Walnuts

Ingredient Name: Walnuts

Traditional Chinese Name: 核桃 (Hétáo)

What is this?
  • The edible seed of any tree in the genus Julgans (tree nut family)
  • The edible portions are found inside a very hard, brown seed with a very hard external shell
  • The walnut is brownish-white in color and hard in texture with a white skin (that is often bitter)
  • This nut is commonly found in Chinese soups, dishes and desserts

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage
  • Avoid using walnuts that are pre-salted or roasted

Where can I buy this?

  • Fresh walnuts can be purchased in supermarkets
  • Dried walnuts are also available in supermarkets or at herbalists
  • This is a readily available ingredient

What is the cost?

  • This is not an expensive ingredient and the price varies depending on preparation and packaging

Any benefits?

  • Walnuts are excellent source of protein, nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids
  • They have a healthy source of antioxidants which help reduce or slow aging
  • Walnuts are a good source of Calcium, Zinc and Iron
  • Excellent in the prevention of heart disease

Any precautions?

  • If a walnut has molded, this mold will release dangerous aflatoxins and should not be used for consumption
  • Be sure to purchase walnuts from a reputable source

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cold place as walnuts can spoil easily
Peanuts

Peanuts

Peanuts

Ingredient Name:

Peanuts, ground nuts, or earthnuts

Traditional Chinese Name:

花生  (huā shēng)

Nature:  Neutral (in uncooked states), but once roasted, become warm in nature and targets the spleen and lungs

Taste:  Sweet and slightly bitter

You can get started on your Chinese Soup Kitchen Pantry from this video!  I will usually keep some roasted peanuts in the pantry as they do have good shelf life and have a variety of usages in soups, stews, and salads!

 

I LOVE PEANUTS!  In all shapes and forms.  They are amazing additions in soups because they compliment earthy and rich tones and bring protein and a lot of edible nutrition to a Chinese soup.  These pair nicely with root and starch vegetables such as arrowroots, lotus roots, chayotes, potatoes, Chinese yam, burdock root, or gobo.  There are a variety of tastes and ways to use peanuts in soups, such as raw, roasted, toasted, stuffed, or boiled. And they bring a beautiful variety to texture in the soup!  Raw and boiled peanuts are amazing for supporting phlegm removal and moisturizing the lungs.  They are a neutral ingredient in their raw state, but do become heaty if you’re eating roasted peanuts.

How do I prepare it?

      • Raw peanuts – there are a few ways to prepare raw peanuts.  I’ll wash them in warm water first and depending on how I’m using them, I will peel the peanuts out of the shell to use raw in soups.  I will alternatively remove from the shell raw and pan fry in a bit of oil and salt before I use them in soups, stews, and dishes as well.  There is also a third option to boil or roast them with the shell in and then remove the nuts from the shell.  Try all of them to see which ones blends best with the dish you’re making!
      • Cooked peanuts – this is one of the common ways to purchase peanuts in supermarkets, shelled and precooked (usually roasted or toasted).  These are the ones I will have sitting around in my pantry!

What is the cost & where to buy?

      • You can buy raw peanuts in Asian supermarkets.  They’ll come in a big bag in the produce section.  They are often soft (as the outer shell hasn’t completely hardened).

      • The cost for a bag of raw peanuts with about 30-40 peanuts is around $3-5 CAD.
      • You can also purchase cooked and prepared peanuts (designed for cooking) from Asian supermarkets in the dried goodies section for around $3-4 CAD for a pack.  Price will also vary by brand and quality.
      • I don’t suggest using the “snackable” peanuts for soups.  They are usually over salted, but try it!  It may be tasty, too!  Actually, I may just try this.  LOL.

Any benefits?

      • Peanuts are used to promote the appetite
      • They are an excellent source of protein with minimal bad fats (good source of monosaturated fats) and an amazing substitute for flavour, texture, and taste in replacing meats (and going vegetarian soups)
      • Peanuts are great for tonifying and improving blood and Qi flow in the body
      • Processed, roasted, and salted peanuts have good shelf life and can be used in a variety of soups, stews, and dishes in Chinese cuisine

Any precautions?

