Gougicai / Goji Berry
By Vicky Chan of NourishU
Gougi / Goji berry is one of the most popular Chinese herbs used in Western countries since the beginning of the 21st century. It is commonly known as wolfberry. Goji is the modern name, the direct translation from the Chinese name枸杞.
The gougi plant is a perennial scrub which can produce large amount of berries after a couple of years and can grow to as tall as two meters. The health benefits of the berries are well known to the West, but not so much for the leaves of the young plant and the root of the very old plant.
The gougi leaves are called gougicai which means gougi vegetable in Chinese. They are cool in nature and bitter in taste. They can strengthen the body’s constitution, promote essence (Jing in Chinese medicine), clear internal heat and wind, improve vision, and promote liver, lung and kidney health. It is a very popular summer vegetable in the southern provinces of China.
Gougicai can be easily grown in a backyard or container garden. You can start from transplanting some strong stems by just sticking them into the soil. By keeping the soil moist for the first 10 to 15 days, new roots will come out and give life to the plant. When the plant grows to about 1.5 feet tall, you can harvest it by cutting the stem, leaving 3 to 4 inches above ground and it will grow back again. In time, the root will spread out to give life to more new plants. The best thing is that once you have started growing them, they will come back year after year.
Gougicai is commonly used in making soup. It only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to cook. The vegetable is slightly bitter in taste so using a meat broth or adding thinly sliced meat to the soup can offset the bitterness and make it more delicious.
The following is my favourite gougicai soup recipe. It is best for the whole family, for young children and for people recovering from illness.
Gougicai and Pork Liver Soup
Promotes liver health, improves vision, reduces liver heat, promotes blood and improves overall health.
(3 to 4 servings)
• Gougicai 枸杞葉 – 320gm
• Pork liver豬肝 – 160gm
• Pork豬肉 – 80gm
• Gogi berries – one handful
• Egg- 2
• Ginger – 3 slices
1. Remove leaves by holding the top of each stem with one hand and put it between the thumb and the index finger of the other and then push leaves downward from top to bottom. The leaves will fall off easily. But be careful to avoid the small spikes on the stem when doing it. You can protect your hand by wearing a glove. Rinse the stems and leaves separately.
2. Put the stem to boil with about 6 to 8 cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes, remove stems and discard.
3. Rinse pork and liver and cut into thin slices. Soak and rinse goji berries.
4. Bring the water to boil again. Add ginger, liver and pork to cook for about 5 minutes.
5. Add gogi berries and leaves and bring to boil for another 5 to 10 minutes.
6. Beat eggs, turn off heat and add eggs to the soup and stir slowly. Add salt to taste and serve.
No limitation. But avoid consuming dairy products at the same time because dairy hinders the effects of goujicai.
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