Chinese Cucumber Appetizer (凉拌小黄瓜, 蒜香拍小黄瓜)

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INTRODUCTION

Not all blogged recipes need to be complicated.. Some recipes are very simple but new house chefs may not know how to prepare it and I am targeting  at this group of readers who are new to the kitchen..

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To me, this is a very familiar dish in the Chinese restaurant but I can’t recall whether it is overseas of Singaporean restaurants. It is an appetizer that most diners will like.  Preparation are very simple though restaurant charged you a premium for this small plate of appetizer..

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What you need is just some firm and fresh cucumber and there are many variations to the recipe. You can add peanut powder if you want, some even added chilli soya beans but what I am sharing is the very basic version of this dish using very simple ingredients .

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WHAT IS REQUIRED.

Servings: 3-4 adult servings

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  • 2-3 medium size Japanese cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of dark or white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 chilli , deseeded
  • 3 cloves of garlic

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the chilli into small pieces. Chopped the garlic until as fine as possible and garlic paste is preferred if available. Set aside.

  • Wash the cucumber, cut 1-2 inches length. Cut open and take away all the centre soft pulp full of seeds. Use a big knife to bang on the cucumber until the cucumber break into smaller pieces. Transfer the cucumber to a plastic bag, add the chilli, garlic paste, sugar, salt and vinegar. Shake vigorously for 1 minutes  until well combined and transfer to the serving plate. Drizzle with sesame oil before serving and best served chilled and immediately after preparation.

Note:

  • This recipe used a bit of salt to maintain the crunchiness. Another alternative way is put more salt, rest for 30 seconds, immediately wash with cold water and proceed to the steps above.

  • For best absorption of flavour since we are not really marinate it for the sake of crunchiness,  garlic paste is advised instead of minced garlic.


CONCLUSION

This dish will be classified under simple house cooked dishes series and cooking restaurant dishes at home series .. The preparation looks simple but in my humble opinion, the taste is great. The cucumber are crunchy, a bit sour, sweet and spicy and most important of all, it will improve the diner’s appetite.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Snake Tongue Tea? Gosh.. I Am Going Away……白花蛇舌草罗汉果茶

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the body is in its best condition when the Yin and Yang is balanced. I am no expert in this field but being  a Chinese, I was “brainwashed” about the need to cleanse /balance your body with some foods and drinks such that your body is in the top notch condition.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_medicine

One of cheapest way of “self medication” or “self balancing” about your body’s Yin and Yang is preparing some herbal drinks at home. There are many many herbs that sometimes i seriously doubt that the grass/weeds that I stepped under my feet are edible and are types of herbs.

In fact, today, one of the herb that I wanted to share with all is a common grass that can be found in many countries. But don’t simply pluck from the streets and cook it unless you are 100% sure of that is exact the plant. Eating plants that have toxins can be disastrous to your body!


WHY THIS DRINK?

Last week, I am eating a lot of baked pastry, according to TCM, it brought heat to your body. I am having a bit of sore throat and today when I am doing the marketing,  I saw these plants. It is in a store selling all sort of herbs in a wet market. Beside selling this herb, they also sell other types of “body cooling” herbs such as purple cane, rhoeo tricolour and other general cooking herbs such as Thai basil, mint leaves and etc..

I WAS TOLD THAT IT IS A COMMON ITEM AND IF YOU CAN GET THIS HERB IN ITS RAW/FRESH FORM, YOU CAN TRY THE DRIED VERSION IN THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE VERSION MEDICAL SHOP.

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This herb is called Hedyotis Diffusa (白花蛇舌草)scientifically and literally translated from Chinese language as White Flower Snake Tongue Grass! Don’t asked me why this name, Ha-ha.

As Hedyotis Diffusa sound so alien to most readers, shall we have a simpler name Snake Tongue Grass? So, from this point onwards, Hedyotis Diffusa and snake tongue grass shall be used interchangeably.

As per Wikipedia on Heydotis Diffusa, it was written that

Hedyotis diffusa (Chinese: 白花蛇舌草; pinyin: báihuā shéshécǎo; literally “white flower snake-tongue grass”, sometimes abbreviated to 蛇舌草 shéshécǎo) is a kind of herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is sometimes combined with Siraitia grosvenorii (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果; pinyin: luóhànguǒ) to make hot drinks like Lohoguo of Guongsei (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果蛇舌草精; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果蛇舌草精; pinyin: luóhànguǒ shéshécǎo jīng) or Luohanguo Pearl and Sheshecao Beverage.

