Soups (Asian)

Autumn sword flower soup 霸王花汤

Posted on Updated on

Cantonese loves soups.  There are soups for spring, summer, autumn and winter.

For autumn, one of my favorite therapeutic soups is the sword flower soup.  I cook it as a light bone broth with chicken bones, dried sword flowers,  carrots, almonds,  Chinese dates and Chinese mushrooms.  Just put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker, and it is done in 60 minutes.

Autumn sword flower soup 霸王花汤

Autumn sword flower soup 霸王花汤

Read the rest of this entry »

Snow fungus (雪耳), goji berries (枸杞) and chicken soup

Posted on Updated on

Snow fungus, goji berry and chicken soup

Cantonese love soups.

There are soups for every weather condition, every season and very occasion. There are soups to warm your body, or to cool your temper. The key to a good soup is to balance all the ingredients for maximum nurturing effect. Snow fungus with goji and chicken is one of these well-balanced soups that can rejuvenate your mind and soul.

Snow fungus, also known as the silver fungus, is sometimes recognized as the champion of all fungus.  Historically it was used by the royals and rich families as a remedy to boost their health, with supposedly nurturing effects for internal organs, skin and brain, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects.

Goji berries as a herbal remedy, was documented in various ancient Chinese medicine compendiums dated as early as the 1500’s. Today, it is a common Chinese ingredient with supposedly positive effects on liver, kidney, sore back, joints, tiredness and poor eye sight. Families use it frequently in soups and teas.

Sounds like a magic, doesn’t it. The soup is warm, gentle and comforting. Hope you will like it.

Easy method is as follows:

Read the rest of this entry »

Tomato and egg soup, with Chinese mushroom and miso, memories of friends from the GuangYa Middle School (廣東廣雅中學)

Posted on Updated on

In the 1980s, I attended a local selective school called “GuangYa” in Southern China. It was one of the few schools with boarding facilities. During high school years, boarding was compulsory so the school could control the kids academic progress with minimum disruption. We worked really hard and rarely did anything remotely exciting. On the weekends, other kids were eager to return home to their families. I liked to stay in the school over the weekends to avoid home, a place lack of warmth.

There were a few other kids staying behind too, mostly boys. It was scary to stay in the empty dormitory on my own. It was a huge room lined with over 20 bunk beds, dimly lighted with a few bare bulbs, and filled with dark shadows. There were no cleaners, the kids took turns to sweep the floor. So the room was full of spider webs and dust.

I tried to persuade some other girls to stay behind too. Two of my good friends, Yi and Qin, stayed with me sometimes. We studied the whole weekend at our own pace without bells and patrolling teachers – it was rather peaceful. The school canteen was closed and we were to manage our own meals.

At the back of the school, there was a busy bus terminal, a noodle shop and a few small grocery shops. A strip of the street was occupied by a few vendors that sold fruits, vegetables and some other basic essentials. We often ate noodles for dinner, and brought back a few eggs and vegetables to make soup for supper – we were peckish after our evening study sessions. With no cooking equipment available, we used a small electric kettle.

One of our favorite soups was the tomato and egg soup. It was the simplest soup you could imagine – drop some diced tomato and an egg in the boiling water, a quick stir, salt to taste (or a little soy sauce), and some chopped coriander. The soup is done in 2 minutes, light and delicious.

Ah, good old days – hardship and friendships.

Memories of GuangDong GuangYa Middle School - Friends
Memories of GuangDong GuangYa Middle School – good friends

I am visiting China in a few weeks, and I will be seeing Yi and Qin. It has been 30 years since we said good-bye to each other. I crossed the oceans and moved so very far away from my friends. Today, Yi is a devoted Buddhist and Qin is an energetic entrepreneur.

Here is my more creative version of an egg and tomato soup, with a Chinese mushroom and miso base. I am looking forward to see Yin, Qin and some of my school friends again in a few weeks.

I didn’t write up the recipe – imagination and creativity work best for this dish.

Tomato and egg soup, with Chinese mushroom and miso

Tradition Chinese herbal tea with ‘dang gui’ 當歸, goji berries 枸杞 and red dates 红枣 – a quick pick-me-up (vegan)

Posted on Updated on

There are so many different types of Chinese herbs, some of them are gender specific. ‘Dang gui’ 當歸 is a traditional ‘female ginseng’ for boosting health and wellness. It was said to increase blood supply and improve circulation, reduce menstrual pain, assist with hydration and anti-aging.  My mother used to make me a remedy with ‘dang gui’, goji berries and Chinese red dates. It worked like a magic as a quick pick-me-up.

