Sunday, January 8, 2012

Burdock Root with Red Bean Soup


Hello everybody,
I have always had an interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  This is why you will see some occasional postings of my musings and experiments here.

Let me share with you a story.  I didn't always believe in TCM. Being Western educated, I default to hard science, evidence-based Western medicine.  This changed on a trip to Shanghai with my family, when we stopped by Beijing Tong Ren Tang, where my family was seen by a jade physician or "Yu Yi."  These are TCM doctors who studied with previous generations of jade physicians who have traditionally treated emperors, royal courts and their imperial families for generations.

We were there mainly for the cultural experience. First up was my dad.  The jade physician carefully listened to his pulse, observed his face and then said my dad is generally healthy, but he has a kidney stone that is going to give him a lot of trouble, very soon, in 3-6 months.  He even took out a writing pad, drew a bean to represent the kidney and marked the location of the stone.  My dad, being the skeptic, just sorta laughed off the diagnosis and, worse, refused to buy the herbal medicines he prescribed.  After all, he doesn't have any reasons to worry, he has never had any problems with his kidneys.

We returned home. Two months later, my dad experienced flank pain so painful that he couldn't move.  He went to the ER and the diagnosis?  You guessed it.  A kidney stone. And, it was so severe he was hospitalized for over a week.  Did the jade physician see this coming?  Maybe, but what are the odds that he just got lucky? Epidemiology statistics show only 10% of all males will develop a kidney stone over their lifetimes, so if the physician wanted to quack around, it wouldn't be the disease I would pick. So, I think the jade physician knew something was up.

After this incident, I thought about what the jade physician said about my own health.  From my pulse, he can tell that I am too yin, I drink too many cold and sugary drinks. I also walk around barefoot during the winter in my house, another big no no. The remedy for being too yin?  Drink soups made with ingredients with "warming" characteristics.  So, I decided to look around for soups with these characteristics.  Ingredients like red beans and burdock kept coming up. Here is a soup I made by observing TCM principles.  This nourishing soup can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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Ingredients
1 Stick Burdock- Peeled and cut into small pieces
7-8 Red Dates
2 Pieces Dried Abalone (This is optional)
3/4 cup small red beans
5 cups of filtered water
3-4 pieces of pork bones (Neck pieces are best, blanch these in hot water so that the exterior of the bone is cooked)
Pinch of Salt

Directions
1. In a sauce pan, fill it half full with water.  Bring it to a boil.  Add Red dates, red beans, and dried abalone.  Boil for about 1 min and turn the heat off.  Let these ingredients soak for about 20 minute and then drain.  Set the ingredients aside.
2. In a small stock pot or clay pot, add all the ingredients and pork bones.  Add 5 cups of filtered water. 
3. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer on low heat for 2 hours.
4. Serve hot.

*Note: Drink only one bowl of soup (Rice bowl size).
Edible ingredients: Meat on the pork bone, red beans
Ingredients you can nibble on: Burdock, Red Dates
Not Edible, only used for flavor: Dried Abalone

Source: Table for 2, + Adapted by Julie to suit her taste.

To good health everybody!

Sincerely,
Julie

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