Therefore, in this illustration, I have combined with Siritia Grosvenorii (罗汉果), hereinafter refer to as Lohanguo), another common traditional Chinese medicine ingredient.  It is a natural sweetener and is used to treat diabetes in TCM. This combination is nothing raw, you can see it in Chinese Provision shops that sell in instant form.

Source: http://www.fjzzyy.cn/product.asp


BENEFITS OF SNAKE TOUNGE GRASS (HEDYOTIS DIFFUSA)

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Snake tongue grass is believed to have inflammation properties and ability to prevent tumour growth. In addition, it is used to clear heat, counteract toxins, remove damp, treatment of boils and abscesses, snake bite, sore throat etc..

If you goggled heydyotis diffusa, you will note that there are lots of research relating to studies on its role on cancer prevention. The articles below list out the major health benefits of snake tongue grass which includes mostly inhibit cancerous growth of many types of cancer- Chinese herbs in Western View – Baihuasheshecao – health benefits and side effects.

 Sourcehttp://www.baike.com/wiki/白花蛇舌草

In another study to study the anticancer properties of Oldenlandia Diffusa published by US National Library of Medicines in 2004, it was concluded that:

“Oldenlandia diffusa extract effectively inhibited the growth of all the eight cancer cell lines and induced significant increase of apoptosis. The extract exhibited minimum toxic effect on normal pancreatic cells. Furthermore, there was a significant inhibition of lung metastases in the animal model with no noticeable adverse effects. The herb extract could be a potential anticancer agent.”(Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15273074)

As with other herbals, it is advisable that PREGRNANT WOMEN SHALL REFRAINED FROM DRINKING THE TEA UNLESS WITH ADVISE FROM MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.


As with my other drink series, since this is a Chinese herbs, for the benefits of my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically include this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

  • 痈肿疮毒,咽喉肿痛,毒蛇咬伤。本品苦寒,有较强的清热解毒作用,用治热毒所致诸证,内服外用均可。如单用鲜品捣烂外敷,治疗痈肿疮毒,也可以本品与金银花、连翘、野菊花等药同用;用治肠痈腹痛,常与红藤、败酱草、牡丹皮等药同用;若治咽喉肿痛,多与黄芩、玄参、板蓝根等药同用;若用治毒蛇咬伤,可单用鲜品捣烂绞汁内服或水煎服,渣敷伤口,疗效较好,亦可与半枝莲、紫花地丁、蚤休等药配伍应用。近年利用本品清热解毒消肿之功,已广泛用于各种癌证的治疗
  • 热淋涩痛。本品甘寒,有清热利湿通淋之效,单用本品治疗膀胱湿热,小便淋沥涩痛,亦常与白茅根、车前草、石韦等同用。” (Source:中医e百网页)


BENEFITS OF ARHAT FRUIT OR LUOHANGUO (SIRITIA GROSVENORII)

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Luohanguo is also called arhat fruit or monk fruits. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a natural low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks, and in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and obesity. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii). It is very common and you can easily purchased it in any Chinese herbal shops at a very reasonable price.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • One bunch of fresh snake tongue grass of about 500 g. Usually it comes with root and cost about SGD1.20 for it (this price is for estimating the quantity of your fresh snake tongue grass)

  • 6 dried lohanguo

  • 400 gram of rock sugar (can be adjusted according to individual preference)

  • 4 litres of water.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Soak your snake tongue grass in clean water for 15 minutes

  • Clean thoroughly the grass and watch out for the root portion which may have some soils stuck to the plants.

  • Use clean water to rinse the cleaned snake tongue grass.

The soaking of the snake tongue grass is requested by my mother in law which i think it make sense. Be it commercially cultivated or “plucking” from the wild, we will never know if there are any pesticides, therefore like other vegetables, it is a precautionary steps to wash away the pesticides (if any) by soaking in the water.

You may need quite a lot of water to clean the natural herbs. It is my usual habit to recycle  these water for watering my plants! These are just muddy water and throwing away is a waste. If you do have a lot of plants at home, I would encourage to use this to water your plant or flush your toilet, if you want. You know, I am just a stingy old man! Ha-ha

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  • Break open the lohanguo and look out for any mould in the shell!

 

NOTE

Note that it is not necessary for you to break your lohanguo like the picture above. I do have the habit to break it and see what is inside. There are a few experiences that I saw mold settling insides the seeds. If it is dry with small patches, i will just wash with cold water. Otherwise, I will throw away. The usual ways of cooking this is just use some hard object to break but not open the lohanguo, throw it in the herbs that you are cooking.

