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As every 1 in 6 human beings is Chinese, it is important to learn more about Chinese Culture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), whose history is about 4,000 years old — TCM was born after Humanity’s First Medical System, Ayurveda, (which began 1,000 years before that, in India) was then exported to China. More on that below, but first, ” Gung Hai Fat Choy!” (“Congratulations and Prosperity!”), Happy Chinese New Year!
“Huan Ying!” Welcome! 2008 is the Year of the Rat, beginning February 4, and New Years will be celebrated for 15 days of February, with many visits to multi-generational homes of family and friends (sharing the sweet delicacies on the eight section “Tray of Togetherness” )(chuun hup).In my reading about Grace Young’s family, this tray holds many symbols: kumquats for golden luck, candied lotus seeds and watermelon seeds for more children, chocolate gold coins for wealth, candied lotus root for eternal friendship, candied winter melon for a continuous line of descendants (like the trailing melon’s vines), coconut for good relations between parent and child and lychee for sweetness and well-roundedness.
And on the last day, the Lantern Festival occurs and the New Year’s parade is held, dragon and all.On New Year’s morning, Grace Young, author of “The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen — Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing” says she awakes to find her parents have left by her pillow: 2 fragrant, golden tangerines, 2 fragrant, golden oranges and 2 lucky red envelopes called lysee(like the one in the photo above).All of these are auspicious symbols of good luck, and the lysee are given to those who are unmarried. As being married is considered to be a blessing, then those who do not have this blessing already, are showered by alternative blessings which hopefully help lead them to being able to continue family, and tradition, which is a tremendously important traditional Chinese family value.
The expressions on the red envelope are for gratitude, peace and long-life; the color red symbolizes happiness and good-luck to the Chinese.
Every opportunity in family life is oriented toward striving for balance and good Health, and the kitchen is the center of it all.Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), like Ayurveda, treats the whole-person (mind, body and spirit) and the emphasis in both systems is on Health and on Prevention.
In fact, the foundational principle is an enlightened traditional Chinese view: ‘You only pay your doctor to keep you well, and the physician is not paid if you get sick!’
That perspective, alone, would change Western Medicine. We have it 180 degrees wrong! Our “health” system is really a “sickness” system and all for the benefit of mercenary Big Pharma … but that’s another story for another day. Think seriously about assembling a health-team for you with a Prevention and Wellness perspective and ethic, and try to be a great role-model for your friends and family, so you have the skills to help them get well, along with yourself.
In just about every community, in many countries, you will at least find an classically-trained acupuncturist (it is unusual for the needles to hurt, at all), and the acupuncturist can become a real resource for you. Larger cities will often have traditionally-trained Chinese Herbalists and Physicians of Oriental Medicine, who will display their degree as O.M.D.Medicines were often made at home, following a prescription from the TCM physician or Chinese herbalist or both. You can find many traditional recipes to make in the book “Chinese System of Food Cures — Prevention and Remedies” by TCM physician Dr. Henry C. Lu. There are several relating to diabetes.
Dr. Lu relates that diabetes was first described in an Oriental medicine book. That was in the year 752 C.E. The book was written by Wang Shou and was called “A Collection of Diseases”. But for generations before this, the Chinese had been working on the diabetes puzzle.The Chinese physicians offered very effective testing to understand that sugar was spilling and not being absorbed internally by the cells properly. They also had a very effective remedy — pork pancreas. Who needed the sterile labs of today! The Chinese TCM physicians had it figured out, and their lab test was one thousand years ahead of when Western Medicine “discovered” a lab test for diabetes, in 1862.
In addition to treatments with pork pancreas, the Traditional Chinese Medicine physicians used bitter melon (karela, which we learned about before; see the title archive above). Others have used specific preparations of fresh corn. Ginseng is also very helpful, as are specific preparations of potato leaves and wax gourd, or other healing recipes with fresh onion, or mare’s milk or fresh watermelon peel and more.
My bet is that these are oriented toward healing, not just maintaining the status quo, like Western medicine does.The idea is that Nature IS the pharmacy — it is The Farmacy — and that natural foods contain all the ingredients that our body’s need to heal themselves. TCM Physicians understand what Western doctors often forget — our body’s Heal themselves. No-one does it for us. The physician just heads us in a helpful direction, with their skill.
You can read more about Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda; you will gain many tools for Health if you do read. A well illustrated introduction is a book published by Element called “The Complete Illustrated Guide to Chinese Medicine” by Tom Williams, PhD. You will learn about your body’s meridian system (and the organ systems associated with each) and the universal energy which fuels us called “chi” or “qi” by the Chinese, and “prana” in India, “ruach” by the Jews, “hana” by the Hawaiians and “ki” by the Japanese, among others.
In the book, you will learn about the ideas behind Chinese medicine and diagnosis and treatment; the roles of minerals and plants; how to make tinctures and decoctions; healing techniques e.g. tai chi and medical quigong, meditation as well as self-help acupressure; the effect of diet and lifestyle, all from a new perspective; and lastly, incorporating ourselves in harmony with the natural world through Feng Shui and more.
