|Cold prawns, oysters, lemon, and wakame (Australia, 2012)|
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Chilled Seafood (on an Unseasonably Chilly Christmas Day)
It was a wet and windy Christmas 2012, the rain often driving, and the general gloom more reminiscent of last year's La Niña than the wannabe El Niño we are experiencing now. Of course, Christmas in Australia is not meant to be cold, and in anticipation of a summer scorcher my Mum had scheduled a spread of seafood for lunch, to serve as an alternative to roast turkey and ham. The plan was to sit out in the shade by the lake, drinking cold beers and pigging out on oysters, cold prawns, Balmain bugs (a relative of the lobster), and barramundi. My Mum probably assumed all this chilled fare would chill us out, both physically and figuratively. What she didn't realize, however, was that some of these foods (such as the lobster) are actually considered warming foods in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and heat up the body even more than the oldschool Christmas turkey and baked potatoes and ham!
In other words, you won't necessarily get a cooling effect from eating prawns and oysters on a hot day, no matter how long they've been kept in a fridge (according to TCM, at least!) That said, my Mum had got something right by dishing up a bowl of Japanese wakame seaweed salad, to complement the seafood. A type of seaweed, wakame is classed as a cold yin food, and is thus perfect for summer. Like many Japanese foods, wakame has some awesome health benefits, and is packed with valuable nutrients, making it a superfood. Even more astoundingly, wakame is purported to cleanse the body from toxins including radiation poisoning! Just before I left Tokyo last year, in the alarming aftermath of the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, there was a huge rush on seaweed products, everyone was stocking up on them in the belief that it would protect their thyroid glands from contamination. The ancient east Asians knew of seaweed's detoxifying powers, and made use of it in their medicine. As it turned out, Christmas Day was rainy and cold, so we didn't need any extra yin in our lunch this year. In fact, we could have done with a bit more yang! (For more on the yin/yang properties of food in TCM and how they can improve your health, click here.)