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  • Put 4 litres of water in a big pot. Add in snake tongue grass and lohanguo and bring to boil under high heat!

  • Once boiled, turned to medium heat and boiled for another 15-20 minutes.

  • Add in rock sugar and let it boiled for another 5 minutes.

NOTE:

The preparation of this drink is rather flexible, be it the use of main ingredients (snake tongue grass and lohanguo) or side ingredients (rock sugar) and water, You can always adjust to suit your family’s taste buds. Personally, I will start with less water and some rock sugar. If i find it too sweet or concentrated, i will just dilute with water.

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  • Strain the herbal teas and store in a glass bottle (preferred if you have). Though it is not advisable to keep this overnight according to TCM, however, if needed, store in fridge in a clean (preferred if sterilized with hot water) bottle.


VARIATIONS

  • As the drink can be slightly bland, you can add in a small quantity of dry longan to add flavour to it. I have added this to make my kids drinking this tea.


CONCLUSION

I am eating a piece of my zebra patterned pound cake with a glass of this tea as a snack this morning. Chinese believed that all oven baked pastries are “heaty” to your body. There is a constant need to have some drinks to “cool” your body. Too much “heat” in your body will cause acne, sore throat, boils, abscesses and etc.. (In Western terms : inflammation). This is pleasant drink and is a choice among many body cooling drinks that are cooked by Chinese households. You may also interested in my other drink series here:

Have a nice day and don’t forget to cleanse your body! Hope you like the post and cheers.

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Need A Drink To Repair Your Vocal Cord? Hawthorn Ume Is The Tea For You!

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Are you talking continuously over a period of time? Are you concerned about your cholesterol level? Do you feel greasy after a meal? Do you need something to quench your thirst after shopping? Are you looking for some weight reduction aids?  Is your family concerned about your hypertension? Well besides Rosella Tea in my earlier post, this HAWTHORN UME TEA the right drink for you!

 


UNDERSTANDING UME  (WU MEI used interchangeably)

To Chinese, maybe the English name of this tea sound so alien to you. Hawthorn sounds so westernized and yet Ume sounds so Japanese. However, if translated into Chinese, it is just the well known Sanzha Wu Mei Cha (“山楂乌梅茶“)which was usually served in Chinese restaurants.

The main ingredient today is Prunus Mume or sour plum and to complement the taste, hawthorn was added since both fruits have some common medicinal values.

Prunus Mume is the national flower of Taiwan and you can learn more about Prunus Mume  from my post for HERE. In Japanese it is called Ume.  Its smoked version is called the Wu Mei and shall be used interchangeably with Ume.

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For those readers in South East Asian Countries, we may not be familiar with Wu Mei in its raw form but hopefully this picture compilation will give you a better understanding.  The first and second pictures are the prunus mume tree and its flowers. The third picture showed the fruits that are commonly available in the supermarket. After the fruit is dried, it become the Suan Mei(酸梅) and if smoked, it becomes Wu Mei (乌梅).

Accordingly to Wikipedia, Prunus Mume’s nutritional benefits are as follows:

Prunus mume is a common fruit in Asia and used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has long been used as a traditional drug and healthy food in East Asian countries. A recent study has indicated that Prunus mume extract is a potential candidate for developing an oral antimicrobial agent to control or prevent dental diseases associated with several oral pathogenic bacteria.Recent studies have also shown that Prunus mume extract may inhibit Helicobacter pylori, associated with gastritis and gastric ulcers.Experiments on rats suggest that P. mume extract administered during endurance exercise training may enhance the oxidative capacity of exercising skeletal muscle, and may induce the muscle to prefer fatty acids for its fuel use rather than amino acids or carbohydrates, thus assisting endurance

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_mume)

For my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically included this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

乌梅是青梅经过加工后的中药材之一,其性温,味酸涩,有生津、止渴、敛肺、涩肠安蛔虫功效,可治疗肺虚久咳,口干烦渴,痢疾,慢性腹泻,胆道蛔虫等病症。五月中旬,当梅果约八成熟时(果色由青绿转青黄色)即可采摘,将采摘的青梅按大、小分开,均匀地分别放入备好的焙炕中,用木炭作燃料,先以60℃左右的温度烘烤1小时,再以50℃左右的微火烘烤24小时,然后取出并小心翻动,以不翻破果皮为妥。放置一天后再置于炕中仍以50℃左右的微火烘烤24小时,直至梅果肉起皱缩,呈棕褐色为止。要使乌梅成品乌黑,可将已烘干的乌梅堆放3-5天,颜色就会逐渐转黑,也可在火中加入少量油松柴,使烘烤产生的黑烟起到熏黑作用。值得注意的是,当用炉火焙烤时,不宜用煤作燃料,以免燃烧过程中产生的有害气体污染产品。

