Google+ Authentic Parenting: Chinese Post-Partum Cooking

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chinese Post-Partum Cooking

I had the amazing opportunity to get a Chinese post-partum cooking lesson from my chiropractor's wife. We started talking about Chinese post-partum customs when I went to get my sciatica treated and I told him that we had planned to encapsulate and maybe eat a part of the placenta. He then confided that his wife had eaten her placenta with the birth of their babies. I also asked, traditionally, what Chinese herbalism has to avoid afterpains, since I want to avoid conventional drugs for that purpose. He said that his wife never experienced pains and never took anything. That launched an email conversation that lasted several days, until he probably had enough of my questions and suggested I see the cooking in action.

We cooked two dishes together:

    • pork dumplings (the same recipe her mother had used for the placenta dumplings)
    • post-partum recovery chicken broth
Image: Dinnercraft on Flickr
  • one cup of all purpose flour
  • water
  • pork mince (or placenta minced ;) )
  • chives, chopped thinly
  • teriyaki sauce
  • grated carrots
  • seasoning
Add water little by little to the flour until you have a firm dough ball that doesn't stick to your hands (if it sticks, add more flour). Let rest.

Mix the mince with the seasoning, the carrots, the chives, the teriyaki sauce.

Make a sausage from part of the dough and cut into half an inch circles. Push down and roll with a rolling pin into thin circles.
Put a small bit of mince in the middle of a dough circle, fold in half and push the sides shut until they seal, make sure they're well shut, or the filling will seep out.

Bring a large pot of water to boil (only fill one third of the pot), add the dumplings. When the water boils, add a drizzle of cold water until the boiling stops, repeat 4 to 5 times every time the water boils. By this time, the dumplings will have cooked (they turn yellow and slippery).
Serve with vinegar sauce, mixed with sesame oil and garlic (preferably fresh, but if you don't have any, you can put in dried garlic).


This broth is intended particularly for women, but can also be drunk when you're just feeling a bit out of it, or around your period.

boxthorn fruit, FotoosvanRobin
Jujube, FotoosvanRobin
  • One whole organic, free range chicken
  • A tablespoon ful of Goji Berries (Wolfberrie or boxthorn fruit). Goji berries in chinese herbalism are a powerful tonic with lots of uses.
  • 4 to 5 jujube (red dates). Jujube are filled with vitamins and minerals, they improve stamina and strength, stimulate the immune system and are an excellent tonic.
  • Angelica root, half an inch. Angelica root is recommended for women in general, it tones and harmonizes the blood and it is good for abdominal pains.
  • Dried longan fruit (guiyuan) is rich in fiber and iron. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed to bring 'heat' to the body and have an effect on relaxation.
  • 2 to 3 inches of ginger, remove the skin and slice. Ginger contains a high amount of protein, vitamins, minerals and niacin. Ginger is considered beneficial for fever, headaches. It's also a stimulant for the immune system and it has anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Optional: Shi take mushrooms, sliced
With the qualities of the ingredients of this soup, it isn't hard to understand that Chinese women don't have afterpains.

Fill a large pot half full with water and bring to a boil. Cut up the chicken. Place the chicken parts in the water and boil for three minutes. This removes the grease and blood and makes sure you have no bad tastes and a beautiful clear broth. Take out the chicken bits and throw away the water.
My host had this wonderful cooking device with a ceramic cooking bowl, but if you don't have this a regular large cooking pot will do too. Put the pieces of chicken on the bottom of a cook pot and poor hot water over it to cover the chicken entirely. Rinse the herbs and add them to the pot. Add the mushrooms too, if you are using them. Leave this to simmer for at least 3 hours. Enjoy!

Read more:
Find out more about the use of Goji Berries in Chinese herbalism.
Read more about Jujube
Read about the use of Angelica Root in Chinese medicine.
Ginger as herbal medicine



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