I’ve been kinda resisting cooking with Chinese Medicine herbs, mainly because it seemed a bit too Chinese-y (said the girl studying Chinese Medicine). My main experience being congees (excellent in small doses) and broths with unidentifiable floaty things in them. But I took the plunge nonetheless and came up with two impressive dishes that passed the skeptical boyfriend test.
Most Asian supermarkets stock pre-packaged herbal soup mixes however I’ve avoided these because the quality of the herbs are poor. It’s like purchasing the crumbly, anaemic-looking bay leaves versus the ones picked from my mum’s tree and hung to dry myself, full of colour and flavour. The difference is huge, and if you’re going to the effort of making a medicinal-infused meal, the herbs should be fresh and potent. Good quality herbs can be found at a Chinese Herbal Medicine dispensary, and possibly online (just make sure you’re purchasing A-grade).
In the opinion of the Pi Wei Lun (The Treatise on the Spleen and Stomach), health and wellbeing, performance and mental acuity stem from proper digestion. For my first cooking with herbs combination I started out with a basic and common herbal combination used for boosting digestion and improving energy:
- Gou Qi Zi (Goji Berries)
- Shan Yao (Chinese Yam)
- Dang Shen (Codonopsis Root)
- Da Zao (Chinese Red Dates)
- Chen Pi (Aged tangerine peel)
Combining these herbs with chicken are super-charged and nourishing . You want to eat this sort of food to maintain wellbeing, improve immunity and protect against illness, and most importantly if you’re recovering from illness or anaemic.
Directions for making medicinal stock and chicken:
Add the herbs to a big pot with half a chicken (or spatchcock in my case), 2 – 3 cut carrots (skin on please), 2 dried shiitake mushrooms, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup Chinese cooking wine, a teaspoon of brown sugar (optional). Cover with water, bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer covered for about 2 hours, skimming the top to remove impurities.
This gives you two products: boiled chicken infused with medicinal herbs, and a chicken stock infused with the same herbs. From here, I reckon you can do an infinite amount of dishes…I came up with two simple, and very fast options:
1. Ravioli en Brodo
Cook either good quality store-bought or home-made ravioli. Place in warmed bowls and top with hot broth (that has been seasoned to liking), a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley and very fine slices of chilli
2. Peking shredded chicken
This, by golly, is my new favourite meal! First, soften 3 dry shiitake mushrooms in boiling water for 10 minutes. Set aside. Then, using a fork, shred the boiled chicken. For 2 people, place about 1 cup of the chicken in a saucepan with about 3/4 cup of the stock and reduce until liquid is absorbed and the meat has kind of gone a little caremel-y.
Meanwhile, make the pancakes: whisk together 1/2 cup plain flour with 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1/4 c milk and 1/4 c water. Let rest for about 10-15 minutes.
While the batter is resting and the chicken is reducing, prepare the other ingredients:
- cut the woody stalk off the shiitake and slice thinly
- julienne 3 spring onions
- Wash coriander leaves and pick from stalks
- place hoisin sauce in a serving dish
- likewise for sesame seeds
Now, back to the pancakes: gently cook over medium heat in a non stick pan. Use only about 1/4 c of batter per pancake to keep them petite. Place cooked pancakes in a stack in a very low oven (50C) to keep them warm.
Place a platter with the fillings on the table, along with the stack of pancakes and a dish with the shredded chicken. Assemble your own pancake as you like, but I suggest: a scraping of hoisin sauce, shredded chicken, mushrooms, spring onion, coriander leaves, sesame seeds.
Hope you enjoy and please share your experiences by commenting below!
Look after yourself, Becki x
♥ Spleen Qi deficiency…♥ Digestion…♥ Protein…♥ Blood building…♥ Qi Tonic…♥ Wellbeing…♥ Superfood…♥ Food Medicine… ♥ Immunity…♥ Anemia…♥ Recovery