I am home today with my daughter Plum. She was felled by the sort of cold that attacks people who believe spring (regardless of the temperature) means short pants, sandals, and a later bedtime. Her throat is scratchy and last night her ears felt “oozing.” These things spread throughout a household, especially between family members who share bites of toast, spoons, and occasionally pillows. So I have something warm and fortifying in mind for lunch with sufficient kick to send an irksome bug merrily on its way. P, however, is more concerned with consuming a sufficient number of "Bewitched" episodes and making her own brew which appears to involve lemon, honey, and chunks of chocolate. I trust we can meet one another in the middle. The soupy rice with asparagus was her request. I added the ramps and perilla leaves for me.
Perilla leaves, or Shiso, are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to “release the exterior” or usher out an invasion of Wind Cold. I found these at the farmers' market--yet another reason to love New York.
Plum’s Soupy Rice
1 cup short-grain rice
8 cups cold water
1 bunch ramps
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 handful perilla leaves, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
Combine rice and water in a medium saucepan. Set over high heat and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring until rice breaks down and mixture becomes a soupy porridge, about 1 hour. Stir in ramps and lemon zest after about 30 minutes of cooking. Season the rice with salt and pepper. Stir in perilla leaves. While rice cooks, blanch asparagus in salted water just until tender. Add to rice just before serving.
Frances Boswell is a licensed acupuncturist at her practice, Qi Sera Sera Acupuncture, in New York City. She focuses on a lesser-known branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which identifies poor diet as a common cause of disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine understands that the importance of food goes beyond ingredients' vitamins, mineral, nutrient and caloric content—food has its own energetic and spiritual role in our health. Frances' aim is to teach this ancient wisdom, apply it to everyday cooking, and work with patients to modify their diets, in addition to acupuncture, to help them live, eat, and be well. Contact Frances here.