It’s not a big store, but big enough to store the most basic and fast moving inventories. I used to buy my Asian products at the family-run store and I appreciated the many advices I got from the owner. I have written briefly about this friendly Chinese lady at this post : A Very Special Mapo Tofu.
It must be due to health reason that she has stopped operating the convenient store. I sensed she had undergone a facial stroke as her face was partially contorted and she limped quite badly. I have neither heard nor seen her since her shop was bought over by a young couple some 3 years ago. When I went back to the store, it’s not the same anymore. I noticed there are more “kiddy-like” and less healthy stuffs, like instant noodles, sweets, cookies, instant sauces etc. There are not many choices in the deep freezer section either. Quite sad, really.
One Healthy Advice
Fortunately, before she sold her business, she gave me tips on making healthy broth or tonic soups. I don’t read Chinese so a first hand advice from someone who excelled in both Chinese and English was tremendously refreshing.
In one of my many stopovers to her shop, I was looking for the ingredients or herbs to make a tonic broth. She beckoned me to one of the shelves and showed me a few packages of Chinese herbs. Erm…. it was all Greek, or rather, Chinese to me. Ha ha …
And by the way, for a first timer, she introduced me to a mix of 7 dried Chinese herbs, which sounded sacred and biblical at the same time – Solomon’s Seal Root, Foxnut, Lily Bulb, Job’s Tear Barley, Lotus Seeds, Longan (dried dragon eye) and Chinese Yam. These 7 heavenly herbs made up the Chin Po Liang, a very popular all-purpose tonic soup in a Chinese kitchen, particularly, of the Cantonese origin. The Chin Po Liang is a ‘yin‘ soup as Liang means cooling and Po means tonic or nutritious.
I bought 2 different packages. I couldn’t remember what the other one was good for. It must be something similar which is also popular in the Vietnamese kitchen.
Pork is normally used in the broth, but I chose chicken. I was told by the friendly “aunty” that if chicken is used instead of pork, then I had to choose a very old chicken. BUT, where could I get an old hen in the supermarkets in Belgium?!
Not easy. I found the first chicken I saw at the poultry meat section at Delhaize. It was not a big bird, which I thought would be just right for my family of 4 people. In Belgium, the chicken is labelled as “soepkip” or translated literally as ‘soup chicken’.
- 1 whole “soepkip” (chicken for making soup), skin removed
- 1 packet of the 7-herb mix of Chin Po Liang
- Enough water to cover the chicken
Oh by the way, I added the 8th “herb”, one carrot. This is completely optional. I added this for colour and sweetness.
NOTE: Chinese tonic soups are usually slow-cooked without any enhancer. No salt, stock cube or pepper. That’s why it’s “chin po” (very nutritious)
- Rinse the Chin Po Liang herbs with cold water. Set aside
- Wash, clean and remove the skin off from the Chicken
- In a soup pot, add enough water to submerge the chicken
- Slow-cook the Chicken broth. If cooked in a pot over the stovetop, slow-cook for 2 hours. If cooked in a Slow-Cooker, cook on High for 2 hours plus another 4 hours on Low. You can leave the Slow-Cooker on overnight and enjoy a nutritious mug of goodness the next morning😉
NOTE: The water must be clear looking. Remove any scum floating on the surface of the pot.
Here’s how I like my bowl of Chin Po Liang Clear Chicken Broth, without the herbs, as the herbal flavours have infused in the broth from the long hours of slow-cooking.
!! WARNING !! This chicken broth is an acquired taste. Remember there was absolutely no enhancer. By slow-cooking the broth, the flavours develop to one very rich-tasting tonic soup, however, if you simply cannot take a salt-free broth, then by all means, add some salt and pepper with rock sugar to taste. I promise you it will transform the nourishing tonic soup to another level as well 😉
I guess that’s my middle name. LoL!
I love fiddling around with leftovers. Anyway, I have to be good at it because the 3 guys in my household do not like to eat the same dish 2 days in a row. I’m glad I work full time by day, otherwise I would run out of ideas cooking different dishes every single day.
With the leftover Chin Po Liang Chicken Broth, I added more water and brought the soup to a boil. I added ginger, spring onion, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, salt, pepper and a piece of rock sugar to taste. I boiled some spaghetti sticks and served this in a bowl, garnished with char siu, brocolli stir-fry, thinly sliced napa cabbage, prawns and of course, topped with a piece of the leftover chicken.
And there you have it! One of the best transformers!
I’m also linking this post to Farmersgirl Kitchen’s Slow Cooked Challenge for the month April 2015
This post is also linked to HonestMum @ Tasty Tuesdays live.
I’m also linking this herbal chicken broth to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs April Linky
Have a great week.