12 September 2008


When my children are having exam I will feed them tonic to counteract fatigue and stress.  American ginseng double-boiled with pig brain and other Chinese herbs is the common concoction brewed.

There are many grades of ginseng.  The best type comes from Chang Pai Shan region of China.  It is the most expensive grade and only consumed by the rich and famous.  The Chinese ginseng is considered to be a super tonic effective for invigorating the body's energy, strengthening the heart, nourishing the brain and relieves general body weaknesses.  It is best double-boiled with hot water and consumed.

The American ginseng is grown mainly in the temperate belts of the USA and Canada.  It is especially effective for treating fatigue, excessive smoking, drinking irritability and restlessness.  My mum used to boil this tonic for my father who was a heavy smoker.

Korean ginseng is rated second best to Chinese ginseng.  It is good for stimulating blood circulation, for post-natal nourishment, improving eyesight and nourishing the brain, which is suitable for my DH.  During my pregnancy and confinement I was fed this tonic often and my babies are all healthy and strong.  The ginseng should be stored in a cool dry place in a glass bottle with raw rice for preservation.  This can be kept for a very long time.

I was a very weak and sickly child when young and remembered my mum used to feed me Korean ginseng.  It was why she fed me the tonic when I was pregnant so that my babies will be strong and healthy.  She would put 2 small pieces of ginseng in a sauce plate and scooped a few teaspoons of boiled rice water over them, and then placed the plate on the rice in the steamer and steamed till the rice was cooked.  I was fed the tonic and the ginseng was used again for second round.  Only adult or elderly should consume Korean ginseng as they are not suitable for healthy children.

To double boil put the ginseng in an earthenware pot with a cover.  Add water till three-quarter in the pot to the ginseng and place the earthenware pot in a stand inside a large casserole with boiling water, cover and boil over slow fire for three to four hours.
The roots are cooked twice to extract all the essence.

Never cook ginseng in metal container as the roots lose their potency.  It is wise to store it in non-metal containers and to cook it in earthenware or ceramic pots.

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