Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Did your parents or grandparents ever tell you that you’re too “yeet hay” (heaty) and would make you a cooling soup or tea or drink, such as watercress soup or winter melon and then go on to explain that it was good for you and would help with your heaty body?  This was me!  And you grew up understanding this term called “yeet hay”, but it wasn’t easily translatable in English, but yet… you know.  And now it comes back in full circle, understanding the principles in Traditional Chinese medicine, why there’s this re-balance in our diets!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

How to use this guide:

  • This is purely a reference guide on what to consider as your soup ingredients
  • Most Chinese soups have a combination of protein, vegetables or roots, and some simple herbs (such as dried longans or dried red dates)
  • It’s not as easy as a mix and match!  Although I wish it were.  I would really suggest doing some research on the combinations available, such as existing recipes out there or ask friends and family.
  • Do consult a physician if you’re unsure of your health and what to consume

 

Tips and examples:

  • Consider the complimentary tastes of ingredients (it’s not really a mix and match at random!).  There are pairings that have worked for the TCM principles above such as balancing yin and yang.
  • For example, the Cantonese dessert of silky tofu pudding (tofu fa) is usually combined with a ginger brown syrup.  This is because the tofu is highly cooling and the ginger will offset that.
  • For example, winter melon is best combined with pork rather than chicken (although I have tried that) to maintain the cooling effects of the soup.  Winter melon is promoted as a summer soup for this very reason, so making it with warmer protein will reduce that effectiveness.
  •  The external environment also has an impact to your yin and yang balance.  In the winter, we nourish the yang more to stay warm and in the spring, we want to reduce the yin to dispel moisture from the body.
  • For example, chicken soups and especially double-boiled soups are recommended in the winter to keep us warm.  Ginger is a great add to soups, including dried longans, which are all warming.  The same applies to summer and hot weather where the Chinese lean towards watercress, gourds, and melon soups.
  • Our internal state is probably the most important in determining which soup to make and how this principle helps.
  • For example, postpartum is an important moment for women in recovering their balance for the long term.  In postpartum, the body is in need of yang nourishment due to blood and fluid loss of childbirth.  This is why all the foods, soups, and teas created for confinement are hot or warming and tend to be packed full of ginger.
  • For example, the scratchy, bumpy, and inflamed tongue is a great example of too much heat (or yang) in our bodies.  This is common when we have lack of sleep (remember how yang is active) or eat too much fried food (another source of heat into our bodies), so having cooling teas or soups will help relieve the excess yang. 

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Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

I’ve always been in awe with the restaurant-styled whole winter melon soups – I mean, how on earth did they do that? They must have some giant double-boiler inside and it always taste so yummy! It’s a true favourite of mine when I go to Chinese restaurants to be able to drink it – especially with all the yummy insides that go with it! So I did manage to find a baby whole winter melon – which will fit into my soup pot, so here’s the recipe for it. You can actually use this on a whole winter melon, but you’ll need to just cut off whatever amount doesn’t fit into your pot and go from there. This is a pretty labour intensive soup with many steps, but so worth it!

Soup Name:

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

冬瓜盅 (dōng guā zhōng)

 

For soup and recipe videos, visit us on YouTube.

You’ll need: 1 whole winter melon, dried shrimp, dried conpoy, fresh shrimp, fresh pork, dried mushrooms, straw mushrooms, salt, cornstarch, oil and chicken broth.  In actuality, this is a quick boil soup first and then double-boiled within the winter melon – or at least, that’s how this recipe goes. The thicker the winter melon, the longer it will need to be double-boiled, but at least you make the soup base first.

To start, soak all your dried Chinese goodies for 10-15 minutes – this includes the mushrooms, the conpoys and the shrimp.

Cut up the mushrooms. We don’t need the mushrooms ends, so you can discard this. Cut the mushrooms into tiny cubes. The idea is to use consistency across all the soup ingredients so they are the same size.

You can start working on “emptying” the winter melon. Start by slicing the top straight across, these beautiful parts can be used in your soup (less skin). Using a sharp, thin, knife, cut about 1 inch away from the edge and completely remove all the middle. You can discard the seeds first and keep the flesh to be added back into the soup. Go deep and leave about 1-inch from the bottom, you’ll have to be careful here and just eyeball it. Try really hard not to puncture the winter melon!  Using any parts of the leftover winter melon, cube that into the same size as the mushrooms. This will be used for your soup later.

