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.
In Early Summer
Depending on your body constitution, frequent consumption of cooling seasonal harvests like mung beans, winter melon, lychee and lotus leaves could help in clearing the effects of summer-heat, eradicate dampness in your body and reduce the burden of your heart.
By mid summer, the growth spur has reached its peak. Nature enters the transformation stage by nourishing our body and Qi energy. This is where our spleen comes in; our spleens govern the transformation, absorption of essence and Qi from the nutrients we consume. Through the process of metabolism of nutrients we consumed and energy transformation, the spleen helps to ensure the vitality of the body.
NINE-HOUR STEAMED DUCK
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.
BITTER GOURD STIR FRY
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.
There is a Chinese saying, Eat ginger in summer, chestnuts in autumn, mooli in winter and plums in spring. Ginger helps to stimulate our appetite especially in a hot and humid summer. As well as having anti-inflammatory properties, ginger helps to relieve heatiness and wetness in our bodies.
Bitter gourd (aka Bitter Melon or Momordica Charantia) is one of those unusual vegetables that once you get the hang of it, you will be addicted. It is Yin in nature and its coolness can go straight to the four of the five organs (heart, liver, spleen, lung). Hence it is highly recommended by TCM for the hot season. Bitter melon has a bitter taste but it will never pass its bitterness to the other ingredients in the same dish, that is why it is very elegantly called the “gentleman vegetable”. The bitter glycoside can stimulate our appetites and strengthen our spleens. It is also slightly diuretic, helps to improve blood circulation, is anti-inflammatory, clears the heart and brightens the eyes. Bitter melon contains a lot of vitamin C which can improve the body’s immune function. It can be used in a stir-fry, or in consommé. I also like to eat it raw with a touch of honey.
In the fiery heat of summer, it is important to nourish our lungs and spleen. Duck is Yin in nature and can help expel heat. It replenishes our Qi energy and relieves excess wetness and bloatedness in our body. TCM also believes that it alleviates coughing and phlegm.
COOLING THE HEART FIRE
- 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.
RELIEF FOR MINOR SUNSTROKE
- 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.