Traditional Chinese Herbal Soup (as a Hot Pot Base)

Traditional Chinese Herbal Soup (as a Hot Pot Base)

Traditional Chinese Herbal Soup (as a Hot Pot Base)

Soup Name:

Traditional Chinese Herbal Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

藥膳雞煲 (yàoshàn jī bāo)

This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste.

 

For videos, visit us on YouTube.

This soup has a very distinctive smell and taste of a Chinese medicinal shop.  It’s definitely a love or hate initially, but can be acquired.  The key ingredient is the “dong quai” or “angelica root” that creates that fragrant (debatable?) scent.  I’ve learned to love it after so many years of being in Hong Kong and once you taste the soup, wow!

This soup is the ultimate warming winter hot pot delight.  You literally feel yourself getting hot and sweaty after one bowl.  It’s literally a powerful tonic that replenishes blood and Qi, improves circulation, and detoxifies the body.

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 2 hours 40 mins

Total time: 3 hours 10 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

Soup base:

Hot pot ingredients:

 

  • fresh napa cabbage
  • assorted mushrooms
  • fresh hard tofu

This powerhouse healing ingredient is the key ingredient to your Chinese herbal soup!  The dong quai is warm, slightly sweet and slightly bitter, and a common herb used to promote warmth, replenish blood, and replenish yang.  This is why it’s such a common ingredient used in post partum and confinement recipes.  It’s also commonly used in healing tonics.  

I will only use this ingredient for this type of herbal soup as it’s got a very distinct pungent scent and taste.  When combined with sweeter ingredients such as red dates and goji berries, it’s really quite delicious!

 

Cooking Instructions
  1. Add your dried herbal base directly into a pot and add in 3L of cold water
  2. Cover and boil on high heat for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut your chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces
  4. In a shallow pan, put them skin side down to render the fat out of the chicken and crisp up the skin (no oil needed!)
  5. Add salt and garlic to flavour as needed
  6. Once the soup is boiled for 30 minutes, you can move your crispy chicken to the soup.  I will usually rinse in warm water first to get rid of the extra oil, bone bits, and debris
  7. Cover and boil on medium for 2 hours (checking that it doesn’t boil over)
  8. At this point your soup is done!  You can drink as is or prepare to add your hot pot ingredients
  9. Prepare your hot pot ingredients an add to your soup
  10. Boil on high for 10 minutes
  11. Serve and enjoy!
  12. Drink your soup first with some of the ingredients added.  I won’t even begin the hot pot yet and just enjoy a soup as is!

Chef tips!

  • For your protein, use chicken (or pork).  This compliments the herbal base very well versus pork or red meats.
  • For your hotpot ingredients, use less intense flavor ingredients and ones that will absorb more the flavours of the soup such as leafy light coloured vegetables like napa cabbage or regular cabbage versus choy sum or gailan.  Tofu is a great additive as well and fresh mushrooms work well.
  • You can add udon or vermicelli as part of your meal
  • If you’re going to cook other meats or seafood, save that for the end as it will change the flavour of the herbal soup 

For videos, visit us on YouTube.

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Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Soup Name:

Pork and Conch Herbal Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

清豬骨海螺湯 (Qīng zhū gǔ hǎiluó tāng)

This soup is neutral and sweet to taste.

 

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

 

This soup is ideal for colds, flus and cough. If you’ve got a sore or scratchy throat, achy body, tiredness and/or headache – this soup is for you!  From an Eastern perspective, the Chinese don’t recommend drinking chicken soup when you’re sick, which to me, sounds off, but you can’t argue thousands years of tradition through Chinese medicine.  My herbalist recommended this relatively “neutral” soup for me and is considered 滋陰 (zī yīn), which means treating yin deficiency by reinforcing body fluid and nourishing the blood.  If you look at the herb base, it’s pretty basic and ideal for most soups – the kicker is to add sea whelk (or conch or sea snail). You don’t need to add fresh sea snail (they can get pretty expensive if you buy them live from the wet mart), but definitely add pork. This soup ended up tasting delicious and sets a great base for adding vegetables of your choice – like corn, onions, or chayotes – all neutral vegetables.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 2 hours

Total time: 2 hours 15 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a separate pot, blanch both the sea snails and pork in a pot of boiling hot water for at least 5 minute (to remove impurities, fat and scum), remove and set aside
    2. Soak all the herbs in warm water for at least 10 minutes and rinse in warm water
    3. Boil your soup water
    4. When you soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
    5. Boil on high for 30 minute and then reduce boil to a medium boil for another 1.5 hours
    6. Serve and enjoy!

