With the weather getting cooler, people in Taiwan are starting to indulge in the winter practice of “eating food supplements”(進補) to strengthen themselves and keep warm. A Chinese-medicine practitioner is warning that people should first have a liver check-up to make sure they are already strong enough to ‘take the cure’, cable television station TVBS reported today (full Chinese-language article here).
Two popular winter supplement dishes, duck with ginger (薑母鴨) and mutton hotpot (羊肉爐), which are tasty and filling, can also be nutritious if the diner has a healthy liver to rely on, according to the traditional doctor, Zou Wei-lun (鄒瑋倫). But for those who stay up late in the evening, perhaps drinking alcohol or working overtime, eating ginger duck or sesame-oil chicken can lead to a bitter taste in the mouth, produce sores or other damage to the mouth, indicating “liver storing blood” (藏血), that is, that the liver is not in good condition, and up to 10 percent of the body’s blood is not circulating properly.
To help revitalize the liver, Chinese medicine recommends seeds of the Chinese magnolia vine (五味子) and sesame (芝麻). The former [which means “five-flavour seed”], derives its name because it tastes sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and salty, and so can help regulate the internal organs, Zou said.
Recommended recipes include boiling the seeds as a herbal tea, or mixing it 3:1 with sesame and sprinkling on the top of noodles or rice everyday.
Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011