Herbal cuisine is one of the famous branches in Chinese food culture. It refers to the cooking style in which the traditional medicated herbs and Chinese food are mixed. It is believed that the effect of medicines and the taste of the food can combine and it is also very popular in southern area in China.
Ancient Healing Art
It was in Tang Dynasty that the herbal cuisine firstly became popular in China in the 7th century when Chinese cultural and agriculture came to the developing stage. Literature approach had laid the foundation for the formation of herbal cousins. For instance, medical book “Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing”, in which contains the description of various medical plants and their uses. Back to the ancient time, medicated herbs were key treatment for illness. One of the ways to use the Medical herbs was to boiled them for the juice. However, the taste was extremely bitter and hard to swallow. So people found out that cooking the herbs with food materials in the soup can achieve the therapeutic effect and mild the original taste of the herbs.
Nowadays, It became a normal cooking style for cooking in southern area in China especially in cantonese cuisine for soups is one of the main dishes. Some of the herbs which are normally used in cooking include wolfberry, Ginseng, ginger, jujuba, dong quai and cinnamon. But it is not only limited at medical herbs but also some of the whole grins, dried flowers, seasonings can be used in healthy cooking.
“Yi Yang”, famouse Chinese philosophy stated that it is important to maintain the balance of everything like “Yin” and “Yang”. Two aspects are supplement of each other and cannot be separate. The balance theory suggested that with the support of some of the herbs, the nutrition value can be enhanced. Not only the dishes needs to be balanced, but also the food and the human physical conditions needs to be balanced.
For example, in southern cuisines, chicken mushroom soup is believed that it can help women body virtual aftercare or people who are in week physical conditions. Use a whole chicken, chop it into small pieces with bones first. Heat with water until it is firstly boiled, and then change the water once. Add some mushroom, ginger, jujuba, dong guai and cinnamon and start to boil the soup again. Simmering for 1 hour, put some salt before pouring out. Another one which is suitable for eating in winer is lamb and dang gui soup. “Dang quai” in English is angelica sinensis which is used as a blood tonic in Chinese medicine. Chose 1000g of lamb with bones and skins, dang quai 20g, 3 jujuda, 15g wolfberry, carrots, chilli and salt. simmering for 1 hour then the lamb soup is done. It is said that the soup can keep an internal warmth of human bodies and strengthen the physique.
However, there are few issues need to be taken care of. First of all, herbal cuisine is mainly focus on the food, not the medication. Therefore, the herbs should be in a small amount but not too much to avoid to effect the normal taste of the food. Secondly, the verbals should be use with care and with advise to avoid side effects.