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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Grapefruit Chiffon with Grapefruit Citrus Glaze,… Ever Try This?

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First of all, the format of this post will be slightly different as I did not take images for all the steps and procedures and I will share with readers what ever images I have taken. However, the taste of the grapefruit chiffon cake with grapefruit glaze is superb. 


WHY THIS CAKE

Since I come to Singapore almost 15 years ago, this is the cheapest grapefruit that I have ever bought in Singapore. Five sweet juicy medium sized grape fruits only cost about SGD2.50. When I saw the bargain, I immediately bought it and have been in my fridge for almost one month. While I can just cut and have it as fresh fruits, I thought I might as well to use it for baking. I thought of tarts, pies, poached grapefruits and many others recipes. However, this grapefruit chiffon cake caught my attention. The recipe is from Red Grape Fruit Chiffon Cake from www.canadianliving.com.



Recipe adapted from: Red Grape Fruit Chiffon Cake 



WHAT IS NEEDED

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Cake tin:     10 inches chiffon cake tin

Ingredient A – For egg yolk batter portion

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 0.5cup of granulated sugar 
  • 2.25  cups of sifted self raising flour
  • 0.5 cup of cooking oil
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 0.75 of grapefruit juice
  • 2 tbsp of grapefruit rind

Ingredients B – For egg white beating

  • 8 egg whites
  • 1cup of granulated sugar 
  • 1 tbsp of cream of tartar

Ingredient C – For Grapefruit Glaze 

  • 100 g of melted butter
  • 25 cups of icing sugar
  • 0.5 cups of grapefruit juice
  • 2 tbsp of cream

Ingredient D – For Decoration

  • 0.5 whole fresh grapefruit cut in slices.


STEPS OF PREPARATION

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  • Get ready the 10” chiffon cake tin but do not grease the cake tin as greasing will make the cake sink when taken out from the oven.

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  • In a mixing bowl, put all ingredients A together and use a mixer to beat at medium to low speed until thick and smooth which will need about 1-2 minutes only.

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  • In a new mixing bowl that are clean and greaseless, put in the egg white, whisk until the soft peak form.
  • Add in cream of tartar and gradually add in the sugar (in 3 stages). Beat until firm peak form. Set aside for later use.

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  • Gently fold in 1/3 of egg whites into the batter using a spatula. Mixed well and poured the remaining 2/3 of the egg whites (meringues) and mixed well. The actions have to be light and swift.
  • Poured into a 10” chiffon cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until when a skewer inserted comes out clean. In the event that the top starts to turn brown, you can lower the temperature to 165 degree Celsius and continue the baking.

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  • Take out from the oven, invert upside down over a wire rack and let it cool completely. Use a plastic knife to scrap the sides.

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  • In  a mixing bowl, beat all ingredients until smooth . Pour on top of the chiffon cake and let it drip naturally.

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  • Top it with cut slices of grapefruit or grapefruit pulp. Serve with additional cream or butter icing if desired.

CONCLUSION

This recipe yields a rather unique chiffon cake by utilizing grapefruits. One will never expect the grapefruit pulp with butter icing in an excellent glaze. Grapefruit is refreshing when served with the soft, spongy and soft chiffon. It is ideal for an afternoon tea… Try and let me know.

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

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Tempeh Revisited – Sweet And Spicy Tempeh And Oven Baked Honey Tempeh

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INTRODUCTION

I never cooked tempeh before. I have tempeh in some Malay restaurants but I did not like it. However, after joining various Facebook Food Groups, I noted that tempeh is becoming popular in Singapore and I have decided to relook at this special fermented soya beans products. Like bean curd, taukwa, miso paste and etc, tempeh also uses soya beans as its ingredients, however, it’s nutritional benefits is much higher than the the above mentioned products due to differences in production methods.


TEMPEH DEFINED..

As per Wikipedia:

“Tempeh (/ˈtɛmpeɪ/; Javanese: témpé, IPA: [tempe]), is a traditional soy product that is originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate from the Sinosphere cuisine.

