The internal organs of animals, or viscera, make for healthy eating, and are tasty too, with the right recipes. To this end, herbalist Vu Quoc Trung presents some heart, kidney and liver dishes to fix all manner of ailments.
The heart, especially of a pig, is very nourishing. In Oriental gastronomy, sweet and salty pig's heart tones the blood, cures night sweating, and aids in sleeping.
- For improving the blood, for tranquility, buy one pig's heart at any market and 60g Ä‘ương quy (radix angelicae sinenesis, commonly known in English as dong quai or female ginseng) at an herbal drugstore. Wash the heart and split it into two pieces, stuff the Ä‘ương quy into the heart, sprinkle on a little salt and sugar, and cook with 200ml water for 20 minutes until the meat is well done.
- A variation that is good for diabetics uses one pig's heart, 15g sa sâm (scientific name glehnia littoralis, common name American silver top) and 20g ngọc trúc (scientific name polygonatum officinale, common name Solomon's seal rhizome, or yu zhu), again from a shop selling medicinal herbs. Wash the heart and herbs, place them in a pot together with 200ml water and some sugar and salt. Bring to boil quickly then lower the flame and let the meat simmer for 20 minutes until it is well done, then enjoy. To get the most out of the dish, be sure to drink the herb-infused water.
Pig's liver is packed with protein, even more so than chicken, beef and duck liver. In 100g of pork liver, there is 18.9g protein. The Vitamin A content is substantial too: 6,000mcg in 100g, slightly less than chicken with 6,960mcg but more than beef with 5,000mcg. And liver is full of iron. Pig's liver contains 12g of iron per 100g, while beef is 9g and chicken 8g. Liver in moderation is particularly good for anemic and malnourished children.
Mr. Trung recommends the following to stop internal bleeding. Wash and slice 100g of pig's liver, 30g of young mulberry leaves, 20g kỷ tử (Goji berries), 20g sơn thù (scientific name cornus officinalis or Japanese cornel) and 10g Ä‘ương quy (female ginseng). Place the liver and herbs in 500ml of water in a pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and sugar. Besides eating the meat, you can drink the brew, but the herbal residue should be discarded.
Kidney contains calcium, phosphorous, iron, vitamins A, B1 and C, and other goodies. Pig's kidney is often used in cooking and medicine because of its fragrance. Oriental medicine recommends eating kidney, with its salty taste and cool character, to fortify our own kidneys and repair them if they are working poorly, to increase virility and maintain sexual power, and to treat weak bones and joints, tinnitus, night sweating, senility and other diseases that can be associated with failing kidneys.
- To fortify our kidneys and promote virility, here's a dish that needs two pig's kidneys, 15g phá cá»‘ chá»‰ (scientific name psoralea corylifolia or babchi), 15g ginger, 20g spring onion, and 15g rice alcohol. Wash and clean the kidneys, put them in a bowl, and cover with the phá cá»‘ chá»‰. Put the alcohol, ginger and onion as well as 300ml water and a little salt in the bowl, and place the bowl in a pan of water. Bring the water to a boil and let the bowl's contents stew for 30 minutes. Serve hot.
- A dish for making our kidneys and spleen work better can be made from two pig's kidneys, 30g Ä‘á»— trọng (scientific name eucommia ulmoides, common name eucommia or du zhong), 9g sa nhân (bastard cardamom or sharen), 60g sticky rice and two thin pieces of ginger. Wash and clean the kidneys, put them together with the herbs in a pan, cover with water and heat over a high flame until the water boils. Lower the flame and let the kidneys simmer until they are very tender, then season with salt and sugar. Enjoy the kidneys and the herbal water.
As a general rule, viscera can be eaten twice a week, 50-70g per meal for adults and 30-50g for children. Those who are older or overweight should restrict themselves even more, and anyone with high cholesterol or triglycerides, high blood pressure, or gout should avoid eating viscera altogether.
"Animal viscera are useful in any diet, but don't overdo it. Moderation is the word," says Mr Trung, our guest herbalist and cook for this week.