Old Cucumber

Old Cucumber

Old Cucumber

Ingredient Name: Old Cucumber

Traditional Chinese Name: 老黄瓜 (lǎo huáng guā)

Nature:  Cooling

Taste:  Sweet

Looking to build your Chinese soup pantry?  Watch this video on “7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients” to help you get started!

 

Thank you to a follower who asked about what “kind” of cucumber is an “old cucumber”!  After some research, it’s basically, the aged on-the-vine-regular-cucumber.

The key is to keep it aging ON THE VINE until the skin is a dark orange brownish hue.

Old cucumbers are usually yellow, brown, and orangey in color and have quite a thick and wrinkled skin (makes sense given that it’s aged).  The inner flesh is almost white, but slightly yellowed as well.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, old cucumbers are cooling and help clear heat and moisture, and eliminate toxins from the body.  They are best used in spring soups where the weather is damp and humid.

Generally, old cucumber soups found in the Cantonese cuisine are made with beans (yellow, mung, red, black eyed) or barley or lentil.  These ingredients also help dispel moisture and are perfectly suited as spring soups when days are getting warm and humid.

 

 

 

How do I prepare it?
    I will gently wash the outside skin with warm running water.  I tend to keep the skin ON when using old cucumbers so it doesn’t disintegrate as it softens in the soup.  The skin is quite tough and hard, so it does the job in holding the cucumber flesh together in the soup.
    Alternatively, you can remove the skin and cut into smaller squares for quick boil soups as well.
Where can I buy it?
      • In most Asian supermarkets, you will find this unique type of cucumber
      • In wet marts in Hong Kong, simply ask the produce vendor and they will point you to it
      • Be sure to buy large, firm and heavy in weight cucumbers
Where can I buy it and cost?
      • Old cucumbers cost around $20-25 HKD each
Any benefits?
      • Old cucumber is good for clearing heatiness (cooling effect) and has a diuretic effect
      • They help dispel moisture and clear toxins in the body
      • Extremely high in dietary fibre, Calcium and Iron
      • It is also a good source of Vitamins A, B6 and C
Any precautions?
      • Old cucumbers are known to be a “cooling” food
      • Women who are pregnant or menstruating should take caution when consuming this

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Bok Choy

Bok Choy

Bok Choy

Ingredient Name:

Bok Choy or Chinese Cabbage

Traditional Chinese Name:

白菜 (báicài)

This ingredient is sweet to taste and cooling in nature. 

For soup videos, visit us on YouTube!

 

Bok choy is  cooler ingredients relative to its cabbage cousins and targets the stomach and large intestines.  It’s also a great for clearing excess water and detoxifying the body, including aiding in digestion. 

Dried bok choy is more salty (and even sweet) relative to it’s fresh counterpart.  It’s actually super tasty and they have the same properties (even when dried!).

How do I prepare it?

    Simply wash well under running water to remove any pesticides and bugs.  You can cut off part of the end as well as these are soil plants and tend to have a lot of soil on them as well.
    Look for white stems and dark green leaves.  The bok choy should be firm and crispy.  These vegetables are high in water content so should stay quite firm if they are fresh.  Over time, they will shrivel, become wrinkled, and dry out.  So just pay attention to freshness.

Where can I buy it?

      • You can buy bok choy in most supermarkets these days are they are now grown and harvested in many countries around the world. 

What is the cost?

      • These vegetables aren’t very expensive and usually cost around $3-4 HKD per catty

Any benefits?

  • Bok choy is a good source of calcium, vitamin C, and is high in antioxidants
  • It is a high fibre and low calorie vegetable
  • It is sustainable in growth in a variety of weather conditions and therefore can easily be grown almost anywhere in the world
  • This is a cooling ingredients, so can help reduce heat in the body

Any precautions?