(Source:http://baike.baidu.com/view/143367.htm)

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UNDERSTANDING HAWTHORN

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Hawthorn in Chinese is called Sanzha (山楂). It is a shrub prevailing in the northern hemisphere‘s temperate regions. The fruits are bright red and Chinese makes it into a snack called tanghulu (糖葫芦) and a type of candy that was exported to South East Asian countries called Shan Za Candy or (山楂饼)

Hawthorn is a type of plant used in traditional herbalism. It is believed to be useful for treating cardiac insufficiency. The plant parts used medicinally are usually sprigs with both leaves and flowers, or alternatively the fruit. Several species of hawthorn have both traditional and modern medicinal uses. It is a good source of antioxidant phytochemicals,especially extracts of hawthorn leaves with flowers.


UME TEA DEFINED

According to Wikipedia:

In mainland China and Taiwan, suanmeitang (酸梅湯; sour plum juice) is made from smoked plums, called wumei (烏梅). The plum juice is extracted by boiling smoked plums in water and sweetened with sugar to make suanmeitang. It ranges from light pinkish-orange to purplish black in color and often has a smoky and slightly salty taste. It is traditionally flavored with sweet Osman thus flowers, and is enjoyed chilled, usually in summer. The juice produced in Japan and Korea, made from green plums, tastes sweet and tangy, and is considered a refreshing drink, also often enjoyed in the summer.


WHY THIS DRINK?

One of my sister in law is a teacher and need continuous hours of talking. She likes to prepare the Wu Mei tea to soothe her throats. In one of my trips back to Kuching, she taught me how to prepare the drink.

As it is a bit sour, I have modified the original recipe with the inclusion of licorice and dried hawthorns.

The benefits of drinking this tea are that hawthorn can help to prevent cardiovascular disease by expanding the blood vessels and improve coronary blood flows. It helps to lower the blood pressure and cholesterol. It also has the effect of stimulating the central nervous system and a good diuretic agent. Both hawthorn and Wu Mei  are full of antioxidants that have anti aging properties. In addition, hawthorn has the ability to control phlegm production, inhibit bacterial growth in our body and assist in the treatment of diarrhea.  Wu Mei, on the other hand,  have the ability to soothe the throat, improve appetite and remove fatigue.

CAUTION:

As hawthorn is a natural diuretic, people with kidney problems should only drink in moderations.

In addition, people who have too much stomach acidity or gastric problems such as acid refluxes should also be careful on the amount of intake. It is best to have the drink only after a meal.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

Ume (about 20 pieces), dried Hawthorns (about 30 pieces) white rock sugar or brown rock sugar or white granulated sugar (250g), licorice (3-5 long pieces but is optional), water.


PREPARATION STEPS

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  • Wash the Wu Mei and dried hawthorn. Boil these together with the licorice (甘草)in a medium to big pot of water for about 20-30 minutes or until the both the Wu Mei and dried hawthorn is soft. Note that licorice is added to lower down the acidity of the drink. For those who are not familiar with this drink, you will find that it is extremely sour like freshly squeezed lime juice and adding some pieces of licorice will help to make the drinks more palatable.
  • Add in rock sugar and boiled for another 5 minutes. Off the heat and let the Wu Mei and hawthorn to soak in the tea for another 30 minutes,. Sieved and serve hot or cold. If you found that the tea is too concentrated, you can keep the concentrated juices and add in water when preparing the drink.
  • You can keep the cooked Wu Mei and de-flesh it, smashed and add to your drink to enhance the smoky fragrance. Alternatively, you can just keep these Wu Mei as snacks as its taste is very much like sour plum.

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SERVING

  • This drink can be served hot or cold but as it is a thirst quencher, most people prefer to add ice to the drink.
  • I have made the excess drink into ice stick and I just loved to have a stick after dinner or lunch. It is very refreshing and it really helps to get rid of the greasiness in your mouth and aids in digestion. 

