Beetroot

 

Beetroot

Ingredient Name:  Beetroot, red beet, garden beet, or beet

Traditional Chinese Name: 紅菜頭 (hóng cài tóu)

What is this?

  • A dark, red root that brings a rich, bright red color to your soup
  • The texture of the beetroot (when boiled in soup) is similar to that of the white radish and takes awhile to soften relative to other rooty veggies (carrots and potatoes)
  • Be sure to select beetroots that are firm in texture with a vibrant colour (not squishy or soft feeling) – this means they are fresh!
  • This root brings a mild and sweet taste to the soup that is awesome!

How do I prepare it?

  • Cut off the top (or the leaves) as I don’t use it in my soups
  • You can treat this like any other root (ie: carrot, potatoes)
  • Rinse under warm water to wash away the dirt and remove the skin by peeling or slicing away
  • Slice or chop into edible sizes (as the beet doesn’t dissolve or soften as quickly as carrots or potatoes)

Where can I buy this?

  • Most supermarkets will carry this

What is the cost?

  • In Hong Kong, 1 root (as pictured above) costs around $22 HKD (which is pretty expensive for a veggie!) at the wet mart

Any benefits?

  • The beetroot provides an excellent source of folate, manganese, potassium and iron
  • Excellent in supporting blood supplement and helps lower blood pressure (because the beetroot contains nitrates which help open the blood vessels and helps with circulation)
  • They are also packed with Vitamins and antioxidants
  • Beetroots are also a great source of fibre, so it can be definitely eaten like a meal as part of your soup

Any precautions?

  • Consumption of beetroot may turn your urine or stool slightly reddish, there is nothing to fear in this as it is harmless. Just let it pass through your system.
  • The colour of the beetroot will stain your hands, so either wear gloves or use some lemon juice to help remove

 

Gobo Root or Greater Burdock

Ingredient Name: Gobo root, Gobo, Greater burdock, Edible burdock

Traditional Chinese Name: 牛蒡 (niúbàng)

What is this?
  • The root of a of the greater burdock plant family that is mainly cultivated for its root and is considered a vegetable
  • The roots are brown and roughly 1-2 inches in diameter and can grow up to 1 meter in length
  • It has a white, slightly brown flesh that is crunchy in texture
  • Most commonly found in Japanese cuisine and specifically in Chinese medicine
  • It is sweet to taste and adds a wonderful flavor to soups
  • Can be used fried, raw, processed or made into a drink

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse the roots in warm water and peel off skin prior to usage
  • would suggest to soak in warm water for 10-15 minutes to remove the muddy harshness flavor associated with the root
  • Cut into large bite-sizes for soups and consumption

Where can I buy this?

  • Available in most Asian supermarkets

What is the cost?

  • 5-6 foot long pieces cost around $5 CAD

Any benefits?

  • High in dietary fiber and low in calories and fat
  • Contains high amounts of calcium, potassium, iron and amino acids
  • As a Chinese medicine, it has a diuretic effect and promotes bowel movements
  • It is also effective in removing wind heat from the body as well as phlegm
  • Helps to reduce blood sugar, blood fat and blood pressure

Any precautions?

  • Some burdocks resemble another plant called nightshade and contamination may occur
  • Be sure to buy burdocks from a reputable source

Any additional information?

  • Store in a cool, dry place
  • Can store up to 5 days in a refrigerated environment

Resources

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_burdock

Figwort Root

Ingredient Name: Figwort Root, Radix Scrophulariae (Chinese scientific name)

Traditional Chinese Name: 玄參 (xuán shēn)

What is this?
  • The dried root of a flower plant of the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae)
  • There are a variety of figwort plants and are often named by their location (ie: The one pictured above is from Zhejiang)
  • There are uses for both the figwort plant leaves and roots
  • The root is extracted at the end of the season (winter) and dried for usage
  • Considered a mildly cooling Chinese herb

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage to ensure all dirt and soil is removed

Where can I buy this?

  • Most herbal shops will carry this
  • Wet marts in Hong Kong will also sometimes carry this

What is the cost?

  • Extremely affordable
  • 5 g cost around $5 HKD (as pictured above)

Any benefits?

  • Excellent for reducing heatiness in the body and clearing toxins
  • Ideal for soup and drink compositions that remove fire from the body
  • Great for healing the throat and lungs and provides benefits to these bodily functions (ie: sore throats, coughing)
  • Nourishes the Yin

Any precautions?

  • As it is mild cooling, pregnant women in their first trimester should take caution as cooling ingredients can cause contractions
  • Has a distinct pungent smell

Resources

Rhizoma Imperatae

Ingredient Name:  Rhizoma Imperatae, Mao Gen or Cogon Grass

Traditional Chinese Name: 茅根 (mao gen)

What is this?

  • A rhizoma (or underground stem) that has roots and shoots underground
  • These are long, thin stems that are beige in colour and can be found fresh or dried
  • They are slightly sweet in taste and are said to be a “cooling” food

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash thoroughly before use

Where can I buy this?

  • It is also available in Hong Kong wet marts (fresh)
  • You can purchase this in most Asian supermarkets (most likely prepackaged with sugar canes)

What is the cost?

  • The imperatae is very affordable with a bunch (about 10-15 stalks) at $5 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Clears away heatiness in the body, lungs and stomach
  • Helps in cooling the blood and internal organs
  • Aids in urination

Resources

Sweet potatoes


Ingredient Name:
Sweet potatoes
 
Traditional Chinese Name:  蕃薯 (gān shǔ)
 
What is this?
  • Sweet, starchy tuber that resembles the potato in shape and size
  • The colours of sweet potatoes range from dark brown to light pink to dark purple with varying colours on the inside (there are over 1,000 variaties of sweet potatoes)
  • Often mistaken for or named Yam (which is a different vegetable)
  • Sweet potatoes can be found almost everywhere in the world
  • It has many culinary uses (from sweet to salty flavours)

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash thoroughly in cool water
  • Peel skin prior to use and remove ends

Where can I buy this?

  • You can buy from most supermarkets

What is the cost?

  • Sweet potatoes cost varies depending on the breed, size and originality
  • In general, I usually purchase Japanese sweet potatoes and those cost around $50 HKD per pound

Any benefits?

  • Extremely rich in beta-carotene, dietary fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin B
  • Good source of simple starches
  • Choose orange fleshed sweet potatoes for a boost of beta-carotene over their paler counterparts

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to buy firm sweet potatoes

Any substitutes?

  • The yam makes a good substitute as they are similar in taste and texture (although bigger and have thicker skin)

Any additional information?

  • Sweet potatoes stores extremely well in dry weather and can keep up to 3-6 months without refrigeration

Resources: