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Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry

Categories: Liver Blood Vacuity, Spleen Qi Vacuity

Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry

8 oz rump (round) or sirloin steak
4 oz cellophane noodles, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water to cover
4 Chinese dried mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in warm water
1-1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 eggs, separated
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 onion, sliced
2 zucchini, cut into sticks
½ red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
4 button (white) mushrooms, sliced
3 oz (1 cup) bean sprouts
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Ground pepper
Sliced green onions
Sesame seeds
1. Put the steak in the freezer until it is firm enough to cut into thin slices and then into 2 in strips
2. Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow dish. Stir in the steak strips. Drain the noodles and cook them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain again, then snip into short lengths. Drain the soaked mushrooms, cut off and discard the stems; slice the caps.
3. Heat 2 tsp oil in a small frying pan. Beat the egg yolks and pour into the pan. When set, slide on to a plate. Cook the egg whites until set. Cut both yolks and whites into diamond shapes and set aside for the garnish.
4. Remove the beef strips from the marinade. Heat the remaining oil in a wok or large frying pan and stir-fry the beef until it changes color. Add the carrot matchsticks and the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the other vegetables, tossing them over the heat until they are just cooked but still retaining their bite.
5. Add the noodles and season with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Serve, garnished with egg, green onions and sesame seeds.
Serves 2

TCM Analysis:
Steak- sweet, warm, SP/ST/KD, supplements SP/ST, nourishes qi and blood, strengthens tendons and bones
Cellophane Noodles (mung bean starch)- sweet, neutral, supplements SP
Mushroom- sweet, cool, SP/ST, rectifies qi, transforms phlegm, boosts wei qi
Egg- sweet, neutral, SP/ST/LU, nourishes yin and blood, calms shen
Carrot- sweet, neutral, strengthen SP/HT, nourish LV, ben. LU, anti-inflammatory
Onion- acrid, neutral, LU/ST, clears heat relieves toxicity, transform phlegm/damp
Zucchini- cool, clear summer heat, diuretic, drains edema
Red Bell Pepper- acrid, warm, SP/HT, warms MJ, expels cold, invigorates blood
Bean sprouts- cooling
Soy Sauce- salty, cold, SP/ST/KD, harmonizes MJ, clears heat
Pepper- acrid, warm, warms MJ
Salt- salty, cool, KD
Green Onions- acrid, warm, inv. blood
Sesame Seeds- sweet, neutral, nourish LV/KD, nourish jing/marrow
Overall Pattern: The animal products in this dish are very nourishing for the blood. The sweet ingredients help nourish the SP/ST and the acrid ingredients in this recipe move a little blood.

Cellophane Noodles with Chinese Celery and Flowering White Cabbage

Categories: Heart Disease, Large Intestine Fluid Vacuity, Large Intestine Qi Stagnation

Cellophane Noodles with Chinese Celery and Flowering White Cabbage

8 oz of cellophane noodles (mung bean threads)
¼ cup of tree ears
6 dried black mushrooms
½ lb of flowering white cabbage (choi sum)
1 small bunch of Chinese celery (about ½ lb)
1 large carrot
2 tbsp soybean oil
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
8 oz bean curd, cubed
2/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp sesame oil

1. Soak the cellophane noodles and mushrooms in separate bowls in warm water for 15 min. Drain and reserve mushroom water.
2. Wash flowering cabbage and celery. Separate stems and leaves. Cut into 2 inch pieces.
3. Heat wok, add oil and garlic.
4. Add cabbage stems, celery and carrots, stiry fry 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and tree ears.
5. Toss to blend, one tbsp soy sauce and bean curd, and stir fry until vegetables wilt.
6. Remove the vegetables from the wok
7. Return wok to heat, add the remaining soy sauce, broth, and drained noodles. Mix well. Remove noodles to plate and top with vegetable mix. Drizzle with seasame oil and serve.

Analysis of Recipe 3B
Mung bean noodles: mung beans are cool and sweet. They remove heat from the body and reduce heat and inflammation. Enters HT and ST.
Tree Ears or Jew’s Ear: sweet, neutral, consolidates qi, blood, and yin
Black mushrooms: neutral, sweet, arrests bleeding, cools the blood. Enters ST and LI.
Chinese cabbage: neutral, sweet, glossy, promotes urination, beneficial to Kidney and Brain
Celery: neutral, sweet, bitter, glossy. Enters ST and LV. Indicated for hypertension
Carrot: neutral, sweet, pushes energy downwards. Diuretic and digestive aid
Soybean oil: hot, acrid, sweet, lubricates the intestines.
Garlic: warm, acrid, moves energy, kills, worms, Enters: SP, ST, LU. Indicated to be beneficial at lowering blood pressure.
Soy sauce: promotes digestion, clears heat, salty and cold. Enters: SP, ST, KD.
Bean curd: Cool. Sweet, energy tonic, generates fluids, indicated for pink eyes, Enters: Sp, ST, LI
Vegetable broth: salty
Sesame oil: cool, sweet, detoxifies.

