Use Traditional Chinese Herbs When You Cook For Flavor And Health – Part 1

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By Lauren Hill

HealthPeople all around the world love the distinctive flavors of Chinese food. In fact, when I visited Paris, I was unfamiliar with French cuisine, and on my first evening out I spotted a Chinese restaurant and decided to go with the familiar rather than the unknown. What most people might not realize is the flavors so many Americans and Europeans enjoy are watered down and changed to fit a foreign palette. Using authentic and traditional herbs completely changes the flavor profile of some of the most common and familiar Chinese dishes. Not only does using these authentic herbs change the taste, they also add other health benefits.

Branching out With Spices and Additives

It can be easy for people to become stuck in a cooking rut. A person may become familiar with a dozen or so dishes that they enjoy, and then seldom try cooking anything new. Do not sell your taste buds short! There are so many exciting flavor combinations out there that it is a true pity when people deny themselves the opportunity of culinary exploration.

If you are not very adventurous in the kitchen, start out small. Eggs are the perfect complement to almost every flavor combination, and most people know how to cook a few scrambled eggs. A good way to test out traditional Chinese flavoring is by adding a dash or a pinch of an herb to your morning scrambled eggs. It is a good way of tasting new tastes in a controlled environment. A good place to start is with Chinese five-spice powder.

Five-spice powder usually has more than just five spices, but in Chinese medicine, five is a healing number. Five-spice not only added flavor, but it was said to have helped rejuvenate the body from the inside out. I like my five spice with a hint of citrus, this typically means that it contains tangerine peel. The combination of clove, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, and star anise of five-spice create a very rich flavor.

Not only does five-spice powder create a wonderful depth of flavor, the ingredients have been shown to increase health in the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems. Ginger especially is used as a home remedy for several medical issues including motion sickness and nausea.

Mastering Ginger

Ginger is a fantastic root that has a pungent aroma and bright tang. Not only is it a traditional flavor in Chinese cuisine, it can be found easily in domestic supermarkets. There are powdered forms, but you can also find ginger hands in the fresh produce section. If you would like Chinese ginger, you can order it from specialty dealers online. Since ginger is such an important herb and medical remedy in China, you can find a few more varieties online than you can in your local supermarket.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..

– Guest author Lauren Hill writes for Solstice Medicine Company.