Diet, food, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The risotto that is guaranteed to warm you up on the inside and build your Qi

Autumn City ParkWell autumn is in full swing here in our pretty city of Launceston right now. It is certainly an autumn with a difference though with the COVID-19 restrictions; one none of us have ever experienced before. This week our parks have reopened so with appropriate social distancing we can enjoy more of nature which is great for our souls.

And when you come home from your walk in nature you’ll need a nourishing, warm meal. Well you’re in luck because this Asian mushroom risotto I discovered recently really ticks those boxes. Plus we have good local supplies of some of these lovely mushrooms. I bought my oyster mushrooms from Hillwood Fresh Food Co at Harvest Market but also consider growing your own with West Tamar Fungi. Tsing Wah usually has a good selection of fresh Asian mushrooms too. Feel free to mix up the types of mushrooms in the recipe as to what you have available, just keep the overall weight of the total mushrooms to what the recipe says. The ‘dried Chinese mushrooms’ referred to in the recipe may mean many things, you could use black wood ear or white wood ear (tremella) too which are available from Asian supermarkets, or just use dried shiitake if you don’t have any others on hand. You’ll notice that dried and fresh shiitake taste quite different so it’s completely fine to use both in your risotto.

Risotto Asian MushroomLet’s have a look at the recipe by the key ingredients from a Chinese Medicine dietary therapy point of view. The functions and indications of each food are according to traditional use of these foods. For those who are new to Chinese Medicine, the organs in Chinese Medicine are quite different to their western counterparts.

  • Rice – Neutral in temperature and sweet, rice supplements Qi and Blood, harmonises the Stomach, strengthens the Spleen, regulates and produces body fluids.
  • Ginger – Warm and pungent, ginger strengthens the Spleen and Stomach, controls nausea, releases Wind-Cold, is sweat producing, relieves retching, transforms Phlegm, tonifies the Lung, relieves cough and detoxifies, stimulates Blood circulation and increases appetite.
  • Garlic – Warm, sweet and pungent, garlic warms the Spleen and Stomach,  strengthens the Stomach, moves Qi, disperses Blood stasis and Qi stagnation in abdomen, dispels cold, is anti-parasitic and relieves cough.
  • Mushrooms (button and general) – cool and sweet, they reinforce the Spleen, replenish Qi, moisten dryness and dissolve Phlegm
  • Oyster mushrooms* – Slightly warm and sweet, they reinforce the Spleen, remove Damp and relieve spasm
  • Shiitake mushrooms – neutral temperature and sweet, they reinforce the Spleen and Stomach replenishing Qi
  • Wood ear (black or white are similar) – neutral temperature and sweet, they moisten the Lung, nourishes Yin and stop bleeding
  • Chives – warm, sweet and pungent, chives warm the digestive system and relieve stomach aches. I think fresh chives served on top of this dish really help to aid the digestion of the meal.

*Interesting fact: Oyster mushrooms are the only mushroom low in FODMAPs (for those who are following the FODMAP diet).

The cooking method involves adding water (stock) while warming the food, giving it a yin nourishing quality (it’s still moist at the end of cooking like a good risotto should be).

Over all, this meal should make you feel warm to your centre and help you to feel well nourished and content. It’s worth all the stirring that goes into making it!

The information in this post is general and should not be considered as health advice. Please see your health professional for specific advice for your circumstances.

To book an appointment at the Launceston acupuncture clinic or for further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), Chinese Medicine and natural health.