Thursday, July 02, 2009

Porridge with Kei Chi, Wai San & Pork

This is a quick variation of the wai san porridge which I make all the time. One of the reasons is that wai san porridge is a great recipe when you are strapped for time. Second of course is that wai san (I'm talking about fresh wai san in this case) is soothing for the stomach. Basically, you can find wai san (or hwai san or chinese wild yam) in the wet market or supermarket. I've seen it sold in Tesco too sometimes.

It is usually a long, brown root covered in soil. Once you peel off the brown exterior, you will find the inside white like a yam bean /jicama/ mengkuang. Be careful though when slicing the wai san. It emits goo so it gets slimy. I suggest you wash the wai san after you've peeled off the skin and start slicing as soon as you can.

The usual way of getting wai san is from your herbal shop where it is in dried form. It is usually white and dehydrated.

In both forms, either fresh or dried, wai san promotes urination, lowers blood pressure, lowers blood sugar, is anti-aging and good for digestive issues. It's a tonic for the kidney and vaginal infections. I've also seen it used fresh (uncooked) in salads. I don't know how it tastes in a salad but it would be crunchy and bland.

If you cook it in a soup with pork bones, your soup will be delicately sweet and very nourishing.

Anyway, I've written about cooking wai san porridge before so this one is a just a reiteration where I add in kei chi or chinese wolfberries, which are great for the eyes. Particularly if you, like me, work with computers all day! (Another way of getting kei chi or what Americans call 'goji' is just steep a tablespoon of the berries in hot water and drinking the kei chi tea warm.)

So the next time you see fresh wai san in the supermarket, go grab some. You can keep it fresh for almost 2 weeks by wrapping the whole root (dirt and all) with newspaper in the vegetable compartment.
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