Friday Food 122 – Wolfberry
Friday food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This time we are looking at the Wolfberry.
The Wolfberry or Goji plant (Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense), Chinese 枸杞* is native to China, but is now grown in the US and UK, among many other countries. This popularity derives from the promotion of the plant as some sort of miracle ingredient. Most of the claims made for the supposed health benefits simply don’t pass basic scrutiny; many are exaggerated; some are just ridiculous.
The red berries (枸杞子) are usually sold dried. Rehydrated and cooked, they are used in soups, hot pots, stews etc. THey turn up in rice porridge (congee) and in various sweet foods. They are made into a hot drink and used in Chinese rice or sorghum wines.
These are widely available in all supermarkets and grocery stores. ¥95.80/kg. I hate to think how long a kilo would last. Millennia. I usually buy a 100 gram bag which lasts me months.
Less well known is that the leaves of the plant are also used in China as a leaf vegetable.
In Chinese the leaves are either 枸杞菜 or 枸杞叶. Young stems are edible, but more normally the leaves are stripped from older, woody stems. They are simply stir fried or added to hot pots. ¥5.56/kg. ¥1 will buy you enough to feed the family. * Please stop writing to tell me that I”ve got the Chinese wrong. I haven’t. Yes, 枸 is normally ‘third tone’ – gǒu. But when two ‘third tones’ occur together the first changes to ‘second tone’ – here góu – as I have correctly labelled it.