Same with your meats. Cube the raw shrimp and raw pork. After this, you can mix them together with a bit of salt, oil and corn starch, in preparation for frying.  In a pot, add a tiny bit of oil and pan fry the dried shrimp and conpoy. This makes the fragrance and all the flavours are ready to come out in the soup. In Cantonese, there’s a term called “exploding the fragrance” of the ingredients.

When cooked for about 3 minutes on medium-high heat, throw in the raw shrimp and pork and stir that around a little bit for another 5 minutes.

You will then have a beautiful and very fragrant medley of your meats for the soup. Good enough to just eat on its own – for sure! But don’t!! You need it for the soup!

Here’s where it gets tricky. I made a giant pot of soup – so much that it doesn’t fit into the winter melon, which is OK, because you can still drink the quick boil as a quick boil soup any way. I used 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts water – this is because I don’t like soup too salty, and you can always add more salt or chicken broth after.
So now, throw everything into your pot. The broth and the straw mushrooms (which are also diced) and the diced winter melon.

Let that boil on medium heat for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in your double-boiler, set it up so that you have a the winter melon sitting on a metal low dish (to catch any soup just in case) and add hot water to the outside double-boiler.

Once it’s set up, you can turn up the flame to a medium-high to get the water boiling. Once your other quick boil soup is read, scoop in generous amounts of the meats and “stuff” (fill about half) and then fill the rest with the soup. It won’t all fill, but tis is life sometimes!

The idea is that the heat will soften the winter melon bowl and the flavours of the soup will just seep into the flesh and make it so deliciously yummy! Boil on a medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until you see that the winter melon has softened and turned translucent. This means, it’s ready!

Finally, serve! Use a hardy soup ladle and scoop the soup meats, the soup itself and don’t forget to go for the outer winter melon flesh – that’s why it’s cooked in the double-boiler!

This was one awesome soup and I was super proud that it was a huge success on my first attempt! I’ve also had requests to try it with a larger winter melon, so that will be my next project. There are so many variations you can make on the soup though, like including Chinese preserved ham, ham, go vegetarian?, carrots, onions – whatever!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 30 mins pre-boil on soup + 2 hours in double-boiler (or until the whole outer melon softens)

Total time: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Serves: 4-5 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 small whole winter melon (that has to fit in your double-boil pot) – emptied and cube the flesh
  • 7 fresh shrimp, beheaded and peeled
  • 1/2 pound of fresh pork
  • 5 dried conpoys (or scallops)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp
  • 10 small dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 5 fresh straw mushrooms
  • salt (for taste as needed)
  • oil (for frying the ingredients first)
  • cornstarch (to thicken the soup as needed)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak your dried Chinese ingredients in warm water for 10-15 minutes (Chinese mushrooms, conpoys, shrimp)
  2. Empty out the middle of your winter melon – keeping in completely intact with the exception of the top. Keep to 1-inch of melon left from the edge. Throw away the seeds.
  3. Cut all your ingredients into cubes – Chinese mushrooms (removing the stems), straw mushrooms, any left over winter melon, fresh shrimp, fresh pork
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cornstarch and oil to your fresh shrimp and pork and mix
  5. In a pot, add a tiny bit of oil and fry (drain water) the dried conpoy and dried shrimp for 5 minutes on medium heat
  6. Throw in the raw shrimp and pork and fry for another 5 minutes
  7. Keep on medium heat, add in 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts boiling water
  8. Add in the remaining winter melon flesh and straw mushrooms
  9. Boil on medium for 30 minutes
  10. In your double-boiler, raise your winter melon (in a metal deep dish) and add hot water.
  11. Once your soup boils, scoop in enough stuff and soup to fill the winter melon.
  12. Boil on medium high for 30 minutes – or until the winter melon flesh is translucent.
  13. Serve all, including scooping the winter melon flesh and enjoy

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Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Soup Name

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Traditional Chinese Name:  

冬瓜雞湯 (dōng guā jī tāng)

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

Here is a variation on the wintermelon soup using chicken as the protein instead of pork.  It’s slightly cooling, helping to repair your yin energy and release heat from the body. 

I used a new root that I normally don’t put into this soup, which is the Japanese gobo root.  It’s has earthy, dark, and rich tones, so only use 3-4 pieces of it.  Add in your Chinese herbal base of dried red dates, dried longans, dried scallops, and dried goji berries to lighten it up and you’ve got yourself a beautiful summer soup for the whole family!

