THE GOCHISO GOURMET: The magic elixir

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columnist-logo_ryantatsumoto_FINALNow that we’re well into fall, that means the changing of the leaves as trees start their hibernation into winter, no more wearing light colored attire (I never followed that fashion ?rule? as it’s summer year-round in the 50th) and once again, flu season is upon us. Because of COVID, between the mandatory facemask mandates and voluntary ?bathing? with alcohol gel, the last flu season was about as superficial as it’s been in decades. However, with a significant percentage of the population vaccinated (I received my booster dose earlier this month) and mandates on masking and social gathering loosening, we will probably experience a robust flu season as in previous years. Therefore, I’ll continue to don my facemask, not just as mandated by the government, but also in crowded outdoor conditions as well.

Bitten by the Bug
But what if you’re among the unfortunate segments of the population that is ?bitten? by the flu bug? First, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. So continue to wash those hands after touching any public surface ? I’m sure you all still have an ample supply of alcohol gel and disinfectant wipes. And though we now know that COVID is primarily spread through aerosolization, the common cold and flu are also spread by hand to mouth contact. So if you must touch that itching nose or eye and don’t have your disinfectant wipes on hand, simply use the back of your wrist to rub those mucus membranes.

And perchance those annoying seasonal viruses still invade your personal space, get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids. And stay home from work! Don’t worry, you alone aren’t keeping the U.S. economy going. And don’t forget, you can obtain those essential fluids not just from water or electrolyte drinks, but also from soup.

Jewish Penicillin
I’m sure you’ve already heard of that created-from-scratch version of chicken soup made by a loving Jewish mother or grandmother. Referred to as Jewish penicillin, it has the ability to cure not just the common cold, but many other medical conditions as well. Because most soups are consumed piping hot, the steam released helps loosen sinuses clogged by that green Mucinex character. I’m sure many Gentiles alike had Campbell’s version served to them as children when they were under-the-weather. However, I’ll admit that I hardly make any soup in my kitchen ? not because I don’t like consuming soup ? but mainly because I usually add so many ingredients that my soups turn into ?stoups,? as they end up just as thick as a stew. This local Filipino version of Jewish penicillin uses an ingredient not often cooked ? in Asian cuisine, green papaya is usually associated with the spicy Thai salad with beans, tomatoes and peanuts. And because I don’t claim to be Pinoy, I’ve added other ingredients probably not seen in the traditional Filipino household, including traditional bihon noodles (cornstarch noodles) usually reserved for stir-fried pancit, as well as both ginger and turmeric. Supposedly the curcumin in turmeric has both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, which probably won’t hurt when you’re under the weather.

Chicken Tinola. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Chicken Tinola (Filipino Chicken Papaya Soup)

One large green papaya
1 tbsp vegetable oil
One medium onion, sliced
Three cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch piece of lightly smashed fresh ginger
1 2-inch piece of lightly smashed fresh turmeric
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thigh
1 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
1 tbsp shoyu
Six cups chicken cooking liquid
About three cups mizuna (Japanese mustard greens), rinsed and roughly chopped
About one large handful of dried bihon noodles

Gently simmer the chicken thighs in water for about one hour. When cool enough to touch, shred the chicken meat and reserve the cooking liquid for stock.

Peel the papaya, remove the seeds and cut into one-inch cubes.

In a deep soup pot, heat oil and saut? onion until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and saut? until lightly browned. Add the cooking water, shredded chicken, papaya, patis and shoyu, cover and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the papaya is tender.

Turn off the heat. Add the mizuna, cover for one to two minutes until the mizuna softens. Add the dried bihon noodles ? the residual heat and liquid will soften the noodles.

Emerald Gold
This next soup is also a classic Filipino soup that can be made vegan using vegetable stock and omitting the fish sauce, or it can be prepared with chicken stock and fish sauce while still keeping it healthy and delicious. It also uses an ingredient that has become quite popular in the 50th; kalamunggay (also known as malunggay or Moringa). Supposedly with anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and even anti-depressant effects, this little green leaf probably can’t hurt when added to any dish using green leafy vegetables. And don’t fret if you can’t find it in the Bay Area as Amazon sells the powdered form online. I add long beans and bittermelon to my version, but you can add any vegetable to your creation by substituting any leafy green (kale, chard, spinach, etc.) if you can’t find kalamunggay. You can also fortify the nutrition with chicken or pork if desired. And if mung bean sounds like a foreign ingredient to you, I’m sure you’ve sampled bean sprouts, which are simply the sprouted version of mung beans.

Mung Bean Soup. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Ginisang Munggo
(Mung Bean Soup)
3/4 cup each, yellow and green mung beans
Four cups of water
Two cups of kalamunggay leaves
Two cups of long green beans
Two cups of sliced bittermelon
One thumb size of ginger, slightly smashed
One medium onion, sliced
Three cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp of patis (fish sauce)
1 tbsp shoyu
One bay leaf

In a cooking pot, pour water and mung beans. Let it simmer for 25-30 minutes or until it becomes soft. Set aside.

In a different pot, add vegetable oil in medium-low heat. Add sliced onion, ginger and chopped garlic. Stir till it turns translucent. Add the green beans, bittermelon and bay leaf. Stir to combine then transfer to the boiled mung bean soup along with the water into the same pot. Mix gently.

Season the soup with patis, shoyu, salt and black pepper.

Add the kalamunggay leaves into the pot. Let it simmer for an additional five minutes before turning off the heat.

The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai’i and UC San Francisco. He is a clinical pharmacist during the day and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster at night. He writes from Kane’ohe, HI and can be reached at gochisogourmet@gmail.com. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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