CONCLUSIONS

The benefits of Wu Mei are many. In an article titled “Fructus Pruni Mume (Wu Mei) – An Ongoing Fascination”, it was stated that Wu Mei had the following medicinal value in the treatment of :

  • Chronic Hepatitis B
  • Irritable Bowel Syndromes
  • Insomnia
  • Profuse Sweating
  • Psoriasis
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Laryngeal polyps
  • Pulmonary distention coughing & panting

Its ability to satiate thirsts make it an excellent choice of cold drinks in the tropics and it is good to your vocal cord if you need long continuous hours of talking. However, cautions have to be careful if you have gastrointestinal problems and kidney problems where consumptions have to be moderate and it is  better to consult a doctor prior to the long term consumptions of this drink.

Thanks for reading and if you are interested in having another home made drinks, you can refer to my drink series on Chrysanthemum Teas, Rhoeo Tricolor Teas and Rosella Teas.

Purple is mysterious, purple is nobly and a purple drink is definitely lovely! – Rhoeo Tricolor Tea (如意兰茶,蚌兰花茶,红竹叶茶)

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Not many drinks are as purplish as this drink. If you thought that Ribena  is purplish, when you put Ribena next to this drink, you will know that Ribena, a black-currant juice, is not purplish but slightly reddish like the Rosella drink as mentioned in this post here. This drink really looks attractive and mysterious. It resembles certain drinks that were full of magic spelling prepared by a witch! However, I love the unique flavor of the drink and this is the Rhoeo tea/tonic or drink.

Most people may not be familiar with the name “Rhoeo” but it was sometimes called Oyster Plant, Moses in The Cradle, boat lily. In Chinese, it is called 荷包兰、青红兰、红竹叶、如意兰、海蚌念珠、蚶花,蚌兰叶、红蚌兰叶、紫万年青、紫蒀、紫兰、红面将军、血见愁 and commonly planted in the house.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Tradescantia spathacea, or Moses-in-the-Cradle, is an herb native to Mexico with fleshy rhizomes. It has rosettes of waxy lance-shaped leaves. Leaves are dark to metallic green above, with glossy purple underneath. These will reach up to 1 foot (30 cm) long by 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. They are very attractive foliage plants that will reach 1 foot (30 cm) tall”.

For my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically include this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

“荷包兰

茎:粗壮,多少肉质,高不及50厘米,不分枝。叶:互生而紧贴,披针形,长15~30厘米,宽2.5~6厘米,先端渐尖,基部鞘状,上面绿色,下面紫色。花:白色,腋生,具短柄,多数,聚生,包藏于苞片内;苞片2,蚌壳状,大而压扁,长3~4厘米,淡紫色;

荷包兰味淡、甘、性凉,无毒。内服消痰、止咳、清肺、止痢、凉血。入脾肺经营。【主治】清热,止血,去瘀。用于肺热燥咳、吐血、咳血、鼻血、便血、尿血、痢疾、百日咳、淋巴结核、赤白痢疾、瘰疬痰结、菌痢跌打损伤等。” (Source:http://baike.baidu.com/view/2683161.htm)

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Now you know what is an oyster plant or Moses in the cradle or 蚌兰花 or  荷包兰! The last picture is one of my house plants planted by my mother in law when she stayed with me.

WHY THIS DRINK?

My mum in law  and my mother used to boil this drink. This herb is very popular in the Southern part of China. As I said above, I just loved the unique flavor that it gave rather than its color. Again, when I saw this in Wet Market, I just grabbed some and boil the drinks for my family. As Rhoeo by itself is rather plain, I have added purple sugar cane to partly sweeten the drink. Both “purple” color plants are believed to have cooling effects to our body.

Rhoeo is a good thirst quencher and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed to be good for cough, cold, coughing phlegm with blood, whooping cough and nose bleed (read the Chinese definition above.) Worldwide, studies have been conducted to study the flower’s antitumor / chemoprevention properties, anti-genotoxic, antimutagenic activities and antimicrobial / phytochemical constituents.

WHAT IS REQUIRED

Rhoeo Discolor (about 250g), purple cane (about 250g), white or brown or rock sugar (250g), water. All these measurements are for reference only. If it is too sweet for you, please dilute with water. Personally, I prefer to have a more concentrated drink and dilute it with plain water when the need arises.

Purple cane is optional. There are households add in candied water melon (冬瓜条). As rock sugar is considered as cooling, therefore, most recipe will call to use this form of sugar. However, if you boil a big pot (say 4 quarts), you will need a lot of rock sugar and it can be rather costly. Personally, besides using rock sugar, I have add in granulated white sugar also.

