Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
abcdefg

Pear porridge for winter cough 雪梨粥

Recommended Posts

abcdefg

I've had a lingering cough from a winter cold and have been exploring traditional Grandmother-type home remedies, as suggested by several Chinese friends. Pears 雪梨 kept topping everybody's list. Can't swear that they are the best thing since the invention of penicillin, but it seems they might actually be helping some. Furthermore they taste real good.

 

 

657647354_IMG_7065(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.263be433f7e605c37a168814eda50575.jpgSnow pears 雪梨 (xueli) are the variety most highly recommended, but if they aren't available where you live, other pears can be used instead. The best xueli come from Xinjiang 新疆。 They cost more than locally-grown varieties, but they have more flavor when cooked. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turns out these pears are often prepared as a thin rice porridge, usually served warm. This combination is a staple in many households not only for its medicinal value, but simply because it is tasty, refreshing and easy to digest. Often recommended for the very young, the very old and the ailing or infirm. Not something I ever encountered in the west. Thought I'd show you one way to fix them at home in case you'd care to try them for yourself. 

 

The rice can be ordinary white rice 大米, but glutinous rice 糯米 is generally preferred. The recipe I'm using today mixes it 2 to 1 with millet 小米。It's a good idea to soak the grains for several hours or even overnight. If you forget, it's not a deal breaker, but texture is affected. Here's what these ingredients look like.  

 

 

2054687898_IMG_7070(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.8bdfed9e8a0f2d4e5d4da06e85a85946.jpg   

 Millet 小米 is at the top, with glutinous rice 糯米and ordinary white rice 大米 below.  The grains of glutinous rice are nearly round, bottom left, and it is said to have more nutritional value than the white Dongbei rice 东北大米, pictured bottom right.                    

 

Please click the photos to enlarge them.

 

 

                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

One can use just the grains and the pear alone, very plain, but to enhance efficacy one can add some lotus seeds 莲子 and a few chuanbei seeds 川贝. Grocery stores have lotus seeds; a pharmacy 药店 will have 川贝。The latter is a powerful Chinese herbal medicine, tiny root bulbs of the Fritillaria cirrhosa plant, which grows on alpine slopes and meadows. These two items also benefit from soaking, right along with the grains. Recipes often call for hongzao 红枣 Chinese jujube dates, and gouqi/Chinese wolfberries  枸杞 as well. I like both, so included them. 

 

 

294437530_IMG_7075(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.fdd00cee1e683abd2293a6f8a731d5c8.jpg         221166993_IMG_7063(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.49de631b38eae1c8a55928d00a8e4f4a.jpg             

 

 

Cut the pear into small pieces, removing stem and seeds. It's not necessary to peel it, though it does improve appearance. 

 

1768728101_IMG_7090(2)-850.thumb.jpg.d1c03a22641cbf15f649d2207b76fd9b.jpg   1662335399_IMG_7092(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.2dd4f401267544c65b9e078a453180a4.jpg

 

 

The traditional way to make rice porridge/zhou 粥 is in a covered clay pot on the stove. Doing it that way takes an hour or more of frequent stirring and requires that your stove burners have a "simmer" setting which supplies very low heat.  Lots of Chinese home cooktops tend to put out too much flame. Consequently, one turns instead to the trusty rice cooker 电饭煲 which is found in even the leanest of small home kitchens. 

 

Put the grains together into one small bowl so you can get an idea of combined volume, add them to the rice cooker, then supplement the grains with roughly 10 times that amount of water. Less or more to taste, depending on whether you prefer your zhou thin or thick. (Regional preferences exist.) Put in a small handful of dried Chinese jujubes 红枣 and a "palm" of dried Chinese wolfberries 枸杞.  A tablespoon or so of rock sugar 冰糖, more if you like it sweeter. Also add a tiny pinch of salt. 

 

518855222_IMG_7095(3)-850px.thumb.jpg.c829db44978d204f3fce7653e772bdd9.jpg   776764310_IMG_7096(2)-850.thumb.jpg.25a29d01b55d918cda5e9741a1d7e619.jpg     

 

 

I cut up one large pear and put it into the rice cooker bowl to become part of the zhou/porridge, and cut up the other one to place into the steamer basket. This way I'll have some extra pear to enjoy with nearly zero extra time and effort. 