 

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 30 mins on stove + 4 hours in thermal pot

Total time: 5 hours 

Serves: 8-10 bowls

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Boil 1 separate pot of water to blanch your protein
  2. You can also begin to boil your pot of soup water in the thermal pot with the 3L of cold water
  3. Prepare your chicken any way you’d like.  I tend to quarter it and reserve the breast for another meal, using only the legs and bones.
  4. In your blanching pot, drop in the chicken bones and meat into the boiling water and blanch for 5-6 minutes, or until the water re-boils.
  5. Slice the wintermelon into large pieces, keeping the skin on.
  6. Using gloves, peel the Chinese (or Japanese) Yam and cut into large 2-inch thick pieces
  7. Cut the gobo root into 2 inch long pieces, keeping the skin on
  8. When your soup water boils, transfer the meat, add in the dried herbal ingredients, and all the roots and wintermelon
  9. Boil on high for 30 minutes
  10. Transfer for a thermal pot for another 4 hours to let it finish cooking
  11. Serve and enjoy!

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

 

 

 

Chef tips:

  • Keep the skin on the wintermelon to prevent it from disintegrating into the soup
  • Use gloves when handling the Chinese or Japanese Yam root as it is slippery and can make your hands itchy
  • When using a whole chicken, you can save either the breasts or legs for another meal and use only the bones
  • Use a thermal pot to conserve energy and make the technology work for you!  

 

Turkey Chinese Congee (Porridge)

Turkey Chinese Congee (Porridge)

Turkey Chinese Congee (Porridge)

Soup Name: Turkey Chinese Congee

Traditional Chinese Name: 火雞粥 (huǒ jī zhōu)

Introduction: What to do with a 19 pound turkey for a family of 6? Well, after carving it, you have more meat leftover than carcass and I’ve taken half of the carcass for congee and the other half for soup. Don’t forget to keep the skin as it’s roasted and delicious. The base is just turkey and congee rice, but I also decided to add roasted peanuts as part of the base. You can also add dried scallops, dried tofu skin, dried octopus as well. The garnishes are also very vast…. today I went with both century preserved duck eggs and preserved salted duck eggs, as well as preserved vegetables and green onions as there was no salt added to the congee.

What Ingredients are required?

1 half of a turkey carcass (bones)2 cups of turkey meat
2 cups of round congee rice
3/4 of a large pot of water
fresh peeled peanuts
salt to taste

How do I prepare it?

  1. Boil your water first
  2. In a shallow pan, add a teaspoon of oil and pan fry the peanuts on medium heat until they are a golden brown (this makes the congee more fragrant)
  3. When you water boils, add in the congee rice and boil on high heat for 10 minutes, stirring the bottom ensuring it doesn’t stick
  4. Add in the leftover turkey and peanuts and boil on high for another 5 minutes before reducing heat to low and cover (you can use a chopstick to prop it open so it doesn’t boil over) for one hour, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot
  5. Serve, top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • This soup is naturally flavored (slightly salty from the turkey meat and bones)
  • Really,  no additives needed (salt or sugar)
  • Great as a meal, for kids and the whole family
  • This is a great congee base for adding other ingredients
  • You can save this in the freezer for up to one month or in the fridge for consumption for up to 3 three (but reboil it before eating)

Any precautions?

  • Be cautious of tiny bones if serving to children (although it’s unlikely if you have kept the turkey carcass together)
  • There are peanuts in this congee, so take care if you or someone is allergic to nuts

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FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

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A Do-It-Yourself Japanese Shabu Shabu Experience

A Do-It-Yourself Japanese Shabu Shabu Experience

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Check out this 2 part homemade broth and Japanese-styled shabu shabu experience!

Serves: Party of 4-6

Prep Time:  30 mins

Cook Time:  3 hours and 15 mins

Eat Time:  Endless

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

Check out the video on how to create an awesome and delicious Japanese-styled shabu shabu in the comfort of your home with a chicken broth base from scratch.

Shabu shabu literally means “swish swish” in English and it is a pre-loaded hotpot with all your favourite ingredients such as white radish, carrots, leeks, a variety of leafy greens, a mix of Japanese mushrooms, firm (or soft tofu), and a selection of cute Japanese fish cakes.  Perfect for the whole family and ideal for colder weather!

Serve with your choice of meats, seafood, more greens, fish balls, noodles or rice and you’ve got yourself a family favourite!

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GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

ON YOUTUBE

ON INSTAGRAM

ON FACEBOOK