Overworked and tired, I made myself some ‘dang gui’ tea today.

Tradition Chinese herbal tea with 'dang gui' 當歸, goji berries 枸杞 and red dates 红枣

'Dang gui' (white roots), goji (small berries), Chinese red dates, palm sugar (yellow)
‘Dang gui’ (white roots), goji (small berries), Chinese red dates, palm sugar (yellow)

Here the simple instruction on how to make the herbal tea. Dan gui, goji berries and red dates are available from most Chinese grocery stores in Australia.

Please consume in moderation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rice congee with pan fried fish (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

My little boy asked me last night: ” what was the kindest thing your mommy did to you?” Somehow, I have been asking myself the same question since my mother passed away a few years ago.

“One time, she let me put my cold feet between her legs to warm up.” I said.

“That wasn’t much at all,” said the little boy. He expected every mother to be kind, loving, caring and demonstrates extraordinary devotion to their children.

“One time, I fell down the stairs, and she cooked me a soup with field mice. The soup was said to have calming effect on children after experiencing trauma. There was a wandering vendor balancing a few long bamboo sticks on his shoulder. He put a cotton bag at one end of a stick, opened the lid, and shook out two field mice. He then smashed the bag on the pebbly ground. I was force fed the soup that afternoon.”

“Oh’, said the little boy. “That doesn’t count.”

“Another time, I was very sick, and I couldn’t eat any normal food. My mum cooked me fish and lettuce congee.” I said.

“What happened to you?” The little boy asked.

“I was eight, second grade in a local primary school. After a basketball game, we ran back to the classroom. A boy fell over me, and we fell on a concrete step. My lips were split, and some of my front teeth collapsed. The school principal took me to the hospital at the back of his push bike. I had an operation and could not eat solid food for days.”

I continued, “my mother tried to claim $10 for medical expenses from that boy’s family. But then she found out the boy’s parents were divorced, and the boy lived with his grandmother. They had no income and could barely come up with a few dollars. My mother told them not to worry about the money after that.”

“That was kind,” my little boy was finally satisfied. “What was the boy’s name?”

“Li Hai 李海, means ocean”. I answered. “He had very bright eyes.”

IMG_5037 #1
Impression of Li Hai and other primary boys

This afternoon, I cooked coogee for lunch. Rather than breaking up the fish and cooking it in the congee like a stew, I pan fried a few small pieces of barramundi and served them on top of the congee – tasted lovely.

Rice congee with pan fried fish (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follows. A FODMAPs check list is also attached. Read the rest of this entry »

Asian style ox tail Soup with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and pepper (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

When I attended university in the late 80s, I had the good fortune of studying alongside with a diverse group of Asian kids, many became my friends for life. They exposed me to a large range of comfort food from all over Asian, such as Malaysian hawker dishes and Indonesian desserts.

One of my favorite dishes I learned from my friends was the aromatic Indonesian ox tail soup – a scrumptious bone broth with vegetables, spiced with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Its flavors were enhanced by fried shallots and fresh herbs.  I often crave for it on rainy days. Unfortunately, we don’t have an Indonesian restaurant nearby.  So I have to cook my own.

We can use a pressure cooker for this soup (40 minutes) or a stock pot (slow cook for 5 hours). I like using the stock pot as I can make a huge pot to enjoy over a few days.

I love having this hot soup with some warm rice – really satisfying.

Asian style ox tail Soup with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and pepper (gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Creamy and spicy tomato and capsicum soup with and coconut milk (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Posted on Updated on

We don’t eat much tomatoes in our house, my little boy is a picky eater and my husband utterly dislikes tomatoes. From time to time, I picked up some gorgeous tomatoes and made a dish, ate it all by myself with great contentment.

Today I roasted a batch of tomatoes and red capsicums. I roasted the vegetables and separated them into two batches. With the first batch, I made a spicy soup with coconut milk; with the second batch, I made another spicy soup with ginger, chili and tea (recipe to follow).

According to Monash University, common tomatoes do not contain FODMAPs, perfect for a hearty FODMAP dish – eat freely and according to appetite.

