Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tong Sum and Red Date Tea

I caught an interesting cooking show on TV last night. On Astro's Asian Food Channel (Channel 703), I watched a show on TCM. It was a Taiwanese programme where the host and hostess spoke in Mandarin and sometimes a smattering of Taiwan Hokkien.

The show featured 3 recipes each segment, using TCM herbs with the herbalist host explaining about the uses of the specific herbs. Then the lady hostess would cook up a dish, usually a main course, using the herbs.

While I am not very interested in making dishes like prawn balls with Chinese herbs (it seemed just too much work!), I liked the 2 other recipes they showed.

One was a milk beverage with herbs (I can't recall what now). But the other one was easy. A tong sum and red date tea.

Tong sum or dang shen is a mild herb which resembles a dry, gnarled twig the size of a finger. It is called the poor man's ginseng in some instances because it shares similar properties with the more expensive ginseng. Dang shen is actually a root which benefits the spleen and lungs and is often used together with other herbs in soups.

This inexpensive herb helps to boost immunity, nourishes blood and lowers blood pressure. That's why it is suitable to restore health to the body, especially one that's been ill or unwell. It helps with restoring one's appettite too.

It is also a herb to use for promoting digestion especially if you have a sluggish digestion (indicated by bloating and indigestion).

To simmer this tea, you need some dried red dates (seeded) and some dang shen. Wash and put both into a pot with 2 bowls of water. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until water is reduced to one bowl. Drink warm.
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