According to legend, a Chang’anese monk became mute after cutting firewood in the mountains one night. Liu Tao, famous doctor of Chinese medicine, was asked to treat him. At the monastery, Liu directed the abbot to decoct ginger for the speechless friar, who drank it for two days and thankfully regained his voice. The monk had ingested Pinellia ternata, Liu concluded, a tongue-numbing Chinese poison found in wood particles. Ginger saved the day.
Ginger can relieve food poisoning, treat slight colds, stop vomiting, relieve a cough, and increase appetite. The famously warming root is seasonless after all.
As a summer tonic, ginger causes people to break a healthy sweat and purges chills acquired from cold food and drink. A Chinese saying goes “Radish in winter and ginger in summer keeps the doctors away.” Wise advice, even for monks.
Ginger and vinegar drink
Ingredients: 50g ginger, 100g brown sugar, 100g rice vinegar, 500ml water
Directions: wash and mince ginger; put ginger, sugar, and vinegar in casserole pot, and fill with 500 ml water. Bring to gentle boil and steep 30 minutes.
Treatment: Drink a small, hot cup three times daily.
Sweet and sour ginger
Ingredients: 300g very fresh, young ginger, 10g salt, 100g sugar, 200ml white vinegar, 150ml water
Directions: Wash, drain and slice ginger; stir ginger and salt vigorously and pickle for three hours; pour out liquid; soak pickled ginger in cool water 10 minutes; wash out salt and drain; boil water and sugar in pot. Mix vinegar and water in non-reactive container after water cools. Put ginger in clean, oil-free glass bottle. Fill bottle with sweetened vinegar; seal bottle; refrigerate for three days.
Photography by Hsuyi Shih