When I moved to the U.S. in 2000, my mother cooked me “black chicken soup” before I left in order to fortify me against the New England winters. She made it three times – and by the third round, I just couldn’t take it anymore and asked her to stop. There’s only so much hot herbal soup you can take in the tropics. However, I did NOT catch a cold for nearly two years.
Since then, I try to brew it for myself at least once a season (more if I feel especially depleted) and I am frequently asked how to do it. I finally got a chance to photograph the process, so here it is – step-by-step pictures on how to brew yourself a Chinese herbal formula, the traditional way. Read the captions for instructions.
Most kids raised in Chinese families will recognize this type of soup as part of meals in their household. Now I drink the liquid and save the chicken although I used to eat it like a stew… because someone else in my house likes it. 🙂 Guess who?
P.S. Samantha and Elizabeth, this one’s for you.
I picked up Tian Ma Dang Gui Tang but you can use pretty much any other tonifying formulas like Si Wu Tang or Shi Quan Da Bu Tang.
Cooking (or as we like to say, decocting) the herbs
Take out the liquid and add water for another simmer. You should end up with about 4 cups of the broth, 2 for each decoction. I strain the solids out although it is perfectly fine to eat the chicken if you like it.
Let the liquid cool and refrigerate if you’re not drinking it right away. I generally portion out one cup each time, heat it up and drink it at least once a day.