Soup Name: Monkey Head Mushroom with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth
Chinese Name: 猴頭菇豬湯 (hóu tóu gū zhū tāng)
Fresh monkey head mushrooms are a seasonal buy so you can imagine that when they are available, the veggie vendors all recommend this product. It is an extremely versatile product in that you can use it with a variety of vegetables, meats and additives. It is commonly found as a dried product for soup usage as well. This soup was made to help address cough and bugs in the family during the winter season. You can use a chicken soup base if you’d like it warmer, but I went with a pork base and threw in a good piece of dried tangerine peel to help with the cough. This soup is quite tasty, mildly sweet and savory, easy on the stomach, and perfect for the whole family!
In a separate smaller pot, boil some water and when the water boils, blanch your pork
Rinse all the herbs in warm water and set aside
Separately, use a small sharp-edged knife to scrape the dark (outer) side of the dried tangerine peel. This will help reduce the bitterness somewhat of the peel, but this is completely up to you on how pungent of a taste you’d like in the soup!
Wash and cut the corn
Using gloves, wash, peel, and cut the fresh Chinese Yam. You’ll need gloves because they tend to make your hands itchy if you touch them with bare hands.
When your soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
Boil on high heat for 30 minutes and reduce to a simmer for another 2.5 hours
Serve and enjoy!
Excellent soup for the lungs to help relieve cough
Helps moisten the lungs and throat
This soup is said to help strengthen the lungs
Mushrooms can irritate people with gout conditions, so take precaution when consuming
Be sure to buy dried mushrooms from a reputable source
Ginseng is optional as too much can actually be too cooling
Starfish? WHAT? Yah… starfish. I knew that the Chinese used starfish in soups, but I had never actually seen where I could buy starfish, nor tried soups with starfish before. I happened to venture to Lamma Island in Hong Kong one day and ta-da(!) I found some dried starfish! What was even more special was that the lady who sold them was so warm and welcoming that she talked and walked me through the whole process and which ingredients that could potentially go into the soup. In short, starfish soups are designed to remove internal heat, so supplemental ingredients should compliment this. Big learning from me on this soup – while it’s nice to show all the ingredients in my photos, I wouldn’t necessarily scoop any starfish for the kids to see. I actually served only the broth to the family and everyone drank it. See, this is what my Mom did to me when I was a kid and now I’m doing it to mine! My rebuttal is basically – it’s good for you! Don’t mind what’s inside!
Soup Name: Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth
Traditional Chinese Name: 海星玉米淮山湯 (hǎi xīng yù mǐ huái shān tāng)
To see the full recipe, scroll down to skip my commentary.
The ingredients for the soup are: Dried starfish (for this soup, I used 2 whole pieces), one piece of dried tangerine peel, a handful dried scallops, a 1-inch length of fresh ginger, 2 fresh corn, 3-foot long fresh Chinese Yam, and pork shank.
To start, soak the dried starfish, tangerine peel and scallops in cool water for about 15 minutes. This will soften the starfish and peel so that you can remove “stuff” from them. From the tangerine peel, you can scrape off the “peel” or darker side, which is quite bitter and will make your soup bitter. You can do this with a knife. The same actually goes for the starfish. Once its softened, scrape off the bottom-side of the “scales”. These are the little bumps that you can find on the underside. Once it’s scraped, it should look clean like the photo below. Cut the starfish into pieces that actually fit into your pot!
Cleanly scraped starfish
Next, in a separate pot of boiling water, add sliced ginger (save 1 to 2 slices for the soup) and the starfish together and boil for 5 minutes. This will blanch the starfish from impurities, but also will help remove some of the “fishiness”. Some people also pan fry with ginger to remove “fishiness” – this is particularly useful on fish. Remove and set aside.
Blanching starfish in boiling water with fresh ginger
Drain the water and boil a small pot to blanch the pork shank. Another necessary step to remove the impurities, although pork shank doesn’t have as much gunk as pork bones or even pork marrow. This step does help remove some of the fat as well. You can begin to boil your soup water at this time.
You can also prepare your vegetables by chopping them up into large bite-sized pieces. For the Chinese Yam, WEAR GLOVES! If you read my post on preparation of Chinese Yam, this is called out. The skin of the Chinese Yam will make your hands very itchy if you come into contact with it, so be sure to wear gloves. When the soup water boils, throw everything in together (including the 2 pieces of ginger hanging around).
Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in pork broth
Boil on high for 30 minutes and then reduce to a medium boil for another 2 hours. This will really bring out the healing, heat-removal properties of the starfish. The ginger isn’t to counter the heat-removal, that’s why you add a tiny amount – it’s to reduce the “fishiness” of the soup. Once boiled, taste and salt as needed. Then serve and enjoy!