There are many different Chinese herbal blends to treat specific health concern. When someone in my family lacks appetite, we’ll make Sei San Tong (Four Spirit Soup 四神湯); when a major exam is near and we need extra brainpower, we’ll make Ming Muk Bou Lou Tong (明目補㺁湯) which translates to Soup for Improving Eyesight and Brain.
An important ingredient in this herbal blend is walnut. Walnut, shaped like the brain, is believed to enhance mental capacity. My mother used to boil this for me and my siblings right before school exams. I think most people need to drink this more than ever; we look at the screen and think too much. So nowadays, we boil it occasionally for its taste and medicinal value.
Looking at the herbs, many commonly used in Chinese dessert, and which is not known to be as potent as other herbs like ginseng, I asked why this is especially good for the brain. I was told that in Chinese medicine, it is not the benefit of one herb that counts; rather it is the combination that makes it more potent than the sum of each ingredient.
For convenience, this blend is available in herbal packets. We get this particular combo from a very old Chinese herbal medicine shop in Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. However, since my family buys all the common herbs separately, we normally put them together ourselves.
- Pot/ slow-cooker
- Knife + chopping board
Herbal Chicken Soup for Good Eyesight & Memory (明目補㺁湯)
- 750 g Chicken bones and meat
- 24 g Walnuts (hup toh 核桃)
- 8 g Snow fungus (shuet yu 雪耳)
- 4 pieces Dried figs (mo fa kor 无花果)
- 6 g Prinsepia uniflora (loi yan yuk 内人肉)
- 8 g Lily bulbs (pak hup 百合)
- 24 g Lotus seed (lin zhi 莲子)
- 1 piece Honey dates (mat zhou 蜜枣)
- 2 L water
- Fine sea salt to taste (suggestion: 1 tsp)
- Step 1 PREP: Rinse herbs in a bowl of water. Soak snow fungus and tear into pieces.
- Step 2 BLANCH CHICKEN: Place chicken into a wok. Fill in with water until chicken is fully submerged. Turn on stove on high heat. Let it blanch (5 mins). Rinse chicken.
- Step 3 COOK: Place rinsed herbs, blanched chicken, and 2 L of water into the slow cooker. Turn on ‘auto’ and let it boil for 4 – 6 hours. If you’re boiling with a pot, add more water.
- Step 4 SEASON: Season with fine sea salt before serving.
Blanch 750 g chicken bones and meat. Rinse herbs (24 g walnuts + 8 g snow fungus + 1 honey date + 4 pcs dried figs + 24 g lotus seed + 8 g lily bulbs + 6 g princspeia uniflora). Boil chicken + herbs + 2 L water in a slow-cooker for 4 – 6 hrs. Season with sea salt.
1. PREP: Rinse herbs in a bowl of water. Soak snow fungus.
2. BLANCH CHICKEN: Place chicken into a wok. Fill in with water until chicken is fully submerged. Turn on stove on high heat. Let it blanch (5 mins). Rinse chicken under running water.
3. BOIL IN THE SLOW-COOKER: Place rinsed herbs, blanched chicken, and 2 L of water into the slow-cooker. Turn on ‘auto’ and let it boil for 4 – 6 hours. If you’re boiling with a pot, add more water.
4. SEASON: Season with fine sea salt before serving
- Buy prepacked herbal packets For convenience, I keep prepacked Chinese herbs in the fridge. As my family is big on consuming herbal soup and tonic, we normally buy separate herbs and put together different herbal blends ourselves. It’s more flexible and economical this way.
- Use a slow cooker or a thermal cooker My family has the habit of slow-cooking our soup in the morning and enjoy a slow-cooked soup for dinner. I’m also a big proponent of slow-boiled bone broth for health and beauty How bone broth keeps us looking young
- Keep frozen blanched chicken. You can blanched few chickens bones and separate into portions to freeze. So the next few times you boil soup, you can skip one step.
If your eyes are tired and your memory foggy, why not try making this delicious medicinal soup?