Its become the ‘new’ and cool thing to do, but of course bone broth has been a traditional kitchen staple in both Eastern and Western traditions for pretty much as long as we’ve had kitchens.
In Asian traditions bone broths have been taken to an art form and are jealously guarded – recipes in restaurants are often family secrets handed down for generations. The herbs or spices used are specific and add unique flavour and qualities to a broth. They also, In Traditional East Asian Medicine, have therapeutic values and will often be adjusted according to the season, or condition being treated.
Broths traditionally in Eastern Medicine are used for deficiency of qi and blood – they are nourishing, warming and soothing. They are recommended for anyone recovering from chronic illness, overwork, and post partum for new mothers. Also a great way of introducing meat products back into your diet if you have been vegetarian and are wanting to get benefits of meat protein without pain: meat is harder to digest generally and it can be a bit of a shock to digest for those who have not eaten meat for a period of time.
This broth is without leek, onion or the (family) of vegetables and so is FODMAPS friendly. An extra benefit for those with sensitive tummies! Some of these ingredients are likely to be unfamiliar unless you spend your spare time wandering Asian grocery stores… You’ll find most of them there easily. Many of these will be dried and look a little strange – check there is no sulphur used on the label (but always rinse them thoroughly, just in case)
Most bone broths include a number of ingredients, chiefly of course, bones – chicken is the usual (and my favourite) but any bones, pork, beef, lamb or fish will also work. Just keep in mind that the flavour of the bones will come through in their cooking and can influence the flavour of the dish. If you pre roast the bones in the oven the flavour will be stronger and more ‘meaty’. The bone and flesh of any animal also has specific qualities also and so can be tailored according to your personal constitution.
You can use a slow cooker (my recommendation) or cooktop pot on low. The longer you leave it the deeper the flavour. I also often remove the liquid in batches to get the most out of one set of ingredients.
2 chicken carcasses, or approx 1-1.5kg bones of your choice.
enough fresh filtered water to fill the pot you’ve chosen
a splash of apple cider vinegar
All other ingredients are optional and you can adjust and experiment with flavours as you wish or you feel is appropriate for you
one stick kombu seaweed
a small handful – about 5 or so Chinese Red dates
1 or 2 Honey Dates
2-3 pieces Star Anise
a few slices each of Licorice root, Astragalus, Rehmannia, Anjelica
a few dried shiitake, wood ear, or black fungus mushrooms (these are not FODMAP friendly – and be sure to rise mushrooms extra well)
a tablespoon of Black sesame seeds (roasted is best for more flavour)
2 Bay Leaves
pre roast the chicken carcasses in the oven with salt and pepper on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
Put the chicken carcasses, herbs, water and all other ingredients in your slow cooker on the medium setting
Come back and check after a few hours – separate or remove broth when its hit your preferred intensity
You can remove in stages for varying depths: Id likely leave it at least 8 hours as the flavours will be just starting to come out by that stage. Prepare for your house to smell like broth!
Tip: don’t just throw these ingredients into your bin, bury the bones outside so they can compost – don’t give cooked bones to your dog, they can shatter and cause big problems for your animal and a huge vet bill!
Now for the cool Chinese Medicine:
Black Sesame seeds supplement the liver and kidneys, moisten dryness, strengthen blood. Essential fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus… the list goes on. Lots a good things in sesame!
Mushrooms balance the central qi, nourish the spleen and stomach, sweet nature for the spleen and stomach. Adaptogenic, antioxidant, immune enhancing.
Seaweed is salty and nourishes the kidneys. Iodine, Vitamins A ,B (1, 6 and 12), C,D, E and K
Star Anise nourishes the spleen and stomach, and aids in fat digestion. The distinct flavour in pho and Asian soups of all kinds.
Dates are sweet, and supplement blood and body blood production. Moistening.
Licorice root is probably the most used herb in Chinese medicine. We use it to direct other herbs to where they are most needed and to balance potential negative effects. Like Cinnamon, Ginger and numerous other Chinese Medicinal herbs (too many to list in this article) it has now been proven to do….. exactly what we said it did 2000 years ago! Its beneficial for coughs and colds, gastrointestinal issues, and female gynecological issues. It has anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, adaptogenic, and anti-microbial benefits. Blood sugar balancing and cortisol reducing.
Rehmannia comes in equal with liquorice in its importance in Chinese Medicine. General Kidney, adrenal and blood tonic, blood sugar and hormone balancer. A great women’s tonic and for vegetarians. This herb has a very distinctive, strong ‘herbal’ flavour. If you aren’t sure on the taste of herbs generally – leave this one for your second batch.
Astragalus is also good for nourishing the blood but in a more yang, active way. It is lifting and clearing, builds the spleen and lungs, and assists with recovery from fatigue and illness. great for immunity.
Anjelica has similar (but different 🙂 properties to rehmannia in this context – general Womens tonic and blood builder, in particular very useful blood and qi builder for blood loss (after birth) or physical trauma, as it moves pain while building blood. Sweet, warming and harmonising. Yin herb.
Please note: all information is for general purposes only, and not medical advice. These recipes are not a substitute for herbal medicine as prescribed by a Chinese Medicine Practitioner – See your Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner for more information.