Chicken Soup for the Soul was actually a health food!?
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Health food was also consumed as medicine?!
In the past, when living in cities was not common among people, going to a hospital was not easy, nor was getting access to medicine. So people in those times maintained their health by preventing diseases and getting nutrition through health food. Such forms of health food, whose efficacy have been proven by their long periods of existence dating back to the time when your grandma's grandma was alive, continue to serve as everyday nutritional supplements and are therefore deemed indispensable.
Health food is usually made of high-protein ingredients such as meat, chicken, and eels as well as of mineral- and vitamin-rich ingredients such as seasonal fruits and vegetables. And depending on the cooking method, they can be made either hot to heat up your body or cold and sour to work up your appetite.
Heat for heat!
Beating the heat by eating hot food?
The mechanism of health food: Balancing your body temperature and the outside temperature
The term "health food" usually remind people of hot soup dishes that make them sweat a bowlful. After finishing a bowl of hot soup with sweat all over your face, you feel like you have been reinvigorated with your eyes sparkling with life. But hot soup in hot summer? It doesn't make sense that you have to eat hot dishes to beat the heat in summer. Maybe more proper would be eating cold dishes?
Actually, the mechanism of hot health food is rather simple. The sweat produced as you eat a hot dish takes the heat out of your skin's surface, and the hot dish, in turn, raises the temperature of your body which has now become cold compared to the hot weather, consequently boosting your immune system. The reason that you are more prone to fatigue and bellyaches in the hot summer is that the difference in temperature between your body and the heat concentrated on the surface of your skin is significant. Eating hot food that warms your body rather than cold food creates a thermal balance in your body, and the sweat you shed during the eating process takes the heat out of the surface of your skin. As a result, you feel like your body has become healthier and your stamina has been replenished. Perhaps because of that, Koreans experience a feeling of refreshment when eating hot soup, expressing that feeling by saying, "It's refreshing."
In fact, because things like refrigerators and water purifiers have enabled easy access to cold water, many modern people are said to be unable to maintain their body temperature at an average temperature of 36.5°C, staying in a low body temperature state. When your body temperature drops, your immune system also weakens, making you more susceptible to colds and other illnesses. And that's when hot food comes into play. It boosts the blood circulation in your body and invigorates your metabolism by heating your body up. So, everyday food that heats your body up can be said to be health food as well as an effective preventive measure against colds.
Introducing health food from around the world, seemingly different from each other yet also quite alike
Different kinds of health food, but the same mechanism
Every country in the world has its own health food. The interesting thing is that despite the differences in the natural environment, life, and culture between countries, the cooking methods and ingredients for health food are similar around the world. These kinds of food are made mainly of highly nutritional ingredients that energize the body, and they can also be in the form of hot soup meant to heat up the body. Then, let's take a look at health food from various countries.
China's Buddha Jumps Over the Wall
Buddha Jumps Over the Wall is a rich soup dish made using over 30 different ingredients including Cordyceps militaris, shark fin, sea cucumbers, and deer tendon. It is so named because the captivating smell of the dish made a Buddhist monk living an ascetic life in a temple jump over the temple's wall.
Thailand's tom yum goong
One of the world's most popular soup dishes, tom yum goong is a spicy shrimp soup made using a variety of spices including coriander, lemongrass, and lime leaf. It is a health food especially helpful in hot regions as it quickens the appetite and facilitates digestion.
Meaning a pot placed on the fire in French, pot-au-feu is a health food made by putting beef, vegetables, and bouquet garni into a large pot filled with water and boiling the mixture over low heat for long. This dish is made in large quantities and shared with multiple people on special days.
Singapore's bak kut teh
A health food made by boiling a mixture of pork ribs, garlic, and medicinal herbs for long, bak kut teh is good for relieving a hangover. The pork ribs are commonly dipped in dark soy sauce before being eaten, and Korean dish galbitang is also eaten in a similar manner.
Vietnam's lau de
A dish that used to be enjoyed by Vietnamese royalty, lau de is also popular as a postpartum meal due to its high nutritional value. It is a high-end health food made by adding to beef broth a total of 43 or so ingredients including medicinal herbs such as licorice, ginseng, and cinnamon and various vegetables such as water celery, crown daisy, and bok choy.
Unadon is a bowl of rice topped with fillets of popular stamina-boosting ingredient eel (unagi in Japanese), which has been brushed with tastefully salty sauce and then grilled. A Nagoya-style bowl of rice topped with fillets of eel and served in a wooden bowl is called hitsumabushi.
Samgyetang on dog days,
when Korean people recharge their bodies with health food!
So then, what are Korea's forms of health food? Koreans, who are always full of energy, are particularly partial to health food. In Korea, there are even specific days when you are encouraged to eat health food. They are considered "dog days," which heralds the beginning of summer. Korean people make it a rule to eat health food on these days, in hopes that they will beat the heat in the sizzling summer by doing so. The dog days are divided into three separate days according to the solar term, the first day of the three dog days, the second day, and the last day of the three particular days. And Korean people never forget to eat health food at least on one of the three days. Samgyetang is the health food deeply enjoyed on this occasion. Samgyetang is a dish made by boiling a disemboweled young chicken stuffed with healthful ingredients traditionally favored in Korea such as ginseng, jujubes, and glutinous rice in water for hours. The name of the dish is a compound word of sam (as insam, the Korean word for ginseng), gye (meaning chicken), and tang (meaning soup). Intended to re-energize your body, samgyetang is usually cooked and served in an earthen pot so that it can stay hot for the duration of its consumption. In recent years, samgyetang has been introduced into countries such as Japan and China as one of Korea's representative dishes, and it is gaining huge popularity in those countries.
made with a whole chicken
and a whole ginseng root
for single-person households
Korea's various forms of health food
Korea's representative stamina-boosting dish, chueotang, is a type of hot-boiled soup with whole ground weatherfishes. Chueotang is rich in minerals, calcium, and protein, so eating it in autumn, a season when there is a large temperature difference between night and day, helps prevent colds that come on during changing of seasons.
Galbitang is a soup dish made by boiling a mixture of water, beef ribs, and various medicinal herbs including ginseng, jujubes, and pine nuts, and there is fun to be had in eating the beef ribs; you chow down on the flesh with your hands holding the bone. Seasoned with soy sauce, galbitang is more flavorful than other meat soup dishes.
Rich in minerals and vitamins, abalone is a popular stamina-boosting ingredient. Abalone is often used in porridge, and porridge cooked with abalone and its innards in it is especially savory.