Cooking With Qi: Ancient Chinese Pickled Salad

Try this healthy and rewarding pickled salad that combines the healing benefits of qigong exercise while creating a delicious treat.

This traditional Chinese recipe (dating as far back as 5,000 years) is a special treasure that has been passed on for generations in Dr. Ming Wu's hometown of Chaozhou, China. It is a very simple pickled salad to prepare during the spring/summer seasons. It offers the health benefits of maintaining the precious vitamins and nutrients of the ingredients while allowing the preparer to mindfully enhance the quality of the salad by "cooking with qi."

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. mustard greens*, chopped into 1-inch segments
  • 2 oz. fresh ginger root, sliced
  • 1 oz. fresh garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt

*Can substitute Chinese white radish (daikon) root, American radish root, or the stems of American broccoli (save the florets for steaming at another time).

1. Wash mustard greens*, drain, chop and place in a large mixing bowl or wok.

2. Slice the ginger root and garlic cloves and combine with the mustard greens.

3. Add the sea salt and mix/blend with the hands for the desired amount of time by "cooking with qi."

Cooking with Qi

Stand at a kitchen counter or a table. The height of the preparation surface will determine the stance that will be used during the preparation of the salad. For a higher the table, use the Wu Qi Stance. For a lower table, use the Horse Stance. Note, however, that the Horse Stance is a power stance for building leg strength and a deeper grounding connection to the Earth. Switch to a higher table and the Wu Qi Stance if it becomes tiring. For those who are unable to stand for the preparation of the salad, sit in a supported chair with the toes pointing forward, the feet parallel and flat on the ground, the torso and head upright, shoulders square and relaxed, and the elbows relaxed and pointed in a downward position.

Wu Qi Stance

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, the toes pointing forward, and the feet parallel and flat on the ground. The knees should be slightly bent, while the pelvis is slightly tucked under the body. The shoulders are to be relaxed so as the arms hang by the sides of the torso. The neck is relaxed and balanced while the head faces forward. Viewed from the side: the head, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and feet should be in line. Proper alignment allows for unblocked energy flow, ease of movement, and prevents strain or fatigue to the body.

Horse Stance

Stand with feet a little beyond shoulder width apart, the toes pointing forward, and the feet parallel and flat on the ground. The pelvis is slightly tucked under the body. The legs will be bent as if in a slight squatting position. The knees must not extend past the toes as this can cause discomfort and injury. The torso and head are upright and facing forward, the shoulders square, and the arms relaxed at the sides.

With the shoulders relaxed and the elbows slightly bent, mix the salad with both hands by moving the arms in an opposing inward circular motion; the left arm will move in a clockwise direction and the right arm will move in a counter-clockwise direction. Focus with positive intent on allowing the universal energy to flow down through the top of the head to the heart center of the chest, and the grounding energy of the Earth to flow up through the legs to meet at the heart center as well. Allow the energy to flow out through the arms and hands into the salad. The warmth of the hands and the qi will "cook" the salad and energize it with positive energy.

The two techniques in the arm movements are:

  • Kneading (Rou) — The main technique that blends the ingredients together.
  • Pushing (An) — Used to push down the salad as it lifts up out of the bowl during the mixing.

Continue mixing the salad while focusing on the positive energy melding with the ingredients. Breathing should be normal and relaxed throughout the entire process. The longer one is "cooking with qi," the better the taste and energy of the salad. Try tasting the salad after a bit of time has passed (about 10 minutes). Continue mixing for the desired time and taste the salad again to compare the difference. On subsequent preparations, try working up to an hour. You will be amazed at the results!

Store the pickled salad in a clean, covered bowl and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. The pickled salad can be stored in a refrigerator for up to a month. Enjoy along with a meal or by itself. Or share the treasure by placing in separate containers to gift as a special treat to loved ones and family. Enjoy in great health!

Discover new ways to bring healing energy into your daily activities with qigong master Ming Wu, doctor of Chinese Medicine, 3rd generation herbalist and founder of Wu Healing Center. The center has locations in Maynard and Cambridge, MA, and W. Hartford, CT, offering classes, workshops and individual healing appointments. Dr. Wu can be reached at www.wuhealing.com or call 800-990-9332