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Healthy Asian dishes and where to eat them in Chinatown

Let food be thy medicine


When thinking of Chinese food, what words come to mind? Tasty? Yes. Colourful? Yes? Healthy? Perhaps…not. Despite our Western interpretations of Oriental cuisine, in China, health and nourishment is a big deal. A Chinese diet with balance yin (wet and moist) with yang (dry and crisp) to encourage equilibrium and wellbeing.

As spring arrives and healthy, seasonal ingredients come into harvest, let’s look at these healthy Asian dishes and where you can find them in Chinatown London.

Congee – Far East, 13 Gerrard St

Chinese believe nutrition is absorbed easily when food is blended or mushed and congee porridge is a breakfast and comfort food staple in China. A silky-smooth porridge made from crushed rice grains, congee is ultra-versatile and can be served with nourishing extras like goji berries, preserved egg and sliced fish. Zhang Zhongjing, a famous doctor in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), sang the praises of congee’s medical benefits in his Treatise on Colds. Pathogenic and Miscellaneous Diseases.

Open for breakfast, Far East is the best place to find congee in a myriad of guises. Pop in for a steaming hot bowl of roast duck, chicken or beef congee and it’ll set you up for the day!

Chinese herbal chicken soup SeeWoo

Everyone’s go-to dish when poorly is, of course, chicken soup. Warm, protein-packed and like a hug in a bowl, it’s easy to see why it’s universally adored. In China, expect a pharmacopeia of medicinal herbs to be sprinkled into the mix too. With a chicken stock base, dried Chinese yam (aids digestion), codonopsis root (boosts immune system) and dried red dates (protects liver) are added too.

You can find many of the ingredients and herbs you need to make Chinese herbal chicken soup at SeeWoo supermarket or Beijing Tong Ren Tang.

Snow fungus and pear soup – Five Friends Desserts

What sounds like a pesky winter mould is actually a pretty, white fronds of fungus, related to the mushroom family. A super all-rounder, snow fungus fights inflammation, aids digestion and is great for dry coughs. A popular Chinese tonic is snow fungus and pear soup and it’s loaded with nutrition. In the broth with the snow fungus go red dates, rock sugar, lotus seeds and nasi pears. Want to try making your own? Grab what you need from SeeWoo Supermarket in Chinatown!

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