Wai San Root in Pork Rib Soup


Wai San Root in Pork Rib Soup

Shanyao root or huái shān or in Cantonese it’s called wai san is a kind of wild root sold relatively cheap and abundantly available in most Asian markets. The official name is called as “Dioscorea opposita” . Huai Shan has a sweet and neutral property. It is use for treating the kidney, lung and spleen. 

At first, I had no idea what this whole long, ugly-looking tuber was called. When I was shopping at an Asian market it was pointed out to me that the ugly-looking root was called hui shan or wai san or yam root. I heard of dried wai san but had never used any fresh root for my soups. I saw this root sold everywhere in Asian markets but never attempted to try it. I always used dried wai san or huai shan in my herbal soups like “bak kut teh” or ginseng soup. 

I wondered whether this fresh wai san tasted differently from dried wai san. So for my new experiment, I grabbed 3 small tubers and brought them. After all, it is said that these types of tuberous roots are full of health benefits. It has a soft crunchy texture after being boiled. The taste is actually very good.


3 small tubers of wai san or huai shan or yam root, peeled (be careful when peeling, the texture is sticky and gluey) and cut about 1 inch each

5-6 strip pork ribs or pork in bone, blanched or boiled lightly to remove grease or fats

10 pieces large red pitted dates,washed

2 candy dates, washed

2 liters of water or more if needed

salt to taste


1: Peel the skin of wai san or huai shan root carefully. The texture is sticky and gluey. Then cut the root into 1-inch pieces. Washed and drained.

2: Prepare ribs or pork in bone in boiled water to washed the grease or fats. Wash again in cold water after boiled. Use medium large stock pot to fill water with ribs or pork in bone at high heat.

3: When the water is at a rolling boil, lower the heat to medium high. Simmer the ribs or pork in bone for 30 minutes before adding in red and candy dates. Boil for another 30 minutes before adding in cut wai san root.

4: If the water level has depleted, add more water to the stock pot. Boil for another 30 minutes before adding salt to taste. Check the seasoning.

5: Remove stock pot from heat and serve warm.


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