 

Plug it in; crank it up. Most rice cookers have a button marked 粥, but in Yunnan we call it xifan 稀饭 instead (bottom right.) Let the cooker run through its cycle and shift to "keep warm" 保温 (top left.) This usually requires 30 to 40 minutes. Open it and take a look, stirring with your chopsticks. If the porridge still shows rice that isn't falling-apart tender, give it an extra 15 minutes or so. On my machine I do that by pressing the 蒸/煮 button, all the way to the left, bottom row. 

 

638519632_IMG_7098(2)withmarker2-875px.thumb.jpg.9eb512b79f2ec356552c8968ea850a13.jpg

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I use my electric pressure cooker 高压锅 instead of the rice cooker 电饭煲。It also has a 粥 setting, which is what I use. It does a good job in about half the time.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's finished now. Serve it up. 

 

1282767287_IMG_7113(2)-850.thumb.jpg.b6ddfc86ab8ce30df524038a3e16de5b.jpg   745614443_IMG_7118(2)-925.thumb.jpg.04455565e3174895b69451238804ac28.jpg

 

 

Tasty, healthy stuff. Restorative for the lungs. 止咳、 润肺、化痰。

 

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

889

I think we've talked before about the difference between home-cooked and restaurant-cooked dishes. But that certainly looks like what you'd expect to get at a first-class restaurant. Is the taste the same, or are there some professional secrets you haven't yet discovered?

 

(Roddy should add another award emblem there, "Tasty.")

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg

Thanks, @889 -- A restaurant would peel the pears. And the 川贝 chuan bei would be pounded into a powder with mortar and pestle instead of just being stewed. Of course there may also be other secrets that I haven't yet discovered. 

 

Many versions of this dish include the silver yin'er 银耳 Tremella fungus. That gives the dish a smoother finish but a texture 口感  that most westerners probably would not find appealing. I sometimes make an "all the way" version which includes it, but today I didn't. 

 

1869377806_IMG_7029(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.933a6465e3fc22b434fd32bb112af5c6.jpg   138256471_IMG_7032(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.21745915c07829da08f4ead3fab31d9c.jpg

 

 


It needs to be soaked, preferably overnight, the yellow central "core" or "stem" removed, and then it must be torn into small shreds by hand and cooked a long time to become tender. I usually pre-cook it before starting the pears and rice. 

 

607452787_IMG_7044(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.374ee81cf01f3e0955782fcebb6b7f11.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adds an extra level of complexity; not sure it's worth it. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

Silver fungus always seems to take over a dish: it becomes silver fungus with whatever, not whatever with a touch of silver fungus. Clearly a very different dish if you add it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg

Yes, agree. Difficult to use it with a light hand. I have not mastered it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim

My wife will basically just stew pears for our daughter as a cough preventative, just a light syrup in the end with the pears in  (maybe a few other ingredients, will have to ask) but likewise tasty and seemingly somewhat effective.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex_Hart
7 hours ago, abcdefg said:

One can use just the grains and the pear alone, very plain, but to enhance efficacy one can add some lotus seeds 莲子 and a few chuanbei seeds 川贝. Grocery stores have lotus seeds; a pharmacy 药店 will have 川贝。The latter is a powerful Chinese herbal medicine, tiny root bulbs of the Fritillaria cirrhosa plant, which grows on alpine slopes and meadows. These two items also benefit from soaking, right along with the grains. Recipes often call for hongzao 红枣 Chinese jujube dates, and gouqi/Chinese wolfberries  枸杞 as well. I like both, so included them. 

 

Does the 川贝 add any flavor/texture or is it just added for medicinal reasons? Would any pharmacy have it? 

 

Nice looking recipe! I think I might make this on Saturday (I already have a big basket of 雪梨, but have to buy some 莲子 and this 川贝 or I'd make it tomorrow!) - I'm not sick, but it looks like a great variation on 粥. 粥 is usually served with a wide variety of delicious pickles in Zhejiang, but I've found it impractical to keep so many pickles in my tiny fridge, and a frigid kitchen has prevented me from spending much time preparing anything for breakfast lately. Gotta love recipes with lots of dried ingredients, but one that you can mostly prepare the night before is even better!

