February. Blech. Its the most Monday of months. But there are ways to revive your spirit and return your body to its sprightly spring ways, including thumbing through Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing, and Long Life by Dr. Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir, and Mika Ono (Da Capo, $20). It will put an instant spring in anyones step. In Chinese medicine, we eat to strengthen ourselves, and to prevent [and] treat illness, Sheir says. Here, six ingredients to turn your February around in one bite.
COOKING UP A CURE: SOOTHING SHRIMP WITH ASPARAGUS AND GOJI BERRIES
This dish is especially good for anyone experiencing fatigue, dizziness, menopause, night sweats, diabetes, blurred vision, or depression.
2 tablespoons goji berries (gou qi zi)
3 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 to 1 pound medium-size shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces; hard, white ends discarded
2 teaspoons powdered kudzu, arrowroot, cornstarch, or another thickener
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce or to taste
Cover goji berries with the rice wine and marinate for 30 minutes or longer.
In a wok or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil over medium-high heat.
Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
Add the shrimp and stir-fry for about three minutes or until cooked through. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and set aside.
While the pan is still hot, add another tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan, then add the asparagus stalks and stir-fry for about a minute. Then add the asparagus tips and stir-fry for another three minutes or until the asparagus is cooked through.
Add the shrimp, goji berries, and two tablespoons of the wine that the goji berries were soaked in.
Mix the kudzu in a small bowl with a little cold water to avoid clumping, then add it to the pan and stir well.
Add soy sauce to taste and serve with rice.
Its warming and addresses myriad digestive issues, Sheir says. Its used in Chinese medicine for the initial stages of the common cold. Got a cough? Brew up some fresh ginger tea.
Its not just for sushi anymore. Seaweed is loaded with trace minerals and helps detoxify the body.
The bags of goji berries found in every high-end grocery store these days have thousands of years of Chinese medicinal history behind them. They contain a pigment thats also found in the retina. Munch gojis to ward off eye ailments (including, possibly, macular degeneration).
Garlic warms the stomach, and it helps out when you overindulge and indigestions got you in its grip. And, even more impressive, recent studies show that garlic may help prevent some types of cancer.
By February, your immune system can use a bit of a boost. Mushrooms should be your go-to ingredient. Studies show the fungi bunch may also help prevent cancer. Best immunity enhancers: reishi, shiitake, and maitake.
Another winter warmer. Also used to treat the onset of a cold, to improve circulation, and to alleviate pain associated with arthritis. (A tasty way to fend off creaky bones.)