Creamy spicy tomato soup, with roasted tomatoes, chili and coconut milk

 

Roasted tomatoes - creamy and spicy tomato soup with coconut milk (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)
Freshly roasted tomatoes

Recipe is as follows : Read the rest of this entry »

Homemade wheat noodles in soup, memories of a peasant family at a noodle shop

Posted on Updated on

Homemade wheat noodles in soup, memories of a peasant family at a noodle shop

A few evenings ago, I watched Behind the News with my 9 year old boy on ABC iview. Behind the News is a TV news program made for the kids. That evening, the program covered the famine situation in Sudan.  “Had China ever have famine?”my little boy asked. These few innocent words had brought back my memories of a peasant family begging at a cheap noodle restaurant. I could still see their shadows, even today.

In early 70’s, my grandmother cooked communal dinners for the extended families. Each family contributed to the cost of the food. Money and resources were limited at the time. We nearly never went out for dinners, as my mother didn’t want to pay for meals twice. One night, for whatever reasons we were at this cheap noodle restaurant. It was a common and shabby place. The kitchen inside was steamy with a large pot of hot water for cooking the noodles, a large pot of cold water to cool and rinse the noodles, and a large pot of soup with nothing in it and barely any color. We found a table outside with wobbly chairs and started to eat our noodle soups. For a few cents, the meal had no meat or vegetables, just plain noodles and a little green shallot floating on top. It was hot and a rare treat for a little 5-year old girl.

Suddenly, 3 children in ragged clothes surrounded our table. They looked different to our city people. They had dark and coarse skin, as they were farmers from the countryside. They were dirty and messy, as they were far away from home and living on streets. They spoke in dialect that I never heard before. They would have traveled from afar, probably from another province where their crops failed. And their eyes, they had such hungry eyes. The littlest one just devoured some leftover soup from the next table, and redirected his attention to my bowl.

I looked up to my mother. ‘Eat up all your food’, she said sternly. When I left some food in the bowl at the end of the meal, she picked up the bowl and swallowed everything in it, including last drops of the soup, the soup of nothingness. The children moved away to another table, motionless.

Peasant family
A peasant family

Many years past, my memories of that family did not fake. Most of all, I was puzzled why my mother was so indifferent to the begging children.  After all, she was an orphan herself. She would have understood the pain and suffering of that family, hungry, homeless and desperate?

This weekend, I made a large batch of noodles from scratch. I served the noodles in a beautiful chicken soup, topped with mouthwatering crispy bacon bits. Life has been kind to our family and we really appreciate what we have.

Like to have a go at making your own noodles?  Recipe is as follows.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fresh cactus flower soup 曇花汤

Posted on Updated on

I had been waiting for my  cactus flowers ‘tanhua’  to bloom. Such beautiful dedicate living wonders, with flowers only open up for one precious night.

The unusual weeks of Sydney rain stopped briefly on Sunday afternoon. The flowers quietly bloomed during the night. I harvested 3 flowers,  but hesitated on the thoughts of making a soup,  Traditionally, the flowers are sun dried, then boiled with meat for hours, ending up all marshy and  grey like the rainy weather. What a depressing thought.

 

4S2B1972A #3

 

 

I gently washed and sliced the flowers into quarters. I dropped the flowers into a saucepan of water with thinly julienne chicken breast;  brought it to a boil, added a dash of sesame oil, a dash of dark soy sauce and a few pinches of white pepper. The soup was done in 3 minutes.

And here it was, a simple soup to show my appreciation of these natural beauties.

Fresh cactus flower soup

Save

Save

Save

Save

Seaweed and egg soup 紫菜蛋湯 and the memory of GuangYa Middle School (low fodmap, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

Seaweed and egg soup 紫菜蛋湯
Seaweed and egg soup 紫菜蛋湯

Recently, I reconnected with my high school mates on WeChat via a group chat. The high school, named the GuangDong Guangya Middle School, was one of the most prestige selective schools in the GuangZhou city. We all grew up to be proud and competitive individuals. Then we went on our separate paths to distinctively different lives. I selected a simple but busy life in Sydney – a job in the finance industry, a small family, a house with picket fences, a lovely garden, and a double garage full of beautiful crockery and cooking equipment – I love my cooking.

