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Chinese Medicine and Radishes

Asian Radish Salad, radish salad, Lotus Foods, Jade Pearl Rice

I’ve been MIA for a couple of days because of some major happenings on the home front. Yesterday, after going back and forth a few times, we accepted a buyer’s offer and sold our home of 15 years – making our move to the beach a done deal. A huge inner sigh of relief was followed by a surge of mixed feelings – joy for the new lifestyle awaiting us, sadness at leaving the only home that our College Girl and two fur kids have known, and dread at the thought of weeding through, discarding, and packing our lives up into brown boxes.

But it’s all good! Just need some time to process :) With everything going on, I haven’t had the chance to share my adventures in Hong Kong, except for a rundown of my Asian breakfast exploration, until today.

Without a doubt, the most culturally authentic experience I had was visiting a Chinese herbalist. Hong Kong, with direct access to mainland China’s vast herbal cornucopia, has the most flourishing herbal medicine trade in the Far East. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the rows of orange labeled jars filled with mysterious dried shapes, I gestured to my guide and entered without a moment of hesitation. I watched as his wife gathered herbs to fill a prescription and he studied the pulse of an elderly gentleman. Seeing Chinese medicine practiced was something I knew I wanted to do, and without Jeannie, my guide for the afternoon, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate with the herbalist.  Unless you speak or write Chinese, you should always visit Chinese herbal emporiums with someone who knows the language.

visit to a Chinese Herbalist visit a Chinese herbalist

For 80 HKD, he analyzed my “chi” through careful measurement of my pulse and accurately described my ailments. With Jeannie translating, I listened intently as he provided some general medical advice, then proceeded with my herbal prescription by writing characters on a track pad which were converted to an herbal prescription. He printed it out for me and asked if I wanted to have the tonic that day. For 40 more HKD he would prepare the tonic – just give him 2 hours.

We left and continued to the SoHo area – here that stands for “South of Hollywood Road” – a happening place with a wide range of international restaurants and bars accessible by the Mid-Levels Escalator – the world’s longest covered escalator.

Mid-Levels Escalator Hong Kong

Li Yuen East and West market, Hong Kong market

Colorful stalls of Li Yuen Street East and West Market

Wandering through the wet market where vendors sell their live seafood and fresh meat in the open air as they have done for hundreds of years.

Hong Kong Wet Market

Taking respite in a tranquil tea store.

Hong Kong Tea Shop

Marveling at the displays of animal, plant, marine, and mineral displays at another herbalist with a more modern storefront.

Hong Kong Herbalist

After a pit stop at a hip coffee and cheese cafe called Classified, it was time to head back to imbibe in my personalized herbal remedy. Just as before, it was me and the ancient Chinese man. And again, I took my cues from him to see how you were supposed to drink the bowl of steaming murky brown liquid.

Hong Kong Herbal Shop

Hong Kong Herbalist Tonic

In the West, Chinese herbalists can often be found practicing their ancient arts in the Chinatowns of major cities – I should be able to “fill” my prescription in Little Saigon when I choose to brave the bitter tonic again. Someone asked me if I’d seen the episode where Andrew Zimmern (of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods fame) sampled a Chinese tonic and discarded it after a few sips (I haven’t) … proud to say I finished mine!

Hong Kong Herbalist

How do radishes tie in? Actually, they are a loose reference to both the sale of our house and Chinese medicine.

Turns out that radishes were first cultivated thousands of years ago in China, then in Egypt and Greece. In fact, radishes were so highly regarded in Greece that gold replicas were made – hmm, there has to be an interesting story there. The radish did not make its way to England until approximately 1548 and by 1629 they were being cultivated in Massachusetts. (source: CDC: fruits & veggies matter) Radishes are also known for the detoxifying and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Hubs planted two varieties of radishes this year: per my request, French breakfast radishes – an heirloom variety, crisp and mildly pungent when young and Fire ‘N Ice – hailed as a Burpee Exclusive, a brightly colored beauty 3-4″ with an extra-crisp texture and a mild, delicately sweet flavor and a little bite on the finish. Like many Americans, I really only thought of radishes as a colorful addition to a green salad,  until last year when I came across several simple radish salads accompanied by ravishing photographs.

