Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cooking With Chinese Herbs

As promised, here is the recipe for the soup I made at tonight's 5-Element Nutrition workshop on Chinese Herbal Healing Broths.

This soup is delicious and gives a good idea of how you can play around with edible Chinese herbs.  The purpose was to give workshop participants a sample of how easy yet deeply satisfying herbal broths can be, and also how strongly you can "feel the Qi" from them!

Step 1:  either make your own broth (vegetable or meat), or use an organic pre-made broth of your choice.  I usually use 4 cups of broth and add additional water as needed.

Step 2:  Get the herbs ready to add to the broth. For this recipe I used Huang Jing, Kombu, 1 dried Maitake mushroom, Hong Zao, Ren Shen, Gou Qi Zi, & Huang Qi.  In this group, only the Huang Qi (stick-like root at the bottom) is not edible and will be removed after cooking.

HINT:  I have found it much easier to add most herbs as they are, and chop them into small pieces after they have softened from being cooked in the broth.  The Hong Zao (red dates) however are extremely soft after cooking, so I usually cut them while still dry, as below:

Step 3: Begin warming the broth in a stainless steel pot on the stove. Add the herbs, cover, bring to a gentle simmer for 30-minutes.

Step 4: Remove from heat and strain the herbs out.  You'll have a nice container of herb broth that you can now use as is - keeps for up to 7 days in the refrigerator & you can freeze it.


Step 5: If desired, chop the edible herbs into small pieces and add back into the broth.  They are very tasty and add a somewhat exotic quality to whatever you cook them into.

HINT:  If using both edible & non-edible herbs, be sure to place non-edible herbs in a muslin bag or cheesecloth so you can easily separate & remove them.

Here you can see how the same herbs from the 1st picture have plumped up and softened.  They will now be very easy to cut into little pieces.

Step 6:  In a food processor, shred 1 large potato, a bunch of carrots, and 1 small green cabbage.  

Step 7:  In a large soup pot, heat a spoonful of coconut oil and a dash of olive oil.  Once hot, add a healthy shake of "Panch Phora" Indian seeds.  This is a great combination of fenugreek, brown mustard seed, nigella, cumin, and fennel. If you're in Anchorage, I get mine at Summit Spice & Tea.  I also added about 1 Tbsp fresh chopped ginger root.

Step 8: Once the seeds release their scent and begin to lightly pop, add all of the shredded veggies.  Then add the herbal broth.  Add additional water if needed to make a nice soup consistency.

Step 9: Cover and simmer for about 30-minutes, until veggies are cooked well.  If desired, add a small amount of curry and salt to taste.

HINT: When cooking with Chinese herbs, it's best to keep additional spices to a minimum.  In this soup, I added about 1/4 the amount of Panch Phora and Curry that I would normally use.

Step 10: Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.  Then add 1 can Coconut Milk, stir well, and it's ready to serve.  Enjoy!!  (Makes about 8-10 servings)

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