As the holiday season approaches, many of us are busy planning the perfect Christmas dinner to share with our loved ones. While traditional dishes have their charm, why not add a unique twist to your festive feast this year? Consider incorporating Chinese herbs to infuse your Christmas dinner with exotic flavours and aromatic spices that will delight your taste buds. In this blog post, we'll explore some fantastic Chinese herbs that can elevate your holiday menu and make this Christmas dinner one to remember.
7 Christmas Recipes
Take a look at these 7 recipes below that cover Starters, Mains, Desserts and Sweet Treats all for your festive break!
1. Goji Berries: A Nutrient Rich Berry
Kick off your Christmas dinner with a colourful and nutritious touch by incorporating Goji Berries into your salads, stuffing, or even as a garnish for your main course. These tiny, red berries are rich in potential antioxidants and have a subtly sweet taste, adding both flavour and health benefits to your festive spread.
Why not try?
Warming Winter Lamb Soup
This Winter Lamb Soup follows Traditional Chinese Medicine principles for winter health. Lamb's warming properties may bolster yang energy, while root vegetables may ground energy for spleen and stomach support. Goji Berries potentially provide antioxidants for liver and kidney health, and Jujube Dates may calm the mind. Dried Angelica Root potentially enhances blood circulation, Dried Astragalus Root may boost immunity, and Dried Codonopsis Root serves as a potential Qi tonic. This soup embodies the perfect blend of tradition and seasonal well-being.
- 500g Lamb cut into large chunks
- 500g Parsnips chopped into cubes
- 200g Carrot chopped into cubes
- 10g Goji Berry (Gou Qi Zi)
- 5g Orange Peel (Chen Pi)
- 15g Jujube Dates (Hong Zao)
- 15g Dried Angelica Root (Dang Gui)
- 15g Dried Astragalus Root (Huang Qi)
- 15g Dried Codonopsis Root (Dang Shen)
- Coriander for Garnish
- Light Soy or Chilli Sauce to your taste
- Chop lamb, radish, and carrot into large cubes.
- In a soup pot, add the lamb and water to cover, being to a boil and blanch.
- Drain and wash the blanched lamb under running water and place back in the pot.
- Wash and then place all ingredients (except goji berries) in a soup pot with 1 litre of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium-low heat for 1 hour.
- Add goji berries to the pot and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Then season the soup with a pinch of salt.
- Serve the soup with steamed rice, noodles, or rice noodles. Then optionally add light soy sauce or chili sauce for extra flavour and garnish with coriander if desired.
2. Snow Fungus: A Winter Delight
Snow Fungus, also known as "silver ear fungus," is a culinary gem that can elevate your Christmas dinner to new heights. With its delicate, translucent appearance and mild flavour, Snow Fungus is a versatile ingredient that adds a unique texture to both sweet and savoury dishes. In TCM, Snow Fungus is prized for its potential health benefits, particularly during the winter season. Rich in potential dietary fibre, iron, and collagen, it is believed to nourish the yin, promoting hydration and moisturisation qualities, essential for combating the dryness often associated with winter weather
Why Not try?
Snow Fungus and Jujube Date Sweet Soup
This sweet soup is a concoction of snow fungus, Jujube Dates, Dried Lotus Seeds, is not just a treat for the taste buds but also a thoughtful assembly based on TCM principles, especially beneficial during the winter season. Snow Fungus is potentially rich in collagen, complements Jujube Dates, known for possibly nourishing the blood and calming the mind. Dried Lotus Seeds contribute to spleen and kidney health. Goji berries, laden with potential antioxidants, add immune-boosting properties. It's emphasis on harmonising bodily functions, fortifying the body against winter-related challenges, and promoting overall well-being during the festive Christmas season.
- 50g Snow Fungus (Tremella Mushroom)
- 100g Jujube Dates (Hong Zao) halved
- 50g Dried Lotus Seeds (Bai Lian Zi)
- Rock Sugar (optional) To taste
- 15g Goji Berries (Gou Qi Zi)
- Soak snow fungus in cold water for 15 minutes. Rinse jujube dates and slice in half and remove pits. Once the snow fungus has softened, drain and tear it into bite-sized pieces, discarding the root if there.
