Monday, August 07, 2006

Tonic For Anaemic Women

This is a lovely dessert for anaemic women especially for those who often feel dizzy. It is also good for women who have just given birth.

It's basically a tonic for the blood. Men can also drink this as the two ingredients are good for promoting general well-being.

Dried longan is warming but it is recommended as a titbit/snack for expecting moms. It also helps with people suffering from insomnia, forgetfulness and anxiety. It contains iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and large amounts of vitamins A and C. In traditional Chinese medicine, longan is associated with the Heart and Spleen meridians. It is helpful for calming the spirit.

Dried red dates as I have mentioned before are a must-have in the Cantonese kitchen. It's a blood tonic and helps to balance or harmonize soups. The concept of Yin-yang balance is reflected in the way we cook. Remember to remove the stones as the stones create dampness and phlegm. Red dates replenishes the Qi, nourishes blood and relieves fatigue.

Red Dates and Longan Tonic

You'll need 10 to 15 red dates and a small handful of dried longan. Put both ingredients into a pot of 4 to 5 cups water. Simmer gently until water is reduced by half. Drink warm.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

White Radish Soup

I hesitated in making this soup because white radish tends to stink up the whole kitchen when it is simmering. The stink, as one little girl admits, smells like very bad gas! But white radish or daikon makes good soups because the soups are very 'sweet'. When Cantonese use the word 'theemm' for soups, it doesn't mean they are sweet like sugary sweet. 'Theemm' is a single word which means a lot - it denotes deliciousness that's deeper; when Cantonese mention 'cheng theemm', it translates loosely as 'clear and delicious'.

Anyway, white radish or 'lor pak' (in Cantonese)is purportedly good for breastfeeding mothers. If you add dried cuttlefish to the white radish soup, it encourages lactation. The white radish is also good for clearing heat because of its cold nature. As such, the elderly should not take too much of this soup.

And if you are on medication or taking herbal tonics, you certainly do not want to drink this soup as white radish neutralises the efficacy of your tonics. It would be plain wasted. It's just like how we are cautioned NOT to drink Chinese tea after we take herbal tonics like 'pat chen cha' (Eight Herbs Tonic).

White radish, despite its cold nature, contains a number of vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of potassium, folate and Vitamin C. It is also a good source of magnesium. You can read more about the health benefits of the humble white radish at
It is also rich in vitamins A, B, D, E and believed to help stimulate appetite, combat scurvy and rickets, treats asthma, liver and gallbladder troubles. It helps to soothe sore throats and expel phlegm besides aiding digestion.

In terms of cooking use, we Chinese tend to use white radish in soups and stirfries while in the West, it is mostly eaten raw in salads.

For White Radish Soup, you'll need 3 simple ingredients:

1 white radish (wash, peel skin and cut into fairly large chunks)
600gm pork ribs (blanched)
6-8 dried red dates (de-stoned)

Bring a pot of water to boil. Put in all ingredients. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Lower fire, put lid on pot and simmer for 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: You can add dried cuttlefish if you like and substitute pork ribs with chicken (skinned).