Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dried Sugar Cane Herbal Tea

You would have seen this in most Chinese shops. It's a packet of dried ingredients made up of roots and twigs. Actually it is sugar cane. Dried sugar cane with an assortment of ingredients to make a cooling herbal tea. It's called Cane & Arrow Root Stock. 

sugar cane herbal tea

The package contains 3 ingredients (see photo below) - sugar cane, carrot and arrow root

All you have to do is put the contents of this packet into a pot of water, say 1 liter. Boil on low fire for 20 minutes. Then add rock sugar to taste. It's a traditional herbal tea for cooling down the body on hot summer days! 

sugar cane herbal tea

Arrow root is the white slices, the carrot is the amber coloured stuff on the top while the rest are just sugar cane.

What's your favourite herbal tea? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chinese Winter Dates Are Actually.....

Here are some new type of fruits I bought in the supermarket the other day. They're called Chinese Winter Dates. I didn't know much about them until a friend told me they're lovely and crunchy. When I saw them in the supermarket, I decided I ought to try them out. 

chinese winter dates from Shandong

Here's how they look like. Don't look very appealing right? All yellow and brown.

chinese winter dates from Shandong

They're mildly sweet and crunchy though. Like an apple.

chinese winter dates from Shandong

This is how it looks on the inside. The flesh is white with a seed in the middle. 

Actually they're dates. 

Like the regular dried red dates. 

It's just that these are fresh dates which have yet to wrinkle up and dry out. 

chinese winter dates from Shandong

They're mostly from Shandong and available from October to December (hence their "winter" status). It's supposed to be the "rarest fruit in the world" but don't take it too seriously. I think Chinese exporters tend to make big claims. 

There's very little information on this type of fresh dates from China.

Anyone know much about this fruit? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Here's How A Wai San Plant Looks Like

Wai san plant that I grew from fresh wai san 

This is a wai san plant. I didn't even know I could grow them here in Malaysia. And I grew them by accident! (Wrote about them a while back too).

Below is a fresh wai san tuber. I've always bought this in my Lip Sin market. Used it for soups.

Fresh wai san root 

Fresh wai san tuber can keep for a few weeks in the fridge. Just make sure you wrap it in some newspaper and put it into a plastic bag.

Sometimes though I forget I have wai san.

After a month or so, I get icky about using the old wai san lying about in my fridge.

As you know I never throw organic stuff that's edible away. I just turn them into compost.

So I chucked the old wai san into my compost pot. I figured it will disintegrate and become compost after a month or so.

But imagine my surprise when I started digging up the compost. The wai san was alive and growing!

It sprouted new roots.

I was feeling adventurous so I decided to give it a new life. Planted it into a pot. Kept it in the shade and then the leaves started growing too.

This took about 2-3 weeks.

Then some snails or maybe grasshopper started chewing on the wai san leaves. It ended up bereft of leaves and bald as a chicken.

Still it did not die.

So now it's recovering. Smaller leaves are coming back.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Black Bean, Goji Berries and Pig Tail Soup

The soup for making your hair dark, lustrous and beautiful 

Hey there.

I have been missing for a bit. But I miss my blog too.

Today I am going to share a new recipe but I am not too sure if I've shared this before.

Doesn't matter right?

I have been intrigued by foods and ingredients that are black. With my white hairs popping out, I have been on a journey to find foods that prevent hair from greying (actually I have not seen grey hair but I have seen lots of white hair).

Pan-fried dried black beans in their split skins

I hate pulling out my white hair by its roots but somehow I do it.

Some folks say that pulling out your white hair encourages more white hair to grow.

Bah. I don't care.

My current fave - super large sized dried red dates 
I have also been using henna powder to dye my hair. That's a lot better than waiting for chemicals to seep into my brain when I go to my hair stylist's. I sit there with the stuff on my head for 45 minutes while my eyes smart like hell.

I have since refused to do it, preferring to use henna powder that I buy from the Indian shops in Little India.

Maybe I should have another post for henna. Henna not only dyes hair but encourages hair growth and imparts good benefits to hair (gives it more form and shine). When I was a kid, my Malay neighbour used to grow henna. She used to pound the leaves and use the henna juice to colour her nails. This very habit strengthens nails but my mom had a fit when she saw me with orange nails!

Of course, now you don't need to grow the plant to get the dye. Just buy dried henna powder in any Indian shop. It's inexpensive and I feel much better using something nature intended on my head and hair than commercial dyes.

Chopped up pig tail 

I am also thinking, eating something must be better than putting it on my head so I have resorted to soups.

This time, it's black beans soup with pig's tail.

Make sure you blanch the pig tail chunks first to get rid of the oiliness and scum

Now the thing with pig's tail is this - you have to pre-order the tail or at least be damn chummy with your butcher. After all, each pig comes with a tail. Tails are scarce!

My butcher will chop up the tail into nice chunks for me. The only problem I have with this soup is that it's heck of an oily soup. You need to skim off the fats. The pig's tail is rather fatty you see.

Here's what you need:

1 pig's tail, chopped into chunks and blanched
1 cup black beans
1 thumb-size piece of young ginger (gets rid of the gassiness of beans)
2-3 dried red dates, pits removed
A handful of goji berries, soaked

Black beans need to be pan-fried in a dry pan (no oil OK?) until they pop their skins and reveal a hint of greenish bean inside. Let it cool.

In a pot, bring about 1.5 liters of water to boil.

When it boils, add all ingredients into the pot. Do not cover pot. Let the entire thing boil rapidly for 10 minutes on high. The boiling must be furious.

After 10 minutes, put the cover on the pot and lower the stove fire to the lowest you can manage. Let this simmer for 2 hours minimum. Add salt to taste at the last 15 minutes or so. Dish up and serve hot.

Here's the yummy goodness after 2 hours of slow simmering

Eat up all the beans, goji berries and chunks of pig tail. You may want to skim the fat or oil off the soup before you serve.

Black beans are great for kidneys. In TCM, anything that has anything to do with your kidneys has something to do with your hair and ears and eyes. Black beans presumably are also good for making your hair lustrous.

Here's something else - did you know that black beans are grown in India and Brazil? Find out more about the benefits of eating black beans here.

In my next post, I am going to tell you about an ingredient that doesn't need to be boiled (but can be if you want to) and can be eaten just like that, raw and is still GOOD for you and for your hair! (Plus invigorates your kidneys and liver too!)