It originated in today’s Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities.[1] Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor which becomes more pronounced as it ages. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine, where it is used as a meat analogue.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh)

pic source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tempeh_tempe.jpg


WHY THIS DISH

As I was doing my weekly marketing in one of the supermarkets in Singapore, there was a sale of fresh tempehs. 5 packets of fresh tempeh of 6 inches x 2 inches cost only SGD 2. I think that is a bargain and I want to take this opportunity to explore more about tempeh.

I knew I will not like tempeh if I just deep fried it and pan fried with belachan (shrimp paste) sauces, That is what I usually saw in the Malay food stalls. I knew if I am going to like it, the sizes have to be bite size with rich flavour to cover its original special flavour.

I decided to use half of the tempeh I bought by following the recipes published in Loft 48’s Sweet, Spicy Crunchy Tempeh. I told the blogger that sweet and spicy is something that I can’t resist. However, instead of crunchy, I prefer mine to be chewy, Therefore I have chose to oven bake instead of using deep fried. 

For the other half, I have make it into honey “roasted” tempeh where it become a sweet and chewy tempeh!

Note that these 2 recipes are VEGETARIAN friendly, therefore, you can adjust to include other spices or herbs such as shallots, onions, garlics and etc..


RECIPE 1 – SWEET AND SPICY TEMPEH



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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of fresh tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons of chilli sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons of dark soya sauce

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the tempeh into cubes.
  • Place it in a baking tray and put in a cold oven.
  • Set the oven temperature to 180 degree Celsius and bake for 15 minutes. For ever 5 minutes, open the oven door and stir it to ensure consistent baking.
  • After the 15 minutes, take it out and set aside.

Note that your tempeh will shrink quite significantly due to water loss. Every oven temperature will slightly differs. The error tolerance level is quite high for this recipe. Therefore, if you find the oven is too hot (sides to start to get burnt) or too cold (no changes in appearance), you can adjust your temperature accordingly by plus or minus 15 degree Celsius.

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  • In a pot, put the water, chili sauce, dark soya sauce and sugar and bring to boil under high  heat.
  • Let it boil until the mixture become sticky and glossy or caramelized.
  • Add in the baked tempeh and stir it until the all the tempeh were coated with the sweet and spicy sauce.

I have opted to use my own home made chilli sauce and you can understand more about chilli and chilli sauce HERE, When you read my post on chilli, you will know how spicy is my tempeh!

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  • Add additional red cut chilli if desired. Sprinkle some finely chopped coriander leaves as garnish.
  • Dish is best served with white rice

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RECIPE 2 – OVEN BAKED HONEY TEMPEH



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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of fresh tempeh cut into thin slices
  • 3 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon of water
  • 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the tempeh into thin slices.
  • Line the tempeh in a baking tray and put in a cold oven.
  • Set the oven temperature to 180 degree Celsius and bake for 10 minutes. For ever 5 minutes, open the oven door and stir it to ensure consistent baking.
  • After the 1o minutes, take it out and set aside.

NOTE

If you want it to be crispy, you will have to bake for additional 10 minutes.

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  • Put the honey, water and olive oil in a pot and bring to boil.
  • Let it boil for 2 minutes and add in the baked tempeh slices
  • Stir well until it is well mixed and the tempeh slices have absorbed all the sugar syrup.

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  • In a big plate, put the sugar and salt and stir until it is well mixed.
  • Add the honey coated tempeh slices, stir and ensure all the tempeh were coated with sugar and salt mixture.
  • Take out the tempeh, shake of the sugar and transfer to  another plate.
  • Good to be served as party snack.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • Tempeh is full of nutritional values. It is the only soya bean related dish that do not originated from Greater China Region but from the Island of Java. It is fermented soya bean and consumption of tempeh will provide more nutrition (especially vitamin B12) than other soya beans products.
  • Tempeh is also called vegetarian burger patties. These two ways of preparation have masked the special soy flavour of tempeh yet provide some chewy texture of tempeh. Be it snack or side dish, it will definitely be welcome by your guest.
  • With these two ways of cooking, I have changed my perception of tempeh. My kids aged 7 and 9 who tried the oven baked honey tempeh have give his thumb up ! Personally, I prefer the sweet and spicy tempeh which is rather addictive and can’t go without  a class of icy cold water!

