Chinese autumn feasts

While western food therapy may induce fantasies of free flowing chocolate and cheese, the oriental concept is a totally different school of thought. As much as it features great flavours from seasonal foodstuff, the keen followers are mostly attracted by the very feel-good factor from the endless array of health benefits one can reap from the savoury dishes.

Drawing many a mystified face, August seventh marked the ‘Beginning of Autumn’ –  according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. With the expected average temperature staying above 30˚C for the coming month, it is indeed hard for any Hong-Konger, local or expat, to believe that the beginning of autumn has indeed arrived at our doorsteps already. Nevertheless, let’s hear what the traditional Chinese wisdom has to say about this transition period and better so, the savoury feel-good food to have.

For those who are sceptic of the reliability of this ancient intelligence, the scientific version of this ‘Beginning of Autumn’ date coincides with the day where the sun hits the earth at the ecliptic angle of  135˚every year. Technically, beyond this day, autumn will start rolling in and weather will cool down steadily after every rainfall. 

With the creeping pace of autumn, the Chinese old wisdom says: It’s time to nourish our lungs, calm our agitated mind and build up our immunity against the upcoming flu season. What are you waiting for – especially when these preventive foods taste way better than medicine? Below we have found two simple recipes for those who like to have a taste of yummy oriental food therapy. 

Steamed Pears with Chuan Bei  

“Febrifuge and dissipate phlegm, nourish the lungs and invigorate the spleen”

Peel the Chinese snow pears (if these aren’t available then any soft pear will suffice) and remove the cores. Once this is done, stuff the pears with the chuan bei (about three to four bulbs per pear). Then simply place the pears on a plate for steaming, drizzle with honey and steam for at least 40 – 60 minutes until the pears are soft. To serve, put the pears on a plate, slice them if you like, top with some more honey and enjoy.

Glutinous-rice congee with four herbs  

“Nourish for overall vitality, improve blood circulation and calm the agitated mind”

The ingredients that we need are 25 grams of each of the following: dried longan, red dates, Chinese yam and barley; and 100 grams of glutinous rice. Put all the ingredients together in a pot and fill it with adequate amount of water (discretionary upon your personal preference on the thickness of the congee). As the congee is cooked, sparingly add in some rock sugar for better flavour. Serve hot.