiling, throw in the ginger (saving 1-2 pieces for the soup) and blanch the starfish on high heat for 5 minutes 8. Remove the starfish and set aside 9. In the same pot, boil enough water to cover your pork shank and blanch that on high heat for 5 minutes 10. Remove the pork shank and set aside 11. Boil your soup water 12. Once the water boils, add all the ingredients together (including the remaining ginger). Boil on high heat for 30 minutes and reduce to a medium heat for 2 hours. 13. Taste and salt as necessary 14. Serve and enjoy!
This is a simple recipe part of our Confinement Series for new mothers. Designed to be heaty, healing and part of a balanced diet – actually anyone can eat this!
My version uses ginger juice (as I personally find the ginger shreds too spicy for my mild taste buds), but it is recommended to use the grated ginger flesh if you’re in confinement. Load on the ginger and black or white pepper! Other variations of this include adding chicken or pork, garlic and some neutral, diced veggies like choy sum.
And don’t forget to add that splash of sesame oil for both taste and warmth!
This recipe contains all the greats needed to get you through confinement (Sesame oil, ginger, black or white pepper ).
Ginger is excellent for warming the body and expelling wind (both important things to achieve during Chinese confinement). It is a nutritious and delicious course. This recipe is super easy to make.
I would recommend making a bowl / jar of pre-grated ginger so you can whip this up in less than 10 minutes. Any precautions? This is a heaty dish and not recommended for people who can’t too heaty foods or are currently overheated.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 1 cup of rice (but make more to store in the fridge for multiple consumption!)
1 tsp cooking oil
1 bowl of rice (leftover rice best for fried rice)
25g of fresh ginger, grated (produces 1 tablespoon of ginger juice)
Traditional Chinese Name: 冬瓜雞腳湯 (dōng guā jī jiǎo tāng)
The feet of the chicken are one of the Chinese’s most interesting “unwanted” parts of the chicken (after the bottom parts). It’s so versatile that the Chinese use chicken feet in soups, stews, dim sum and other dishes. I remember back in the days when I was a young lad that my parents would go to the Western super markets and get chicken feet by the bags for a whole dollar. It’s definitely not as cheap anymore because of the influx of demanding chicken feet eaters, but still an affordable, tasty and collagen packed ingredient. This wintermelon soup is simple to make and if you’re a single gal (or guy) you can make it in a one person pot. My husband really liked this soup and gobbled all the feet. Thanks for the clean up job, sweetie!
Amount serves: 5-6 large soup bowls (around 300 mL each)
Soak the gingo biloba and lotus seed in warm water for 10 minutes
Rinse and cut off the nails on your chicken feet
In a small pot of boiling water, blanch your chicken feet for 5 minutes
Remove chicken feet from boiling water, strain and set aside
Boil your soup water
When the soup boils, throw all the ingredients together
Boil on high (covered) for 30 minutes, reduce to a medium boil for another 30 minutes (you can continue to boil or use a thermal cooker to keep it hot, as some people love their chicken feet super soft)
Serve and enjoy!
This soup is excellent for cooling down the body and heat from hot summer days
Chicken feet is an excellent source of collagen and is low in fat
Women in their first trimester of pregnancy should avoid as it is an extremely cooling soup and may cause contractions (you can add more ginger slices to “heat” up the soup)
Melon soups are best consumed within same day as keeping melon soups overnight or over an extended period will make the melons sour (and so will your soup!)
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)
Traditional Chinese Name: 蒸豬肉餅 (zhēng zhū ròu bǐng)
This is a staple and very common Canton (Chinese-styled) dish. You can create a great base (as outlined below) and then add a variety of ingredients to enhance flavors and textures. I know this recipe is outside of my soup repertoire, but for the sake of confinement, we’re doing a series of recipes to supplement our Confinement story! Use lean pork, go easy on the soy sauce and salt and be sure to load up on the ginger! Variations include adding dried mushrooms, water chestnuts, fried preserved vegetables, mixing ground chicken meat, dried baby shrimp and basically anything you think would spice up the dish. The trick to making this dish with a great flaky texture is to be sure to massage the meat (either with your hands or a fork). I would love to hear your versions for steamed pork patty!
What are the ingredients? Good for 1-2 servings:
100 g of lean ground pork
2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of cornstarch (optional)
30 g of sliced ginger
How do I prepare it?
In a bowl, mix lean ground pork, soy sauce and cornstarch. Using either your hands or a fork, massage the meat so that the little white rolled pieces of fat become thin and sticky
Shift the pork thinly on to a low metal dish (no more than 1-inch in thickness)
Spread evenly the ginger on top of the pork patty
Place the dish on a raised pot of boiling water (or steamer)
Steam for about 20-30 minutes (or until pork is thoroughly cooked)
Skim off the top oil and serve hot
This cut and type of cooking is low in fat (as the fat is all seeped out during the cooking process)
This is a good base for additional ingredients if your palate requires something more
Super easy to make and quite hands free once it’s cooking
Great for kids as well, so you can make it for confinement and other family members!
For confinement, do not add any cooling foods (ie: water chestnuts)
Another common ingredient is to use dried salted fish, which I caution as some are high in carcinogenics