Once upon a time an elderly man was sent into the swamp to die. He was suffering from Tuberculosis and the doctor had given him one month to live. Before he left the village, he said to himself: “If I am going to die here, there is no point in wasting rice by eating it.” Therefore, he gave all his rice to friends and relatives whom he felt could use it more meaningfully than he would himself. While waiting to die, he came to a very green spot in the swamp where he decided to rest. While resting the old man began to chew on a piece of a green plant that grew nearby. To his surprise, the plant had a rather pleasant taste, so he decided to remain in this spot and continued to eat these plants. Much to his surprise, after a few days of eating these plants, he discovered that he coughed less and less. In fact, he seemed to be getting stronger. After the month had passed, he was amazingly healthy. So, he decided to go home to check with his doctor as to why he was still alive. To the doctor’s amazement, the old man was no longer suffering from Tuberculosis.
Health benefits of eating Watercress can be found very easily in Wikipedia and other sources. Most notably, Watercress eases the conditions of the lung. Related illnesses including coughs, head colds, Bronchitis, Tuberculosis, Asthma are helped, and it is believed to even defend against Lung Cancer. It also promotes appetite and helps digestion. Watercress is very high in sulphur which helps the absorption of protein and purifies the blood. Not to mention, it contains a significant amount of Iron, Calcium, Iodine and Vitamin C and A. It was also used to treat allergy conditions such as watery eyes and stuffy head. There are other health benefits related to weight loss, memory, menstruation, Kidney and Gall Stones, Thyroid, Liver, Cholesterol and many more. I don’t know about you, but it definitely make me want to eat it every single day. Watercress does not store well fresh more than 2-3 days which makes distribution difficult. It may or may not be available where you live.
Before I get to the recipe, I would like to show you 2 different kinds of Watercress you might find at the store. The first one is grown on a sponge cube in the water under controlled climate, like a green house. It usually has a lighter green color and the stems and leaves are much thinner and tender. (see pic 1)
The other one is grown in a field outside. Some call it “Field Watercress”. Much greener, thicker, rougher leaves and stems are the characteristics of this type of watercress. (see pic 2)
In my opinion the former is best suited for salad, garnish or even sandwiches that doesn’t require any cooking. The latter is perfect for cooking such as soup and sauté. I am going show you the basic Chinese watercress soup recipe using the “Field Watercress”.
Chinese Watercress Soup Recipe:
1/2 lb. Watercress
4 oz. Ground Pork
1/4 Tsp Soy Sauce
1/4 tsp of Sake
Pinch of Salt
4 oz. of White fish (Cod or Halibut)
2 slices of Ginger
6 cups of Water
Optional: Chinese Almonds, Chinese dried dates, Water Chestnuts
Cut off the hard stems and wash off dirt.
Add soy sauce, sake and salt to the ground pork and mix it really well.
Cut fish into 1 inch pieces and lightly and salt & pepper them.
Boil the water.
Form the ground Pork into very loose small round balls and put them into boiling water.
Put fish into the same pot of boiling water.
Skim off the scum.
Add Watercress and Ginger.
Cook for about 30 minute until the watercress becomes soft and season it with salt and pepper to your liking.
Enjoy this soup when Watercress is fresh, usually in the spring and summer.