Overall, this recipe will be sweet, with a balance of cool and warm temperatures. The Chinese celery is great for hypertension because the bitter flavor will clear excessive heat and clean the arteries.

Cellophane noodle soup

Categories: Asian, Dryness Invading the Lungs, Kidney Unable to Grasp Qi, Lung Fluid Xu, Lung Heat, Lung Qi Vacuity, Noodles, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

noodle soup


4 large dried shitake
15 g lily buds, dried
½ cucumber
2 garlic cloves, halved
90 g white cabbage,chopped
5 cups boiling water
4 oz cellophane noodles
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
3 ½ blocks silken tofu
Fresh cilantro

Soak shitake in warm water for 30 min. soak lily buds in a warm water soak for 30 min. Put cucumber, garlic, cabbage in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Scrape the mixture into a large pan and add the measured boiling water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce and cook for 2 min. Strain into another pan, return to a low heat, and bring to simmer.
Drain the lily buds, rinse cold, then drain. Add the lily buds with the stock to the noodles, soy sauce and sugar and cook for 5 minutes.
Strain the mushroom soaking water. Discard stems, slice caps. Divide them and tofu among four bowls. Pour the soup over, garnish, serve.

Shitake: neutral, sweet. Strengthens ST, builds immunity, lowers B.P., detoxifies, anti tumor, lowers cholesterol
Lily flower: sweet, sl. Cold. Moisten and cools the lung, stops cough.
Cucumber: cool, sweet, bland. Clears heat, quenches thirst, relieves irritability.
Garlic: hot, acrid. Anti-viral, anti-cancer.
White cabbage: sweet, neutral. ST, KD. Nourish KD jing.
Cellophane noodles (rice): sweet, neutral. SP/ST. supplements, generates and preserves fluids
Soy sauce: salty, cold. SP/ST/KD. Harmonize MJ, clears heat.
Tofu: cool, sweet. Clears heat, lubricates dryness, promotes fluids. Strengthen SP.ST
Cilantro: slightly cool and acrid. Promotes sweating, strengthens digestion, promote qi flow.

This recipe will be ideal for a patient with Lung qi vacuity, possible with Kidney not grasping the Qi. The lily plant will have affinity for the lung and help to cool and moisten the lung. The cabbage and tofu will help build kidney energy to strengthen the descent of Lung qi. The cilantro and garlic provide acrid flavor to benefit the lung qi flow. Shitake also enhances the wei qi to protect against colds.

How to enjoy Hot Pot!

Categories: Asian, Cold, Cooking tips, Food Culture, Meat, Soup

Kitchen Window
by Maureen Pao

Friends, Family and a Feast: A Hot Pot How-To

Maureen Pao, NPR

Beef, mushrooms, tofu, spinach, cabbage and shrimp simmer in this Chinese hot pot.

If you live in warmer climes, fear not. My hot pot-loving little sister, who lives with her family in Florida, simply cranks up the air-conditioning to enjoy huoguo year-round.

About the Author

Maureen Pao is an associate producer at, where she helps edit Kitchen Window. Listen her commentary on Chinese New Year and cooking for her parents.

After cleaning and cutting the meats and vegetables, the only thing left to do is concoct a dipping sauce. Some common ingredients are soy sauce (clockwise from top left); cilantro, chili peppers, shallots and garlic; sesame oil and Chinese barbecue sauce (see below).

Soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, sesame oil and Chinese barbecue sauce, also known as shacha (Bull Head brand is pictured here, front) are some of the ingredients you can use in your dipping sauce.

The Mysteries of ‘Bullhead’

In our family, three ingredients reign supreme for hot pot dipping sauce: soy sauce, sesame oil and Bull Head Barbecue Sauce. In Chinese, it’s called shacha, or “sandy tea,” sauce. (Sometimes it’s referred to as “satay,” but it really doesn’t resemble the Southeast Asian, peanut-based sauce we associate with satay.)

We always just called shacha “bullhead.” As a girl, I wondered, with a bit of discomfort, why it was called “bullhead.” It wasn’t until later that I realized it was the brand name, not a description of what was inside.

