The Ling-Zhi mushroom (also known as reichi in Japan) was traditionally a Chinese Imperial tonic, partaken by ancient emperors to promote longevity and good health. Reputed to reduce high blood pressure, hypertension and insomnia, it supposedly nourishes the brain and calms the nerves. The Ginseng root, another Chinese Imperial and Korean traditional tonic, is reputed to improve blood circulation, and increase the body's resistance to stress.
Regardless of whether any of the above alleged benefits have been scientifically proven or not, the fact that I have been raised in a Cantonese soup-drinking family means that instead of reaching for a pill or some other quick-fix remedy, brewing, steaming or double-boiling a pot of herbal tonic soup is my 'pill of choice'. Unfortunately, such herbal soups normally require at least one and a half up to two hours of brewing over a slow slow fire, and thus can only be partaken on weekends. *sigh*, I'm sure the efficacy of the whole thing is much reduced by such infrequent boosts! Still, every little drop counts and if you are interested to get into some of this action next weekend or earlier, the recipe is fool-proof:
- for two to three persons, I used half a black chicken - clean chicken and cut into 2 to 3 pieces
- blanch chicken in hot boiling water, remove chicken and throw away the water - helps to reduce the oil in the soup
- rinse the following chinese herbs - 10 to 12 slices of lingzhi, 10 gm of ginseng slices (altho' in the soup tonight, I used a whole ginseng root), a small handful of 'keichi' (qouqi or dried wolfberries), a small handful of dried longan (the last two items are required to add some sweetness to the soup as the lingzhi slices have a slight bitter taste)
- place chicken and all the dried herbs in a double-boiler / steam-pot, add 3 to 4 cups of water
- steam/double-boil for at least two and a half to three hours on a low fire
- just before serving, add a little salt to taste