Get healthy in 2015 with recipes considered to be power food by different ethnic New Zealand communities

Traditional Chinese recipes as specific as a doctor’s prescription, says restaurateur

To maintain overall good health, the Chinese don't usually take vitamin pills or health supplements - they drink soup.

Mabel Kan, whose family have been running Pearl Garden Restaurant in the Auckland suburb of Newmarket for 40 years, reckons the Cantonese herbal duck soup is one of the best to boost the immune system.

"Drinking healthy medicinal soup goes back to traditional Chinese medicine [TCM] practice," said Ms Kan.

"Recipes are often written by TCM physicians who specially formulate the herbs for different purposes, just like how Western doctors write prescriptions," she said.


The meat or bones are double boiled to ensure the soup gets the maximum goodness available.

The Cantonese-style herbal duck is a recipe the Kans have been using for maintaining good health in the family.

"It's got herbs meant to help the mind and blood to the lungs and even an antioxidant," said Ms Kan.

Chinese also have a concept of "heaty" and "cool" food to help balance the yin and yang of the body, she said.

One of the herbs used in her recipe, wai sun, or dried dioscorea, is said to be good for the reduction of "heatiness", which is sometimes a result of eating too much heaty food such as the oily deep fried fish and chips from your neighbourhood takeaways.

Cantonese herbal duck is available at Pearl Garden Restaurant.

However, advance orders are required because of the time it takes to prepare the dish.

Cantonese herbal duck



• 1 whole duck
• 2 pieces dong quai: sliced Chinese angelica - for mind and blood health
• 2 pieces dong sum: radix codonopsis - to restore breath
• 1 tablespoon gee ji: goji berries - for eye health
• 2 pieces bark kee: dried astragulus - for lung health and beauty
• 2 pieces wai sun: dried dioscorea - an antioxidant and for reduction of "heatiness"
• 2 pieces dried seedless longan
• 5 pieces dried red dates
• 3 slices fresh ginger
• 2 tablespoons Shaoshing Chinese rice wine
• Spices at larger Chinese supermarkets or medical shops.

1. Wash duck and dry thoroughly, then rub half a tablespoon of salt into cavity.

2. Mix all the herbs and divide them into two - one part to be stuffed into the duck, the other part into the soup.

3. Add the ginger slices and a tablespoon of Chinese rice wine.

4. Secure the duck with a skewer, place into a steam-proof bowl and cover with water.

5. Add the remaining part of herbs and a tablespoon of Chinese rice wine.

6. Cover the whole bowl with cling film and place on a steamer.

7. Steam for three hours.

Pearl Garden Restaurant is at Level 1, 1 Teed Street, Newmarket.
The series

Monday: Kitfo (Ethiopian)
Tuesday: Haejangguk (S Korea)
Wednesday: Bheja fry (India)
Today: Herbal duck (China)
Tomorrow: Rainbow stir fry (Thailand)
Saturday: Oysters with coriander dressing (NZ-Fusion)