Friday, November 23, 2007

Wintermelon Soup With Chicken Feet

Winter melon gives a sweetness to soups and can be a lovely warming soup on a cold night. The oysters lend the soup a delicate smokey taste too. Overall this is a soup which goes down well with many people.

According to, winter melon clears heat, detoxifies, quenches thirst, relieves irritability, dispels dampness and is particularly effective in regulating blood sugar.

Try this soup!

Winter melon Soup With Chicken Feet

1 wedge of medium sized winter melon ("tung kwa")
5 dried oysters, soaked
1 whole chicken thigh (remove skin)
3 pairs chicken feet (chop off claws)
3 red dates (pitted)
Salt to taste

Chop the chicken thigh into bite-sized pieces. Chop chicken feet into 2 sections. Scald chicken thighs and chicken feet.

Bring water to a boil. Put in all the ingredients into the pot. Boil furiously for 10 minutes and then cover pot to allow it to simmer for 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and sugar.

This is how winter melon looks like - in case you want to know.

Chicken Garlic Kei Chi Soup

I was clearing off some old files of mine when I found this recipe! I have not tried it yet but I think it should be a delicious soup, as chicken and kei chi/medlar seeds/wolfberries lend a sweetness to the soup. Plus garlic too - I am a big user of garlic and I think this magic bulb does wonders to anything, be it soup or stew.

If you do try it, let me know how it tastes like. This is a quick soup which can be ready in 30 minutes.

Chicken Garlic Kei Chi Soup

2 chicken thighs (400g)
100g garlic (peeled)
25g kei chi (wolfberries)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 Tbsp oil
1.2 litres boiling water
1 Tbsp chopped Chinese parsley

1. Remove excess fat from the chicken thighs, wash and pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut each thigh into four pieces.

2. Heat the wok with the oil, add garlic, stir-fry for a minute and add chicken and white pepper. Continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes.

3. Lastly add boiling water, kei chi, salt and soya sauce, cover and boil on medium heat for 20 minutes.

4. Skim off excess oil before serving with chopped Chinese parsley.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dried Fig, Apple and Almond Soup

I got this link from a reader of this blog. And what a great link it was... it was linked to a soup recipe and of course a book by someone called Grace Young.

Grace's book is called "The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing". I hope to find this book at my local Borders Bookstore one of these days. It reads like one of those books I simply want in my TCM book collection!

Here's a recipe called Dried Fig, Apple and Almond Soup taken from Grace's book. There's more information about this soup/tonic from the Global Gourmet website, a link given by a reader, TC!

Dried Fig, Apple and Almond Soup
by Grace Young

According to Grace, this soup helps cure a persistent cough. I always think that it's better to take a tonic than to take cough medicine. A tonic tastes so much better too!

1/4 cup Chinese almonds (nom hung)
4 to 5 Chinese almonds (buck hung)
3 medium red Delicious apples, unpeeled
8 ounces pork loin, well trimmed
10 Chinese dried figs, rinsed

Rinse almonds in several changes of cold water. Soak almonds in 1/2 cup cold water overnight to soften almonds.

Core apples and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges.

In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add pork and return to a boil, skimming any scum that forms.

Add the apple wedges, dried figs, almonds and their soaking water. Return to a boil over high heat.

Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 3 hours. Serve piping hot (no more than 1-1/2 cups per person).

For more information, visit Grace Young's website at

Melon, Kei Chi and Carrot Quick Soup

Here's a quickie soup for those of you pressed for time (aren't we all? Sometimes I think we're like ants. Busy busy and busier!)

Melon, Kei Chi and Carrot Soup is my invention but it tastes pretty good I must say!

I made it two nights ago, after a long day at work. But the beauty of this soup is that it takes all of 30 minutes or less to boil and you can get instant soup (my other instant soup lifesaver is instant miso which I dump into hot water, add some tofu cubes and spring onions and I am ready to go. But that's another story for another day, ya?)

Melon, Kei Chi and Carrot Soup

You need:

1 small melon (you know the fat, green ones - peel skin and cube, with seeds on. Do not throw away the seeds.)
1/2 a carrot, cubed or sliced, up to you
1 tablespoon kei chi/wolfberries, soaked in water to hydrate
1/2 cup minced pork, marinated with 1 tsp cornflour, some salt and pepper and some sesame oil
1 liter water
2 cloves garlic, smashed with back of a cleaver
1 slice ginger, smashed with back of a cleaver

Bring water to boil in a pot. Once water is boiling, add in the ginger, melon cubes, carrot and kei chi. Boil for 10 minutes and then reduce fire, so that soup simmers.

In a pan, heat up some oil and saute garlic until almost brown. Stir this into the soup. This gives the soup a deeper flavour and a sheen of oil.

After 15 minutes of simmering, turn up the heat so that soup is boiling again. Form balls with the minced pork and add to the soup. When you drop the minced pork balls into the soup, a fast boiling soup makes the meat balls cook faster too.

Season soup with salt, sugar and pepper. Add a little soya sauce too if you like.

Turn down heat and slowly simmer for another 10 minutes. And voila, it's ready to be served.

(Before you serve, please remove the ginger slice. It's not fun to bite into ginger!). As for the garlic, it would have melted into the soup so there's no need to scoop it out.

Quick isn't it? Now you go try it and tell me how it goes!

See ya!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tong Sum and Red Date Tea

I caught an interesting cooking show on TV last night. On Astro's Asian Food Channel (Channel 703), I watched a show on TCM. It was a Taiwanese programme where the host and hostess spoke in Mandarin and sometimes a smattering of Taiwan Hokkien.

The show featured 3 recipes each segment, using TCM herbs with the herbalist host explaining about the uses of the specific herbs. Then the lady hostess would cook up a dish, usually a main course, using the herbs.

While I am not very interested in making dishes like prawn balls with Chinese herbs (it seemed just too much work!), I liked the 2 other recipes they showed.

One was a milk beverage with herbs (I can't recall what now). But the other one was easy. A tong sum and red date tea.

Tong sum or dang shen is a mild herb which resembles a dry, gnarled twig the size of a finger. It is called the poor man's ginseng in some instances because it shares similar properties with the more expensive ginseng. Dang shen is actually a root which benefits the spleen and lungs and is often used together with other herbs in soups.

This inexpensive herb helps to boost immunity, nourishes blood and lowers blood pressure. That's why it is suitable to restore health to the body, especially one that's been ill or unwell. It helps with restoring one's appettite too.

It is also a herb to use for promoting digestion especially if you have a sluggish digestion (indicated by bloating and indigestion).

To simmer this tea, you need some dried red dates (seeded) and some dang shen. Wash and put both into a pot with 2 bowls of water. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until water is reduced to one bowl. Drink warm.