Steamed crab and pumpkin with fermented soy beans. [Photo/IC]
Frost's descent, the last solar term in fall, marks the approach of wintertime and an optimal period to nourish your body.
Among all the options for your dinner table, the upcoming Halloween season plus the recent autumn harvest put pumpkin on the gastronomical map for Chinese foodies.
Pumpkin is truly a food of the world. Of all seven continents, only Antarctica is incapable of producing them. Chinese people started to eat pumpkin during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
As an impressively resilient and productive vegetable, pumpkin once fed many people in famine years. Nowadays, people add pumpkin to their diet for its nutrients and coarse fiber.
According to ancient Chinese custom, residents living south of the Yangtze River would eat pumpkin at the beginning of spring to celebrate the rejuvenation of nature.
Some literati used to carve poems or patterns on small pumpkins and turn them into interior decorations.
In Western countries, people bake pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and make jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween.
The Chinese encyclopedia of herbs, Compendium of Materia Medica, records pumpkin's health benefits as invigorating the spleen and stomach as well as tonifying one's vital energy.
Modern medicine discovers that pumpkin contains an abundance of pectin, which is a natural protector of gastrointestinal mucosa. The rich vitamins and trace elements in pumpkins can also help enrich the blood and even fight cancer.
To bring out the best of a pumpkin, you can simply steam it or cook it with ingredients like beef, pork or Chinese yam. Remember, never pair pumpkin with mutton, spinach, sweet potato or red date, for it may trigger stomach discomfort.
Now, let's have a look at ten healthy and delicious pumpkin dishes in the Chinese style!