Thursday, 26 August 2010

Herbs: Rue / Ruta in Green Bean Sweet Soup

Summer, summer, summer -- a time for dessert.

Wait, any time is a time for dessert, in a girl's opinion.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot. Maybe I should be more specific, and say, Chinese desserts, cold ones, just in case you want to tell me that most Chinese desserts are hot.

There are so many of them, but the one I want to talk about today, is the Green Bean Sweet Soup.
Image from kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com

Green beans are also known as Mung beans, with the word "mung" derived from Hindi "moong". People use them for noodles, mooncakes, growing beansprouts, and of course, desserts.


Since everybody knows about it, I will then spend more time on green beans' good partner: a green, highly fragrant leafy plant with round leaves, most people call it "stinky grass" in Hong Kong.


What is her real name in English? Rue, or Ruta. The species in the dessert, is Common Rue, or Herb-of-grace.
Image from toptropicals
I love the smell of this plant, and I have even tried to grow it, but it was unfortunately so susceptible to this white bugs that I eventually killed the plant while I applied my home-made pesticide, a combination of ginger and garlic......


Tragic ending, but that doesn't stop me from pursuing the lovely taste and smell of this plant in a dessert form.


What I never knew about this plant, is its medical usage. From Wikipedia,


Rue has been used internally as an antispasmodic (muscle spasm), as a treatment for menstrual (a woman's period) problems, as an abortifacient (inducing abortion), and as a sedative.


You too would never expect so much a simple "dessert plant" can do, right?



Vocabulary:
sweet soup -- (n)[C or U] belongs to Chinese / Cantonese cuisine, literally means "Sweet Water".
susceptible -- (adj) easily influenced or harmed by something
pesticide -- (n)[C or U] a chemical substance used to kill harmful insects, small animals, wild plants and other unwanted organisms
antispasmodic -- (n) [C] drug or an herb that suppresses muscle spasms
menstrual (period) --(adj) related to the blood flow from a woman's womb that happens every month
abortifacient -- (n)[C] a substance that induces abortion
sedative -- (n)[C] a drug used to calm a person or animal or to make them sleep


Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mung_bean
http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2009/10/message-happy-mid-autumn-festival.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruta
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Rue
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antispasmodic
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/susceptible_1
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/pesticide
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/menstrual-period
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortifacient
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/sedative