French radishes

As for the sale of our house…we will sorely miss our garden, but I’ll be able to walk to the downtown Huntington Beach farmers market and we felt a connection to the young couple who are expecting their first child and liked our home for all the same reasons that we did fifteen years ago. Just like Don, the husband was from upstate New York and desired a sanctuary among the masses and they sincerely appreciated what we’ve done over the years to the interior and landscaping and plan to maintain the garden to nurture their family – and we are happy to pass it on to them. *sniffle*

Raised bed garden

With this salad, I have a chance to show my dragons :) – anyone else love the Mother of Dragons on Game of Thrones? – Radish salad, Lotus Foods, Jade Pearl Riceas well as highlight the under-appreciated radish and organic Jade Pearl Rice from Lotus Foods:

“One of our most exemplary rices, both for its nutritional and flavor profile, we infuse our California grown organic pearled rice with wildcrafted BamBoom!™ extract, made from the Moso species of bamboo that grows in the virgin highland forest of south central China.

The oldest living peoples of the world eat a staple of rice mixed with a unique, edible species of Bamboo leaf and stem for its good nutritional profile. They consider this warm mountain-grown bamboo the true tree of life.

When cooked, this beautiful jade-colored rice produces the aroma of a bamboo forest, a light vanilla taste, and an explosion of health-giving nutrients.”

Very simple, just mix together 2 tablespoons each of sesame oil, rice vinegar, and mirin and a half teaspoon of black sesame seeds, shake in a jar or whisk until emulsified, mix half into a cup of cooked Jade Pearl Rice and toss radishes with the remainder. Sprinkle rice with Eden Organic Black & Tan Gomasio (black and tan sesame seeds & sea salt), if desired. Most Asian style vinaigrettes include soy sauce, but if you’re watching your sodium intake – soy sauce, even the low-sodium variety, is out.

radish salad, asian vinaigrette

radish salad, dragon chopstick rest

Dragon!

Hope you enjoyed this brief sojourn with me :) Enjoy your weekend!

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28 Responses to “Chinese Medicine and Radishes”

  1. Dana Sipper
    May 3 at 11:22 am #

    Loved your story about your experience at the Chinese Herbalist. The salad looks great…and I think I need to get some of that rice. Thanks Priscilla!

    • Priscilla
      May 3 at 12:28 pm #

      Thx, Dana! It truly was a memorable experience – look out Andrew Zimmern ;) The faint bamboo essence of the rice is uniquely delicious.

  2. Shari
    May 3 at 11:31 am #

    Congrats on moving to the beach. What a dream come true. Your trip to China seemed amazing. It’s great to experience the true culture when you travel. Hope your chi is better :)

    • Priscilla
      May 3 at 12:32 pm #

      Thanks, Shari – we’ll have to do some beach time! My chi was better – seriously, I could tell my body was detoxing just hours later, in that smelly sweat way ;)

  3. Debbie Tesla
    May 3 at 11:37 am #

    I LOVE radishes and eat them everyday…several in fact. Nice Priscilla…loved it. Best of luck on your new adventures. Luckely you won’t be going far….

    • Priscilla
      May 3 at 12:34 pm #

      Debbie – you’re doing good things for your body! Keep eating those radishes :) Yes, we’re glad to be just moving locally – we’ve done the cross-country move before…

  4. Joan Nova
    May 3 at 12:20 pm #

    Your HK experience is fascinating.

    The combination of sesame oil, mirin and rice vinegar is one I use frequently. I think it hits all the right notes for a home cook attempting an Asian-inspired meal.

  5. Gina
    May 3 at 12:55 pm #

    Congrats and wishing you the best. It’s overwhelming at first, but then with your new life, you’ll make new happy memories. Your garden is gorgeous, I think I would shed more than a few tears over that one. Glad you experienced such a wonderful trip, wow all the fish. I adore radishes.
    -Gina-

  6. wow! what an wonderful experience you had at the herb store.
    I love radishes and your meal is so colorful, nutritious and delicious

  7. Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything}
    May 3 at 1:15 pm #

    p.s. forgot to wish you best of luck with the move and into the new house

  8. Congrats on selling your house! Bittersweet, but being able to sell your house these days, is a wonderful thing!

    Still jealous of your trip! Amazing pictures, and such a great experience.

  9. Nami | Just One Cookbook
    May 3 at 2:01 pm #

    First of all congratulations on selling the house! It must be very emotional. But you will cherish all the memories with the house and enjoy creating new one with the new beach house! :-)

    It’s so hard for me to drink chinese medicine. My mother in law tried to convince me but nah…until I’m really really bad condition (probably too late then) I can’t drink… so you are impressive! Thanks for sharing the experience with us.

