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Huai Shan & Arrowhead Chicken Soup

Arrowhead and Huai Shan Soup

With two more weeks to go before Chinese New Year (CNY), one starts to see arrowheads on sale at the supermarkets & wet markets in Singapore. I’ve only just recently learnt about arrowheads (aka 慈菇/ngaku) when I read wokkingmum’s blog post about it along with her recipe for arrowhead chips. Arrowhead is a bulb vegetable and it is popularly used in CNY cooking to make festive goodies such as arrowhead chips. Some people also grow the bulb to decorate their house during the festive period because the auspicious-looking arrowhead-shaped leaves symbolise (i) growth and prosperity (步步高升) as well as (ii) blessings for a male offspring. Since “rare” ingredients are a cook’s dream come true, I’m going to incorporate this festive ingredient into my everyday cooking, since nothing beats a bowl of nourishing home-made chicken soup.

Arrowhead and Huai Shan Soup
Main soup ingredients: Arrowhead (left) and Chinese wild yam aka huai shan

I paired the arrowheads with another tuber vegetable, namely Chinese wild yam (aka huai shan 淮山), which is really nutritious. If you read teczcape’s post, you can learn about the beneficial properties of this vegetable, ranging from anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, antispasmodic (relieves muscle spasms) to anti-aging. It also has medicinal properties such as treating menopause symptoms, gallstones and muscle spasms.

Nourishing properties aside, I really love the taste of this soup! There is no good way to describe how an ingredient taste like because the best way is to taste it yourself, but I’ll liken it to Chinese-style potato soup aka ABC Soup, which is one of my favourite home-cooked Chinese soups.

(Serves 2-3)

– 300g arrowroots/ngaku (慈菇), peeled and cut to large chunks
– 150g fresh huai shan root/Chinese wild yam (淮山), cut to large chunks* (if can’t find fresh, you can substitute with 3-5 pieces of dried huan shan)
– 1/2 chicken (around 500g), skin removed and cut to large chunks
– 1 large carrot, peeled and cut to chunks
– 3 slices old ginger
– 1.5 litres of water
– sea salt or small piece of chicken cube to taste

1. Blanch chicken pieces in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then rinse with cold water, set aside.
2. Add water, blanched chicken and the rest of the ingredients into soup pot. Bring to rapid boil for first 10 mins, then simmer over low fire (with lid partially covered) for another 60 mins, or till chicken is tender.
3. Season with salt or chicken cube if needed. Serve with warm rice.

Cooking Note
1. If you’re using fresh huan shai, first rinse it in water to get rid of the soil, then remove the skin (I use a vegetable peeler) and cut to large chunks. Be careful as the flesh is slippery/slimey to handle.

Arrowhead and Huai Shan Soup

44 comments on “Huai Shan & Arrowhead Chicken Soup”

  1. at the risk of sounding sheltered and stupid, i have never come across this vegetable or eaten it! or maybe i have but have just never seen it before it got cooked :) I wanna taste this. Happy CNY hun x

  2. I didn’t know about arrowhead. This is a so comforting soup!

    Wiffy, I’ve an award for you waiting at my blog :)



  3. I only got to know about arrowroot when i watched 三菜一汤 few days back. chef thomas was preparing a cny dish with arrowroot and he called it 芽菇. He mentioned that it is only available during cny period and he used to to braise with pork but mentioned that it should not be stirred cos the arrowroot will release a bitter taste. huai shan is also another ingredient i seldom come across.

    • So far I have only watched 三菜一汤 when I’m at other people’s house! I seldom watch ch 8 and ch 5, but I really love that show though. Wish I had caught that episode, braising arrowhead and pork sounds delicious. Maybe I’ll try it next year hehe

  4. Looks so light and delicious!
    I frequent a local Chinese market, so I’ll check out some of the ingredients, next time.

  5. Never heard of this veg but am eager to try it. By the way, is it supposed to be “arrowhead” or “arrowroot”?

    • Hi Lovved, if you were to buy it locally (in Singapore), a lot of supermarkets will label it as “arrowhead” while “arrowroot” is another veg which is much bigger than arrowhead. Through my readings, there are some who call it arrowroot. But I think if you were to look for it in Singapore, you should look out for “arrowhead”, anyway it’s the small ones as shown in the photo. Hope it helps :)

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