What’s inside? Not sand or tea, but, according to the label, soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chili, spice, brill fish, dry shrimp, salt. I thought about making it from scratch. My mother thought I was crazy, and in the end, as always, she was right.

When the weather is dreary and cold, there’s nothing better than cooking something that heats up the house and fills it with fragrant aromas unless it’s someone else doing the cooking.

That’s why the Chinese dish huoguo is perfect for winter entertaining. Even if you’re a neophyte Chinese cook, hot pot will be a cinch. One of its many beauties lies in its simplicity.

Also known as Chinese fondue or by its literal translation, fire pot, huoguo is a colorful array of meats, seafood, vegetables, bean curd and noodles that each diner chooses from and dips in a communal pot of simmering liquid. It’s a convivial activity, enjoyed by friends and families drawn together by a delicious, healthful meal in which the cooking is spread among many.

If you need an excuse to party, we’re in the middle of traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, which began Feb. 18 and run until March 4.

It’s thought that hot pot originated in Mongolia (it’s easy to imagine gathering around a coal fire in that cold and wind-swept region). In this version, mutton is the main meat. Between the 7th and 10th centuries, the technique spread to Tang Dynasty China.

Today, there are nearly as many types of hot pot as there are regional dialects in China. My friend John, a one-man hot pot encyclopedia, can easily rattle off eight different kinds, among them: mala huoguo, which features a numbingly spicy broth; suancai yu huogou, consisting of pickled greens with fish; an all wild mushroom hot pot, soft shell turtle hot pot, and even a yak version in far Western China.

This may sound exotic. But I ate hot pot growing up in the 1970s and ’80s in South Carolina, and if my mother and father could find enough ingredients there to prepare the gut-busting hot pot meals we had at our house, you can find them anywhere.

If you live in warmer climes, fear not. My hot pot-loving little sister, who lives with her family in Florida, simply cranks up the air-conditioning to enjoy huoguo year-round.

Instead of a butane burner or brazier filled with charcoal, you can use a more convenient (and much easier to find) electric frying pan or wok. Or just search online where a variety of Chinese hot pots are for sale.

The staples for a satisfying hot pot experience are available at most large grocery stores: beef sliced paper-thin (ask the butcher to do it; it’s difficult for mere mortals to do at home), shrimp, spinach, button mushrooms, Napa or other cabbage, and firm tofu.

There are some slightly more exotic items you can get at any Asian market and some upscale supermarkets: shiitake, enokitake (or enoki mushrooms) and other fungi; different kinds of specialty tofu (there’s a puffy kind called youdofu, or “oily tofu,” that I really like); various small, ready-made dumplings; frozen fish balls, mung bean sprouts, and cellophane or glass noodles.

Even if you stick to the basics, you won’t be disappointed.

The only thing that needs attention before the feasting begins is dipping sauce. There are plenty of different ingredients you can put in your bowl to personalize your creation: Soy sauce, sesame oil or paste, chili, garlic, coriander, vinegar and Chinese barbecue sauce (see inset, above) are some choices. When he was younger, my dad added an egg yolk to his mixture.

After you’ve concocted your dipping sauce, add a little of this and a little of that, the fun begins. We always use chopsticks, although a fork will work just fine. A ladle is useful for some of the more slippery items.

Eating is a free-for-all: Just pick what you like and dip it in the liquid (water at our house, although you can use broth); no need to wait until someone else is finished before you dive in.

In my family, there are different styles of eating hot pot.

My father is a dumper: He likes to throw a lot of different things into the pot, put the lid on and bring the water to a rolling boil. After a few minutes, he removes) usually with a goofy flourish) the pot’s cover, and we dive into the bounty of delectables.

My mother is more meticulous, a picker-and-chooser. She prefers to dip one or two slices of meat at once, swishing them back and forth until they’re done; she puts in a few chunks of tofu or a couple of shrimp, keeps track of them, then carefully plucks those, and only those, out.

We kids are a little of both. My detail-oriented side enjoys separating the thin pieces of meat and watching them gradually cook. I like my meat rarer than my parents, so the attention ensures it doesn’t overcook; the delicate slices of beef need just a few seconds in the piping hot liquid. But I love dumping in handfuls of leafy greens and an avalanche of tofu and going on a fishing expedition for them later.

My brother and sister are like traffic cops, making sure the bobbing bits don’t travel too far outside their designated zone. Battles erupt over rightful ownership of a certain flotilla of shrimp or beef.

After hours of eating, what was once ordinary water is infused with the richness of all that has gone into it and is transformed into something entirely new. In go the noodles, and after a few minutes, we are all quiet, save the slurping of noodles and a sublime soup. It’s my favorite part of a meal that holds many pleasures, so try to save room.

