Soup Name: Vegetables and Dried Octopus with Mung Beans Soup
Traditional Chinese Name: 雜菜綠豆章魚湯 (Zá cài lǜ dòu zhāng yú tāng)
When it rains, the Chinese like using beans to absorb moisture from the body. Mung beans, dried beans, red beans, green beans, yellow beans, big beans and little beans – any type of beans will do really! The octopus is known to be a heaty ingredient and therefore is balanced with the cooler mung beans. This combination with lotus root is a delicious Spring Chinese soup ideal for the whole family. I’ve also added a variety of vegetables to sweeten it and dilute the unique taste of the octopus that my children pick up on. On top of this, it gives you a hearty soup that you can eat as a meal or additional dishes to your meal – like the corn.
This is a simple, easy-to-make soup that doesn’t require many ingredients. It’s a heavy sweet (not a light sweet) and appropriate for spring weather. This soup is quite neutral and ideal for children and adults. The dried octopus & dried mussels do give the soup a little bit of a “fishy” taste if you put too much, but use less if you’re concerned. It’s a similar taste to dried scallops almost. A naturally delicious soup for the whole family.
This combination of octopus and chicken works amazing with many types of roots, such as arrowroot, lotus root, or fresh Chinese yam. It goes nicely with earthy tastes as it really brings out the flavours of the roots. And the amazing thing is that it eats like a meal! I will serve the roots and the chicken meat, with a small plate of soy sauce, and it’s delicious!
Prepare chicken (see chicken post) and blanch in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and set aside
Soak dried octopus and baby mussels in water for about 30 minutes
Boil your soup water
Slice octopus in slices or quartered
Peel and cut arrowroot into large cubes
Add all the ingredients into your boiling soup water
Boil on high for thirty minutes and reduce to medium boil for another hour
Serve and enjoy!
An alternative which is often used with lotus roots is to stuff the lotus root with green or yellow (mung) beans. The beans are slightly cooling, but you can drop in a slice of ginger to balance it out. This is a very popular way of making lotus roots in southern China, particularly Guangzhou and is often served in large portions for large families.
Lotus roots can also be stuffed with sticky rice (yum!), pan fried, sliced, marinated raw in a beautiful vinaigrette, and a host of other preparation method! It’s definitely one of my favourite and most diverse roots in the Chinese menu!
When making any dried octopus soup, this is the most basic and common set of ingredients. It’s simple (with only 3 ingredients), easy to prepare and delicious (and slightly cooling). To me, most dried seafood tastes the same, something a little fishy and slightly sweet. In fact, you can substitute dried “insert your seafood here” for these type of soups. Other types of octopus soups also include peanuts or various other vegetables (like chayotes). I’ll have to make other types to demonstrate the diverseness of dried octopus, but here’s my first.
Traditional Chinese Name: 蓮藕栗子湯 (lián ou lì zi tāng)
This savory soup is sweet in taste and healthy to eat. It’s rich in vitamins and fiber and is neutral for your body. Caution may need to be taken with chestnuts as it can potentially be allergenic, although it is not very common.
Mix salt and pork bones together and let sit in a bag for at least an hour (best overnight)
Wash the pork bones thoroughly in cool running water
Start boiling your water soup and add the dried dates and conpoys
In a separate pot, blanch the pork bones and strain it to remove any dirt and debris from the blanching
Add the pork bones and chopped lotus root to the boiling water of your soup
In a separate pot, boil the chestnuts for 5 minutes
Strain and immediately peel the shell and outer skin
Put the peeled and boiled chestnuts into your boiling soup
Boil together for at least 60-90 minutes on high heat. The longer you boil it, the tastier the soup. It is best eaten when the pork is falling off the bones.
This soup is high in fiber and is good for muscles, nerves and veinous system
The longer you boil this soup, the tastier it gets, but that also means the chestnuts will begin to disintegrate. If boiled too long, the chestnuts will thicken the soup and its remnants will sink to the bottom.
This is a hearty soup that can double as a meal. The lotus root is very filling and is a good source of dietary fiber. Since the soup is boiled for some time, the lotus roots will have absorbed all the goodness of the other ingredients (same as the pork bones) and serves as a delicious addition to the soup.