Now that I have children of my own, I sometimes feel a sense of loss over what I failed to learn from my grandmother. Most specially those things regarding food and food preparation. Of course I have learned many things from her, I have learned to cook many Chinese dishes in her kitchen but it seems that she would have taught me more if only I had listened more. I want my children to learn more of their Chinese heritage now that everybody is becoming more "globalized." I have what I can salvage from my memories of my grandmother's kitchen. And I have added to those memories the things I learned from books and from sources on the internet. Now, if only my kids would show some interest... :)
One major part of Chinese cooking that I think is important are the Chinese Herbs. We know many herbs are used nowadays as an alternative medicine. They are a lot better because herbal medicines have no side-effects. There are also many Chinese Herbs that can be used for everyday cooking. They provide nourishment, energy and vitality to our bodies, and sometimes acts a prevention to many diseases.
During my travels to China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, I have collected some Chinese herbs. I think most of these herbs are also available in the Manila Chinatown or in any Chinatown around the world. I read on these herbs and have "concocted" soups over the years. Here is one of my delicious and healthy "concoctions" featuring Ganoderma or Ling Zhi.
Does the soup look "scary?" Please do not let the looks deceive you. This is actually a very tasty nutritious and dense soup. That black strip is the cooked Ganoderma. You do not have to eat it, as we believe its nutrients are already in the soup. Just drink the soup and you will still get Ganoderma's full benefits.
What is Ganoderma (Ganoderma Lucidum) LingZhi?
Ganoderma is a type of mushroom the Chinese use to promote longevity. In ancient times, this mushroom was reserved for the Emperors, as it was relatively rare and hard to find. Now, thanks to the advent of technology this mushroom can be farmed, making it more affordable and accessible to everyone.
It is used to treat many different ailments ranging from stress-related conditions to fatigue and sleep disorders.
It is often used as a preventative measure as a way to avoid any health problems that may arise in the future. The mushroom is well-known for its ability to strengthen the body's immune system, it is said that it can help aid off infections and viruses that may well run riot in a weakened immune system. It is often prescribed to people who are suffering from cancer and are currently undergoing chemotherapy. Here in Asia, we believe LingZhi has anti-cancer effects. Studies conducted on animals have proven the efficacy of this herb as well.
This is the LingZhi that I was able to buy in HongKong. It is reddish brown. It was not as expensive as I thought it would be, considering that this is the "emperor" of herbs. Maybe as with other kinds of Chinese herbs, it has different grades or quality.
LingZhi is supposed to be cooked simmered in boiling water for at least 2 hours. But I know the resulting liquid will be "herbal" with a little bitter aftertaste. So I tried to add it to soups. And it worked! The soup still tastes good!
1 K pork bones with a little meat
100 gms dried scallops
10 C water
5 strips LingZhi
1/4 C red beans
3 T Ji Zi - Fructus Lycii (picture below)
5 pcs Dried Red Dates (picture below)
5 pcs Chinese Yam - Huai Shan (picture below)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil some water in a soup/stock pot. When water boils, blanch the pork bones for a while. Drain. This step is to remove any impurities in the meat and the soup.
2. Boil fresh water again. When it boils, add the blanched pork bones and the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for at least 2 hours. Alternately, you can cook everything in a slow cooker.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour unto individual soup bowls. Serve hot.
Dried Red Dates
This soup and the featured "Emperor of the Chinese Herbs" - the LingZhi or Ganoderma Lucidum is my entry this week to the Weekend Herb Blogging. I hope this herb is also available in your Chinatown market so you can try it. Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted this week by Maninas of Food Matters, supported by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen . To see last week's round-ups, please check out the very friendly Wandering Chopsticks.
This post is dedicated to Chris of Mele Cotte, one of my first blogging friends, and a cancer survivor.
This post is also dedicated to Briana Brownlow of Figs with Bri. She is waging a war with stage IV cancer right now. Though we do not exactly "know" each other, I want to encourage her to fight on and I wish her the all the love, strength and hope she would need in this fight. Please read her story on her blog. Jugalbandi and her team of friends and fellow bloggers are organizing - Click - a photo event and a fund-raiser to help out with Bri's costly medical treatments. Please check out Jugalbandi's. Who knows? You might even win a prize while doing something worthwhile.