 

2 hours ago, Jim said:

My wife will basically just stew pears for our daughter as a cough preventative, just a light syrup in the end with the pears in  (maybe a few other ingredients, will have to ask) but likewise tasty and seemingly somewhat effective.

My girlfriend does the same thing whenever she has even the hint of a cold: a sniffle, a second cough after the first, a slight scratchiness to her throat. Just some pears with 红糖 (haven't quite figured out if this is the same thing as brown sugar - it seems to have a different flavor that the brown sugar I'm used to and is as hard as a rock). Her mom prepares it with 红糖 and 阿胶 donkey hide (very popular lately thanks to a huge ad blitz, but not generally taken from sustainable sources so would not suggest trying it!).  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg
15 hours ago, Alex_Hart said:

Does the 川贝 add any flavor/texture or is it just added for medicinal reasons? Would any pharmacy have it? 

 

Pretty sure that any Chinese pharmacy which stocks some herbal remedies should have it. My reason for that untested assumption (which could be wrong) is that chuanbei 川贝 is called for in lots of herbal decoctions.  From what I read (not being an expert) it's often on short lists of "TCM Treaures." Here's a clipping from an article in Shanghai Daily:

 

Quote

Fritillaria, a bulbous plant with hanging, bell-shaped flowers, is known as chuan bei and its dried bulbs are used to treat coughs and reduce phlegm. It's also good for smokers.

Said to contain yin or "cold" energy, it clears inner heat (yang energy) and works in the lung and stomach, according to traditional Chinese medicine. It's a common ingredient in patent medicine for coughs.

 

...Chuan bei is an ingredient in more than 100 prescription remedies. 

 

First time I bought it I was surprised to find it was relatively expensive. Thought there must be some mistake and had the clerk double-check. This little package, half used by now, weighed 5 grams initially and cost 50 Yuan. (The ballpoint pens are just for size.) 

 

 

1036239723_IMG_7124(2)daylight-850px.thumb.jpg.dce3e7e5c6d4aa76c0003eeb2c4a7b18.jpg

Of course one only uses a little bit, 4 or 5 of the small dried bulbs, so it goes a long way. The most common recipe suggestion is to crush or grind it in a mortar and pestle. One reason is that it has a somewhat bitter flavor and this allows

you to disperse it in the soup. It's not unpleasantly bitter, and I find it offsets

some of the sweetness of the other ingredients.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By contrast, dried lily seeds are found in open bulk bins in the grocery store, as shown here where they were part of a large sales display of "seasonal tonics" 秋冬滋补季, alongside 枸杞,红枣 and several other popular remedies. It would be difficult to overstate the strength of ordinary people's 老百姓 belief in TCM remedies. They are very much part of the fabric of daily China life.  

 

1915689401_IMG_20181225_151412(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.ca5f2554dae4b9353e843892cec56e74.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

"Cut the pear into small pieces, removing stem and seeds. It's not necessary to peel it, though it does improve appearance."

 

But would you serve it this way to Chinese friends? In my experience, the quickest way to get that "You really are a barbarian" look is to pick up an unpeeled apple or pear and just start munching away on it.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg

Yes, you're right. The pears should be peeled if serving the dish to Chinese guests. Thanks for pointing that out. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim

On the other hand the wife doesn't peel them, think she prefers pear chunks and the peel helps it stay together. Other ingredient is just sometimes gouji I think.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex_Hart
On 1/4/2019 at 8:02 AM, abcdefg said:

Pretty sure that any Chinese pharmacy which stocks some herbal remedies should have it. My reason for that untested assumption (which could be wrong) is that chuanbei 川贝 is called for in lots of herbal decoctions.  From what I read (not being an expert) it's often on short lists of "TCM Treaures." Here's a clipping from an article in Shanghai Daily:

 

Went to two neighborhood pharmacies and while both usually had it, they were out of stock. It has been raining non-stop for two or three weeks now, maybe a lot of people were sick.

