Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Chinese Medicine Cabinet Noodle Bowl!

     Just What The Noodle House Doctor Ordered!
     Every culture around the globe values soup as a cure all.  For example, plain old Chicken Broth Soup is also called Jewish Penicillin, because it is such an effective cure for the common cold.  The medicinal effects of Chicken Broth are not just some kind of mythical lore.  Scientists have proven that Chicken Broth actually boosts the immune system, while providing complex proteins that strengthen weakened body tissue.  
     In effect, all broth soups do have some medicinal value, because the liquified nutrients in the broth are easy for the digestive tract to uptake.  When the body is weak or ill, the body needs nutrition that easily digests.   

     Some cooks around the globe take medicinal soup making much more seriously than the average home cook that relies only on chicken broth alone.  To go beyond making a simple broth soup cure all, a cook has to understand the nutritional and medicinal value of each food item in the list of ingredients.  
     Examples of the medicinal value of ordinary food items can be likened to these examples; An orange is a fruit, but something as simple as an orange can cure many illnesses that are attributed to Vitamin C deficiencies.  When eye strain is a problem, carrots and eggs provide nutritional components that help to maintain healthy eyes.  Knowing the beneficial effect that each common everyday food item has on the body is a good way to understand the role that common food items play in preventative medicine.  
     The next level of medicinal soup making involves utilizing food items that are renowned for their medicinal value.  Two things to keep in mind when using medicinal plants are balance and toxicity.  Not everybody has the same tolerance.  Many children and adults are hypersensitive, so "the more is better" ideology may not be beneficial.  Consuming too much of a medicinal food item can have toxic effects that range from mildly distressing to dangerous.  
     Every culture in the world has a history of natural medicine.  Some ancient cultures were more scientific about natural medicine than others.  Chinese natural medicine involves much more than the scientific study of chemical effects on the body.  There are intangibles involved and Chinese natural medicine practices effectively explain the intangibles in great detail.  One might say that Chinese natural medicine philosophy is the result of thousands of years of research.  
     Basically, Chinese natural medicine focuses on a central theme of achieving and maintaining balance.  When the common cold sends the body's balance out of whack, their are certain kinds of medicinal food that can help to regain balance.  This is what today's recipe is all about.  
     Today's recipe focuses on a few medicinal food items that effective improve health by achieving balance.  Today's recipe is not some kind of cure for the common cold, but the ingredients certainly will help to fight cold symptoms off.   Today's recipe features a bunch of medicinal food items that cure many minor ailments.  Many of these food items are overlooked by modern western society.  Overseas, these items are well known.  
     Chinese Mountain Yam is known by a few different names in Asia.  Mountain Yam is one of the only true yams that can be eaten raw.  Most yams contain toxins that are neutralized after cooking and they are unsafe to eat raw!  
     There is a difference between a true yam and what most of the world calls a yam.  Basically, the yellow, white, purple, orange or red yams that are sold in food markets are actually sweet potatoes.  A sweet potato comes from a different plant than a true yam!  
     Raw mountain yam is safe to eat.  Grated raw mountain yam is commonly served with Japanese soba noodle as Tororo.  In China, mountain yam is eaten as a cooked food and it is also used as a tonifying medicine for kidney and blood ailments.
     Whole mountain yam requires preparation before consumption.  Mountain Yam is usually soaked in vinegar water to dissolve the sand like oxalate crystals that form on the skin of the root.  The root can be peeled as an alternative, but a peeled mountain yam root is very slippery and difficult to grasp!  When mountain yam is finely grated, a liquid white slippery substance is formed.  
     Mountain Yam was once banned for women to eat, because the loud slurping noise while eating grated mountain yam was considered not to be ladylike.  During the Edo Period of Japanese history, grated mountain yam was commonly used as a sexual lubricant.  Grated Mountain Yam (Tororo) is slicker than a greased piglet!
     Grated mountain yam has a delicate mild zesty flavor with earthy undertones.  Care must be taken not to eat too much mountain yam, because the medicinal chemicals in mountain yam do affect the kidneys.  A 1 ounce to 4 ounce portion of grated raw mountain yam is plenty.

     I have written about the medicinal value of Korean Red Dates and fresh Ginkgo Nuts in past recipe articles.  Both of these medicinal foods are good immune system boosters and they are strong antioxidants.  Strong antioxidants help fight colds and influenza, while helping the body to recover more quickly on a cellular level.  Care must be taken with Ginkgo Nut consumption.  Eating too many Ginkgo Nuts will result in a light headed feeling that can be compared to taking a little too much over the counter cold & flu medicine.     