GuangDong GuangYa Middle School
Today’s GuangDong GuangYa Middle School

Bo, a school mate from Singapore had been posting his dinners every night in the group chat. He often has 5 dishes for his family of 4. The dishes are home style, plain and simple. A typical meal consists of a gorgeous seafood dish, an overcooked meat dish and 3 seasonal vegetable dishes bursting with freshness.  Sometimes we could tell how many were dining at home by counting the jumbo prawns. I was puzzled by Bo’s persistence and efforts posting his 6 meals a week, and occasionally meals from the restaurants when they ate out on Sundays. And a few days ago, he posted this story…

‘I live a simple and unexciting life, often with repetitive routines. There were seldom any exceptional events. However, the memory of this single incident at GuangYa Middle School I will always treasure. 

It was a very hot afternoon. We were attending a physical exercise class in front of the physic building. That day we had a basketball game. I was pushed over by a big fellow student. I fell and my left hand landed on the ground first. I could see my wrist was twisted, followed by sharp pains. I realized I had broken my wrist.

I was surrounded by teachers and students. The PE teacher asked who would accompany me to the local hospital which was within walking distance from the school.  Hong pushed through the crowd and took my arm. Hong was a quiet student, often with a few words and rarely smiled. I hardly spoke with him in the past. I was pleasantly surprised by him volunteering to help.

One thing was overlooked by the PE teacher – he didn’t ask if we had any money for the hospital. Those days most families were not well off and kids didn’t get much pocket money. I didn’t have any money on me that day. Luckily Hung had some money and he managed to pay for the treatment.  There was no x-ray machine at the local hospital. The wrist was bandaged and that was that. 

The next day after the math class, our math teacher, Feng, came over to my desk with a bowl of soup and a gentle smile . Feng was one of the strictest teachers and rarely showed her emotions. ‘This is a seaweed and egg soup’, she said, ‘you have it now while it is warm. It helps with your calcium intake and good for your bones.’  

I was speechless. Even my mum never cooked me a soup before (she didn’t really learn how to cook until she was retired).  I looked at Feng, who had returned to the teacher’s podium, I felt warmth all over. 

Despite her tough appearance, teacher Feng had a kind and caring heart. Many years later I connected with her via a video chat. She asked why I was still so skinny and said I should look after myself better.  

Next time I am in GuangZhou, I will visit Teacher Feng and cook her a big bowl of hot seaweed and egg soup.’

Ah, I can understand why Bo has been posting his dinners each night. Somehow he found deep connection with his food.

Bo's family meals
Bo’s family meals

 

The traditional egg soups are often made of ‘egg flowers’, means scrambling the eggs in hot water. I found scrambling eggs with seaweed was too messy.

So here is my version of a ‘neat’ seaweed and egg soup.

Read the rest of this entry »

South sea meat and bone soup (bak kut teh,肉骨茶)

Posted on Updated on

My best friend’s late mother, whom I dearly called Auntie Wong, used to make this herbs and spices infused soup for me. The wonderful aroma filled their small inner city apartment and floated down the narrow common corridor as I walked out the lift. I instantly felt at home, safe, warm and loved.

Besides being a fantastic cook, Auntie Wong was an amazing woman with many talents. Once a circus acrobat in Malaysia, she was retrained as a dentist. ‘It was so difficult at the beginning,’ she said, ‘there was this old lady with no teeth, and I could not figure out how to attach the denture.’ She grinned, ‘lucky that I was young and good looking at the time. I had lots of helps.’

Here is my simple meat and bone soup, with fond memories of Auntie Wong. Somehow my soup never tasted as good as Auntie Wong’s. She had added a lot more love to the soup.

South sea meat and bone soup (bak kut teh,肉骨茶)

Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken TangYuan soup with dried shrimps, mushrooms, garlic chive and bok choy (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

As mentioned, yesterday was the 15th day of Luna New Year, known as the lantern festival (元宵). TangYuan (汤圆), or the glutinous rice balls, is one of the most traditional food for the festival. Yuan (圆) means round, full filling, a symbol for family reunion. TangYuan often has a sweet filling and served in a syrup. Some years ago, my sister made a savory TangYuan soup that was really tasty. I had a go this year.

I first made the chicken stock white cook style. This means slow cook a whole chicken in water to get delicious chicken meat and a mild broth. Ginger and green shallot were added to enhance the flavor.  Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimps were added later to the broth, together with garlic chive, enoki mushrooms, bok choy and white cooked chicken meat.

The TangYuan was made with glutinous rice flour and hot water, mix and roll, pretty simple.

 

Chicken TangYuan soup with dried shrimps, mushrooms, garlic chive and bok choy  (gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

Read the rest of this entry »

Century egg and smoked ham congee

Posted on Updated on

What could be more tummy warming than a big bowl of congee?

