Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth
Starfish, Corn with Chinese Yam in Pork Broth
海星玉米淮山湯 (hǎi xīng yù mǐ huái shān tāng)
This soup is slightly cooling, designed to remove internal heat.
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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!
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!
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.
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).
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!
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 2 hours 30 mins
Total time: 3 hours
Serves: 6-8 portions
- 2 dried starfish, soaked, cleaned and quartered
2 fresh corn, quartered
3-foot long fresh Chinese Yam, peeled and cut into 1-inch sections
- 1-inch long piece of fresh ginger, sliced
- 1 piece of dried tangerine peel
- 1 tablespoon of dried scallops (or conpoys)
- 1 pound of fresh pork shank
- 2L of water
- salt to taste
- Soak in cool water, the dried starfish, dried scallops and dried tangerine peel for 15 minutes
2. Begin to prepare the corn by quartering it and the Chinese Yam, by peeling and cutting 1-inch long pieces (be sure to wear gloves)
3. Using a sharp knife edge, scrape off the top-side (darker side) of the tangerine peel in running water (to remove more of the bitterness)
4. Using a sharp knife edge, scrape off the underside of the starfish until all the little rivets are gone
5. Cut the starfish into suitable sized pieces for your soup
6. Thinly Slice your fresh ginger
7. In a separate pot, boil enough water to cover the starfish and once it’s boiling, throw in the ginger (saving 1-2 pieces for the soup) and blanch the starfish on high heat for 5 minutes
8. Remove the starfish and set aside
9. In the same pot, boil enough water to cover your pork shank and blanch that on high heat for 5 minutes
10. Remove the pork shank and set aside
11. Boil your soup water
12. Once the water boils, add all the ingredients together (including the remaining ginger). Boil on high heat for 30 minutes and reduce to a medium heat for 2 hours.
13. Taste and salt as necessary
14. Serve and enjoy!