Monday, November 17, 2008

Aloe Vera and Chicken Soup

I got this recipe from Amy Beh but I have yet to try it. I couldn't get my hands on any fresh aloe vera! Back home in Banting, I have a huge overgrown pot of aloe vera but here, I don't. I am waiting to get some from my aunt one of these days so I can try this soup.

Aloe vera helps remove heat from the liver, and relaxes the bowels. So this soup is good for those suffering from constipation.

If used externally, the aloe gel helps those with skin problems like eczema and ringworm. I often use the gel on my face and arms after a long hot day out or if I accidentally scald myself with hot water!

Aloe can be also used as a cooling drink with the aloe gel cut up into cubes. They're chewably delicious!

For this soup, you need:

3 plump aloe vera leaves
half a chicken, chopped into chunky parts
15 white peppercorns, lightly crushed
3 red dates, stones removed
1.2 liter water

Wash the aloe and peel off skin. Cut the white jelly parts into thick slices.

Boil chicken, peppercorn, red dates in the 1.2 liter water for 1.5 hours.

Add aloe vera and continue to boil for another 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and serve soup hot.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Eggplant with Spicy Minced Pork

I love eating eggplant or brinjal but Nic is not to keen on it. He likes it in curries but not cooked plain.

When I do buy brinjal, I have a favourite way of cooking it.

With minced pork. I can get this dish ready in less than 10 minutes because it's simple and delicious. The crunchiness of deep fried brinjal with the spicy minced pork - out of this world.

For this recipe, you need:

1 medium length brinjal (about a foot long)
1/2 cup minced pork, marinated with some cornflour and soya sauce (leave aside for 5 minutes)
fresh ginger, about 2 slices, minced fine
fresh garlic, 1 clove, minced fine
2 tbsp Thai chilli sauce (from bottle, I use Mae Pranom brand)
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
some salt, pepper, sugar and soya sauce to taste
red chillies, sliced, optional - if you like to spice it up more

First, wash and cut brinjal into diagonal slices. Sprinkle some salt over to draw out water. Leave aside for a while.

Next, make a batter from self raising flour and rice flour (2:1 ratio) with a pinch of baking powder mixed with a little water. So if you use 2 tablespoons self raising flour, you need 1 tablespoon rice flour. (This is a good batter for frying fish slices so you can actually make a little more and keep it in the fridge. If you are keeping it, don't mix it with water. Just the flours in an airtight container. When you need to use it, add water.)

You should get a slightly runny batter. Dip brinjal into this batter and deep fry until golden brown. Drain and set aside on a serving plate.

Now for some wok action.

Heat up some oil in a pan and saute ginger and garlic. Add in minced pork and stirfry until almost cooked. Add all seasoning into the pork (Thai chilli sauce, soya sauce, salt etc).

Do not add water as the Thai chilli sauce contains enough liquid. Fry for another 3-5 minutes until pork is cooked through and the mixture is good and dry.

At this stage, you can add the red chillies if you want a good fiery kick to your dish (I add it when I fry the ginger and garlic to bring out extra spicyness! Don't try this if you cannot tolerate too much chillies though). Otherwise, leave it out. Mae Pranom chilli sauce is quite spicy as it is.

As you can see, I am high on spiciness. If you like chillies, I suggest you get the Vietnamese birds eye chillies.

Spoon over deepfried brinjal and serve immediately with steamed rice.

It's absolutely delicious if I may say so myself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Herbs Used in Nin Jiom

I went looking on the Net for the herbs that are used in the cough syrup King To Nin Jiom Pei Pa Kao and found these which I have compiled below.

Each one works to alleviate cough, phlegm and all manner of lung problems. I got the info from this website: in case you want to go on your own TCM herb hunting adventure or find out what those Latin terms actually mean.

Fourleaf Ladybell Root or Nan Sha Shen nourishes yin and removes heat from the lung, resolves phlegm, and reinforces qi. Suitable if you have heat in the lung with dry cough; cough with scanty sticky sputum; or deficiency of both qi and yin with feverishness and thirst.

Bulbus Fritillaria Cirrhosa or Chuan Bei Mu removes heat, moistens the lung, resolves phlegm and relieves cough. Good for those with dry cough due to heat in the lung; cough with bloody sputum in consumptive diseases.

Folium Eriobotrya Japonica or Loquat Leaf removes heat from the lung and the stomach, and relieves cough and vomiting.

Indications: Cough and dyspnea caused by heat in the lung; vomiting, fever and thirst caused by heat in the stomach.

Poria cocos or Indian Bread is the dried sclerotium of the fungus, Poria cocos. Poria is collected mostly in July to September, removed from soil, piled up, spread, and air-dried. This is repeated until all water evaporates before it is dried in the shade. Normally it is known as Fu Ling (white slices you see sometimes in Chinese herb shops).

Fu Ling or Poria cocos helps invigorate the spleen and calms the mind. Useful for curing dizziness and palpitation caused by retained fluid; diminished function of the spleen marked by anorexia, loose stools or diarrhea; restlessness and insomnia.

Exocarpium citrus Grandis or Pomelo peel, another ingredient in Nin Jiom, acts to dispel cold, eliminate damp and phlegm, and arrest emesis or nausea. Good for cough, itchy throat and profuse expectoration in colds; nausea, vomiting and epigastric distension caused by improper diet or excessive drinking.