One of my favorite congee is with century eggs. If you had not tried a ‘century egg’ before, they are probably the most fascinating eggs you would ever experience. After a period of preservation, the egg yolks are magically layered with green and gray, and the egg white are translucently red-brown and beautifully shiny. The congee is traditionally made with century eggs and salted pork. I often use smoked ham which is tastier.

Century eggs with smoked ham - for congee

I use a 10-cup rice cooker with a ‘congee’ setting. I cook the congee on the ‘congee’ setting 3 times, first time with a cup of medium grain rice and water half way up in the cooker, then I add 2 century eggs (sliced to 4-8 pieces) and diced smoked ham, cook it 1-2 more settings or until the rice is creamy. Feel free to add more water to achieve the right consistency to your own liking.

If you use a pot, it would take 2-3 hours.  First bring the rice and water to boil, turn it down to low heat, cook for 1 hour (with a lid), then add century eggs and ham, cook for another 1-2 hours until the it reaches the desired texture.

Season with salt and white pepper. Garnish with green shallot.

Really yum if you are game enough to try it.

Century eggs and smoked ham congee

Recipe is as follows:

Read the rest of this entry »

Winter melon broth with dried shrimps and memories of a factory in the town of ‘YingDe’ (英德)

Posted on Updated on

Today I cooked a winter melon broth with dried shrimps. It brought back so much memories of a peaceful country town with a fast running river, a farmers market and a factory with impressively huge machines that were sky high in the eyes of a little girl.

Winter melon broth with dried shrimps and memories of a factory in the town of 'YingDe' (英德)
Winter melon broth with dried shrimps 

I was born towards the end of the culture revolution in GuangZhou, a major city in Southern China. At the time, workers from the cities were sent to farming villages or smaller towns to work or for ‘re-education’. Shortly after I was born, my father, a young  mechanical engineer, left us to work in a township called YingDe (英德). YingDe was 150km or a 4.5 hour train trip away from Guangzhou. My father didn’t return to Guangzhou permanently until I was in high school.

My father examining a machine
My father examining a machine

I visited my father several times over the summer holidays. His accommodation was a bare room with its walls lined with old newspaper. The room was normally shared by a few workers using 2 set of bunk beds. The workers mostly ate at the canteen. If they wished to cook, the room was also their kitchen. There was no shower rooms for the male dormitories that I could recall. They washed themselves at the common cold water taps nearby with their shorts on, or at the nearby river. When there were family members visiting, the workers moved around to different dormitory rooms in order to make room for the families.

In this room, I cooked for my father and myself over a tiny diesel stove on the floor. The 3  x 20 cents meals from the canteen were deemed to be too expensive as daily expenses. Each morning after my father went to work,  I took a short walk to a small farmers market to buy ingredients to made lunches and dinners. Meals were mostly just boiled green vegetables, melons, eggs and rice. Once, a colleague came back from Northern China and gifted us a small bag of dried shrimps. We enjoyed it for months, adding a few pieces to each meal.

Sometimes in the afternoon I hanged out in the factory office. Bored with drawing, I often begged my father to take me to the workshop where they made huge machines. He chatted with the workers, tested the machines and they all looked awfully serious. I never had any ideas what they talked about and was never interested. I liked workshop for its high ceiling, big windows, smell of the engine oil, and something else special about it that I could not pinpoint.

YingDe was a quiet and peaceful town by a fast running river. The river was where I first learned to swim. In the evenings we walked down to the river on a small path shared by farmers and their animals. One time, I jumped into a pile of cow dropping thinking it was a rock. Where the river turned there was a small beach. Across the beach there was a particularly tall rocky mountain with a mystery looking cave.  I always wanted to swim across the river to explore the cave, but never had the courage.

By the river at YingDe, GuangDong, China
By the river at YingDe in 1980s

The winter melon broth I cooked today was a lot more fancier than the plain and simple YingDe version I cooked over 30 years old.  I do hope you will enjoy it.

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Poached salmon in a bonito and kelp broth (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

Bonito flakes (Katsuobushi) are super tasty, dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna. A soup (dashi) with bonito and kelp, with a dash of soy sauce is simply heavenly, wonderful with a piece of salmon. Really, you would eat the salmon for the broth.