- In a large pot, combine snow fungus, halved dates, lotus seeds, and rock sugar if desired. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and cook on high for 1 minute. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 40-45 minutes until the soup turns deep orange or reaches your desired sweetness.
- In the final 5 minutes, add goji berries and adjust sweetness to taste. Do not to overcook the goji berries, as they may turn bitter. Check the water level or if the soup is too sweet, add boiling water as needed. Muddle the jujubes against the pot's side with a wooden spoon to enhance sweetness and flavour.
- Serve the sweet soup immediately while warm or refrigerate it overnight for a refreshing dessert. Enjoy this delightful and nutritious treat with family and friends over the festive period.
3. Sesame Seeds: Tiny, but Pack a Punch
Sesame Seeds are potentially beneficial, especially in winter, as they may be rich in essential nutrients like zinc, iron, and vitamin B, which may provide nourishment that supports immune health, combats fatigue, and could contributes to overall well-being during the colder months.
Why not try?
Sesame Chen Pi Spiced Christmas Cookies
This delightful cookie recipe combines ingredients with TCM benefits, making it ideal for winter indulgence. Dried Orange Peel l may aid digestion, Black Sesame Seeds potentially tonify Yin and nourish blood, while Cardamom and Cinnamon may promote the movement of Qi, supporting the spleen. These herbs collectively offer warmth, may help combat dryness associated with winter, and may contribute to overall well-being during the festive Christmas season.
- 240g all-purpose flour (or preferred non-wheat flour)
- 226g unsalted butter
- 100g brown sugar
- 50g honey (Or choice of sweetener)
- 1tsp salt
- 1 large egg (approximately 1 egg)
- 1 vanilla pod/ 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 11g Dried Orange Peel, (Chen Pi) finely chopped
- 85g Black Sesame Seeds (Hei Zhi Ma) ground
- 1 1/2 tsp Dried Black Cardamom (Yi Zhi Ren) ground
- 1 tsp Cinnamon (Rou Gui) ground
- Preheat oven to 190c.
- Melt butter in a small bowl then stir in the sugar.
- In a larger bowl, combine dry ingredients (except flour). Add the butter-sugar mixture, egg, and vanilla. Slowly stir in the flour.
- Hand-roll small dough balls, adding at least one piece of dried orange peel to each cookie and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. You can decorate as you like and use cookie cutters. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for 8 min or until the bottom is lightly browned. Leave to cool.
4. Red Bean: A Winter Delight
Add the rich and comforting addition of Red Adzuki Beans to your Christmas dinner. In TCM, Red Beans are cherished for their potential nourishing properties, particularly beneficial during winter. These little gems may support spleen and stomach health, making them ideal for fortifying the body during colder months. Packed with potential fibre, protein, and essential nutrients, Red Beans offer a delightful and nutritious touch to your holiday menu. Whether infused into soups, desserts, or savoury dishes, Red Beans bring a subtle sweetness and hearty texture, enhancing both flavour and well-being during the winter festivities.
Below is a recipe for Red Beans paste to add into your dishes this Christmas.
Red Bean Paste Recipe
- 200g Red Adzuki Beans (Hong Dou)
- 150g granulated sugar
- Water for soaking and cooking
- Rinse adzuki beans and soak in water overnight or for at least 8 hours.
- Drain beans and place them in a pot. Add enough water to cover.
- Bring beans to a boil, then simmer until tender, approximately 1-1.5 hours.
- Drain cooked beans and mash them coarsely or puree using a blender.
- In a clean pot, combine mashed beans and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent sticking.
- Continue cooking until the mixture thickens to a paste-like consistency, around 20-30 minutes.
- Allow the red bean paste to cool completely before using it in desserts or storing it in the refrigerator.
Why not Try?
Traditional Eight Treasure Rice Pudding Recipe
Indulge in the delicious tradition of making Traditional Eight Treasure Rice Pudding, a festive and flavourful Chinese dessert featuring a medley of eight delightful TCM ingredients, symbolising prosperity and good fortune, full of potential health benefits.