In the end, there is this: A family, sitting around a steaming pot of food, talking, joking, sweating, sniffling from the heat, not caring about the weather outside.

Read last week’s Kitchen Window: chocolate and champagne.

Get more recipe ideas from the Kitchen Window archive.
Pao Family Hot Pot

The first group of ingredients is a rundown of the basics of a Pao family hot pot meal (a * denotes items that you may only find at an Asian supermarket or specialty store). My parents don’t like lamb, so we never had it at home, but it is another traditional hot pot meat. Clams and other shellfish are also an option, although not with my parents. Chicken is used, but must be cooked thoroughly and care must be taken not to get raw chicken on eating utensils. It’s too much of a headache, so my folks don’t use it either.

Keep in mind, too, that if you leave some of the ingredients off, you may want to add more of the things you keep. These amounts should be used as guidelines; depending on how hearty your appetite, you may have leftovers.

Serves 4-6 healthy eaters

1 to 2 pounds beef eye round, sliced paper thin across the grain (brisket and flank steaks are other popular cuts; depending on how thin the meat is, you may want to stick it back in the freezer to make it easier to separate slices)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled, deveined and slit on one side

2 pounds spinach, washed and roughly chopped or ripped

1 medium to large Napa cabbage, washed and roughly chopped

2 boxes firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pint carton of button mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half

2 to 3 ounces cellophane noodles (also known as glass noodles, bean thread noodles, mung bean noodles; buying them in small packages makes for easier separating), soaked in warm water and drained*

Water (cooking liquid)

For a More Elaborate Meal, Add Any of the Following Items:

Clams (cleaned)


Fish, shrimp or cuttlefish balls (defrosted, if frozen)*

Imitation crab sticks (defrosted, if frozen)

Lamb (also sliced paper thin, across the grain)

Chicken (cut into 1/2-inch or so slices)

Leafy greens (baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli or pea shoots, roughly chopped or ripped)*

Mung bean sprouts (rinsed)*

Shiitake, enokitake or other mushrooms (cleaned, large caps should be cut in half)*

Different varieties of tofu (two favorites are “oily tofu” and “tofu skin,” defrosted, if frozen, cut if needed into bite-size pieces)*

Different varieties of frozen small dumplings (partially defrosted)*

Chicken, beef, vegetable broth or specialty hot pot broths (available in packets)*

Suggested Ingredients for Dipping Sauce:

Soy sauce

Sesame oil

Sesame paste

White or rice vinegar

Shacha sauce (the Bull Head brand is widely considered the tastiest)*

Minced garlic, shallots or chili peppers

Chopped coriander

Setting the Table:

A round table works best. Place the hot pot in the center of the table; fill it with whatever cooking liquid you’re using (don’t forget there will be lots of food floating around, so don’t overfill).

Depending on how many people are eating, you may want to prepare multiple plates of each ingredient so it’s easier for people to reach. Those go on the table, too, family-style, as do all the various condiments for making a dipping sauce. You can plop the bottles down on the table, or present the liquids in cruets or bowls.

Each diner should have a bowl (for dipping sauce and food from the hot pot), a pair of chopsticks (or a fork) and a spoon. A communal ladle (or two) is nice to have around.

We don’t eat steamed rice with our hot pot meals, but you can certainly offer that, if you like.

Preparing Dipping Sauce:

Some good combinations for dipping sauces include soy sauce, sesame oil and shacha sauce; soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame paste and coriander; soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and chilis. There is no right or wrong. One tip: Go easy on any one ingredient (especially the liquid ones — try starting out with just a couple of teaspoons) until you’ve had a chance to taste the mixture.


When you’re just about ready to sit down, turn on the hot pot and bring liquid to a boil; then lower heat and keep the liquid at a gentle simmer. You may need to adjust the temperature during your meal or replenish the cooking liquid.

It’s best to put any items that need longer cooking (semi-frozen dumplings, for example) in early to ensure thorough cooking. Also, it’s nice to put any bean-curd products in early, as they absorb a lot of flavor during the cooking process.

Use common sense while cooking; if your shrimp is still translucent, it’s not done. Generally, nothing (except the frozen dumplings) requires more than a few minutes of cooking. (The dumpling, which will float to the top when they’re done, take 5-10 minutes, depending on size).

In our family, the cellophane noodles go in last. The liquid (ordinary water in our family’s case) becomes a tasty, fragrant and very healthy soup. We also refill the pot one last time with liquid and dump in all the leftover food, for soup and noodles the next day.