One of the more affordable seafood you can use for soups is dried sea snail. They come in thin, hard slices and add a sweet, sea-salt taste to the soup (similar to dried conpoys). Plus, these things are storage friendly and can be stored in your freezer or fridge for up to 6 months.

 

A typical neutral soup base for Chinese soups. The dried sea snails are interchangeable with dried conpoys, which is a great substitute if you can’t find sea snails.  The dried versions produce similar tastes to the soup as they are both seafood and go through similar drying processes.

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Cistanche

Ingredient Name: Cistanche, Herba cistanche

Traditional Chinese Name: 肉苁蓉 (ròucōngróng)

What is this?
  • This ingredient is considered as part of the Chinese medicine repertoire (although more specifically, it is the Cistanche deserticola)
  • It is a desert plant (shrub like which grows from 2-6 feet tall) with an usual behavior in that it extracts nutrients and water from plants around it (in order to grow)
  • The plant is harvested in the Spring (before it is able to sprout) by slicing its stem and it is dried and processed for Chinese medicine
  • The plant that produces this ingredient is labeled as “endangered” and harvesting is being monitored
  • Cistanche is actually commonly found in many western sold health supplements (ie: search online and you’ll see bottled, ground or pilled Cistanche for sale)

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water and rinse before using in soups
  • You can cut it up into small pieces (slices) for soups as well

Where can I buy this?

  • You can purchase this in most wet marts in Hong Kong who sell herbs
  • Chinese medicine shops will definitely have this in various forms a well (such as powdered, whole & dried, sliced, or little pieces)

What is the cost?

  • It will vary depending on size and condition of the Cistanche
  • In general, not overly cheap, but not extremely expensive

Any benefits?

  • It has clinically proven to slow aging, improves the memory, and enhance antibody production within the body
  • Cistanche helps dissipate wind and cold from the body
  • It helps with boosting appetite and the kidneys and large intestines and moistens the body
  • It is also said that this ingredient helps elderly who are always cold
  • Some say that this ingredient is a mild aphrodisiac

Any precautions?

  • Take caution when serving to children (use in moderation as with all Chinese medicine)
  • If you’ve got a naturally warm body, use with caution as sometimes “warm”  ingredients or soups will make you heated
  • Good quality Cistanch is dark, large and slightly moist (see enclosed picture)
  • Be sure to purchase from a reputable source

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place (up to 6 months)

Ginseng with Honey Tea

Soup Name: Ginseng with Honey Tea

Traditional Chinese Name: 人參茶 (Rénshēn Chá)

Introduction:
An extremely easy and common Chinese tea/drink that is one of the traditional cooling teas.  It relieves heatiness, expels heat from the body and is overall healthy for the body.  Although slightly bitter in after taste, adding some honey or rock sugar can help make this tea delicious.  There are a variety of recipes for ginseng tea with varying Chinese herbs, but this is the most basic.

What Ingredients are required?

1-2 pieces of dried ginseng (pending how bitter you’d like it)
1 tablespoon of honey
2-3 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Cut up long ginseng piece into slices (for releasing more ginseng flavor into the tea)
  2. Add ginseng to water and boil covered for 30 minutes
  3. Strain and add honey
  4. Can be served chilled

Another way to prepare this tea is without boiling.  You can simply steep the ginseng like normal tea leaves in a cup of hot/boiling water.  Stir to distribute flavor and then add honey or rock sugar.

Any benefits?

  • Excellent for removing heatiness from the body
  • Great anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties
  • Extremely easy to make
  • Can help reduce fatigue, lower cholesterol and prevent infections

Any precautions?

  • Ginseng is a cooling food and should be avoided in women who are in their first trimester or in postpartum (confinement)

Licorice Root or Chinese Licorice

Ingredient Name: Licorice root, Licorice (Liquorice), Sweet root, Chinese Licorice, Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Traditional Chinese Name:甘草 (gān cǎo)

What is this?

  • The root of the licorice plant which is extracted and dried
  • Common Chinese herbal ingredient and often found in Chinese medicines
  • Mainly grown in China (Eastern & Northern parts)
  • Slightly sweet in flavor

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water prior to use

Where can I buy this?

  • This is available in most Asian supermarkets
  • Also available in Chinese herbals stores

What is the cost

  • 10 g cost around $2-3 HKD
  • Extremely affordable

Any benefits?

  • Used to aid cough, sore throat, asthma and remove phlegm
  • Helps in detoxifying the body
  • Reduce heatiness in the body
  • Considered a cool food

Any precautions?

  • Not be consumed by women who are pregnant – especially in first trimester as it’s a cooling food
  • People with heart disease or high blood pressure should be cautious about using licorice

References: