Codonopsis Pilosula Root

Ingredient Name: Codonopsis Pilosula Root, Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae

Chinese Name: 党參 or 黨參 (dǎngshēn)

What is this?
  • Typically, only the root of the codonopsis pilosula plant is used in chinese soups and medicine
  • It is also known as poor man’s ginseng because it is a milder and more economical substitute for ginseng
  • The root is believed to have many health benefits, and is mainly known as a chi tonic used to replenish chi in the body
  • It has a slightly sweet taste

How do I prepare it?

  • Simply rinse under running water and it is ready to use

Where can I buy this?

  • Codonopsis pilosula can be purchased at any Chinese dried herb shop

What is the cost?

  • 1/2 pound of codonopsis pilosula costs approximately $50 CAD

Any benefits?

  • In traditional Chinese medicine, the root of c. pilosula is used as a tonic for lungs and spleen.  It is believed to lower blood pressure, increase red and white blood cell count, cure appetite loss, strengthen the immune system and replenish chi
  • Women who have recently given birth are encouraged to use this herb during the traditional postpartum confinement period to nourish their blood and improve uterine function
  • In the Western world, pharmacological research has indicated that the herb promotes digestion and metabolism, helps to strengthen the immune system, stimulates the nervous system, and lowers blood pressure.

Any precautions?

  • It is slightly heaty and should be avoided if you are excessively heaty

References

Arrowroot

Ingredient Name: Arrowroot or Obedience Plant
Traditional Chinese Name: 粉葛 (fěn gé)
What is this?
  • Arrowroot is the edible starch from the rhizomes (rootstock) of West Indian arrowroot
  • It is often ground down to a powdered starch form which is completely white and powdery in form
  • The powder itself is used as a thickener, in cakes, pies, soups, and sauces
  • The rhizome itself can grow up to 6-7 pounds in weight at maturity
  • Arrowroot has no flavour or smell, but when boiled it has a slighty nutty sweet taste
  • If used in soups as cubes, the root is very fibery and coarse

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash and peel the arrowroot
  • Cut into cubes for soup usage

Where can I buy this?

  • You can buy arrowroot from most Asian supermarkets
  • It is also available in the wet marts in Hong Kong and can be bought by preference of weight and size

What is the cost?

  • Arrowroot costs roughly $1.00 CAD / pound, so a large arrowroot can easily cost $5 – $6

Any substitutes?

  • A good substitute for the arrowroot in soups is the lotus root

Any benefits?

  • Due to its blandness, it’s suitable for many diets (especially soups for children)
  • The arrowroot does contain a healthy amount of calcium
  • It is recommended for people who feel nauseous to consume arrowroot and helps soothes upset stomachs

Any precautions?

  • The arrowroot is not a highly nutritious food with 84% of the root composed of starch
  • Arrowroots can be quite dirty and need to be thoroughly washed prior to consumption
  • If purchasing arrowroot powder, be sure to purchase it from a reputatble source as some sources many not sell PURE arrowroot

Additional Information?

  • Fresh arrowroot stores relatively well in the fridge and can keep for up to 1 month

Resources:

Lotus Root

Lotus Root

Ingredient Name:

Lotus Root or Lotus Rhizomes (Fresh)

Traditional Chinese Name:

蓮藕 (liánǒu)

Nature:  Neutral

Taste:  Sweet (and slightly sour)

You can start your “Chinese Basic Soup Pantry” here!

These are the underwater roots of the lotus flower and tend to grow up to 4 feet in length.  They brown in color and grow in bulbed sections similar to balloons!  The interiors have holes and are light brown in colour.  They are slightly sweet to taste, crispy and light in texture (when fresh), and are stringy when eaten.  You can eat these both raw and cooked in Asian cuisine and are commonly used in salads, stews, soups, stir fry, appetizers and even desserts!

I personally love using lotus roots because it’s a great addition to the meal (not just the soup), it creates an earthy, sweet, dark rich flavour to the soup, they have amazing shelf life in the fridge (up to 2 weeks) where they’re still crunchy, and they are an amazingly versatile ingredient 

 

How do I prepare it?

    When you’re buying these, be sure they are firm to touch and not squishy – that’s a sign of freshness.
    I will store the in the fridge for a longer life span.
    To prepare, rinse with running water to remove any dirt.  As these roots are harvested from the water within ponds and bodies of water, they tend to accumulate a lot of dirt, particularly if they get into the holes of the lotus root.  So rinse well with water, or soak in water.
    I will also peel (with a peeler) the skin and then slice or cube or chop, depending on how it’s being used.  For soups, I’ll quarter or slice, depending on how I’m feeling.  If I’m doing a quicker boil, I’ll make thinner slices.

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • You can buy these fresh in your local supermarkets, they are both available in western and Asian supermarkets
      • These are definitely available in wet marts in Hong Kong
      • I’ve also seen these are pre-packaged, pre-sliced, pre-washed lotus roots in supermarkets in the cold sections
      • I see these all year round as lotus roots have a very long harvest life (usually between July – March) with varying taste and texture depending on their harvest time
      • Fresh lotus roots aren’t very expensive and cost around ~$3-5 per pound (CAD)

Any benefits?

      • Lotus roots are high in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, manganese
      • It is low in saturated fat
      • This is a neutral ingredient and can be used in both cooling and warming soup

Any precautions?

      • The lotus root can be eaten raw, but there is a risk of parasite transmission

      • Be sure to thoroughly clean lotus roots as they grow and are harvested in mud

Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?

Check it out in my video to learn more!

 

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Garlic (Fresh)

Garlic (Fresh)

Garlic (Fresh)

Ingredient Name:

Fresh Garlic

Traditional Chinese Name:

蒜 (suàn)

Garlic is warm in nature and sweet to taste.

 

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I honestly think you really begin to appreciate garlic as you age.  I mean, that certainly is the case for me.   I mean, true garlic… yah sure, garlic bread itself is taste, but I mean garlic in it’s raw, true, and glorious form.

The Chinese don’t use garlic very often in soups actually.  It’s common in cooking and dishes and stews, but soups are almost non-existent.  I will, however, sometimes, use garlic in soups.  Part of it is a fusion blend, part of it is to yield the benefits garlic provide into the soup (for the kids, too), and part of it is because I love eating it regardless.  

 

Ingredient Name:  Fresh Garlic
Traditional Chinese Name: 蒜 (suàn)
What is this?
  • A pungent root that is often used for medicinal and culinary purposes
  • The edible bulb is made up of sections called cloves
  • Did you know that garlic is a part of the onion family?
  • Unbroken bulbs can be stored for up to 8 weeks in a cool, dry open container
  • Cloves can be stored for 3-10 days depending on weather and humidity, you can keep them in the fridge for endurance 

How do I prepare it?

  • If you are purchasing bulbs, you will need to extract the cloves from the bulb prior to usage
  • Some like to smash the cloves prior to cooking as it releases more flavour and is easier to disintegrate

Where can I buy this?

  • In any supermarket, they come prepackaged as bulbs or packaged in cloves (ready to serve style)

What is the cost?

  • You can purchase bulbs of garlic that are prepackaged for a few dollars CAD per package
  • Pre-packaged and disassembled bulbs (sold as packaged individual cloves) are more expensive

Any benefits?

  • Garlic is high in anti-oxidants, which help with kill free-raidcals in the body
  • It is also widely recognized in promoting the well-being of the heart and immune system and helps with blood circulation
  • It is also known to be a powerful and natural antibiotic

Any precautions?

  • Over consumption can lead irritation and damage to the digestive tract
  • Due to its pungent smell, garlic eaters often retain and even omit the smell of garlic when it is eaten in excess (this is due to garlic’s essential oils)

Garlic garlic yum yum yum.  It isn’t commonly used in Chinese soups, but I will sometimes put it in my stews for its health benefits and some zing.  I do use garlic like crazy in my baking and cooking.  The Chinese are a big fan of garlic for most of their dishes.