The longan way round

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Longan is a fruit sweet in flavor and classified as hot in nature. According to herbalist Dinh Cong Bay from the Ho Chi Minh City Drug Association, too many "˜hot' fruits will make your body feel hot and your eyes water.

The Vietnamese often use longan as a main ingredient in chè, a dessert soup. Longan also has various health benefits. Long nhãn (dried longans) are not only tasty but have the ability to soothe and calm you. They are good for the spleen, the blood and they help you sleep well.

Traditional medicine has long recognized the healing properties of longan and uses it in various treatments. Doctor Do Tat Loi and herbalist Vu Quoc Trung have recommended some remedies that use longans and dried longans together with other ingredients.

* Insomnia, palpitations and a bad memory: Put 100g longans and 100g glutinous rice in a pot and add around 500ml water. Cook for 30 minutes. Add rock sugar or honey to eat in the morning or evening.

PICKING LONGANS

When buying longans, choose ones with a green stem and don't buy any that look damaged. When you get home, wash them in salt water. Use your hands to peel away the outer layer of the fruit. Don't bite into the skin as it is a breeding ground for mould and bacteria.

* Exhaustion or anemia: Put 15g long nhãn, 20g lotus seeds, 15g red jujubes, 15g peanuts and 50g glutinous rice in a pot and add 500ml water. Cook for 30 minutes. Add rock sugar or honey to eat in the morning or evening.

* Diarrhea: Boil 30 long nhãn and five pieces of fresh ginger in water for 15 minutes. Drink the beverage throughout the day.

* Bleeding from wounds: Peel the top black layer off longan seeds, pound into a powder and then apply to wounds.

* Cough and sore throat:

- Ingredients: 10g long nhãn (dried longans), 10g nấm mèo trắng (white mushroom), 15g Ä‘ông trùng hạ thảo (caterpillar fungus), 15g hoài sơn (Chinese yam or rhizoma dioscoreae)*, 15g lotus seeds, one pigeon, some pieces of ginger, a pinch of rock sugar.

- Wash and gut the pigeon and leave to dry. Peel the skin of the lotus seeds and boil in a pot of

300ml water for 10 minutes. Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 15 minutes, then wash them again. Put the pigeon and lotus seeds in a big bowl. Then, put the ginger, Ä‘ông trùng hạ thảo, hoài sơn, long nhãn, mushroom and rock sugar in the bowl. Pour hot water into the bowl until nearly full and cover with a lid. Put the bowl on top of a pot with hot water and steam for three hours.

* Alternatively, put 15g long nhãn, 15g Ä‘ương qui (commonly known as female ginseng or dong quai), 250g chicken meat, 15g khởt tử (Chinese wolfberry), 15g nhục thung dung (herba cistanchis)* and a pinch of sugar and salt in a bowl. Then put the bowl over a pot of hot water and steam for one hour. Serve the dish once every day.

(*) These medicinal herbs are available in traditional medicine hospitals nationwide, or in the Chinese traditional medicine shops along Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street in Ho Chi Minh City's District 5.

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