 

Girlfriend has had a sore throat recently so still wanted to make some even without the 川贝. Unfortunately, our ceiling is leaking and I found that water got into the 小米 bag only after I had already put the 糯米 and 莲子 in for a soak. Hangzhou living. 

 

Still good! Can see how this would be a nice thing to eat when sick and I liked the pears a lot. Girlfriend said she felt rejuvenated after having a bowl. 

522444282_WeChatImage_20190106092547.thumb.jpg.c4c050e048cb9c8e04da0bb73be05fab.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ChTTay
On 1/3/2019 at 8:30 PM, Jim said:

My wife will basically just stew pears for our daughter as a cough preventative

Many of my students come in with this too. They take great pleasure in telling me they dont have just water on those days 😂

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg

Today is Sunday and I rode my bike to a nearby seasonal fair which was being held in the courtyard of a shopping center the local English name of which is "Culture Palace" 文化馆。They had the usual assortment of booths and attractions, including costumed aunties dancing to ethnic music. 

 

344941220_IMG_20190106_102537(2)-875px.thumb.jpg.03af86223f92bb17f62ddec45773ac56.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I stopped and sampled the wares at a booth selling 泡梨 pickled pears from Gejiu 个旧 in Honghe Prefecture 红河州。These are wildly popular in the winter months because of their beneficial effect on the lungs and the way they help with acute and chronic coughs.

 

717156922_IMG_20190106_103316(2)-875px.thumb.jpg.5291976aa4dff93549125597e7e5d71f.jpg

 

They are made with smaller pears of a special variety that grow in the mountains, not in valleys or suburban plastic tents 塑料大棚。They are tart to start with; astringent, not very sweet. My understanding is that they are picked young and put up in large sealed eathenware jugs for two or three months in a solution of acidified water, salt, and gancao/licorice root 甘草, plus a few other "secret herbs." They slowly ferment and come out tangy with a definite crunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bought half a kilo (一公斤十二块) and will enjoy them for most of this next week. Not sure if they are popular outside Yunnan and maybe nearby Guizhou. First time I tried them ten years ago, I mainly thought they were strange.  Now I still think they are strange, but have acquired a fondness for them in season. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg
3 hours ago, Alex_Hart said:

Unfortunately, our ceiling is leaking and I found that water got into the 小米 bag only after I had already put the 糯米 and 莲子 in for a soak. Hangzhou living. 

 

吃那么多苦!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex_Hart
3 hours ago, abcdefg said:

I bought half a kilo (一公斤十二块) and will enjoy them for most of this next week. Not sure if they are popular outside Yunnan and maybe nearby Guizhou. First time I tried them ten years ago, I mainly thought they were strange.  Now I still think they are strange, but have acquired a fondness for them in season. 

Are they just eaten by themselves like fruit?  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg
21 hours ago, Alex_Hart said:

Are they just eaten by themselves like fruit?  

 

Yes, but they are wet. The seller scooped out my half a kilo of whole pears (6 or 8 of them) into a plastic bag. After weighing them, she added a big ladle of juice to keep them fresh. I don't eat them while outside on the move because they make a mess and leave me with a sticky hand and mouth. I've seen some sellers dispense a sharp stick with them so you could spear one and eat it that way instead. I generally eat them at home with a knife and fork for the fruit and a spoon to drink some of the juice. (Probably not a very authentic approach.) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim

Talked to the wife about peeling pears and she thinks no-one ever used to, certainly in her part of the countryside, but it became common once pesticide and other agrochemicals became common. She gets hers from sources she trusts so keeps the peel because it has some of the best nutrients/medicinal properties.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg

Pickled pears 泡梨 at home.

 

985292452_-850px.thumb.jpg.b0f42cb7b7f2306b726d2f0f9021742e.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut them up, remove seeds and stem, put them in a bowl along with some of the juice. The fruit is crisp and crunchy. The juice is not overly salty. 

 

1906827684_IMG_7181(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.9289d9af966cb23abccbf9e6e71b58b3.jpg   1371392416_IMG_7191(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.5c403f2569419644f5b9d32cb4729791.jpg

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×