Friday 2 December 2011


How to Double-Boil Chinese Soup without the Chinese Ceramic Double Boiler Jar?

Idea from Karen Lim

It is not necessary to spend money to buy the Chinese Ceramic Double-Boiler Jar. You can still cook using the double boil method with ordinary items found in your kitchen.

1. 1 large bowl
2. 1 metal stand
3. 1 plate to cover the bowl
4. 1 large ordinary pot

1. Put all ingredients a large bowl and prevent moisture loss by covering it with a plate.

2. Place a metal stand into the bottom of another large pot and fill it with 2 - 3 inches of water. Turn on high heat for the water to boil.

3. When the water boils, place the large bowl covered by a plate into the large pot. The covered bowl should sit on the metal stand and be partially submerged in the water (2 cm up the bowl).

4. Turn down the heat and double boil the soup under low heat for 2-3 hours or until the ingredients are tender. In general, the longer you slow cook the soup, the sweeter the soup gets. The Cantonese are known to take up to 5 hours to make tonic soup using very low fire. With very low fire, you don't kill the nutrients and vitamins in the soup, and the resulting soup is full of nutrients and goodness. That's how Cantonese tonic soups are made :-)

You can't leave the cooking unattended as if the water in the large pot evaporates, the food in the double boiler will not cook well. If you want the convenience of not worrying about water evaporating in the large pot, you can put the double boiler in a slow cooker and cook overnight.

Additional Information:
How to make the most tasty Chinese soup? It is achieved by using the traditional Chinese double boiling method with the Chinese ceramic double boiling jar widely available in HongKong, Singapore and China, but not available in Amazon. However, if you do not own a Chinese ceramic jar, don't fret, you can still improvise with the basic equipment found in your kitchen and it would give similar results. The only draw-back is that you can only make a bowlful portion, but it saves you money from having to get special equipment :-).

The Chinese double boiling method existed for thousands of years in China, but it is the Cantonese who perfected the art of double-boiling Chinese tonic soups. Among the Chinese, the Cantonese are known to make the best Chinese soup, and I have to agree, although I am not a Cantonese Chinese. If you look closely into the secret of how the Cantonese do it, you will find that many of their delicious soups call for simmering the soup in the traditional Chinese ceramic double-boiler jar for hours.

The Chinese way of double boiling soup is actually a form of steaming. It is also similar to the western method of melting chocolate or warming up cream using a Bain Marie.

The advantages of the Chinese double-boiling method are:

1. Slow cooking the soup for many hours from the indirect heat source derived from double-boiling gives you the most sweet and flavourful Chinese soup, that no other method can give.

2. This double-boiling method also gives you the most tender and flavourful meat that would melt in your mouth.

3. This method of cooking avoids moisture loss and retains most nutrients from the ingredients.

4. This is a very good method for making baby food if you are cooking soup for baby, since it retains most of the nutritional value of the ingredients for baby. This is equivalent to steaming baby food.

However, there are two major disadvantages. Firstly it takes a long time to double-boil meat such as chicken, which calls for simmering the soup under low heat for a few hours. Secondly, it makes only a small portion, often a one-person portion, because the size of the Chinese double boiling ceramic jar is very small, since the jar has to fit into a large pot.

However, thankfully, there are ways to overcome this. For example, fish soup is fast to make using the double-boil method, since fish cooks fast and does not require simmering for hours. Or you can double-boil your soup using a pressure cooker, instead of an ordinary pot.

Secondly, to overcome the small portion issue, one can use a Bain Marie to cook a whole pot of soup using the double boil method, instead of the Chinese ceramic jar.

Using the traditional Chinese ceramic jar with double lids would no doubt give the best result, but using the western Bain Marie is a good compromise if you want to make a big portion in one cooking to save time.


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