      • Be sure to ask about peanut allergies!  

      • Roasted or toasted peanuts (which you buy as snacks) are heaty compared to a neutral peanut in its raw state, so just be aware of the different states depending on the soup you want to make (Here’s a great post on “How do you know what soup to make?”  which will guide you to some of the logic and thinking when combining soup base, herbs, and vegetables)

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Chestnuts

Chestnuts

Chestnuts

Ingredient Name:

Chestnuts, sweet chestnuts, chinkapin

Traditional Chinese Name:

栗子 (lì zǐ)

Nature:  warm in nature (and even warmer when they are processed such as roasted), although is considered “moistening” and targets the spleen, stomach, and kidneys.

Taste:  Sweet in taste

You can get started on your Chinese Soup Kitchen Pantry from this video!  With chestnuts, you can use either fresh, roasted (the types that you can find in the winter that are roasting on the streets of Hong Kong!), or processed chestnuts that come in snack packs!

 

 

Oh, chestnuts are such a delicious addition to Chinese soups (and dishes such as stews and stir-fry!).  The Chinese love to eat them roasted as well and it’s a common treat to find them roasting on a bed of coals in the streets in Hong Kong from local hawkers!  

For soups, you’ll need to remove the chestnuts from their shells and use just the flesh.  You can use both raw and cooked chestnuts in soups and they’ll produce similar flavours, although roasted and cooked ones also carry some of that roasted delight with them.  The best part of the chestnuts in soups is that you can eat them!  

How do I prepare it?

      • For fresh and raw chestnuts, I will extract the flesh from the chestnut itself with the backside of a butcher’s knife, halving them and gently removing the whole inner chestnut from its shell, including the skin, which is OK to eat.  The skin will also come off during soup boiling.
      • I will also sometimes use prepared chestnuts (as snacks) because I just want something quick and easy.  This is a common Asian snack and the chestnuts are prepared as slightly sweetened, pre-cooked, and ready to eat!  These are perfect to keep in your pantry all your round.
      • The last type of chestnut I will use are either roasted or boiled before I remove them from the shell for soup making.  The roasting ensures a toasty and increased nutty taste to the soup and the boiling will be salted.  It just makes them tastier.

What is the cost & where to buy?

      • A bag of fresh chestnuts cost around $2.99 per pound CAD in Toronto

      • While prepared and snackable chestnuts packs cost around $5 CAD for 200g of peeled prepared chestnuts (these are yummy though!)
      • You can buy fresh chestnuts in most supermarkets and I see them quite commonly all year round in the Asian supermarkets.  They are also more common in Western supermarkets around the Christmas festive season (chestnuts roasting on an open fire?) 

Any benefits?

      • Chestnuts nourish the spleen and stomach (when eaten in moderation) and also tonifies the Qi (especially Kidney Qi)
      • Most nuts strengthen the brain (as a muscle, not necessarily as a function, but there is a correlation).  The common Chinese narrative that adults tell children is that walnuts and chestnuts will make you smart! 
      • They also help slow bleeding and reduces inflammation in the body.

Any precautions?

      • Chestnuts are “wet hot” in Cantonese (ie: 濕熱) meaning that they are contain moisture and are warm.  True story, I was eating roasted chestnuts in Japan while on holiday a few years ago for 3-4 days in a row and ended up having a stomachache when I got back to Hong Kong.  My TCM doctor told me he could feel the moisture and heat in my stomach.  This is why I saw, in moderation.  And especially as a roasted product, it’s even warmer.

      • Be sure to use fresh chestnuts.  You can feel this by squeezing the chestnut as they should feel firm and bouncy.  Chestnuts that are drying out will have more air pockets between the shell and the flesh (as the flesh is shrinking and losing moisture).

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