Well, it’s a lengthy title but it sums up the contents of this book. It’s about health-giving liquids, or at least what Chinese tradition would have you believe are healthy drinks. One has to give some credence to a philosophy that has lasted thousands of years. The Chinese have access to modern medicine but the practice of eating foods as restoratives or cures still continues.
The author, Susan Chan, was born in Burma of mixed Asian heritage. She draws on the culinary tradition of her homeland, of China and of the West. Many of the soups will be familiar to Chinese restaurant goers and we have enjoyed these, giving no thought to the benefits these delicious broths might be bestowing. Other soups and drinks are a little more obscure but will be welcomed by those who want to take a more homeopathic route to better health.
Each soup has its ingredients and method, a comment on nutritional value and, most interestingly, an overview of traditional beliefs which gives information on heating or cooling properties. For example Shanghai-Style Hot and Sour Soup contains vitamins A and C and potassium. It is considered a “neutral” soup. This will soothe the internal system, boost energy levels and maintain general wellness.
Black Bean with Dried Mandarin Peel Soup has very few ingredients and is simple to prepare. It’s an ideal winter warmer having ginger in the base broth. It is also considered “warming” with regard to traditional medicine. This soup will be suitable for those with colds, flu, or cold extremities. Another soup offering similar properties would be the convivial Steam Boat. This is like a Mongolian Hot Pot or a fondue. A chicken stock is heated and each guest cooks his or her choice of a selection of ingredients. Small wire strainers are provided for each guest to fill with meat and vegetables. When cooked the food is transferred to individual bowls and eaten with chilli sauce or oyster sauce. The remaining and now fortified soup is consumed at the end of the meal. Much lighter than melted cheese.
If you are after a somewhat more instant “warming” curative then Ginger Tea could be for you. It takes only 20 minutes to prepare. It is said to be good for upset stomachs, and even in the West ginger is believed to ward off the symptoms of travel sickness. Ginger Tea contains fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Traditional and Modern Healthy Chinese Soups and Drinks will be a welcome addition to the cookbook collection of those wanting some traditional recipes, but also of those who want to follow a drug-free life. This book gives a unique perspective.
Asian cookbook: Traditional and Modern Healthy Chinese Soups and Drinks
Author: Susan Chan
Published by: New Holland
Price: AUS$29.95, US$19.95, £12.99
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018