Hope you enjoy my post and feel free to LIKE me at this blog’s sister page Guaishushu Facebook Page. Have a nice day!

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Simple Carrot Muffins for Your Love Ones…

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INTRODUCTION

This is a simple carrot muffin with cream cheese frosting. It is simple and quick to do without the need to use any mechanical beaters or mixers and animal fats. Therefore it a rather healthy breakfast item or tea time item. The simple cream cheese frosting (optional) will help to smoothen the texture and enhance the taste of the muffins.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

The measurement below can make about 8-9 medium size muffins of about 120g each.

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For carrot muffins

  • 150 g of grated carrots
  • 75 g of raisins
  • 75 g of chopped walnuts or chopped almonds or any nuts (optional)
  • 180 g of white caster sugar

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  • 125 g of cooking oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 320 g of self raising flours
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of grounded ginger (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate 
  • 0.5 teaspoon of baking powder (optional)

For cream cheese frostings

  • 125 g of cream cheese
  • 50 g of icing sugar

STEPS OF PREPARATION

Carrot Muffins

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  • Preheat oven to moderate 180 degree Celsius and get ready 9 medium sized muffin cups.
  • In a mixing bowl, place carrots, raisins, almonds and sugar and lightly mixed it.
  • In another mixing bowl, place the oil and egg together. Whisk the liquid mixture until mix.
  • Place the dry mixtures (carrots, raisins, almonds and sugar) into the whisked liquid mixture and until well mixed.

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  • Add the sifted flour, sodium bicarbonate, baking powder, spices (cinnamon or spice mix (optional))  into the liquid mixture.
  • Combined lightly with wooden spoon or metal spoon and well mixed.
  • Scoop out the mixture into the muffin cups  about 3/4 full and baked for about 30 minutes or until skewer come out clean.

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Cream Cheese Frostings

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  • Using electric beaters, beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and creamy.

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  • Spread on top of the muffins or pump on top of the muffins if desired.
  • Dust with cinnamon or color sugar crystals (optional).
  • Served with addition cream cheese frosting, when necessary.

CONCLUSION:

  • This pastry can be as healthy as you want it to be. Cooking oil are generally considered as healthier alternative as compared to animal fats such as butter.
  • Suggested frosting of cream cheese (which is optional if you are health conscious) will make the muffins even smoother and blend well with the taste.
  • It is easy and simple to make as there is no need to use any mechanical equipment.
  • Cost of preparing these muffins are relatively lower than other cup cakes since only very basic ingredients will be used.

Hope you like this simple muffin and simple post. Have a nice day and happy reading.

 

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 30-6-2013

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On 30 June, 2013

White rice served with:

30-Jun Watercress Pork Rib Soup  西洋菜排骨汤
30-Jun Braised Chicken Wings 酱鸡翅
30-Jun Grilled Sanma (Pacific Saury) with lemon  柠檬烤秋刀鱼
30-Jun Chinese Water Spinach fried with fermented beans 蕹菜炒豆瓣酱

The last two days were full of functions and no home cooking were done. Today, I have done my weekly marketing. You will start to see perishable vegetables will start appearing in the beginning of the week. Usually, watercress  and Chinese water spinach was cooked in the day of purchase .

Recently, Singapore wet market was flooded with “Japanese Restaurant” fish and today, i was surprised to see thawed pacific saury (sanma). The price is rather competitive and 4 fishes (8 pieces of about 4-5 inches long) cost about SGD 4 averaging out is SGD1 per fish which is even cheaper than the black promfret.

Today, my wife fried the Chinese spinach (kangkong). As she like her dish spicy, she had prepared two plates, one with chilli and another plate fried with Chinese fermented beans. THE PRICE IS INCREDIBLY LOW TODAY. 1 BUNDLE ONLY COST SGD 20 cents but must purchase in a pack of 5. We cooked 3 packs and gave the other 2 packs to my neighbours. Do you concur with me that the price of food items are relatively cheaper than in Malaysia (but of course without any currency conversion).

This type of post may appeared dull if you looked at it on a daily basis. However, if you read on a weekly basis, you will start to see patterns that may be useful for those who want some dish rotation ideas..Cheers and have a nice day!