The Chinese yam is often used in the preparation of tonic or herbal soups and remedies. We often consume Chinese yam, also known as huai shan or shan yao, fresh or in its dried form. It has a mildly sweet taste and a starchy, potato-like texture.

Physicians practising traditional Chinese medicine prescribe this to replenish qi and yin in the kidneys. In Chinese households, it is well known as a beneficial food to consume to help digestion, relieve stomach pain, alleviate diarrhoea, improve recovery after an illness, repair muscle tissue and promote muscle growth.

This humble tuber is also gaining a lot of traction in modern medicinal research. Studies have shown that the starch present in Chinese yam works to reduce cholesterol and fats in the bloodstream.

When preparing Chinese yam, it is advisable to wear gloves as the exposed flesh may cause a slight itch on contact.  The creamy white flesh secretes a slippery, slimy mucous-like substance (this disappears as it is cooked), much like that of lady fingers, which makes handling it a little challenging at first. Don’t mind the hand itch or slips, just think of how loaded it is with health and nutritional goodness!

Here is a soup in which chicken is slow-stewed with fresh Chinese yam, carrots, lotus seeds and red dates.


This recipe makes 4 servings.


400 gm Chicken Meat, skinned, cut into large chunks

400 gm fresh Chinese Yam, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
300 gm Carrot, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
12 Lotus Seeds
12 small Red Dates
Chicken Stock or Water
Sea salt, to taste


1.  Fill a saucepan or small pot with water and bring to a boil.  Put in chicken and scald for a minute or so to remove impurities. Discard the water, wash and put into stewing pot.

2.  Put all the ingredients into the stewing pot. Pour in chicken stock or water until just enough to immerse all the ingredients. Bring all the ingredients in stock or water to a boil, stew over low heat for 4 hours. Season to taste.

3.  When serving, scoop a little of each ingredient into individual serving bowls and fill with soup. Alternatively, you may scoop all the ingredients into a large soup dish and fill with soup. Serve hot.