      • Since it’s cooling (is a yin ingredient), take caution to consume if you’ve got excess yin or yang deficiency

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Watercress

Ingredient Name: Watercress

Traditional Chinese Name: 西洋菜 (xīyáng cài)
A very popular vegetable used to remove excess heatiness in the body.  It’s a versitile plant with uses in a variety of cultures.  The one thing that I hate about this plant is the high level of bugs you can find in them.  When boiled in soup, the bugs usually float to the top of the soup – which makes it easy for extraction, but even then, as a kid, it was the grossest thing to see in your soup.  As a mother now, I just wave it off and think “more nutrients” but caution prevails because many of the bugs are actually parasites.


What is this?

  • A fast-growing aquatic plant that is part of the cabbage family
  • It can be eaten cooked or raw and is often found in salads, sandwiches and soups
  • The plant is cultivated before flower buds appear or else the leaves become too rank in flavour for consumption
  • Watercress is not normally found in dried form and therefore can only be stored for a short period of time – ideally, it is consumed fresh
  • This plant is available all year round

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash in cold salted water at least twice to remove potential pesticides and parasites

Where can I buy this?

  • You are able to purchase fresh watercress from most supermarkets
  • It is a highly perishable food and needs to be consumed within a few days of purchase

What is the cost?

  • Watercress is very affordable and costs around $1.00 – $2.00 per bundle

Any benefits?

  • Watercress is high in iron, calcium, folic acid, and Vitamins A & C
  • When boiled in soup, it assists in removing heatiness and relieves coughs
  • Western studies have found that watercress may reduce the risk of cancer

Any precautions?

  • Watercress tends to grow in areas of high animal waste and is good breeding grounds for parasites and bacteria, therefore it is highly recommended to thoroughly wash watercress before consumption
  • Be sure to add watercress to BOILING water, else it will make the watercress bitter
  • Flowering watercress is also bitter, so buy young and flowerless watercress to reduce the chance of bitterness in the soup

Resources

Bok Choy (Dried)

Bok Choy (Dried)

Bok Choy (Dried)

Ingredient Name:

Bok Choy (Dried) or Chinese Cabbage

Traditional Chinese Name:

菜乾 (cài gān)

This ingredient is sweet to taste and cooling in nature. 

For soup videos, visit us on YouTube!

 

Bok choy is  cooler ingredients relative to its cabbage cousins and targets the stomach and large intestines.  It’s also a great for clearing excess water and detoxifying the body, including aiding in digestion. 

Dried bok choy is more salty (and even sweet) relative to it’s fresh counterpart.  It’s actually super tasty and they have the same properties (even when dried!). Drying the bok choy dates back from Chinese history as a way to preserve the vegetable after the harvest season and has a very long shelf life once dried if stored in cool, dry places.  It becomes somewhat brittle and hard, but has a very fragrant smell to it and is even more delicious when softened and cooked.

There are actually a lot of uses for dried bok choy.  You can use them soups, stews, stir fry, even in dumplings (chopped up)!  They are a versatile ingredient and pretty common in Chinese cuisines.  They have somewhat of a chewy texture (it’s all that fiber), but soften super nicely in soup and stews.  

 

How do I prepare it?

    Soak in cool water until it’s completely softened and limp (like it flows with the water).  Be sure to completely soak and rinse it a few times as the curing process tends to attract a lot of flies and you’ll see them surface out as you wash these vegetables.

    Where can I buy it?

        • Dried bok choy is most common in Asian supermarkets

    What is the cost?

        • Dried bok choy isn’t very expensive cost around $3-4 CAD per pack of dried bok choy

    Any benefits?

    • Bok choy is a good source of calcium, vitamin C, and is high in antioxidants
    • It is a high fibre and low calorie vegetable
    • It is sustainable in growth in a variety of weather conditions and therefore can easily be grown almost anywhere in the world
    • This is a cooling ingredients, so can help reduce heat in the body

    Any precautions?

        • Since it’s cooling (is a yin ingredient), take caution to consume if you’ve got excess yin or yang deficiency

        • Be sure to thoroughly soak them and rinse them in running water a few times.  These tend to harbor so many little bugs that the children will find!

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