PREPARATION STEPS

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  • Wash the Rhoeo leaves and purple canes and cut the purple cane into smaller pieces (in the second and third picture).
  • Note that both the Rhoeo leaves and purple canes can be rather dirty. I have used a new sponge to clean the leaves and certain types of formations in between the joints of the purple cane.
  • Throw everything into a pot of water and  bring to boil under high heat. Note that before boiling, the water is colorless.
  • When it boiled, bring the heat down to slow and boiled for about 30 minutes. Add in rock sugar or granulated sugar that is done. The drink is ready.

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The 1st picture is before boiling, the 2nd process in the process of boiling and the third picture the drink after cooked. The 4th picture are the leaves and the canes after boiling. I will throw away the leaves and keep the purple cane. The purple cane can be munch again and sweetness is still there.

NOTE: DO NOT THROW AWAY THE PURPLE CANE.  The purple cane can  be munched again and there will be still juices flowing out since we only boiled for 30 minutes.

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OTHERS THINGS TO NOTE

  • SERVING – As this is considered as an herb or tonic, we don’t usually serve it cold. We usually serve it when hot or at room temperature.
  •  VARIATIONS – You can add in winter melon candies or substituted purple cane with normal sugar cane. Just boiled the leaves alone is definitely acceptable.
  • The name oyster plant should not be confused with another oyster plant, salsify and the Chinese 红竹叶 belong to another plant though it was used interchangeably.

Also called oyster plant – Salsify plant   Also called 红竹叶and function is quite the same.

CONCLUSIONS

This plant thrives well in the climate and various types of soil conditions in Singapore and Malaysia. It’s easy to take care and can use it both inhouse and outdoor plants. It had beautiful white flowers that can light up your day. Why not plant some in your apartment or landed properties and “prune” it for when you are thirsty?

Lastly, let’s look at what I have found on the internet. Thanks for reading.

    A drink sold in www.Amazon.com

For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .  

friends 38981

For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1000 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD

 friends 38881

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Game To Try Some “Wild Hibiscus” Tea………….?(洛神花茶)

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Do  you feel greasy after a bowl of Sarawak Laksa?

Do you need something to quench your thirst after shopping?

Are you looking for some weight reduction aids?

Is your family concerned about your hypertension?

Well, let’s try some home made “Ribena” or ROSELLA TEA.

ROSELLA TEA (HIBISCUS TEA) DEFINED…

Hibiscus tea is a tisane or “herbal tea” consumed both hot and cold by people around the world. The drink is an infusion made from crimson or deep magenta-colored calyces (sepals) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. It is also referred to as roselle (another common name for the hibiscus flower) or rosella (Australian), …… red sorrel in the wider Caribbean, ……known as simply Jamaica. Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. The tea contains vitamin C and minerals and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. In West Sudan a white hibiscus flower is favored for its bitter taste and is not for sale, but for the use of the owners family and their guests. Hibiscus tea contains 15-30% organic acids, including citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. It also contains acidic polysaccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanidin and delphinine, that give it its characteristic deep red color.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibiscus_tea)

Note: From this point onwards, I will use “Rosella Tea” or “Roselle Tea” interchangeably.

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For my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically included this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

洛神花茶也是邓老凉茶休闲系列的一种,采用科学配方,由洛神花、陈皮煮制而成的一款休闲养生产品,有美容、瘦身、降压之功效,特别适合现代女性饮用。

清热利尿、生津止渴、理气消食,能清凉解渴,消除疲倦、调节和平衡血脂、降血压,促进新陈代谢,且能改善便秘,对皮肤粗糙,肥胖者都有帮助。

(Source:http://baike.baidu.com/view/286210.html)

WHY THIS DRINK?

I remembered ever drank this tea in East Malaysia in my teenage years but not that popular and in fact we called it home cooked “Ribena” as the color resembles the black currant juice.

As I was doing my marketing two days in a wet market in Geylang East, Singapore, I was surprised to find some fresh rosella in the vegetable section. I bought 0.5 kg for SGD2.50 and went back home to cook a large pot of Rosella drink.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Rosella is one of the species in the hibiscus family with scientific name  Hibiscus sabdariffa.  Its common names are Jamaica sorrel, roselle, wild hibiscus, Queensland sour tea, lemon bush etc. In Chinese, it was either called 洛神花 or 玫瑰茄。This annual herb grows to 1.5 m or higher and produces elegant white flowers.

