Eating Seaweed Soup for Cancer Prevention

miyeok guk
Korean seaweed soup with mussels (Recipe below)

 *This post is dedicated to AL.ME’s #1 fan – Thank you Saba

A few years back I visited a little island off of the coast of Zhuhai (China) and found an elderly couple collecting seaweed. They were bending over and reaching around rocks that were covered in barnacles and salty sea grass. When I asked why they were collecting this brownish, bumpy seaweed and putting it into big plastic bags they said, “We’re going to make soup with it.” And I just thought… Chinese people have horrible taste buds… Slimy seaweed in homemade soup must taste awful!

But then a couple months ago I was on the phone with my mom who was walking along a beach near her winter home in Florida. She was looking for sharks teeth, as she does most mornings, when she bumped into a fellow snow bird gathering seaweed into a shopping bag. When she asked what he was doing he said that he was a doctor and that the seaweed has great medicinal properties. By the end of their chat, she had realized she was talking with a doctor who gives speeches around the country on cancer prevention. And this man in particular was sending all of the seaweed he collected to his brother’s clinic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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Does your Body Reward you?

fruit
Yumm, breakfast!

One week ago I moved into a house with roommates in Somerville, Massachusetts. In that first week of transition I had a lot on my plate, so I did what most temporarily scattered people would do – eat shitty food. I ate plain ramen, peanut butter bread, cheese on toast, dunkin donuts sandwiches, rotisserie chicken from Shaws… barely any vegetables or fruit. I also exercised very little… maybe a few push-ups and sit-ups. I wasn’t depressed but I felt like I was just… existing.

But today, I feel like a million bucks. Here’s what happened…

Yesterday morning I was having my peanut butter on toast with banana slices when one of my roommates explained why he makes fruit smoothies every morning. “I eat fruit only in the morning.” he said. “It’s actually really good for you and the body breaks it down quickly, which in turn gives you a lot more energy to burn.”

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What you didn’t know about Chinese Food in America…

takeout
American or Chinese?

For years I’ve been attempting to explain (and cook) the differences between real Chinese food and American Chinese food. At first, it surprised American friends to discover that the Chinese have never heard of dishes like Crab Rangoon, General Tso’s Chicken, Egg Rolls, Egg Foo Young, and Chop Suey. All were created in America for American taste buds.

Crab Rangoon was actually an American creation that has been served in San Francisco since the 1950s.

Egg Foo Young was an adaptation on a real Chinese dish and made its American debut in the 1930s.

General Tso’s Chicken [pronounced ‘TSAO’] was coined after a famous Chinese general but the people of his modern-day hometown in Xiangyin, Hunan province have never tried it before! (See Jennifer’s talk below)

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Asia’s Safer Ways to Make Salad

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a detailed study earlier this year about the Attribution of Foodborne Illness in the United States between 1998-2008. As mentioned by Modern Farmer in a recent article, a majority of the cases reported were due to uncooked greens and under-cooked meat products. Although beef and poultry can be cooked longer for a piece of mind, the consumption of raw vegetables is a greater challenge.

It’s common knowledge in the US that eating raw vegetables is “healthier” than eating them cooked- it’s also much more convenient this way…  The downside is that we are more susceptible to pathogens carried on leafy greens. This is probably why my Asian friends prefer to ordering dishes that contain veges that have been skinned just prior to cooking, like potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, etc. Anything that looks the same straight off the farm (like lettuce, spinach, bok choy, etc) are less likely to be cleaned properly in the restaurant kitchen.

Different countries have their own traditional ways of prepping salad. In countries like China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand the hygiene of its preparation is often questioned. In most cases copious amounts of garlic, peppers, lemon, ginger or other ingredients might be used in order to help naturally kill whatever is catching a ride on the leaves. Here are some samples of “salad” according to Asian tastes.

Thai-syles:

GreenMangoSalad
Green Mango gives this salad a kick!
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Shuang Pi Nai: The Best “Double Boiled Milk” you’ll ever try!

Cute Shuang Pi Nai Ad
Cute Shuang Pi Nai Ad

Last Tuesday was the second time in my life I’ve eaten “Double Boiled Milk” and it was just as good as I had remembered. Shunde is not only well-known for its dragon boat races in June, but also for their specialty milky, custardy dish- Shuang Pi Nai. The first time I tried it I was a bit nervous. (Although, I had eaten pig-brain hot pot before, so I wasn’t too worried) I remember moving it around with my spoon just to make sure there were no surprises hidden underneath… but the moment I put the first spoonful of goop in my mouth I was hooked. It was awesome!

This visit we ordered coconut and red bean flavored, one hot and one cold. Aside from the mild sweetness you’ll taste a hit of egg too. The local shops also sell a powdery take-home version of this dish, but I don’t think it would taste nearly as good as visiting Shunde and eating the authentic stuff. Take a look at some of the various flavors of Shuang Pi Nai below.

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