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Heart Strengthens Heart - Stomach Strengthens Stomach

by Irving Beilin Chang

Food as Herbs, Health, and Medicine

Spring Volume: 1997 Issue: 4(1) page(s): 11

Chinese people have a varied diet partly because they design diets so that all the edible protein is not wasted and also because over the years with the knowledge that they have acquired, they use it to develop a balanced diet for healthy living.

For instance, a salad can be prepared using preserved jelly fish as the main ingredient. The jelly fish not only gives a desirable crunchy texture but it also adds protein without increasing the fat content. Purple seaweed is often served in chicken soup to help those who live in inland areas supplement their diet with iodine to avoid the goiter syndrome.

For a mother who is breast feeding her baby but finds that milk is not always available (it is not always available in many of the large Chinese cities), they prepare a whole chicken cooked in fermented rice wine with plenty of broth; then flavor it with a lot of ginger to stimulate the mother's appetite and increase her milk supply. Another mother's breast feeding favorite is to prepare pig's knuckles cooked in a wine vinegar with plenty of ginger. The vinegar not only helps break the protein in the pig's knuckles down so that she can easily digest the gelatin but it also makes more calcium from the knuckles available for the mother.

For those who are senior citizens, we often find our connective tissue such as knee joints or discs in the spine deteriorating. Besides getting a corrective operation, we believe that one should reinforce the diet with a concentrated form of easy to digest gelatin; that helps the body mend and correct that deficiency.

Last year one of the medical school professors in the United States mentioned to his class that: One's diet should be targeted towards reinforcing the body with whatever it is deficient in. It happened, that in this class there was a student from China; he told his professor that when he was young he was taught "Eat heart strengthens the heart, eat stomach strengthens the stomach, etc." I believe in this line of thought, so if I am experiencing pain in my knees after a vigorous game of tennis, I go to the Chinese grocer and purchase some beef sinew. The sinew comes from the lower leg of the cow and it contains no fat or meat. Then I prepare myself a dish of sinew stewed with turnips and carrots. This dish takes a little time to prepare but I have found a little time spent in health maintenance is always worthwhile.

The beef sinew gives one the concentrated form of gelatin and the turnips and carrots supplies the dish with color and texture, along with essential minerals and vitamins. Since the beef sinew takes hours to cook in an open pot, I use the fast way and pressure cook it. The spices that flavor this dish are garlic, ginger and star anise. I know that this dish not only keeps me healthy, but is also very tasty. Try it!
Irving Beilin Chang, a chemist, is one of Flavor and Fortune's test kitchen directors and a gourmand par excellance. He has co-authored many cookbooks.
Beef Sinew with Turnips and Carrots
4 pieces beef sinew (about 1 and 1/2 pounds)*
3 Tablespoons chopped garlic
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons cooking wine
2 cups water
2 large pieces of ginger, peeled
3 cloves star anise
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 and 1/2 to 4 pounds white Chinese turnips, also called white radish (about one large one)
1 3/4 or 2 pounds carrots (about 5 large ones)
1. Cut the sinew into one-inch long pieces.
2. Place a piece of aluminum or any other metal in the bottom of the pressure pot in order that the sinew does not stick to the bottom, this prevents the sinew from scorching.
3. Reserve one tablespoon soy sauce, the turnips and carrots, then put all the other ingredients in the pressure cooker and when the pressure is up, follow the pressure cooking directions and cook for forty minutes.
4. While the sinew is cooking, peel the turnips and carrots and roll-cut them into bite-size pieces.
5. After the set time, check the sinew by first cooling the pot to reduce its pressure, then opening the pot to make sure the sinew is soft enough to eat. If it still is too chewy, bring the pressure back up and cook five minutes more, then recheck as before. Continue as needed, until sinew is tender and soft.
6. Remove the sinew but leave the juice and spices in the pot. Add two tablespoons of water, and the remaining soy sauce, turnips and carrots. Bring the pressure up and cook for three minutes. Reduce the pressure by cooling and now return the sinew to the pot. Heat everything, mixing several times, until hot.
Note: *The sinew can be obtained at most Chinese butchers or groceries

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