Sorry to poop the party, but in this wonderful warm weather, don’t reach for a lolly, or for an ice-cold drink. Did you know that habits like these can ultimately damage the entire digestive system? According to traditional Tibetan medicine anyway.
Tibetan doctors advise against eating food or drinking liquids that are excessively cold, even during hot weather. They say that frequent consumption of salads, cold smoothies and raw juices (the very things that we associate with healthy eating in the west) can have an impact on our circulation, and even our long-term health. It can also create a situation where an acute injury becomes chronic because there is a lack of healthy circulation in and out of the region.
In Tibet, when things heat up, we turn to cooling foods such as lettuce, celery, and radish. Strawberries and pears are also good as they have hydrating qualities.
A favourite go-to food at this time of year is laphing, or spicy cold noodles. This is a wondrous dish of home-made mung bean noodle (so it’s also gluten-free), made from mung bean starch boiled with water, stirred, and then cut into thick strips. We usually add shredded cucumber on top. In traditional Tibetan medicine mung beans and cucumber are both considered to be cooling foods. Chilli is where the dish heats up! Add as much or as little as you think you you can cope with.
You can try making your own cold noodle dish at home. Shop-bought noodles are fine if mung bean starch sounds too ambitious as a raw ingredient (though the dish also works well with wheat flour as a base if you fancy making your own – see left).
Here is a quick recipe for the sauce, which is of course what makes or breaks this dish. We haven’t specified ingredient quantities as the amount of each will depend on how much you are making, and also how much you like your garlic, chilli etc.
Laphing sauce – the Taste Tibet recipe:
Finely chopped garlic
Black vinegar (we recommend Chinese Chinkiang black rice vinegar)
A dash of sesame oil
Crushed sea salt
Hot chilli flakes – these are best cooked up w/ a little yerma (Sichuan peppercorn)
Don’t forget to add water! You will need more of this than anything else in your sauce. Too much vinegar/soy sauce etc. will make the taste too strong, and ultimately this is a light summer snack, so don’t go too heavy on any of your quantities. You can always add more, but you can’t take out, so go slow!
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