Time-honored Chinese herbs a boost to the system
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China is known today as the most dynamic mover and shaker in the world. It boasts a booming population with similarly booming consumerist tastes, bullets trains and cities filled with skyscrapers.
While some are adopting western ways in this new era, many Chinese still retain the practices of their forefathers, especially on matters of health. Instead of consuming pharmaceutical drugs or undergoing surgery as a short-cut to health, they take a holistic approach through using time-honored herbal remedies.
Legend says that ancient Chinese herbalists, known as shennong, love to do research on local herbs that led them to a discovery of their health benefits. In 2800 BC, these herbalists published the first herbal medicine bible (shennong bancaojing) that contains 252 herbs with medical benefits.
Among them are:
Cinnamon twig: relieves pain, lowers blood sugar and promotes urination. It serves also as an antispasmodic and antibiotic.
Cloves: absorbs nutrients, improves oxygen in the blood, increases white blood cells and heartbeat and inhibits bacteria.
Codonopsis root: Improves body function, immune system and the function of macrophages, increases red and white blood cells, enhance blood coagulation and raises blood sugar. It also serves also as anti-fatigue.
Ginseng: energy boost. Some believe ginseng also adds longevity of up to 20 years.
Herba aloes: heals wounds and burns, strengthens immune system and purported to have anti-diabetic effects.
Longan: reduces body heat.
Tangerine peel: improves digestion, halts vomiting and hiccups, stops bleeding, increases blood pressure, stimulates blood vessels, expels phlegm. Also serves as an antibiotic.
The Chinese diaspora around the globe brought this ancient medical knowledge to many lands, including Indonesia with its important ethnic Chinese community.
Recently, JW Marriot Hotel in Kuningan promoted a range of menus — appetizers, main courses and desserts — with Chinese herbs as part of the ingredients. Executive sous chef John Chu demonstrated how to make one of the main courses, braised whole fish with the tong sum herb and preserved cabbage.
“Tong sum is similar to ginseng, with the same medical function, but its price is cheaper. In China, people from low income groups normally prefer tong sum rather than ginseng,” he explained.
Chef Chu shared the recipe for readers to enjoy a tasty dish, and hopefully do themselves some good in the process.
500 grams grouper
10 grams mushroom
5 grams tong sum
3 grams shredded ginger
2 grams dry chili
10 grams preserved cabbage
10 grams oyster sauce
6 grams chicken powder
1 gram dark soya
1 tablespoon sugar
200 ml chicken stock
250 ml sago
• Heat a medium sized pan. Stir in the dry chili and the sugar. Cook for about 20 seconds until they produce strong aroma.
• Add the chicken stock, mushroom, tong sum, shredded ginger and preserved cabbage, let cook for another 3-5 minutes before adding the grouper.
• Cook for another 5 minutes, then let them simmer for 2-3 minutes.
• Add the oyster sauce, chicken powder and dark soya.
• Cook for another 5 minutes before adding the sago.
• Cook for several minutes then serve hot with the garnishes.
— Photos by Frederica Ermita Indriani