I encourage you to tap into the wisdom of a culture which has helped billions for thousands of years. There is much wisdom here, as there is in the Mother Medicine of Humanity, Ayurveda. Western views are not healing us. Look for new knowledge.
Here are some vegetarian recipes, as Chinese Buddhists refrain from eating animals for the first two weeks of the New Year, even if they are not normally vegetarians (of course, many Buddhists are vegetarian year-round, and the Buddhist monks have developed a magnificent Zen cuisine in China and Japan).I certainly hope that you will use this as another time of renewal, and to reinforce the path to wellness we started January 1. Make it a wonderful year!Best to all — Em
Pingao Rainbow Stir-Fry (adapted)
Those of you who still think that all potatoes come from Idaho need to look further across the ocean, to China. Amazing but true, despite the popularity of its rice and noodle dishes, China is the #1 producer of potatoes. Add tofu, if you wish, to this recipe. Makes 2 servings2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon organic vegetable oil (not peanut or cottonseed)
1 egg organic, beaten
1 large organic potato, washed well, unpeeled and cut into long thin shreds
1 tablespoon chopped organic garlic (American grown)
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into long thin shreds
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup homemade broth or organic, low salt canned chicken broth or veggie broth
2 tablespoons vegetarian stir-fry sauce or oyster-flavored sauce
1 tablespoon organic tamari sauce or Bragg’s Aminos
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into narrow strips
1/2 green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into narrow strips
2 tablespoons organic, brown rice vinegar OR lemon juice OR ponzu sauce
1 teaspoon organic sesame oil
Bring a 2-quart saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, heat a 6-inch nonstick skillet or a wok over medium heat, until hot. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Pour the egg into the pan, tilting the pan so the egg thinly coats the bottom Cook until the bottom of the omelet is set (about 1 minute). Turn the omelet onto a plate and slide it back into the pan, with the uncooked side downward. Cook until the second side is done, (about 30 seconds). Slide the egg onto a cutting board. Whem slightly cool, with clean hands or tongs, fold omelet in half and then cut into thin shreds. Set it aside, covered.
Julienne the potato into matchsticks. Add them to the boiling water and cook until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain well. Set aside, covered with paper towel to absorb any steam.
Place a metal stir-fry pan, over high heat until hot (do not use a non-stick pan on high heat!). Add the remaining oil. Swirl to coat the sides. Add the garlic, carrot, and red onion and cook, stirring, until carrots soften, (about 1 minute).
Next, add the potatoes and stir-fry (1 minute). Add the organic chicken or vegetarian broth, stir-fry sauce, tamari sauce, and pepper and cook, until liquid is reduced by half, (2 to 3 minutes).
Add the bell peppers and shredded egg and cook until heated through. Remove from the heat and add the brown rice vinegar (or lemon juice or ponzu) and sesame oil, tossing until well mixed.Transfer to a serving plate and serve hot, warm or chilled, over rice, if desired.
When I lived in Thailand, I used to watch my maid make her rice, and this is indeed the way she did it. So, I can verify this technique below.
From: My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
An Paw’s Perfect Stove-top Cooked Rice
The traditional accompaniment for dishes and most Cantonese meals, is rice. “This was the first thing that my grandmother, An Paw, taught me to cook,” says Lo. “I still make it exactly the same way today. This method gives you perfectly fluffy, separated grains.”
Her technique calls for soaking the white rice in water for an hour; boiling it, uncovered, until the water is absorbed; then covering the pot and cooking it over low heat for eight minutes more.
Loosening the rice as soon as it’s done with a wooden spoon or chopsticks will help keep it fluffy.NOTE from Em: This is for white rice. Please experiment with the same technique, but use brown rice, as it has real nutrition. White rice is very acidic, whereas, brown rice is almost pH neutral.I would start out doubling the numbers, as your first experiment, with an extra 1/4 cup of water as part of the cooking water. I always use brown rice in my rice-cooker, and it takes about double the time.
An Paw’s Perfect Stovetop Rice
Makes: 4 ½ – 5 cups of cooked rice
2 cups extra-long-grain rice (rices grown in the southern United States and jasmine rice from Thailand are preferred)
15 ounces cold water
Place rice in a pot with sufficient water to cover. Wash rice three times in the cold water in the pot by rubbing it between your hands. Drain well after washing. Add 15 ounces of new water to the rice and allow it to rest for 1 hour before cooking.
Eileen prefers that so-called old rice be used — rice that has been lying about in sacks for extended periods, for it will absorb water better and will cook easier. (It is often suggested that a ratio of 2 cups of rice to 2 cups of water be used. This is unsatisfactory because it will be too soft.)
Begin cooking the rice, uncovered, over high heat, by bringing the water to a boil. Stir the rice with the wooden spoon or chopsticks and cook about (4 minutes or until the water is absorbed, or evaporates). Even after the water is gone, the rice will continue to be quite hard. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat (for about 8 minutes more), stirring the rice from time to time. This is when you must watch it constantly.
Turn off the heat and loosen the rice with the wooden spoon or chopsticks. This will help it retain its fluffiness. Cover tightly until ready to serve. Just before serving, stir and loosen the rice once again. Well-cooked rice will have absorbed the water but will not be lumpy, nor will the kernels stick together. They will be firm and separate.