     Ginger is a common healthy medicinal plant that has an effect that is similar to Ginseng.  Ginger is a natural blood thinner and it also is a strong antioxidantLime is a source of vitamin C.  
     Garlic has medicinal effects that include blood thinner and immune system strengthening qualities.  European Leeks and Asian Leeks have the same medicinal effect as garlic, but not quite as strong.  Kohlrabi helps those with asthma and bronchial problems.  Soy sauce proteins reportedly contribute to longevity.  Snow peas have antibacterial properties.  Capsicum from chile peppers helps to fight off colds and helps to alleviate arthritic pain.  Perilla is a good antioxidant herb.  All these ingredients are in today's recipe and they all offer beneficial medicinal value for achieving a healthy balance when the common cold strikes!   

     Cha Soba are buckwheat noodles that are flavored with green tea.  Green Tea is a medicinal plant that offers many health benefits as everybody knows.  A portion of green tea noodles do contain a fair amount of caffeine.  Caffeine does aid the respiratory system.  Hot green tea helps to sooth a cough and hot green tea noodles can do just about the same thing, while providing vital nutrients from buckwheat flour.  
      Even the chicken broth and egg in this recipe are considered to be medicinal.  Chicken broth and eggs help to boost a weak immune system.  Two oil soluble chemicals in raw egg yolk are essential for maintaining healthy eyes.  

     Every item in today's recipe is healthy and most of the items are medicinal in one way or another.  Trying to think up a name for today's recipe took a while to do.  Originally the name of today's recipe was written like a list of ingredients, but the list was too long to be used as a title.  Creating a nifty name that has a catch phrase was a better idea.  The name Chinese Medicine Cabinet Noodle Bowl kind of has a ring to it.   

     *This entire recipe yields 1 large noodle bowl portion!
     Cha Soba Noodles:
     Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 portion of cha soba noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally, till they are fully cooked.
     Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Place the noodles in a container of ice water.
     Stir the noodles by hand, till they feel stiff, chewy and rubbery.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles.  
     Set the noodles aside.

     Korean Red Dates:
     Korean Red Dates are used in many Chinese and Korean recipes.  Korean red dates are usually dried and packaged for sale.  Dried red dates can be found in Asian markets.  
     Some red dates are pitted before drying and some are not.  If the dates have pits, pit the dates after they are reconstituted.  It is always best to check reconstituted pitted red date too, because sometimes a piece of broken seed remains in the date.  
     Gently simmer 7 or 8 pitted Korean red dates in water over medium low heat in a sauce pot, till they become tender.
     Remove the red dates from the water and set them aside.

     Chicken Broth with Ginkgo Nuts, Korean Red Dates and Vegetables:
     Cryovac packaged shelled fresh ginkgo nuts are available in Asian food markets.  
     Step 1:  Boil 3 cups of light chicken broth in a pot over medium high heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 minced clove of garlic.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add the reserved reconstituted Korean red dates. 
     Add 9 fresh peeled ginkgo nuts.
     Add 1/2 of a medium size peeled kohlrabi that is cut into half moon shaped slices.
     Add a thin julienne sliced 4" section of European Leek.
     Add a few thin carrot strips for color.
     Add 1 Yellow Wax Pepper that is cut into strips.
     Step 3:  Boil the vegetables, till they are halfway cooked.
     Add 10 to 12 feathered snow peas.
     Remove the pot from the heat.

     Chinese Medicine Cabinet Noodle Bowl: 
     Vietnamese Perilla Leaves are green on top and purple underneath.  They have a complex mint and basil like flavor!  Mountain Yam has a light earthy vegetable flavor of its own.  Mountain Yam is one of the only yams that can be eaten raw.  Fresh Vietnamese Perilla and Mountain Yam can be found in Asian food markets.
     Step 1:  Soft poach 1 egg in salted water over medium/medium high heat in a sauce pot.  (Soft poached = the yolk is uncooked) 
     Step 2:  Place the reserved cooked cha soba noodles in a large soup bowl.
     Ladle the vegetables and broth over and around the noodles in the bowl.
     Place the poached egg on the noodles.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle a little bit of very thin sliced onion on the hot soup broth.
     Garnish the soup with whole Vietnamese Perilla Leaves.     
     Garnish with 2 lime slices.
    Step 4:  Peel about 3" section of one end of a whole Chinese Mountain Yam with a pairing knife.
    Finely grate the bare peeled end of the Chinese Mountain Yam over the cha soba noodles in the soup.   (The finely grated yam will liquify and it will have a medium thick slimy texture.  About 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of grated Mountain Yam pulp is plenty.)    

     Although the ingredients of this soup may seem exotic, the flavors are very gentle and soothing.  This medicinal soup will certainly make a somebody that is "under the weather" feel a little better.  This soup also is good nutritious preventative medicine!

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