 

Poached salmon in a bonito and kelp broth (gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

Read the rest of this entry »

Tofu and noodle soup (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Posted on Updated on

FODMAP vegan can be delicious too – tofu recipe #3.

Try this hot rice noodle soup with tofu, radish, carrot, spinach, chili, coriander, ginger, soy and sesame oil.

Tofu and noodle soup (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Read the rest of this entry »

Barramundi in an Asian spiced broth (low FODMAP, Gluten Free)

Posted on Updated on

Winter is finally here with chill in the air – time for a nice bowl of hot soup. This simple & light barramundi broth is gentle and tasty, perfect for a lazy lunch.

Barramundi in an Asian spiced broth (low FODMAP, Gluten Free)

Recipe is as follow:

Read the rest of this entry »

Egg and ginger soup – Grandmother’s cough remedy (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

Winter is approaching and there are a few flu and coughs going around in Sydney. Instead of using the good old cough syrups, why not try a Chinese remedy that works on the core of the illness?

My grandmother used to make me this egg and ginger soup when I had ‘cool’ coughs – referred to as dry coughs at night when the air is chill. A few bowls of this soup over a few days work like magic.

Egg and ginger soup - Grandmother's cough remedy

 

Recipe is as follow:  Read the rest of this entry »

10-minute chicken & seaweed soup (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

This is probably the quickest, nutritious, and the most delicious soup I could cook in 10 minutes.  The whole family loves it especially my little boy who is a picky eater.

Chicken & seaweed soup (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

Read the rest of this entry »

Ginseng soup

Posted on Updated on

Some weeks ago I posted a Chinese herbal soup called ‘QinBuLiang’, translated as ‘refreshing, nurturing and cooling’. As you can figured out from its translation, QinBuLiang is a summer stress remedy – not often used during cold weather.

This week the weather in Sydney suddenly turned. Autumn is finally here with chill evenings and nights. I can visualize the Cantonese families pulling out their stock pots, cooking herbal soups to enhance ‘chi’. One of the great remedy for restoring energy in autumn is a ginseng soup.  For autumn, I like to use the American ginseng (Hua Qi Shen 花旗参) which is not too intense, a good balance for yin and yang in the body.

The soup is very simple to make once you have the soup base and meat. The soup base I used is called Hua Qi Shen Dun Ji (picture below), and I used pork rib (500g) with this soup. First quickly the meat and rinse under cold water; then cook all ingredients in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes (2-3 hours on a cook top); add salt and ready to serve.

On cool days, I often like my soup in a cup – it gives me that simplest pleasure of warm hands.

Ginseng soup

Ginseng soup
Ginseng soup mix

See below for the ginseng soup base package (available in Asian stores).

Read the rest of this entry »

Healing herbal soup QinBuLiang (清補涼)

Posted on Updated on

Feeling stressed and tired?

In China there was a popular style of living, called YangShen (養生), meaning to nurture life for health and happiness. Alongside with the concept of  peace and harmony, YangShen also promotes a healthy lifestyle which interpreted by many food-loving Cantonese as eating well, fine tea drinking and to enjoy a variety of healing herbal soups.

This herbal soup is called QinBuLiang (清補涼), meaning refreshing, nurturing and cooling. It is often served when a family member is stressed, anxious or with dry coughs.

The QinBuLiang soup base contains  pearl barley (YiMi 薏米), lotus seeds (LianZi 蓮子),  goji berries (GouQi 枸杞), fox nuts (Qianshi 芡實 ), Chinese yam (HuaiSan 淮山) and Solomon’s seal rhizome (YuZu 玉竹), each has commonly recognized healing benefits. The soup is cooked with pork meat and bones to enhance its flavor. I often add a couple tablespoons of dried longan fruit to give it a hint of sweetness to what otherwise quite a bland soup.

Healing herbal soup QinBuLiang (清補涼)

Read the rest of this entry »

Brown rice congee with salted pork & peanuts (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

For a Chinese southerner, what food can be more warm and comforting than a hot bowl of pork congee (粥)?  The humble congee is the sort of food kids get when they are sick.  It is also a popular street food and you will find it at ‘yum cha’. Coogee goes well with fried noodles, Chinese donuts and it is delicious by itself. You can eat it with the thick & bulky Chinese ceramic spoon, or raise the bowl to your lips and slurp it.

If you’d like to have a go at cooking your own congee, a pressure cooker is highly recommended, otherwise it takes hours.

