Wednesday, 7 June 2006


Turmeric comes from the root of Curcuma Longa, a leafy plant in the ginger family. The root, or rhizome, has a tough brown skin and bright orange flesh. Ground Tumeric comes from fingers which extend from the root. It is boiled or steamed and then dried, and ground.

Turmeric is a necessary ingredient of curry powder. It is used extensively in Indian dishes, including lentil and meat dishes, and in Southeast Asian cooking. Turmeric is routinely added to mustard blends and relishes. It also is used in place of saffron to provide color and flavor. Turmeric is mildly aromatic and has scents of orange or ginger. It has a pungent and bitter flavor. Posted by Picasa

Cranberry Bean - 珍珠豆

Shell beans, or "shellouts," are other names for Cranberry Beans. These beans have a nutty flavor and creamy texture. It's rounded with red specks, which disappear on cooking and available fresh or dried. These beans are a favorite in northern Italy and Spain. In Singapore, cranberry beans are known as "Pearl Beans,珍珠豆", which is a literal translation from its Chinese name and they are sold fresh in their pods in most vegetable stalls. So next time when you happened to see these beautiful beans do buy some back and make soup... it really taste wonderful.Posted by Picasa

Recipes On Cranberry Beans:
Cranberry Bean, Lotus Root & Huai Shan Soup
Lotus Root, Pumpkin & Pearl Bean Soup
Pumpkin, Cranberry Bean & Cordyceps Soup

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

Common Fresh Herbs

Each HERB has it own Unique Aroma and Form. They are always the soul of different dishes and they heighten your sense of taste and smell. So if you happen to see these beautiful herbs around do try them in your dish and you will be surprised of what you had......

Bay Leaves-月桂叶
Bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance, and may be used Fresh Or Dried. The Bay Leaf is useful in hearty, homestyle cooking. When you are making bean, split pea and vegetable soups, meat stews, spaghetti sauce, and chili, a Bay leaf can be added for a more pungent flavor. Alternate whole Bay Leaves with meat, seafood, or vegetables on skewers before cooking. Be sure to remove Bay Leaves before eating a dish that has finished cooking. The whole leaves are used to impart flavor only and are bitter and hard to chew.

Chinese Coriander-中国芫西
Coriander is a delicate annual herb with several branches and lacy leaves with jagged edges belonging to the carrot family. Native to South Europe and Asia, this aromatic beautiful herb is found in many parts of the world. Coriander's leaves called cilantro is used as seasoning in curries, salads and soup and its dried ripe spherical seeds mostly in powder form is slightly roasted and used as curry powder in dishes. Eg: Baked Prawns With Dong Fen

Italian Parsley-意大利芫西
Parsley is an aromatic herb native to southern Europe. There are three main species of parsley. Italian parsley has flat leaves and grows to height of one and half feet. Its highly fragrant taste, more muted than curly parsley, is reminiscent of celery. It tastes great and refreshing in soups and itÂ’s nutritious and it contains vitamins A and C.

Sweet Basil Leave-罗勒
Sweet basil is the most important herb grown for fresh cut sales. Basil is quite aromatic with flavors somewhat reminiscent of mint, cloves and licorice mixed together. It is a commonly used in Italian cooking, such as pasta and salads to enrich the flavour. Basil also kills germs, heals coughs and ease sinus congestion. Eg: Pepper Salt Basil Chicken - 九层塔椒盐鸡

Thai Basil Leave-九层塔
It is an herb with small green leaves. It has a stronger taste than many other sweet basils. One variety used in the USA is "Queen of Siam". The herb has small leaves, purple stems and a subtle licorice taste. It is most commonly found is Thai dishes. Eg: Thai-style Basil Chicken Salad or Stuff Eggplant With Basil Pork mince - 塔香茄子肉

Rosemary is the true treasure of herbs. It is highly prized by people around the world for its medicinal, culinary, decorative, and cosmetic uses. Rosemary grows on single stems and its leaves somewhat resemble pine needles. It is always used in Western meat dishes, especially roast lamb, to remove the goaty taste and greasiness. Together with bay leaves and rose flowers, rosemary makes fragrant tea. It also helps digestion, improves memory, kills germs and repels insects. Eg: Roast Herbal Chicken

Sage has been used for culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and decorative purposes worldwide. It is commonly used in meat dishes and it also eliminates the fishy taste. Sage is said to have preservative function on food and it also an indispensable ingredients in sausages and meatballs. It helps digestion, reduces blood pressure and relieves menstrual pain. Pregnant women should avoid this.

perennial aromatic herb native to the Mediterranean region. There are 25 different species and 600 varieties. Some types have a flavor reminiscent of apple while other other taste lemony. The flavor varies in intensity from one species to anther. Peppermint and spearmint are amount the most popular species, as they are highly aromatic. There are easy to grow and has healing quality towards cold and flu.

This herb grows like a small shrub, and its stems become woody rather quickly. French tarragon is one of the most desirable and scarce culinary herbs. Its sweet, slight licorice flavor is an indispensable ingredient in French cuisine. It is a perfect match with eggs, cheese and meats. It also helps to eliminates the fishy taste in seafood, refreshes breath and whets the appetite.

Not only is it the most popular of all culinary herbs, but it is used commercially in everything from chewing gum to ice cream, mouth wash to cough syrup. ItÂ’s a perfect match with fish and shellfish, thyme has a mild sweet flavour and it helps digestion.

Oregano is similar to Marjoram. Oregano is a small aromatic shrub that grows to a height of approximately 2 feet. It has strong flavour and is commonly used in tomato and beef dishes. A blend of oregano, rosemary and sage lightens up even the most unspectacular dish. Oregano calms the nerves and helps perspiration and is a commonly used in Mexican cuisine.

An aromatic plant native to the Mediterranean basin and western Asia , dill is related to and resembles fennel, with which it is often confused. Dill has been used as a seasoning for centuries. ItÂ’s leaves has a strong flavour and it makes a delicious accompaniment when grilled with meat, potatoes or fish. Frequent consumption strengthens the stomach, helps urination and digestion.

Perilla/Shiso(Japanese Name)/ 紫苏(in chinese)
It is broad and has a sweet flavour with the scents of plum. They are commonly used in Japanese barbecue skewers, salad and sashimi. Although it tastes a little bitter to some, it smells very good. It is considered rich in minerals and vitamins, it also has anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to help preserve and sterilize other foods. Eg: Perilla Chicken Roll

Chive has a green slender stem and a mild onion flavour. It is a nutritious herbs that strengthens the liver, promotes urination and expels Heat accumulated in the body. Chive goes well wit any food but itÂ’s healing quality is destroyed by heat, you can infuse it in rice wine or vinegar.

Lemon grass is widely used as a herb in Asian (particularly Thai, Lao, Khmer and Vietnamese) and Caribbean cooking. It has a lemony flavour and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. The stalk itself is too hard to be eaten, except for the soft inner part. However, it can be finely sliced and added to recipes. It may also be bruised and added whole as this releases the aromatic oils from the juice sacs in the stalk. Eg: Thai Lemon Grass Chicken

Dried Rose Bub-玫瑰
It is enthroned as the queen of flowers, the rose is not only a beauty but also a symbol of justice and love. Rose tea defies aging of skin, warms the stomach, nourishes the liver, calms the mind and regulates menstrual cycle. Eg: Rose & Lavender Fragrant Cookies

Besides being an ornamental plants, lavender can also be used in dishes and desserts. Lavender lends a sweet flavour to fish dishes. It calms the nerves, relieves inflammation, kill pain and cures insomnia and the flowers are used in cookies and tea. Lavender has been extensively used in herbalism. An infusion of lavender is claimed to soothe and heal insect bites. Bunches of lavender are also said to ward off insects. If applied to the temples, lavender oil is said to soothe headaches. Lavender is frequently used as an aid to sleep. Posted by Picasa

Monday, 5 June 2006

Zhi Ke Tang - 止咳汤

Since the Weather is changing very fast during these few months, it's good to drink this herbal drink regularly to relieve cough and strengthens functions of respiratory system. You can have this at least once or twice a week like normal herbal drinks.

Ingredients: (serve 3-4)
40g Sweet & Bitter Almond(南北杏)
2 Ju Bing(桔饼)
15g Chuan Bei Mu(川贝母)
10 Dried Figs(无花果)
6g Gan Gao(干草)
5-10g Dried Chrysanthemum(菊花)
1-2 Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar(optional)

1. Roughly rinse the ingredients then add in add around 1.5 litres of water and boil for 1 – 2 hours under low heat and serve.
2. Or you can transfer everything to a slow cooker and simmer on Auto Function for 2 hours.

Notes: You can get those dark brown sugar in chinese medical hall, it's good to use them in herbal drink as it had some detoxify function according to some old folk tale. If not, just add in some rock sugar if you want it to be sweeter.
Chuan Bei Mu(川贝母)
It’s bittersweet in taste and slightly cold in nature. It clears Heat, moistens the Lungs, eases coughing, expels phlegm, cures oedema and promotes the flow of Qi and blood. It is commonly used in curing Qi-Asthenia in the Lungs, prolonged coughing, lung pain, breast pain and scrofula.

Dried Chrysanthemum(菊花)
Cool and slightly cold; sweet and bitter; attributive to lungs and liver. It can lower blood pressure; improve vision due to kidney and liver dysfunction; clear internal heat; eases swelling and inflammation; nourish blood. Also effective for vertigo, headache with fever and for eye aches or itchiness.

Dried Fig(无花果)
Makes stomach active, improves flow in the intestines, clears constipation.

Gan Cao(干草)
It’s naturally sweet and warm, no toxins which helps to circulates around 12 major blood vessels in body. It also strengthens spleen and benefits energy, moistens lungs and calms coughing, slows and cures pain forms classic medicine flavour.

Ju Bing(桔饼)
It Promote energy circulation; strengthen spleen; relieve coughing; help digestion and relieve cough.

Sweet & Bitter Almond(南北杏)
Sweet almond tastes sweet and is of neutral nature. It does not carry any toxic element, and heals coughing. Bitter almond tastes bitter and is of warm nature. It carries slight trace of toxic but heals coughing and expels sputum. Mixing the two together will make a soup that clears the Heat, moistness internal Dryness and avoid coughing.Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 4 June 2006

Basic Chinese Herbs - Part II

Just like taking herbal medicine, medicinal diet needs to be handled with the same care. Improper dosage or use would result in undersirable or side effects. All those wanting to include herbal medicine in their diet for better healthy should learn the functions and nature of food items and herbs thus use them wisely in relation to your own body needs.

Bei Qi(北耆)
It strengthens the heat, promotes urination, lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system. Eg: Dang Gui Chicken Soup

Dang Gui(当归)
It benefits and balances the blood, regulates menses, treats pain and soothes the intestines. Eg: Dang Gui, Huai Shan & Black Chicken Soup

Dang Shen(当参)
It supplements energy and benefits spirits, grows saliva ad stops thirst. It also strengthens body and stomach, improves fatigue and tiredness, dry mouth and tongue. Eg: Dang Gui Chicken Soup

Hai Zhu( 海竹)
It is the root and stem of Yu Zhu which helps reduce sediments and also softens the blood vessel. Serve this soup frequently is good to the Heart and Lungs.

Huai Shan(淮山)
Huai Shan, Shanyao or Chinese Burdock, a totally different root known as Dioscoreae. When dried, it takes on a white chalky appearance, and is most often used in Chinese Herbal tonic soups. Burdock is believed to be antibiotic and antipyretic. It also lowers blood sugar and there are claims that it is anticarcinogenic. Eg: Chicken, Huai Shan & Cordyceps Soup

Ren Sheng(小人参)
Ginseng is great supplements to energy and spirit, calms heat and mind. It also increases immunity and gives higher ability to fight against illness. Eg: Ginseng Chicken Soup With Glutinous Rice

Tian Ma(天麻)
ItÂ’s shops pain and calms the spirits and itÂ’s also good for treating pain in the waist, head and joints. Eg: Fish Soup With Tian Ma

This portion of the herbs used are more for blood circulation and calming spirits.

Black Beans(黑豆)
It is sweet in taste and neutral in nature. They benefit the Spleen and Kidneys while neutralizing poision. Black beans also invigorate the Blood, promote urination and detoxify the poison. They are useful for influenza, fever and debititation of the body. Eg: Lotus, Black Bean & Peanut Soup

Black Fungus(黑木耳)
Also known as cloud ear, tree ear, wood fungus, mouse ear, and jelly mushroom. It grows rapidly on a variety of woods including mango and kapok and is very similar to another fungus called Jew's ear. Black fungus has a reputation in Chinese herbal medicine for increasing the fluidity of the blood and improving circulation. It is given to patients who suffer from atherosclerosis.

Dried Lily Bulbs(干百合)
It naturally sweet, slightly cold and aid heart to lung and blood vessels. It also moistens lungs and stop coughing, clears heart and calms spirit.

Fox Nuts(茨实)
It supplement the internal organs, strengthen Qi, nourish and strengthen the body. They also benefit the kidneys, promote the replenishment of Jin, tonify the Spleen and stop diarrhoea. They are effective in healing indigestion, diarrhoea, poor bladder control and leucorrhoea. Eg: Chicken & Fresh Coconut Soup

White Fungus(雪耳)
It tastes slightly sweet and of neutral nature. It benefits the spleen, strengthens the stomach and expel Dryness. It calms the spirit, treats insomnia and is good for the body type that resists beneficial food. Eg: White Fungus & Wooden Ear Soup

Wooden Ear(黑木耳)
This contain much protein, carotene, vitamins A & B. It also improves blood circulation, benefits the spleen, moisturizes the lungs. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 3 June 2006

Basic Chinese Herbs - Part I

In Chinese Culinary Culture, soup has been viewed as the soul and indispensable part of a prefect meal. Certain soup also have healing qualities such as: Pickled Cucumber Soup With Coriander and Century Egg heals sore throat. In my soup recipe blog I usually Long-stewed the soup with different combination of Chinese herbs which I found them very useful. So in this two pages, I would roughly display some of the common herbs and their usage for stewing soup.

Dried Cordyceps Stem(冬虫草茎)
Taste slightly sweet and of neutral nature, it nourishes the Ying, strengthens the lungs and kidney, benefits Qi and expels sputum. Eg: Chicken, Huai Shan & Cordyceps Soup

Dried Lotus Seeds(干蓮子)
It strengthen the Heart, Liver, Spleen and Kidneys and also energize the Qi and promote blood cell formation.

Dried Figs(无花果)
It is rich in vitamins A & C, proteins and fibers. It strengthens the Spleen, lubricates intestines and helps with dry cough and sore throat. There are two types of figs, fresh and dried. Dried figs are usually used to make soup. Eg: Stew Papaya & Peanuts Soup

Dried Sea Conch(响螺片)
Tastes sweet and of cold nature. It clears the livers, nourishes the lungs and benefits the organs. Those who suffer from weak Qi energy and anaemia will benefit a lot from Sea Conch Soup. Eg: Chicken Soup With Conch & Huai Shan & Conch & Sea Cucumber Soup

Dried Tangerine Peels(陈皮)
It is used in congee or soup which can help to expel and prevent Coldness, promote circulation of Qi, expel sputum and aids digestion.

Honey/Candied Dates(蜜枣)
It's sweet and usually used to enhance the favour of the soup.

Sha Shen(沙参)
It's naturally sweet and slightly cold which aids lungs to stomach and blood vessels. It also moistness lungs, stops coughing, grows saliva and stops thirst, slow down fever and coughing and also increase appetite.

Sweet & Bitter Almonds(南北杏)
Sweet almond tastes sweet and is of neutral nature. It does not carry any toxic element, and heals coughing. Bitter almond tastes bitter and is of warm nature. It carries slight trace of toxic but heals coughing and expels sputum. Mixing the two together will make a soup that clears the Heat, moistness internal Dryness and avoid coughing. Eg: Herbal Watercress Soup & Zhi Ke Tang - 止咳汤

Red Dates(红枣)
It is a blood tonic, that can be widely used with other ingredients to nourish the body. I used it in almost every herbal soup.

Gou Qizi(枸杞子)
It strengthens body and bones, supplements kidneys and energy, nurses liver and clarifies eyes. It also cultivates energy and aids yang bodies moistness lungs and stops coughing. Other than use it as a soup ingredient, it can be used as a condiment in frying dishes or used to make tea. Choose Qizi which are full and with bright colour. Posted by Picasa

Friday, 2 June 2006


Pumpkins are a fail-safe addition to many winter meals and they become lanterns at Halloween and they carried Cinderella to the ball. Pumpkin's use goes beyond the Sunday roast and they are delicious, low in fat and kilojoules which are good source of dietary fiber, vitamins and carbohydrates.

There are many types of pumpkins, but there is little difference in flavour. Varieties include the bell-shaped butternut pumpkin, with it's creamy-brown skin and orange flesh; the Japanese pumpkin, with it's mottled grey-green skin and sweet , nutty taste as well as Queensland blue, golden nugget and jarrahdale.

Choosing Pumpkin
Should yu buy pumpkin whole or pre-cut? Both have advantage, the hard part is already done with pre-cut pieces and you can inspect the flesh- choose pieces that look moist and crisp. Pale pieces are generally watery and bland, so go for deep orange coloured flesh for a rich flavour. When buying whole pumpkins, look for blemish-free and firm skin with a good weight.

Preparation & Storage Of Pumpkin
Peel it for use in soups and when steaming, but leave unpeeled for roasts and stir-fries. Whole pumpkins last up to three months in a cool, dry spot. Cut pieces last a few days in the refrigerator. To prevent sogginess, steam pumpkin rather than boil, or use a microwave.

Pumpkin Custard Tarts
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1/2 Cup Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Thickened Cream
6 Ready-made Tart Shells

1. Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.
2. Pour into prepared individual tart shells and bake in a preheated 180 degree oven for 25 minutes or until firm.
3. Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream or custard.

Or you can also try....
Pumpkin, Cranberry Bean & Cordyceps Soup
Pumpkin & Kelp Soup
Pumpkins, Peanuts & Pork Ribs Soup
Bake Pumpkin With Rice Stuffing
Pumpkin & Chicken Cutlet Rice
Creamy Pumpkin Dessert
Mini Pumpkin With Red Bean Paste

Thursday, 1 June 2006

All About Flour

The term "Flour" is generally used to refer to any edible substance in powdered form. Of all the cereals milled into flour, Wheat Flour is by far the most versatile, as it provides the elasticity in dough required for baking. Rice flour and Cornflour do not have this property.

Bread Flour(高筋面粉)
It is a high-protein flour, ideal for making all varieties of bread, buns and other flour-based products.

Cake Flour(低筋面粉)
It has the least amount of gluten of all wheat flours, making it best for light, delicate products such as sponge cakes, and some cookie batters. Cake flour often comes bleached, which gives it a bright, white appearance.

It is also known as cornstarch or maize flour, is milled from the starch of corn kernels. It contains no gluten and is used as thickener, giving sauces a smooth consistency. It can be combined with other flours for baking.

Plain Flour(普通面粉)
It a mutli-purpose wheat flour made from a blend of hard and soft flour. The husk particles are sifted out after milling. This flour is also ideal for Oriental specialties like Chinese dumpling (bao), Chinese dough fritters (yu tiao) and roti prata.

It is a coarse flour ground from yellow and white corn. Cook it like porridge or use for cakes and bread. It may also be mixed with water or stock, cut into slices and grilled or fried.

Rice Flour (占米粉)
It's ground from white or brown rice and is used as a thickener or a substitute for people with gluten or wheat allergies. It can be used to make shortbread and rice noodles, or in general cooking mixed with other flours.

Self-raising Flour (自发面粉)
It is plain flour combined with a leavening agent, usually baking powder. It is used where leavening is required in recipes and is best suited for baking cakes, hot cakes such as American pancakes and cookies. It is also excellent as a batter for frying chicken, fish, prawns and banana fritters.. To make self-raising flour: add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to each 1 cup of plain flour and sift together 2 - 3 times.

It is ground from the endosperm of hard durum wheat. It's a strong flour suitable for making sugee cake, pasta, cakes, semolina pudding, cookies and soup as well as baby weaning food. It is also available in coarse and fine varieties.

Wholemeal Flour(全麦面粉)
This is made from milling the whole wheat grain, so the bran and germ of the flour are still present. The bran makes the flour slightly heavier but is more nutritious. This flour is subject to rancidity so purchase in small quantities and store chilled.