The wheel of nature livens up:
in summer time, there is a proliferation of activities.
Our hearts take the lead in regulating
Qi energy and nutrition in tune with
a season of liveliness.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that our hearts belong to the fire element (Five-element view of health) and governs the Yang energy in our bodies. The heart plays a governing function in the circulation of the blood and pulse. When there is abundance of Yang Qi in the heart, the flow of Yin within veins will be smooth. Such that a proper harmonized pulse gives rosy complexion and warm extremities.
The heart is also seen by TCM as governor of our spirits. A calm and healthy heart strengthens our other organs and cultivate a sense of peace. Indeed, the best relief on a hot summer day is a still mind.
While the heat from the early summer Yang energy gradually dissipates and we are still exposed to a hot and wet environment. In TCM, dampness is a Yin disposition and tends to accumulates in the lower part of our body and creates a blockage for the yang energy.
To relieve the uncomfortable dampness and heat, consume warm and cooked food items that helps with the raising of Yang energy. Bitter gourds, winter melon, cucumber and bean curds, mung bean helps to reduce summer heat. For clearing dampness, consume some water melon, azuki beans and barley while Chinese chives, eggplant, lychee, longan, mango and peach can help with raising of Yang energy.
Recommended Infusion: San Hua Three Flower Tisane (Cooling Yin recipe).
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Traditionally around September 8, the solar calendar point termed ‘White Dew’, Chinese families start making rice wine. This slightly sweet beverage is used to warm the body and to add its delicious flavour in chicken dishes and soups. It is also commonly used to add to the sweet soup that accompanies mochi rice balls. I use the “Shanghai Brewer’s Balls” (shown here as the white ball in the foreground). They are inexpensive and can be found in Chinatown in London.
A speciality of Shaoxing and an ancient Huaiyang dish (recorded by the gastronome Yuan Mei in his “Dishes From Sui’s Residence” (Sui Yuan Shi Dan 随园食单) published in 1752, Qing Dynasty). The only liquid used in this dish is Chinese wine.
Historically, this dish is steamed for 9 hours till the meat falls off the bone as the preferred variety tend to be the tougher and more mature ducks. However, for the tenderer and younger ducks that we can get in the UK, I think 2-3 hours would be sufficient.
1 duck, lean, free-range
5 stalks spring onions
thumb size ginger, sliced
200-300 ml shaoxing wine
15 gram dry shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water
10 gram Chinese Jinhua ham or dry-cured bacon
1 tbsp salt
- Cut the duck into 10 pieces including the wings. Thoroughly wash the pieces. Soak them in cold water for 5 mins. Change the water and soak for another 5 mins. Do this two more times.
- Add half the ginger, spring onions and shaoxing wine into the duck and massage to get the flavour in.
- Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Very quickly blanch the duck pieces.
- Quarter the shitake mushroom and slice the Jinhua ham.
- In a deep heatproof dish, layer the remaining ginger and spring onion. Put the duck pieces on top. Then top with the ham and mushrooms.
- Pour enough shaoxing wine to barely cover the duck. Steam for 2-3 hours till duck meat falls off the bone.
1 bitter gourd, plump, medium sized
2 salted duck eggs
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp shaoxing wine
1 tbsp cooking oil
- Hard Boil the salted duck eggs as you would any egg. Shelled the eggs, separate the oily yolks and the whites. Chop into pieces.
- Cut the bitter gourd lengthwise and remove the seeds like you would with a cucumber. Slice the bitter gourd into 0.5 cm slices.
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and blanch the bitter gourd slices for 30 seconds to remove some of the bitterness.
- In a frying pan or wok, heat the garlic and oil. Add the egg yolks and shaoxing wine, and fry for 30 seconds.
- Add the egg white, sugar and the blanched bitter gourd slices and fry for 3-4 mins till the bitter gourd is soft.
- Add some water or prawn stock to make a light sauce. Serve hot.
The acupuncture point in the middle of your armpits is called ‘ji quan’. It is one of the many acupuncture points regulating the Qi and blood circulation in your liver. It’s used to calm the fiery Qi energy in your heart.
- First raise your left hand, palm facing up, to just above shoulder level. Using your right fingers, tap the middle of your left armpit 20-30 times.
- Then do the same for the right armpit with your left hand.
- Repeat 3-5 sets.
- Sit comfortably on a chair, feet placed lightly on the ground.
- Cup your hands and with your palms lightly tap the back of both knees.
- Cupping your hand during tapping creates a gentle ‘gush’ of air and vibration on to the acupuncture point on the insides of your knee.
- Tap 100-200 times.