The healing power of ginger
In Chinese medicine, ginger is used to improve blood circulation, help the body dispel coldness and wind, regulate digestion, reduce nausea and period pains, and more. After childbirth, these benefits are essential to postpartum recovery!
Because of these effects, ginger has been a staple of Chinese and Eastern medicine for thousands of years. In recent years, scientific research has also begun to validate ginger's health benefits.
Research papers are dense and can be difficult to digest, but here are some key takeaways:
- Arguably, ginger's most famous property across cultures is its anti-nausea effect. As a drug, it'd be called an antiemetic, helpful in combating vomiting and nausea. That's why lots of seasickness and motion-sickness pills have ginger! Or why tourist boats often stock up on ginger tea and ginger ale. Since it's been deemed safe by most health providers as safe for pregnancy, ginger is also a great option to consider for those suffering from nausea during pregnancy.
- Ginger is also a great source of anti-oxidants, up there with pomegranates and those berries that your local smoothie shops are fond of calling "superfoods". Antioxidants are vital to protecting your body from DNA damage over time.
- Although it has not been rigorously proven, ginger seems to have anti-inflammatory effects, helpful to relieve pain from headaches and period cramps.
Despite all these great health benefits, please be aware that ginger is a blood thinner! If you have a health condition where you need to consider blood clotting and blood thinners, ginger is probably not an ingredient you want to overdo. Try eating small servings in moderation to start.
Black vinegars: Zhenjiang and sweet black
This pork knuckle stew recipe uses two types of black vinegar. Black vinegar is an ancient ingredient and goes back over a thousand years. It's usually made from glutinous rice or sorghum and a variety of other ingredients, the exact recipe and process depending on where it’s made. It’s generally less acidic than regular distilled white vinegar and much more complex, often being described as earthy or malty in flavor.
Zhenjiang black vinegar, 鎭江香醋, is more common in recipes. It's named after the Chinese city of its origin: Zhenjiang, of course. If you have a different Chinese black vinegar on hand, you could use that instead of Zhenjiang vinegar for this recipe.
On the other hand, sweet black vinegar, 甜醋, is a Cantonese specialty, and as far as we know, this is the only recipe that uses it, so it may specially exist only for this dish. Its sweet flavor gives this dish its characteristic look and taste.
We strongly recommend that you use these specific kinds of vinegar or the dish won’t look or taste like it should. Here are Amazon links to buy them online: