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Ginseng Dishes: A Creative Mix of Food and TCM
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  • Yin Chenghai (first right), cuts ginseng into fine long shreds
  • Yin Chenghai (right), helps another chef to prepare crispy ginseng rolls
  • Yin Chenghai prepares hot toffee as a crystalized coat for ginseng
  • Yin Chenghai puts a ginseng slice into hot toffee
  • Yin Chenghai shows a bowl of rice cooked with a ginseng
  • Yin Chenghai (left) introduces his creations to diners
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Edited by Li Nan, photos by Xinhua

Ginseng has been considered as an important adaptogenic herb in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for centuries.

Fusong County, located in the heart of the Changbai Mountains in northeast China's Jilin Province, abounds in ginseng.

Ginseng dishes have become ever more popular in Fusong as commercially cultivated specimens with a growing cycle of under five years have been allowed to be used in food products since 2012.

Yin Chenghai, a 38-year-old chef with a local restaurant in the county, has tried cooking the herb in many different ways since 2006. He was the champion of the first Changbai Mountains Ginseng-Cooking Competition, held in 2015.

"Even the locals are confused about how to cook ginseng," said Yin. "I started with traditional Jilin cuisine two decades ago. Now I specialize in ginseng dishes. Among my specialties are steamed shrimp with ginseng, braised venison with ginseng, and crispy ginseng rolls."

Yin, together with a 40-member culinary team, works hard on removing the bitterness from the herb, while preserving its active ingredients in cooking. It took them a decade to create more than 100 kinds of ginseng recipes.

Ginseng used feature rarely in cooking, but is now a key food on the table. Yin also figured out that the recommended dosage per person per day is three to five grams.

"My dream of making ginseng dishes has come true thanks to the local government's efforts to develop tourism and ginseng cultivation as well as mineral water production," Yin noted.

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