  10. Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers
    May 3 at 3:41 pm #

    Good luck in moving. I would be very emotional. I don’t like goodbyes to houses and places I’ve had fond memories of. I used to stay a lot in HK because of its proximity to the Philippines. It’s such an interesting place with so may side streets full of practically everything. However, I never tried going to any herbalists. You did well in going to one. I love this post!

  11. Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    May 3 at 6:01 pm #

    I’d love to visit an herbalist, how intriguing! Congratulations on your move to the beach – that sounds like heaven!

  12. Like Rowena, I used to live in the Philippines as well, and would vacation in HK every year! I miss HK!

    Priscilla, you have a wonderful garden! I can understand why it would be hard to let go…at least you know another family will be putting it into good use to nurture their children! That’s a lucky house! Good Feng Shue, perhaps?

  13. Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }
    May 3 at 7:37 pm #

    Congrats on selling your house! It is always hard leaving something you love but a new adventure is great. It was great reading about your HOng Kong adventures especially the with the chinese medicine doctor. I am curious – what he prescribed – did it cure any ailments?

    • Priscilla
      May 3 at 10:25 pm #

      Thanks, Lisa – we’re super excited about our new home! I don’t know what was in my tonic – the prescription is in Chinese characters. Ideally you would take the tonic once a week to keep your body in balance. I do know that my body began detoxing within a few hours.

  14. Terra
    May 3 at 8:41 pm #

    I so look forward to going to China and Japan someday! It looks like you had a beautiful trip:-) My friend here is a Chinese herbal medicine doctor, I love learning from her! Thank you for sharing your trip! And change is always fun, have fun moving:-) Sending hugs, Terra

  15. Lisa
    May 4 at 2:25 am #

    Congratulations on your new home, although I know the feeling of leaving a place that holds so many memories (and radishes! lol). What a great story about the herbal doctor in Hong Kong. I can’t believe Andrew Zimmern didn’t finish the ‘elixir’..the man eats the offal inside the offal inside of offal! Having said all that, what a gorgeous plate of dressed rice and radishes. If the oldest people in the world eat this..I need to start, pronto! I love, love, loved this post!

    • Priscilla
      May 4 at 8:32 am #

      Haha, that’s based on hearsay, I can’t say for sure that A. Zimmern didn’t finish the tonic :) Thx, Lisa – and start eating your radishes, young lady!

  16. Angie@Angie's Recipes
    May 4 at 3:15 am #

    Congratulations on your new home! Must be very exciting!
    The radish salad looks light and tempting!

  17. Stephanie
    May 4 at 7:49 am #

    Congrats on selling the house and the new place!

    It’s so hard to find an Eastern doctor nowadays. I grew up going to one in Chinatown, but he didn’t pass his legacy onto his son. His son did however become a Western doctor. =)

    By the way, I can’t believe you drank the whole entire bitter medicine! I’ve done so before (several times) and it’s not a taste I’d ever forget!

  18. Jean (Lemons and Anchovies)
    May 4 at 10:26 am #

    Congrats on selling your house and cheers to new adventures, Priscilla! I can’t wait to see updates as you get settled in your new home.

    The dressing sounds like such a perfect complement to the radishes (and of course, the rice). You are making me want to grow my own radishes. :)

  19. Sandra's Easy Cooking
    May 4 at 10:51 am #

    What a nice story..and so thoughtful that you sold to the couple who are expecting! Good luck in your new place..
    Now that looks like an awesome trip..I would totally try that tonic..maybe with my eyes closed:)) Thank you for sharing your experiences and beautiful photos with us!

  20. Nancy
    May 7 at 10:33 am #

    Congratulations on the new chapter in your life:) It looks like your HK trip was fantastic. Hong Kong has been on my list of places to visit and a stop at a Chinese herbalist. It’s so funny because I also just posted about Radishes and a little about their history. Loving your salad and rice dish. Best of luck on your upcoming move.

  21. Sanjeeta kk
    May 8 at 7:14 am #

    Congrats for the move..love eating radish in my Indian dishes with chapatis. Love this refreshing salad.

    • Priscilla
      May 8 at 11:55 am #

      Thank you, Sanjeeta. I love radishes in their raw state, but want to experiment with cooking them. I’ll visit you for some ideas :)

  22. Magic of Spice
    May 19 at 2:40 pm #

    I am going to miss your garden too :( Congrats again on the sale of the house and the new move :) And you salad with rice looks delicious!

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