|"Crab" mushrooms and fresh ginseng root|
Tonight I made a pot of miso soup with fresh ginseng root, arame seaweed, and mushrooms. I began by making a "kombu dashi," which is a seaweed broth base used for a number of Japanese soups, sauces and salad dressings. I omitted the traditional bonito fish flakes, since I'm not eating any animals these days, even thought this does make the broth much stronger and flavorful (oh well...). The secret to making this broth is to prevent it from coming to a boil while the kombu is in it, as this tends to turn it bitter. I had it hovering just below a boil for a good twenty minutes, and then pulled it out. I added thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, very finely julienned fresh ginseng root, pre-soaked arame seaweed, and tamari sauce to the broth, and continued cooking over low heat until all the vegetables were tender. Then I added a few ounces of crab mushrooms and cooked them a few minutes more.
All of these ingredients are highly nutritious, supporting the digestive and immune systems. The soup itself is both delicious and richly satisfying. It's one of those foods you can feel going straight into your blood and bones.
I've been drinking a Chinese ginseng-astragalus combination tea in the morning, instead of coffee, for years. The honest truth is that I don't know if my habits have helped keep me healthy or if it's just my outrageously great good fortune (I think both), but I do believe it can't hurt to give our bodies every bit of help we can.