Note: The rice may be kept hot in a warm oven for an hour, covered, on lowest temperature, without drying out.
Note: The older the rice the higher the yield.
An Paw’s Noodles with Young Ginger
“This is a savory, room-temperature noodle dish.
Noodles are served at the New Year because they represent longevity,” says Lo. “They’re usually the last dish of the banquet. We never cut the strands, because that would be cutting short your life.” To keep them perfectly al dente, be sure to plunge the noodles immediately into ice water as soon as they’re done. Then drain them in a strainer, loosening with chopsticks to prevent sticking.
This recipe calls for eggless noodles, permissible to Buddhists, but if you are not vegan, regular egg noodles can be substituted. “Both kinds are available at Chinese markets,” says Lo. “Egg noodles are yellow and the eggless kind are whitish.”
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce (use organic tamari)
1 teaspoon sugar (or use 1 teaspoon agave nectar as a low glycemic alternative)
1 tablespoon Shao-Hsing wine, or sherry
4 tablespoons vegetable stock
1 tablespoon organic sesame oil
Pinch white pepper
8 cups cold water
2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces fresh, flat eggless noodles, like linguine
3 tablespoons oil (a high temp oil is best)
4 tablespoons young ginger, shredded (if unavailable, regular ginger may be used)
1 cup scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces, white portions quartered lengthwise
___ Combine all the ingredients for the sauce, then set it aside. Pre-heat a serving dish.
___ In a large pot, place water and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add noodles, cook 45 seconds to 1 minute, or al dente, stirring and loosening them with chopsticks as they cook. Turn off heat, run cold water into pot, drain noodles immediately through a strainer. Place noodles back into pot and fill with cold water. Mix with hands, drain again through strainer. Repeat until noodles are cool.
___ Allow to drain 10 to 15 minutes, loosening with chopsticks. Reserve.
___ Heat a metal wok over medium-high heat 45 seconds. Add oil, coat wok with spatula. When oil is hot, but NOT smoking, add ginger, stir-fry 45 seconds. Stir sauce, pour in, mix well, allow to boil. Add the noodles, and mix well so noodles absorb the sauce. Add scallions, then stir together for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, transfer to a heated dish and serve immediately. Serves 4-6
PS – please realize all pasta is pure sugar, as all starch is amounts to being a long chain of glucose sugar molecules! So, this is truly a dessert, biochemically! The addition of the oil helps to slow down the sugar-hit, so be sure to use the oil.
An Paw’s Waterchestnut Cake: Sang Maw Mah Tai Goh
The water chestnut powder at this recipe’s base is cereal-like and can be eaten as a breakfast porridge (when cooked with water and dark brown sugar). Among traditional Chinese, it is considered a substitute for mother’s milk when cooked with water.
3 3/4 cups boiling water (+ 8 cups more boiling water, ready to use as steam)
1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar *
1 1/4 pounds (4 1/2 cups) canned water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
8 ounces water chestnut powder mixed with 1 cup cold water
___ Grease a 9-inch square cake pan.
___ Pour boiling water into a wok over high heat, add sugar and stir to dissolve. Add chopped water chestnuts and mix well. Add water chestnut powder mixture. Turn heat under wok to low. Stir mixture continually in one direction for 5 to 7 minutes, until mix is very thick and pasty.
___ Pour water chestnut mixture into the greased pan. Place the pan on a rack inside a wok. Carefully add 8 cups boiling water, cover and steam for 40 minutes until it sets firmly and becomes translucent. Replenish boiling water after 20 minutes.
Turn off heat, then remove the cake pan from the steamer. Allow it to set 4 minutes. Slice immediately and serve.
This is a most unusual cake. When freshly steamed and sliced, it has the consistency of a firm jelly. As it cools, it becomes very much like an aspic. It can be frozen either whole or in slices.
To reheat, allow cake to return to room temperature, then steam for 10 minutes or until heated through. It will become more jellylike again. Eat it just as if it had been made fresh.
It can be pan-fried as well, but it must be cooled and refrigerated overnight preferably (not frozen) before doing so. To pan-fry, cut cooled cake into slices 2 inches square, 1/2 inch thick, and pan-fry in the same manner as turnip cake.
* once you have made the traditional recipe, you might want to experiment using agave nectar in an increasing amount (maybe start with 30% and remove 1/3 of the granulated sugar). Every bit of sugar reduction helps!
Chinese New Year Recipes:
Lots of NY Menus: http://www.epicurious.com/recipesmenus/holidays/lunarnewyear/menus
Most Traditional: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/menu/views/lunar
I have made many of these dishes, in the past, from other recipes in my books at home. There are several here that I hope you will enjoy.
Please check other past articles by checking the whole archive. Use the Title Tab on the upper navigation bar. At the bottom of each page is a link to the next part of the archive. Enjoy, and learn!
(c)2008 Em https://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com
If you desire to quote from or use my article, please respect my copyright, and include the full copyright citation and my website’s address in your article. Thanks!