Winter time for tonic foods/補冬
For Chinese, Li Tung (the beginning of winter, the 19th of the 24 Solar Terms of lunar calendar) is the herald of winter.
With the arrival of Li Tung, Chinese people start to observe an age-old custom called Pu Tung ("taking tonic foods for winter"). In ancient agrarian society, farmers' were overtaxed after a long period of hard work in spring, summer and fall, so eating tonic foods could help to nourish the strength to ward off winter chills and could also be regarded as a year-end reward for the hard work.
Winter in southern Taiwan is usually mild, but that doesn't stop people from taking all kinds of tonic foods. Restaurants in Kaohsiung are coming up with many new recipes for tonic food fans.
One powerful recipe is the sea horse stew. It is prepared first with old hens simmered for 6 hours and then, with conches, sea horses, ginseng added, cooked over medium heat for another 3 hours. It is said one serving per week could bring youth and longevity. Another example is the fish head soup prepared with cnidium officinale and dahurian angelica root. According to Chinese medicine, such soup can cure headache, stroke, cold, toothache, etc.
And barbecued oysters, braised soft-shell turtles with garlic, lamb brisket pot, and stewed pike-eels in brown sauce. Oysters are rich in protein and other minerals and can bolster virility.
One must be careful when choosing the ingredients for medicinal tonic recipes because Chinese medicine holds that wrong combination of ingredients would result in poisonous effect. And to ensure the best results of taking medicinal tonic foods, one must eat on an empty stomach at evening and avoid other cold and spicy foods two hours before and after taking.