Not only can herbs add tremendous flavours to dishes when cooking, but some herbs are believed to have medicinal properties. Bangkok’s Thai-Chinese community has been relying on them to cure everyday ailments like headaches, as well as serious diseases for ages. Let’s get to know some of them:
We would put ginger in everything. This versatile herb can be found in various dishes and some people steep it to drink as tea. The herb contains a special substance called Gingerol which helps to fight the common cold and flu. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger also means that it can help treat everything from muscle aches to upset stomachs. Enjoy the benefits of ginger in a dish like stir-fried wood ear mushroom with ginger chicken, or simply have it steeped in hot water with lime and honey.
Looking around any Thai drugstore you’ll find a lot of vitamins with ginseng as an ingredient. This potent herb is believed to help boost focus and brain function; that’s why you’ll see it in an advertisement for “Brand,” a popular health drink in Thailand. Many people also believe that ginseng can help to restore youth and even boost libido. Try it at many Thai-Chinese restaurants in a popular dish: steamed chicken soup with ginseng.
Dubbed the King of Chinese Herbs, this humble mushroom has been used as medicine for more than 4,000 years. There are more than 100 species of Reishi Mushrooms in China and it is widely popular in Thailand as a supplement. If you want to prevent cancer, age gracefully, and stay healthy, you can easily sample one of many Reishi Mushroom drinks available at most convenience stores around Bangkok. We have to say, the flavour might take some getting used to, but the result is worth it.
Lotus seed is a common Chinese herb you can find it all over Bangkok. Although this herb itself doesn’t taste like much, it is believed to help prevent health issues such as heart disease and low blood pressure. Enjoy this low sodium herb as a snack or even as sweet. There are many street stalls in Chinatown that offer shaved ice dessert to which you can add lotus seed with other herbs and fruits to make a refreshing concoction.
This versatile seed can be used in cooking as its taste and texture are almost like macadamia nuts, only with a slightly more bitter aftertaste. Some people also enjoy the brain-boosting function of the leaves and take them as a daily supplement. At some Chinese restaurants, you’ll find items such as sweet and sour chicken with gingko seed, or you can even enjoy this herb as a dessert: gingko seed with fresh milk and syrup is a popular snack in Chinatown.
Wolfberry / Goji
This tangy and smoky herb has recently been gaining popularity as a health food all over the world, but the Chinese have been enjoying its benefits for thousands of years. The herb has a multitude of antioxidant nutrients such as essential amino acids that are hard to find in other types of berries. Find goji in clear soup with other Chinese spices or Chinese stir-fried dishes.