- 200g glutinous rice
- 50g Red Adzuki Beans (Hong Dou) paste
- 50g Dried Jujube Dates, chopped
- 30g Dried Goji Berries (Gou Qi Zi)
- 30g Dried Lotus Seeds (Bai Lian Zi)
- 30g dried apricots, chopped
- 30g raisins
- 30g sweetened winter melon, chopped (Use Courgette as a substitute)
- 30g mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, or preferred choice), chopped
- 50g rock sugar (adjust according to taste)
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon ground
- Rinse the glutinous rice and soak it in water for at least 2 hours.
- Steam the glutinous rice until it's almost cooked, then set aside.
- In a pan, cook the red bean paste until it thickens. Allow it to cool.
- In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and blanch the dried lotus seeds for a few minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked glutinous rice, red bean paste, dried red dates, goji berries, dried lotus seeds, dried apricots, raisins, sweetened winter melon, mixed nuts, rock sugar, and cinnamon powder.
- Mix well and transfer the mixture into a heatproof bowl or dish.
- Steam the mixture for about 45-60 minutes until the rice is fully cooked and the flavours meld together.
- Allow the pudding to cool slightly before serving.
5. Jujube Dates: A Sweet Surprise
Embrace the warmth of winter with the delightful goodness of Jujube Dates, perfect for the Christmas season. Known as "red dates," these little treasures are a sweet and nutritious addition to your festive celebrations. Packed with potential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, Jujube Dates may offer a natural energy boost, making them an ideal snack to combat winter blues. Beyond their delicious taste, these dates are renowned for their potential immune-boosting properties, helping you stay healthy during the chilly season. Whether enjoyed on their own or incorporated into holiday recipes, Jujube Dates bring both sweetness and wellness to your winter festivities.
Why not try?
6. Gluten-Free Sticky Jujube Banana Bread with Honey Glaze
This gluten-free banana and Jujube Dates cake is an alternative to the classic sticky toffee pudding. Not only delights the taste buds but also incorporates TCM ingredients known for their health benefits. Cinnamon adds a warm and aromatic touch while promoting potential circulation and digestion. Jujube Dates are eaten for their possible nourishing properties, believed to enhance Qi (vital energy) and may promote blood circulation. Walnuts are potentially associated with kidney and brain health, and their inclusion adds a delightful crunch. The combination of honey, known for its moistening properties, and bananas, which are considered nourishing, further contributes to the overall balance and goodness of this cake.
- 175g softened butter, plus extra for the tin
- 200g gluten-free flour
- 1 heaped tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1 tsp Cinnamon (Rou Gui)
- 100g dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 overripe bananas (about 350g with skins on)
- 100g Jujube Dates (Hong Zao) chopped
- 50g walnuts, chopped
For the Glaze:
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- 25g butter
- 50g walnuts, chopped
- Jujube pieces for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Butter and line a loaf tin.
2. In a large bowl, combine gluten-free flour, baking powder, cinnamon, softened butter, dark brown sugar, beaten eggs, and honey. Use a hand-held electric mixer to beat the mixture until light and fluffy.
3. Mash the bananas and chop the jujube dates. Stir mashed bananas, chopped jujube dates, and walnuts into the cake mix.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing the top. Bake for 1hr or until firm to the touch and a skewer/knife comes out clean from the centre.
5. In a small pan, bring honey and butter to a boil for the glaze, stirring until the butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in chopped walnuts. Allow it to cool and thicken slightly. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, sprinkle with Jujube pieces and let it set.
Enjoy this delightful winter treat, infused with TCM-inspired ingredients for a festive and healthful addition to your holiday table. Finally, an alternative Christmas Turkey Stuffing Recipe to salivate over on Christmas Day.
7. Mushrooms: Christmas Magic
Nameko Mushrooms and Shiitake Mushrooms are exceptional choices for winter dining, especially during the festive Christmas season. These mushrooms not only bring a rich umami flavour to the table but also offer a host of health benefits. Packed with essential nutrients, Nameko Mushrooms are known to boost the immune system, making them an ideal addition to your winter meals when colds and flus are prevalent. Shiitake Mushrooms, on the other hand, contain compounds that may support cardiovascular health and provide a reliable source of potential B-vitamins crucial for energy metabolism. Together, these mushrooms create a delicious and healthful addition to your Christmas feast, ensuring that the warmth and well-being they bring align perfectly with the spirit of the season.
Why not try?
Mushroom and Herb Turkey Stuffing
The TCM ingredients chosen for this recipe, not only contribute to a delightful blend of flavours but also bring a wealth of potential health benefits to your festive feast. Dried Angelica Root, renowned for its blood-nourishing properties, adds a subtle earthiness, which may promote vitality during the holiday season. Orange Peel enhances the overall taste but also may aid in digestion, ensuring a comfortable post-feast experience. Incorporating Dried Solomon's Seal Rhizome into the butter introduces a touch of sweetness while promoting potential lung health, aligning perfectly with the spirit of the season. These TCM herbs, with their unique possible therapeutic qualities, work in harmony with the succulent turkey, creating a wholesome and balanced holiday dish that not only satisfies the palate but also nourishes the body, making your Christmas dinner a celebration of both flavour and well-being.
- 1 Turkey (4-5 kg)
- 225g Unsalted Butter
- 10g Dried Angelica Root (Dang Gui)
- 15g Orange Peel (Chen Pi)
- 5g Dried Solomon's Seal Rhizome (Yu Zhu)
- 2 Onions
- 2 Carrots
- 3 Parsnips
- 4 Dried Nameko Mushrooms (Hua Zi Gu)
- 4 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (Xiang Gu)
- 20g Lotus Seed (Bai Lian Zi)
- 20g Lily Bulb (Bai He)
- 30g Dried Longan Fruit (Long Yan Rou) diced
- 3 tbsp Cooking Oil
- 150g Chorizo (diced)
- 4 Shallots (sliced)
- 4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
- 200g Glutinous Rice (washed)
- 400g Jasmine Rice (washed)
- 800g Water
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp Dry White Wine
- 1 tsp Sesame Oil
- 1/2 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns ground
- 3 Spring Onions
For the Gravy
- Turkey Drippings and Vegetables
- Turkey Neck and Innards
- 2tbsp Plain Flour
- 200ml Red Wine
- 200ml Chicken Stock
- Salt to taste
1.In a food processor, blend Dang Gui, Chen Pi, and Yu Zhu until fine. Add room temperature butter and blend until well mixed.
2. Separate turkey skin from flesh and stuff butter in between. Rub remaining butter over the turkey's exterior. Generously salt the entire turkey.
3. Soak dried Nameko and shiitake mushrooms, Lotus Seed, and Lily Bulb in hot water for 30 minutes. Chop the soaked ingredients into smaller pieces.
4. In a wok, stir fry Chorizo, garlic, and shallots until fragrant.
Add mushrooms, Lotus Seed, Lily Bulb, dried longan, and dried shrimp; stir fry.
Mix in rice, Mushroom Scallops XO Sauce, Oyster sauce, Dark soy sauce, Light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, Sesame oil, and White pepper.
Transfer the mixture to a rice cooker, add water, cover, and cook.
Lay turkey over chopped onions, carrots, and parsnips. Stuff turkey with onion, garlic, and lemon.
6.Roast at 160°C for 2 hours (adjust based on turkey size, approximately 30 minutes per kg). Increase temperature to 200°C for 15 minutes until the internal temperature of breast meat reaches 70°C.
Rest the turkey for at least 1 hour.
7.Transfer turkey drippings and vegetables to a wok/pan; bring to boil. Add turkey neck and innards; cook for 10 minutes. Add flour, deglaze with red wine, reduce for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock; continue to reduce for 15 minutes. Adjust viscosity with water. Strain gravy and serve turkey with the stuffing and gravy in a jug.
In this festive exploration of incorporating Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs into Christmas cooking, we've discovered a harmonious blend of flavours and wellness. From the aromatic Dried Angelica Root and Orange Peel infused butter enhancing the turkey to the potentially nutrient-packed Lotus Seed and Lily Bulb rice stuffing, TCM herbs have added depth and possible health benefits to our holiday feast. As we savour the delicious results, we're not just indulging in culinary delights but also embracing the holistic wisdom of TCM. This Christmas, let the rich flavours and the potential therapeutic properties of these herbs elevate your festive table, bringing health and joy to every bite. Cheers to a season where tradition meets innovation, and well-being becomes a part of the celebration!