Here is my lunch today, brown rice congee with salted pork and peanuts.

Brown rice congee with salted pork & peanuts (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Creamy seafood chowder with a hint of turmeric

Posted on Updated on

I have loved leather jacket fish since I was a little girl, such beautiful white flesh and it is not too fishy, really good for steaming. This week I walked passed a fish shop and found some really fresh leather jacket fish, but too big to fit into my steamer.  So I made a seafood chowder using leather jacket for stock. Really yummy…

Creamy seafood chowder with a hint of turmeric

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Chilled carrot soup with kaffir lime leafs, ginger, turmeric & coconut milk (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

We have a small kaffir lime tree growing in a pot next to the swimming pool. It was growing so wildly I have to give it a good trim. What can I cook with such beautiful aromatic leafs?

Chilled carrot soup with kaffir lime leafs, ginger, turmeric & coconut milk (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

For lunch we had a spicy Asian influenced carrot soup with carrot, potato, kaffir lime leafs, ginger, turmeric, coriander, chilies and spices. It was gorgeous served chilled on a hot summer day.

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Curry laksa with white cooked chicken

Posted on Updated on

I left China to study in Australia in late 1980s. When I was in University, I worked in an Asian restaurant during some evenings, waiting at tables together with a lovely young lady called Linda. Linda was from Malaysia, a medical student at University of New South Wales. Petite, quiet and super intelligent, Linda had a wonderful personality with gentleness and calm. She always listened patiently to my grunts and dropped a few humorous comments from time to time. One day, she went to the kitchen and made us Malaysian curry laksa for supper. The laska was very different to the Thai version I had at various restaurant. When I was enjoying the laksa, I  felt that I really missed home, not my own, but Linda’s home at Malaysia, and it was a wonderful feeling.

Curry laksa with white cooked chicken

And here is my version of curry laksa… Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken soup with ginger bok choy (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

On most Fridays I work from home. Some days there seems to be so much happening that I barely have time to make lunch. This is one of my Friday 10 minute meal – it is delicious and recharges me on cold winter days. No recipe required.

Chicken soup with ginger bok choy (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

I boil some water in the kettle while I thinly slice 2 chicken tight fillets, wash & slice some bok choy,  and slice up some ginger; Then I  heat up a little cooking oil in a pot, pan fry the ginger slightly, then fill the pot up with 2 cups of water and the chicken pieces; bring the water to boil, add the bok choy, bring it to boil again; check if the chicken is cooked through; and lunch is served with a pinch of salt and pepper.  If you like, you can add a dash of oyster sauce.

So simple and heart warming – the ginger brings out so much flavor.

Serves 2.

 

Save

Traditional Chinese watercress and bone broth 西洋菜汤 (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

Something was always plenty in Southern China where I grew up – rain, rain and rain. And not surprisingly, watercress was always fresh and cheap. My grandmother loved to cook watercress broth – she boiled the vegetables for hours with lots of pork bones.

Here is my version of a refreshing watercress broth – no recipe required.

1-1.5kg of pork bones, a quick boil to clean them up; then put the bones in a pressure cooker with the stems of a bundle of the watercress (need to be washed thoroughly, reserve the green tops), 1-2 cut-up carrots and 2 dried dates (skip the dates for a FODMAP friendly option). If you like, a few pieces of dried lotus root (skip for a FODMAP friendly option) –  cook for 15-20 minutes on high pressure – and the broth is done. Season with some salt and pepper.

For the other half of the watercress – the nice green tops, boil the watercress quickly in hot water (approx 1 minute); serve with the broth.

If you like to be an old fashion Chinese for once – chew the meat off bones, it is delicious.

Traditional Chinese watercress and bone broth 西洋菜汤 (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Asian inspired seafood bisque (gluten free)

Posted on Updated on

I love bisque – I can’t think of another soup with so much flavors. My seafood bisque has added Asian flavors – lemongrass, chills, ginger, shallot & coriander. The flavor is intense & irresistible.

Asian inspired seafood bisque

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Hot and sour soup 酸辣湯

Posted on Updated on

When I first arrived in Australia in late 1980s, I studied full time & worked part time in an upmarket Chinese restaurant serving northern style cuisines. I was always amazed by the beautiful aroma from the hot and sour soup and its interesting taste – hot but not overwhelming, sour with a woody base,  sweet and crunchy, offering so much comfort on a winter’s night.

Hot and sour soup 酸辣湯

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »