Red Vegetable Soup? -Russian Borscht Soup, Chinese Luo Song Tang (罗宋汤)



All Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese family will likely know a common household soup – “ABC soup” and the basic ingredients are potatoes, onions, carrots and pork rib though at times, other vegetables are added such as celery, sweet corns and capsicum etc.. Obviously , what I am sharing today may has some connection with this popular ABC soup though there is no direct conclusive evidence that it was linked.


The original soup should be a beet root soup which is very common in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Europe. The name is borscht and it was served in most Russian restaurant. Yes, this is a very common soup  and  whenever i dined at Russian restaurant be it in Khabarovsk in Eastern Russia or Irkutsk  and Krasnoyarsk in central Siberia, it was always one the soups served. Sad to say that I always did not order because it was prepared using beef broth. However, seeing my Chinese companion enjoying the soup, I knew that it is a delicious soup.


Initially, I planned to blog borscht recipe only but after due consideration, I do not think I have confidence to convince  my readers to try this bright red coloured vegetable soup and it reminds me of another soup that is very representative of Western soup served in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China western restaurants. This soup is called Lo Song Tang (罗宋汤)。 In these Asian countries, most of the older Western restaurants will serve this soup together with other popular soups such as mushroom soup and corn soup. There is no direct English translation for this soup and it is also called borscht.. I also did not have a chance to try because it was usually prepared using beef broth.


Both these soups were  actually linked and most Chinese literature will tell you that the originality of luo song tang is borscht and it was called as such because the name “Soviet Union” ..


Well the preparation are rather similar except that no beet roots was used in the soup in the Eastern version. Instead, tomato sauce or puree to colour the soup. That possibly is because beet root was not available in China then so tomato was used instead. In fact, I do not recall beet root being used for any Chinese traditional recipes..


Since I can’t take beef, I have prepared these soup using pork. If you want the original taste, of course beef is preferred. If you are curious about the taste of the soup, it a bit tangy and slightly like more watery pasta sauce. To me, it is definitely delicious and it is second time that I have prepared the soup within  a period of 1 month.


“Borscht is a soup of Ukrainian origin that is common in Eastern and Central Europe, especially in Ashkenazi Jewish,Belarusian, Lithuanian, Moldovan, Romanian, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian cuisine. In most of traditional recipes, it is made with beetroot as the main ingredient. In some regions, tomato is used as the main ingredient, while beetroot may act as a secondary ingredient. Other varieties that do not use beetroot also exist, such as green borscht and white borscht. (Source:’




“罗宋”这一名称据说是来自Russian soup的中文音译(罗宋即Russian,源自早年上海的洋泾滨英语,发音:[lùsóŋ]),Russian Borscht(Borshch)是另一常用的名称。罗宋汤在中国东北的一些地区也被称为“苏波汤”。 在十月革命时候,有大批俄国人辗转流落到了上海,他们带来了伏特加,也带来了俄式的西菜,上海第一家西菜社就是俄国人开的。这道汤,就是从俄式红菜汤演变而来,俄式红菜汤辣中带酸,酸甚于甜,上海人并不习惯。后来受原料采办以及本地口味的影响,渐渐地形成了独具海派特色的酸中带甜、甜中飘香、肥而不腻、鲜滑爽口的罗宋汤。这海派罗宋汤并非只是吃西餐时食用,就是学校、单位、家庭以及中式菜馆,也是屡见不鲜。久而久之,这汤又在上海形成了各种流派和分支,其中最具代表性的有“饭店派”、“食堂派”和“家 庭派”等。其中“饭店派”以淮海西菜社为代表,在当年推出罗宋汤后,经过数次改良,更新工艺,终于成为海派罗宋汤的领路人,而后,各家西菜馆乃至个别中菜馆,都纷纷仿效。“食堂派”又称“弄堂派”,汤往往用大面盆或是保暖茶桶盛装,不用蕃茄酱或是只放极少用以着色,那汤常常是“清汤晃水”的,飘着几丝红肠而已,蕃茄多不剥皮,反正与那西菜馆里的罗宋汤是大相径庭,奇怪的是,即使这样的“蕃茄煮水”,吃着也很爽口,至今还有许多中学生不愿意吃学校的饭菜,跑到校门口买一两元钱一碗的这种汤,加片面包以做午饭。“家庭派”的人,既无缘学到西菜馆的烧法,也不想如“食堂派”那样堕落,于是只能自行琢磨,研究出各式烧法,其中主要以牛肉代替红肠,并且欠芡为主。(Source:



Servings: 5-6 adult servings


  • 500 grams of beef and other meats, cut into big chunks
  • 1 cup of potatoes , diced
  • 1 cup of carrots, diced
  • 1 cup of capsicum, diced
  • 1 cup of tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup of onion, diced
  • 1 cup of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small can of tomato puree
  • 1 small beetroot, shredded
  • 1/4 lemon, juice extracted
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour mix with 3 tablespoons of water (optional)
  • About 6-8 cups of beef broth or plain water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar (as required)
  • Pinches of salt
  • Dashes of black pepper
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream



PicMonkey Collage1

  • If you are preparing borscht , you will need to start with the beet root preparation and followed by the other steps. If you are preparing the Asian version of borscht, you can by pass the beet root preparation.

  • Shred your beet root, squeeze 1/4 a lemon juice, mixed well . Transfer the beet root to a pot, add about 2 cups of beef broth or plain water and start boiling until the beet beef broth is soft.

  • In a frying pan, put the butter, sauté the onion until fragrant, add the meat cubes followed by diced tomatoes, capsicum, potatoes and carrots. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the flavour are incorporated.

  • Either transfer these meat to the pot of beet root soup or a new pot. Add the remaining beef broth or plain water.

PicMonkey Collage2

  • Add the tomato puree, bring to boil and let it simmer until all the vegetables are soft. Add the shredded cabbage and let it continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. Before off the heat, add the tomato sauce, vinegar (if desired for a more tangy taste), sugar to taste, black pepper and pinches of salt.  If prefer a thicker soup, you can add the plain flour roux. Stir until well mixed, bring to boil and off the heat.

  • For serving, topped generously with preferred herbs such as parsley or Chinese celery. Best served as a standard soup in a Western set meal. For borscht, place a scope of the sour cream on top of the soup.



Promoting a well known recipe but not popular here can be tougher that one can think. But I am very confident that you will like it, otherwise this soup will not be so popular for no reasons. What is shocking is most local Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese never heard of “luo song tang” but I have known this soup since i am very young because I am Chinese educated and it was always mentioned in Chinese literature and Hong Kong TV drama series. If you are running out of soup ideas, why not try this thick vegetable soup?


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 13 March 2015)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts. Also follow me at INSTAGRAM or TSU, a new social network for some more personal sharing other than recipes.

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Flower Crab Tofu Soup (花蟹豆腐汤)



I am writing this post now in Johor Baru and I am having a short vacation in Malaysia.. While there are some free time, I searched for some simple recipe to share with all..


I seldom cooked crabs at home since kids are still young and they still do not how to appreciate these type of shell crustaceans.. Since they are near 10 years old, I have decided it is time to introduce is this type of economy and softer shell crabs.. I bought 2 crabs at a very reasonable price of about S$10.00.


As to how should these crabs be cooked, as I still cannot cook something that is very spicy like chilli crabs..the first thing that came into my mind is to “boil” into soup.. As the crabs are very fresh, they were not fishy and it was a very sweet soup… In order to further enhance the soup sweetness, I have added some fish stock that I prepared from fish head and fish bones.. However if you do not have any fish stock, you can always add chicken stocks or other seasonings that you are used to..


As per Wikipedia:

“Portunus pelagicus, also known as the flower crab, blue crab, blue swimmer crab, blue manna crab or sand crab, and alimasag in Tagalog, is a large crab found in the intertidal estuaries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans (Asian coasts) and the Middle-Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The name “flower crab” is used in east Asian countries while the latter names are used in Australia. The crabs are widely distributed in eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia, Persian Gulf and New Zealand. The males are bright blue in colour with white spots and with characteristically long chelipeds, while the females have a duller green/brown, with a more rounded carapace. The carapace can be up to 20 centimetres (7.9 in) wide.” (Source:


For readers who understand Mandarin:




Servings: 4-5 adult servings


  • 2 flower crabs
  • 1 box of tofu
  • 5 cm of ginger, sliced into big pieces
  • 2 sprigs of coriander leaves, cut into big chunks
  • 2 sprigs of spring onion, cut into big chunks
  • 3 tablespoons of Chinese cooking wines
  • 1 litre of fish stock or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • Pinches of salt



PicMonkey Collage1

  • Pluck the shell of the crab, take away the gills, rinse the shell and set aside.  Cut into big pieces (usually into half or 4 pieces). Crack the legs using some thing hard like a pastel. Set aside.

PicMonkey Collage2

  • In a pot, put 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, sauté the ginger and spring onion chunks until fragrant. Add the crab, stir fry for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Add the fish or chicken stock, bring to boil. Add the tofu, Chinese cooking wine, dashes of white pepper and pinches of salt. Let it simmer for about 5-6 minutes. Garnish with coriander before serving..Best served hot immediately after the preparation.



  • To take out tofu nicely from the box, invert the box, cut 4 small holes at the 4 corners of the box, your tofu can be easily taken out from the box…

  • Overcooked crab will make the meat tough and shrink..



This belong to the Simple Household Dishes Series that aims to help new house chefs who may not know how to cook this type crabs.. Do give it a try and let me know if this suit your family’s taste buds.


Hope you like the post. Cheers and have a nice day.



Cream of Mushroom Soup (蘑菇汤)



I think most Asian families will know of this famous cream of mushroom soup. It is commonly sold in the canned form at supermarket. Most children will like this soup because it is very creamy..


My kids love this soup too and always requested us to buy when they saw it at the supermarket. I promised that I will prepare for them using fresh mushroom and that taste will not be compromised.


I am unsure but I believed that homemade mushroom soup definitely are healthier as we can adjust the creaminess of the cream by using less creams. We can add more mushrooms to enhance the taste.. However, it will not be as economical as what is sold in the supermarket since fresh mushrooms are rather costly in Singapore..Am I deterring you from  trying to prepare this? I hope not and I am sure healthy living is more important than anything else.


“Cream of mushroom soup is a simple type of soup where a basic roux is thinned with cream or milk and then mushrooms and/or mushroom broth are added. It is well known in North America as a common type of condensed canned soup. Cream of mushroom soup is often used as a base ingredient in casseroles and comfort foods. This use is similar to that of a mushroom flavored gravy. Soups made with cream and mushrooms are much older than the canned variety. Ancient Italian (Salsa colla) and French (Béchamel) cream sauces, and soups based on them have been made for many hundreds of years. In America, the Campbell Soup Company began producing its well known “Cream of Mushroom Soup” in 1934, the same year that it introduced “Chicken with Noodles“.” (Source:



Servings : 4-5 adult servings


  • 500 grams of Portobello mushrooms *
  • 300 grams of Swiss brown mushrooms or fresh button mushrooms *
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 big onion – cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup of heavy or double cream
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • Dashes of black pepper
  • Some chopped parsley or dried parsley
  • 5 cups of chicken stock or 5 cups of plain water with 1-2 chicken stock cubes

* Type of mushrooms can vary based on availability and individual preference. Other possible mushrooms are fresh shitake mushrooms, cerimi mushrooms and etc..Quantity can be easily adjusted too. A bit more or less are acceptable.



PicMonkey Collage1

  • Cut the mushrooms and onion into small pieces.

  • In a pot, put the butter followed by the chopped onion. Sauté after fragrant. Unlike Chinese cooking, there is no need to sauté until brownish. As long as aroma penetrate the house, it is considered as adequate. Add the sliced mushroom.

PicMonkey Collage2

  • Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until the flavour are incorporated. Add the chicken stock, bring to boil and let it simmer under medium heat for about 10 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender. Blend until as find as possible. Transfer the blended soup back to the pot, add in the chopped parsley and 1 cup of cream. Cook under low to medium heat until it boils.

  • Put about1.5 cups of water to the 1 cup of plain flour and stir until well mix. Add gradually to the mushroom soup until the desired consistency you are looking for. YOU MAY OR MAY NOT NEED TO USE ALL THE FLOUR SOLUTION.  In the event that it become overly sticky, just add some water to dilute it. Stir well, add pinches of salt, dashes of black pepper . Off the heat and best served hot with some American biscuits or breads.



This soup is very easy to prepare and recipe is very flexible. All quantities stated is a starting point for you to lay your hand to try preparing it. A bit more or less is acceptable. You can basically used any type of fresh mushrooms and feel free to explore one that suit your taste buds.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.



Fish Head/Fillet Rice Vermicelli Soup (鱼头/片米粉汤)



This is long awaiting post. Hiding in my list of recipes to be issued for more than 2.5 months. I told myself that I shall not hold on this recipe anymore.


Fish soup bee hoon is very common hawker dishes in Singapore and it was so popular that Wikipedia had a write up on this famous dish. Per Wikipedia:


“Fish soup bee hoon, also known as fish head bee hoon, is a Singaporean soup-based seafood dish, served hot usually with bee hoon. The dish is viewed as a healthy food in Singapore. Catherine Ling of CNN listed fish soup bee hoon as one of the “40 Singapore foods we can’t live without”. Fish soup bee hoon has been available since at least the 1920s; one source credits Swee Kee Fish Head Noodle House with creating the “definitive version” of the dish in the 1970s.

Snakeheads are most commonly used for fish soup bee hoon.Other stalls may offer pomfret, batang.or garoupa. While fish heads or the whole fish may be used, some diners prefer having just fish slices. The fish soup is made out of either fish stock or actual bones, water, oil, yam, and milk,] with vegetables and select fruits.

The noodle in the soup is often bee hoon, although a healthier alternative except for irritable bowel syndrome sufferers would be spaghetti made from brown rice. Another noodle variant would be fried noodles. Additional ingredients include eggs, anchovies, pepper, salt, and alcoholic products such as brandy, Chinese wine, or cognac, chilli slices, fried shallots, and fish roe. For the vegetarian version of the dish, fish meat is substituted with tofu.” (Source :


Since Wikipedia already provide such a detail account on this popular Singaporean cuisine, I shall not dealt into details.


I have prepared this noodle dish from scratch. I went to the wet market to buy a red snapper of about 1.5 kg and ask the seller to help me to debone, cut into fillet size suitable for preparing the noodles soup, and return me with the head, tails and the bones. For readers who are short of time, you can always prepared the dish starting from the point of the recipe that you feel comfortable with.


Again, since it is a savoury dish, quantities are for your reference and feel free to change the suggested amount of seasonings to suit your taste buds.




Servings: Prepared 4-6 adult servings


  • One fish of 1-2 kg (Slice the fish flesh in thick pieces and set aside fish head, bones and tails)
  • 5 stalks of spring onion – White portion
  • Few stalks of choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage)
  • 5 cm of ginger, sliced into thin pieces)
  • 1/4 cup of evaporated milk


  • 250 grams of rice vermicelli – blanched and set aside.
  • 3-4 leaves of salted vegetable (sliced into thick pieces)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes (cut into 4 quarters each fruit)
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of anchovies
  • 1 cube of chicken stock
  • 1 – 1.5 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup of Chinese cooking wine
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of XO alcohol (optional)

Fish meat marinating (depends on the quantity of fish meat that you have)

  • Some sesame oil
  • Pinches of salt
  • Some corn flour (adequate to coat the meat) – 10% of which can be replaced by rice flour to preserve crispiness
  • Dashes of white pepper





  • Marinate the fish meat with white pepper, sesame oil, corn flour and salt for about 1 hour. (if you want the deep fried fish meat to stay crispier in a longer time, add a small proportion (1:10) of rice flour to the marinate) In a hot pot with adequate cooking oil, deep fried the fish meat until golden brown. Drain and set aside.


  • Use the same oil to deep fried the  fish head, bones and tails for 2-3 minutes or until the exterior is cooked. This step is optional and the main purpose of this step is to remove some fishiness of the fish and to preserve the exterior texture of the fish. You can deep fried these either with flour or without flour. Dish up and set aside.

  • In another stock pot, put 1-2 tablespoons of oil and the sesame oil above, Sauté the ginger slices until fragrant, add the anchovies, the white part of spring onion, add water gradually just adequate to cover fried fish head and bones earlier. You can always adjust the water later.


  • Put in the fish head, fish bones and tails. (Note that at this stage, you can add in the salted vegetables if you want to. However, it will be very difficult to serve the  vegetable as it will mix with the fish bones. Therefore, I have advised to add it at a later stage though adding the salted vegetables at this stages will yield a tastier soup). Bring to boil and let it simmer at medium heat for at least 30-45 minutes. Add water gradually if you find that the water level is low.  In this process, you will witness the fish stock will become milkier (ideally, the stock should be boiled long enough until it is milky and no evaporated milk need to be added. It is attainable but may take at least an hour more). Once done, sift the stock from the first pot to another pot. Throw away the fish head and fish bones.


  • In the new pot, add the chicken stock, Chinese cooking wine, salted vegetable, diced tomatoes and followed by the evaporated milk. Bring to boil and add seasonings of your choice (fish sauce, dashes of white pepper). Once boiled, off the heat, add the XO (if any) and set aside for assembly. Meanwhile, have a pot of water, blanched the choy sum with some drops of oil and followed by the bee hoon. Drained and set aside.

  • For assembly, have a bowl, put some bee hoon in the serving bowl and followed by some gravy adequate to cover the bee hoon,  put some blanched choy cum, tomatoes and fish meat on top of the rice vermicelli. Garnished with deep fried shallots, dashes of white pepper and chopped coriander or Chinese celery if preferred.  Best served with red cut chilli and some light soya sauce and usually served as a standalone noodle dish. If you do not like rice vermicelli, it can be served as a soup dish that goes well with white rice.




In the current society when time is a constraint,  I am unsure how many readers will go to extent to prepare this noodle dish from scratch. It is slightly laborious but once you take your first bite, you will not regret of the hard work putting in. Based on this pictorial illustration, readers can always choose to start the preparation from the steps that you care comfortable with.


This recipe was included in Page 30-32 of the “One Pot Noodle E-book”. For more One Pot Noodle Dishes, you can have a copy of Easy One Pot Noodles  – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD5.00. The recipes covered various recipes from curry laksa, prawn noodles to fish head beehoon and etc. Of course not forgetting the well like Economy Bee hoon and Mee Rebus . You can purchase by clicking the link above.You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at and separate arrangement can be made.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  


Pork Rib In Chinese Tea? – Spice Bakuteh (Bak Kut Teh) (香料肉骨茶)




This is a long awaited post. I have prepared this dish at least 1-2 months ago.


One day during marketing, I walked into a nearby Chinese herb shop. I asked them, without any positive answer from the shop owner, if he was selling any herbs for the famous Bakuteh or pork rib tea (肉骨茶)。 The next question he asked me was whether we are consuming it for “fun” or for its medicinal value ….


Hmmm, as I am unsure about the medical condition of all the members in the family. I told him that it is for fun and I asked him what were the differences. He said, if it is consumed casually, it will be mostly spice based….


I asked for a small pack from him and he started to open his drawers, taking bit of this and bit of that…. And I am more than happy when he told me it cost SGD 1.oo and adequate to cook for a meal of 4-5 adults with about 1 kg of pork ribs.. I reverted back to the wet market and bought the pork ribs. I cooked and I am extremely pleased with the flavour of the spice mix.


Back home before I cooked, I analysed the spice mix.. It is just simple, normal spice commonly found in the kitchen, But it became a wonderful combination when putting all together and blends well with the meat broth… However, for the quantities, I do have a difficulty to quantify for you, in the ingredients section, you can have a look the detail picture of each of the 9 spices. It will be an estimated quantity and the taste will not be far my illustration.. Possibly you can show the medical hall the picture and asked them to mix for you… Hmmm, it shouldn’t be an expensive buy because the common spice are not costly and quantity are very small.


One advantage of this post is that with this recipe, you can easily prepare Bakuteh in your country of residence if you can’t get hold of ready made Bakuteh. It is rather safe for consumption as there were no Chinese herbs such as Danggui, ginseng and etc.


As per Wikipedia:

“Bak-kut-teh (also spelt bah-kut-teh; Chinese: 肉骨茶; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: bah-kut-tê) is a Chinese soup popularly served in Malaysia,Singapore,(where there is a predominant Hoklo and Teochew community) and also, neighbouring areas like Riau Islands and Southern Thailand.

The name literally translates as “meat bone tea”, and at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic) for hours.[1] Despite its name, there is in fact no tea in the dish itself; the name refers to a strong oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish.”



Servings: About 4-6 adult servings



  • Star anise (八角)- (about 5)
  • Peppercorns (花椒)(about 2 teaspoons)
  • White Pepper (胡椒)(about 2 teaspoons)
  • Clove (丁香)(about 10)
  • Fennel(小茴)(about 1 teaspoon)
  • Cinnamon (桂皮)(about 2)
  • Dried ginger (干姜)(about 3)
  • Liquorice (甘草)(about 2)
  • Dried tangerine peel (果皮)(about 2)

Only estimated quantities will be stated here. It was all a small pinch/teaspoon of spices as stated in the picture.


  • 500 grams of pork ribs
  • 3 whole garlics with skin on
  • 1 spice pack as in the above picture
  • 5 tofu puff
  • 1 can of button mushrooms (optional)
  • 10 winter mushroom (soaked)
  • 1 bundle of green vegetables such as chrysanthemum green (茼蒿) or lettuce (生菜)
  • 1 can of braised peanuts (optional)
  • Few sticks of Chinese you tiao




  • Put all the spices in a soup bag and set aside for later use.
  • Blanch the pork rib in a pot of water for 2-3 minutes until there is no blood water. Throw away the water, wash the blanched pork rib under the running water. Transfer the meat to a pressure cooker pot. Add in the whole garlic, canned button mushrooms, soaked winter mushrooms, spice mix bag,



  • Add in 1-2 litres of water (depending on your preference) and cooked in the pressure cooker for one cycle under the meat function or until the meat is soft. You can also use the RICE COOKER soup function if you have. Alternatively, you can cook over the stove until the meat is soft. Once ready, add in seasonings to taste (suggested: light soya sauce, salt and sugar or your preferred seasonings )

  • For making tofu puff, dish out the pork ribs, put in tofu puff and cook for about 10 minutes until it is soft. As for the vegetables, clean the vegetables, put on the serving bowls, pour in the vegetable dish is ready.



I am rather surprised that these simple, cheap spices yield a bowl of awesome bakuteh soup. Of course, do not compare with the ready made spice pack, even every brand have their different trade secret spices packed and sell to you. Therefore, it is almost impossible to get the exact taste you are familiar..


May be you want give it a try and see if it suits your taste buds.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 21 March 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  


Fish Maw Napa Cabbage Soup



This will be a simple post targeted at new house chef. It is a post that was queued in my pipeline for at least 2 months since Chinese New Year. Napa cabbage soup can be a presentable soup to entertain your house guest or a soup to go with your daily meals and that very much depends on the type of side ingredients to prepare the soup. The ingredients used are  with full flexibility and its preparation usually include long hours of meat and seafood items in order to get the seafood and meat broth for the vegetable dish.


I love the dish so are my kids. We are especially fond of the fish maw cabbage soup  prepared by my wife’s god mother. She is in her 8o’s and she cooked this dish in most major festivals. Her grand children are looking forward to her cooking of the soup. There is no fixed and fast rule of the ingredients used in her preparation. She prepared the soup based on what she can buy in the market.. Therefore, the soup dish is full of flexibilities.


One of the main ingredients in this dish is fish maw. Chinese used fish maws in their cooking rather extensively. It is a costly ingredient and a presentable gift to friends or relatives during important festivals. In essence, fish maw is the gas bladder of a fish that enable the fish to swim in the water.


As per Wikipedia:

The swim bladder, gas bladder, fish maw or air bladder is an internal gas-filled organ that contributes to the ability of a fish to control its buoyancy, and thus to stay at the current water depth without having to waste energy in swimming. The swim bladder is also of use as a stabilizing agent because in the upright position the center of mass is below the center of volume due to the dorsal position of the swim bladder. Another function of the swim bladder is the use as a resonating chamber to produce or receive sound. In some Asian cultures, the swim bladders of certain large fishes are considered a food delicacy. In China they are known as fish maw, 花膠/鱼鳔, and are served in soups or stews. Swim bladders are also used in the food industry as a source of collagen. They can be made into a strong, water-resistant glue, or used to make isinglass for the clarification of beer. (source:

Another main ingredient is napa cabbage. It is a very common Chinese household vegetables. Per Wikipedia:

Napa or Nappa cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis), also known as celery cabbage, is a type of Chinese cabbage originating near the Beijing region of China, and is widely used in East Asian cuisine. In much of the world, this is the vegetable referred to as “Chinese cabbage”. Nappa cabbage is lighter in color than other Chinese cabbages such as bok choy, which is also sometimes called Chinese cabbage. In the United Kingdom, this vegetable is known as “Chinese Leaf”, in New Zealand, as “Wong Bok” or “Won bok”, and in Australia as “wombok”. The name “nappa” comes from colloquial and regional Japanese, where nappa (菜っ葉?) refers to the leaves of any vegetable, especially when used as food.[1] The Japanese name for this specific variety of cabbage is hakusai (白菜?), lit. “white vegetable”, a Sino-Japanese reading of the Chinese name. (Source:




As this is a savoury dish, no detail quantity will be listed. Feel free to adjust the quantity and types of the ingredients to suit your taste buds.


  • Some napa cabbage
  • Few cloves of garlic
  • Few slices of gingers (to avoid formation of gas)
  • Some red carrots
  • Some pork ribs
  • Some chicken wings
  • Some lean meat
  • Some fish balls
  • Some meat balls


  • Some canned mushrooms
  • Some fish maws
  • Some dried scallops
  • Some winter mushrooms soaked in water




  • Blanch the pork ribs, lean meat and chicken wings in hot boiling water for 2-3 minutes. The main purpose of this step is to clean off any impurities in the meat item before any actual boiling of meat items. It is consider as done when the colour of the meat have turned to beige in colour. Throw away the water.


  • Fill the pot with some water, put in the follow ingredients (pork ribs, lean meat, garlics, ginger, winter mushrooms, carrots, dried scallops, canned mushrooms and some white stems of the napa cabbage.) These are the ingredients that can withstand long hours of boiling and those ingredients that can be cooked easily such as ( chicken wings, fish balls, meat balls and the leafy part of napa cabbage will only be added at the later stage). Bring to boil under high heat. Once boil, lower the heat to medium and boil for at least 25-30 minutes until the meat is soft and the broth start to turn a bit cloudy. The result of the boiling will be a mixture of meat and vegetable broth.


  • Add in the chicken wings, followed by fish balls, meat balls, fish maw and leafy part of the napa cabbage. Bring to boil until the napa cabbage is soft.  Once boiled, add some seasoning of your choice (i use light soya sauce, salt and white pepper)


  • Note that before adding the fish maw, you may want to blanch the fish maw with some hot water to clean off some of the oils in the fish maw. Some fish maw may took longer to cook than the others but usually, as a general guideline, fish maw shall only be added towards the end of the cooking process.

  • Best served hot as a soup dish in a standard Chinese household meal.



A common household soup and I like to prepare this to entertain my guest.. Adding fish maws is generally a good choice. Of course you can add in baby abalone to make it even more presentable. New house chefs, if you never try this soup, do try.  For experience house chefs, I am sure you can concur with me the flexibility of this soup dish. Do let me know if this soup dish cooked by me looks appetising to your taste buds.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


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Time To Nourish Your Body – Crockpot Chinese Imperial Herbal Chicken



Chinese believed that we have to constantly provide adequate nutrition and cleanse our body. This is especially so when the weather was cold and the body’s immunity and resistance are week. Therefore, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), herbs and tonics are required to maintain our body in top notch condition to fight against any disease. I am no expert in TCM and I will not simply ask any readers to cook Chinese herbal soup based on my own recipe. Chinese usually go to the medical hall (stores) or medicine practitioners to get the relevant herbs mix for the preparation of herbal soup. However, nowadays, there are ready herbal mix in the supermarket and we usually bought this ready herbal mix based on the instructions and explanations stated in the package.

Last week, I bought a ready herbal mix package from a supermarket in Singapore. It claims to be the chicken herbal mix for the imperial family.I have prepared the soup using a crockpot or Asian slow cooker. I put all in the slow cooker, went out for my weekly marketing and when I am back for dinner, the herbal soup is ready.



As per the herbal package it was stated that the role of the soup: “ GINSENG HELPS TO IMPROVE IMMUNITY AND BODY RESISTANCE. IT ALSO HELPS TO IMPROVE BLOOD CIRCULATION ESPECIALLY GOOD FOR THOSE WHO HAS JUST RECOVERED FROM ILLNESS”. The herbal mix comprises of a number of herbs stated as below:

Gingeng’s (人参)purported health benefits include improved immunity, increased stamina, sharpened mental and physical performance and improved blood pressure. It is also used to treat erectile dysfunction, hepatitis C and symptoms related to menopause. Results are inconclusive, but some studies have shown that ginseng may lower blood glucose. Other studies suggest the root can lead to improvement in immune function.

Astragalus (北芪) is said to prevent and treat common colds and upper respiratory infections, and it’s usually combined with other herbs that also help support and strengthen the immune system, such as ginseng, angelica and liquorice.

Codonopsisi (党参 ) Main Codonopsis uses and indications include deficiency in lung and spleen, shortness of breath and heart palpitations, reduced appetite, loose stools, deficient asthma and cough, and heat diabetes

Goof berry (Boxthorn Fruit) (枸杞子) Key goji berry uses and indication are the deficiency of liver and kidney, light-headedness, blurred vision, soreness and weakness of waist and knees, ED (erectile dysfunction) and damage of essence, consumptive cough, extreme thirst, and so on.

Lotus Seeds (Nelumbo Nucifera) (莲子 ) Prime lotus seed uses and indications include chronic diarrhoea or dysentery because of spleen deficiency, emission due to the kidney deficiency, urinary incontinence, uterine bleeding, morbid leucorrhea, restlessness, palpitation, and insomnia.

Rhizoma polygonati -(玉竹)   Essential rhizoma polygonati uses and indications include consumptive cough due to deficiency of yin, lung dryness cough, lacking in strength caused by spleen deficiency, reduced appetite and mouth dryness, diabetes, soreness and weakness of waist and knees due to kidney deficiency, impotence and nocturnal emission, tinnitus and dim eyesight, premature greying, thinness and weakness, and leprosy and ringworm

Dioscorea Opposita  (Chinese Yam) (山药/淮山)   Chinese yam is used to treat weak digestion with fatigue and diarrhoea, general weakness, frequent urination, decreased appetite, leukorrhagia (excessive vaginal discharge), premature ejaculation, the symptoms associated with diabetes, and chronic wheezing (whistling sound caused by breathing difficulty) and coughing.



Sensing that some international readers may not be able that get the ready mix herbal package, therefore, I have listed out the ingredients and for those readers who are interested, they can just provide the recipe (herbal mix) to the traditional Chinese medicine stores and they will be able to get ready all these dried herbs. In my humble opinion, not all ingredients are necessary and it can be as simple as just one or two common herbs such as ginseng and wolfberry bypassing the use of other exotic herbs.


  • 10 grams Astragalus Membranaceus  北芪*
  • 20 grams Boxthorn Fruit (Wolfberry) 枸杞
  • 15 grams Codonopsis Pilosula 党参
  • 11 grams Dioscorea Opposita 淮山*
  • 25 grams Polygonatum Odoratum 玉竹
  • 14 grams Ginseng 人参
  • 15 grams Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus Seeds) 莲子
  • 1 whole chicken

* Not in picture and placed under the Codonopsis Pilsula



  • Wash the chicken thoroughly, take out any hairs and chopped off head and legs. Stuff all the herbs inside the body and place it in a slow cooker or crockpot. Put in water to cover about 75% of the chicken body.


  • Use the slow cooker or crockpot to cook for at least 2-3 hours. The chicken meat should be very soft and tender at the end of slow cooking. I have selected the auto mode for this illustration. Instead of stuffing the herbs inside the the chicken body, you can use a herbs cloth bag and put it in the crockpot. Should you feel that the soup is too greasy, you can let the soup cool, put it in the fridge, let the fats solidify and reheat the soup before serving.


  • Best served hot with white rice.

Note that Chinese herbal chicken shall not have add any seasonings (including salts) and when serving, no condiment were given too. However, if you feel that it is too bland for your liking, we will eat it with some dark soya sauce.



Chinese believes that Autumn is the right time to nourish you and prepare your body to overcome the cold winter. Why not try to prepare this herbal chicken for your family. However, it should be noted that it is best to consult a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to get the right herbs mix. If you have difficult to get the right herbs, just ginseng and wolfberry shall be sufficient for this tasty soup.

Hope you like this post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .


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