The word Ginseng comes from the Chinese term “rénshen”, which literally translates to “man root”. It is thought to have been given this name because the root of the plant resembles the legs of a man.
More than five thousand years ago, in the mountains of Manchuria, Ginseng was widely used for its rejuvenating powers. In China, the health benefits of ginseng were first recorded during the Liang Dynasty. Legend has it that early emperors used it as a remedy for illnesses. They not only consumed it, but also used it in soaps, lotions, oils and creams. China’s demand for the herb sparked huge international trade from other parts of the world in exchange for silk and spices.
Ginseng is primarily used as a flavouring agent or spice, but it is also believed to restore and enhance normal well-being. It is one of the most popular herbal remedies in the world today.
The herb consists of a light-coloured fork-shaped root, a long stalk, and green, oval leaves. But there are different types of ginseng grown today. In China, you can see red ginseng, fresh ginseng and white ginseng, all of which are Asian varieties.
Ginseng is used in a number of ways in Chinese recipe cooking. Mature ginseng packs more flavour and heat, and is usually used in its grated form, or combined with garlic to make pastes. It is also added to soups and stews, marinades and sour dressings. It has a light golden-brown colour and a thin skin. Young ginseng, on the other hand, is pinkish in colour, with a soft skin and sharper flavour. It is mostly used in stir-fried dishes and pickles, apart from vinegar mixtures and as seasoning for duck eggs.
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