Rosella is native to Central and West Africa, but grows throughout in many tropical areas including Malaysia. In 1999, research work in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was initiated to study the viability of planting rosella as a commercial crop. In April 2009, UKM launched three new varieties named UKMR-1, UKMR-2 and UKMR-3, respectively that were developed using a variety “Arab” as the parent in a mutation breeding program started in 2006.  (Note: apparently, the Rosella that I bought belong the “Arab” variety).

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Source : UKM Research Paper by Noor Hasima Nagoor

What is edible is not actually the flower’s petals but the calyces and the sepals. It is neither the flower nor the fruit. As these two terms are not common in layman term, I have included a flower anatomy for the reader’s reference.

  Source: www.enchantedlearning.com

5 REASONS YOU SHOULD DRINK THIS TEA

Rosella is widely consumed in most part of the world from Africa to Caribbean to Australia to Asia.. It is used in the preparation of teas, cuisines, jams and traditional medicines. The benefits to consuming Rosella are summarized as follows:

  • Weight Loss – Rosella contains a substance call amylase which can inhibit the intake of carbohydrates and hence aids in weight loss.
  • Cough and Colds – Rosella like chrysanthemum tea have the cooling effect. Therefore, it is  beneficial especially when you have a high fever.  Rosella has about 6.7 mg of ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that will help to relieve your cold symptoms. In addition, it had a mild anti-inflammatory and mild anti-bacterial properties.
  • Thirst Quencher – Rosella have been recommended to become a substitute for sports energy drinks because of its ability to satiate thirst effectively. Rosella can either be drunk cold or hot and it possesses diuretic properties, meaning assisting the body to excrete excess fluids.
  • Alleviates High Blood Pressure – According to a study published in Phyto-medicine (2004;11:375–82), daily consumption of rosella tea can help to lower high blood pressure (or hypertension). Long term consumption of rosella is believed to have low potential for causing negative side effects make hibiscus an attractive alternative to antihypertensive medications.
  • Nutrition – Rosella is full of nutritional substances that include ascorbic acid, carotene, thiamine, niacin, protein…… It is an extremely good health supplement alternative although it had long been regarded as vegetables in the Burmese and Andhra cuisines.

source:  http://www.ehow.com/about_5448174_hibiscus-tea-benefits.html

CAUTION:

As Rosella is a natural diuretic, people with kidney problems should only drink in moderations.

In addition, people who have too much stomach acid or gastric problems such as acid refluxes should also be careful on the amount of intake. It is best to have the drink only after a meal.

WHAT IS REQUIRED

Fresh rosella (about 250g), white or brown or white granulated sugar (250g), licorice (3-5 long pieces but is optional), water. In the event you do not have the fresh rosella, you can use dried rosella that can be purchased in herbs store or stores that sell flower tea leaves.

PREPARATION STEPS

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  • Wash the fresh rosella and use a knife to cut the base of rosella. You should be able to see a hard rosella seed, pull it out. It is ok if you break the sepals as it will be boiled anyway.
  • Watch out for the juices that was excreted. Don’t let them stain your cloth as it will be very difficult to wash it off. The red calyces have been exported to countries  like UK, Germany and USA. The Rosella was extracted for use as red colorings for foods.
  • Boil the rosella together with the licorice (甘草)in a medium to big pot of water for about 20-30 minutes or until the rosella is soft. Note that licorice is added to lower down the acidity of the tea. For those which are not familiar with this drink, you will find that it is extremely sour like freshly squeezed lime juice and adding some pieces of licorice will help to make the drinks more palatable.
  • Add in rock sugar and boiled for another 5 minutes, sieved and serve hot or cold. If you found that the tea is too concentrated, you can keep the concentrated juices and add in water like when you are serving Ribena black currant juices.
  • NOTE: DO NOT THROW AWAY THE SEPALS. The boiled sepals can be eaten like a snack (imagine you are eating some types of preserved plums). I have used the sepals to make some cup cakes and surprisingly, it is not that sour but the incorporation of these cooked sepals help to  enhance the texture and color of plain of my steamed cup cakes. You can also add sugar and make it into some jam.

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OTHERS THINGS TO NOTE

  • SERVING – Rosella can be served hot or cold. Sometime, I have added condensed milk to the iced tea when I found that it is too sour. However, you can add honey or sugar syrup. The disadvantage of adding condensed milk is it may curdle a bit due to the acidic reaction with milk.
  • VARIATIONS – You can add dried orange or tangerine peel instead of licorice root. Some of the recipes even suggest to add chrysanthemum to the teas.
  • If you are using the dried rosella, use hot water to mix steep for about 10 minutes. These rosella can also be combined with dried rose (or other dried flowers) in the preparation of flower teas.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • The benefits of rosella cannot be debated as it will aid in weight loss, helps in the treatment of  medium to mild cases of hypertension, alleviates symptoms of flu or cold and a very nutritional plant with low toxicity.
  • Its ability to satiate thirsts make it an excellent choice of cold drinks in the tropics;
  • However, cautions have to be careful if you have gastrointestinal problems and kidney problems where consumptions have to be moderate and it is  better to consult a doctor prior to the long term consumptions of this hibiscus.

Lastly, let’s look at what we have on the internet for Rosella related products. Thanks for reading.

Source: http://www.iklanabc.com 

  Source: http://temulawakinstan.blogspot.sg

                       Source: http://www.southeastasiatraveler.com

   Source: http://carolslifejourney.blogspot.sg

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For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 400 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD

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Come and have a cup of Chrysanthemum Tea (菊花茶) …

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Chrysanthemum tea (Chinese: 菊花茶; pinyin: júhuā chá) is a flower-based tisane made from chrysanthemum flowers of the species Chrysanthemum morifolium or Chrysanthemum indicum, which are most popular in East Asia. To prepare the tea, chrysanthemum flowers (usually dried) are steeped in hot water (usually 90 to 95 degrees Celsius after cooling from a boil) in either a teapot, cup, or glass; often rock sugar is also added, and occasionally also wolfberries. The resulting drink is transparent and ranges from pale to bright yellow in color, with a floral aroma. In Chinese tradition, once a pot of chrysanthemum tea has been drunk, hot water is typically added again to the flowers in the pot (producing a tea that is slightly less strong); this process is often repeated several times. Chrysanthemum tea was first drunk during the Song Dynasty (960–1279). (source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysanthemum_tea)

The weather is hot and why not have a cup or a glass of chrysanthemum tea to cool you off.

 

WHY THIS DRINK

There are lots of reasons that you should consider drinking chrysanthemum tea. Among the reasons are:

  • a natural coolant to lower your body heat;
  • It can assist in the treatment of acnes, pimples, toothache, headache, throbbing nerves in the gum;
  • rich in Vitamin C and help to relieve heaviness of head during cold and provide relief in sinusitis discomfort;
  • ability to lower cholesterol level;
  • detoxification of liver;
  • ease digestion after a heavy meal of greasy foods;
  • assists in treatment of block arteries and coronary artery disease;
  • providing relief to sore throat, redness, itchiness and dryness in eyes;
  • It has lots of minerals from calcium to magnesium to potassium and vitamins like Vitamin B1, Vitamin C etc.

This drink is extremely easy to prepare but some friends of mine have misconceptions that the preparation troublesome. They would rather pay SGD1-2 for a glass of or SGD0.50-SGD1 for a tin or packet of chrysanthemum tea.

       

Therefore, I have decided to share the steps with readers who have never prepare this tea before and assure you that it is not troublesome at all to prepare some chrysanthemum tea for your family.

WHAT IS REQUIRED

Dried chrysanthemum, brown rock sugar and water. You can buy both the dried chrysanthemum and brown rock sugar at the Chinese herbal shop.

PREPARATION STEPS

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Get ready some dried chrysanthemum and wash away the dirt. Put these washed chrysanthemums  into a pot filled with water. Boiled for about 10 minutes. Add in rock sugar and boiled for another 5 minutes. Sieved and serve hot or cold. If you found that the chrysanthemum tea is too concentrated or too sweet, just add in some more hot water.

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Note: Don’t boiled the chrysanthemum too long because it can then become very bitter.  You can add in some more water and re-boil the flower for the second time. After it boiled for 5 minutes, add additional rock sugar to taste.  For this boiling, the color should be lighter and the taste is less concentrated.

 

VARIATIONS

The above method is the method that we used to cook in Singapore or Malaysia. Another method is to hot water and mix steep for about 5 minutes. However, the drinks will become less concentrated. If you used the mix steep method, you can also consider add in some wolfberries, ginseng and licorice.

                      

source: www.blucraneacupuncture.blogspot.com                source: http://boldcathybold.blogspot.sg

CONCLUSIONS

Chinese (in fact other Asians like Korean and Japanese) believed that chrysanthemum flowers possess medicinal values and an excellent “cooling” herbs. Constant drinking of this flower tea will help to improve immune systems, liver detoxification, fat cleansing and cool down your body temperature. As such, knowing how to make this herbal tea will definitely be a preferred alternative when compared to purchase the packet or tin drinks in the grocery stores.

Happy reading.