Platycodon Root or Radix Platycodon Grandiflorum helps relieve cough, soothes sore throat and promotes expectoration and discharge of pus. Usually used when there's cough with much phlegm and hoarseness.

Pinellia Tuber or Rhizoma Pinelliae Preparatum also helps to remove damp and phlegm.

Chinese Magnoliavine Fruit or Fructus Schisandra Chinensis replenishes qi, promotes fluid secretion, tonifies kidney. It is used for chronic cough and asthma; nocturnal emission, permatorrhea; enuresis, frequent urination; protracted diarrhea; spontaneous sweating, night sweating; impairment of body fluid with thirst, shortness of breath and feeble pulse; diabetes caused by internal heat; palpitation and insomnia.

Snakegourd Seed or Semen Trichosanthes Kirilowii resolves phlegm and is a laxative and as such is good for those with dry cough with sticky sputum and constipation.

Common Coltsfoot Flower or Flos Tussilago Farfara relieves cough and resolves phlegm, nourishes the lung to keep the adverse qi downward.

Thinleaf Milkwort Root or Radix Polygala Tenuifolia promotes sputum expectoration and reduces swelling. It is used for those suffering from insomnia,dream-disturbed sleep, forgetfulness,palpitation ,trance; cough with a difficulty in expectorating sputum; boils and sores as well as swelling and pain in the breasts.

Bitter Apricot Seed or Semen Prunus Armeniaca relieves cough and asthma, and helps relax bowels. It is often used for cough and asthma accompanied by stuffiness in the chest and profuse expectoration; constipation due to deficiency of blood and fluid.

Among all these herbs, there is of course, the well known Fresh Ginger or Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens. Fresh ginger promotes sweating, dispels cold, warms the stomach, relieves phlegm and cough.It is usually used if there's cough with thin whitish sputum.

Nin Jiom also contains Liquorice Root or Radiz Glycyrrhiza Glabra which improves the spleen and replenishes Qi. Liquorice root also removes heat and counters any toxicity in the body, dispels phlegm and cough. Chewing on a liquorice root (easily available at any Chinese herbal shop) as a quick remedy to alleviate cough helps! Just chew the root to get its juice (like chewing gum). Spit out the root once you've extracted all the juice of course.

Other ingredients include menthol which is a saturated, cyclic alcohol obtained from peppermint oil; honey or known as Mel which helps relieve dryness, replenishes the spleen and stomach and counteracts toxicity.

So you see, there's a bunch of herbs (roots, seeds, leaves) used in the preparation of the traditional Nin Jiom cough syrup.

It's amazing to know that more than 15 herbs/ingredients are used in such a simple yet effective remedy for coughs.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

What's Inside King To Nin Jiom Pei Pa Kao?

I still have a bloody phlegmy cough. Despite eating everything I think is good for curing a cough.

So as a last resort, I turned to a favourite cough remedy - King To Nin Jiom Pei Pa Kao! I had a bottle stashed in my kitchen so I thought, might as well take that and see if my cough can be cured.

The funny thing was, it has expired in 2007.

But what the heck.

It's just cough syrup, right? Won't die anyway. So being highly practical, I took whatever's left of this remedy. (I'm Cantonese. We're a highly practical people. That's probably why we can survive anywhere. I grew up with lots of pragmatic advice from mom and grandma.)

For those of you who don't know what King To Nin Jiom is, it's a thick, gooey, honey-like syrup masquerading as cough syrup. It's a traditional Chinese preparation so it's lovely and sweet, much like honey. It's not like those yucky cherry-flavoured cough syrups doctors give. Not at all. (By the way, I hate those.)

This syrup is so good that children will take to it like they take to all sweet stuff.

Locally in Malaysia, we know it as Ubat Batuk Cap Ibu dan Anak. In my younger days, the TV ad for this syrup was a wayang kulit or shadow play where the son goes in search of a cough remedy for his mom and then finds this King To Nin Jiom. She takes it and hurray, is cured. I can still remember the ad!

Even if you are not coughing, you ought to keep a bottle of this Nin Jiom at home. If you are heaty (had too many late nights, eaten too much curries, sang too much at karaokes hence have a sore throat, or just plain grouchy which in TCM means you have too much 'heat' in the body), a teaspoon of this diluted in a glass of water is just the thing!

I went over to the official Nin Jiom website but it's done in Flash so half the info cannot be seen (and I am using the Google Chrome browser) and I didn't want to download Flash - too lazy lah. I wanted to find out what they use for this miraculous cough medicine.

In the end, I had to go on the Net and search for myself (coz remember I told you their Nin Jiom site sucked and I couldn't see a thing).

Inside this concoction, there's some 15 different herbs. They include:

chuan bei mu
loquat leaf
fourleaf ladybell root
indian bread extract
pomelo peel
platycodon root
pinellia tuber
chinese magnoliane fruit
snakegourd seed
common coltsfoot flower
thinleaf milkwort root
bitter apricot seed
fresh ginger
licorice root
peppermint oil

In my next post, I will let you on the benefits of these ingredients. Even if you don't know much about TCM, you notice that much of the ingredients are generally used to prevent coughs such as bitter apricot seed and licorice root.