Gao Lian and Ming Dynasty Nutraceuticals



Essays on Drinks and Delicacies for Medicinal Eating

Yin Zhuan Fu Shi Jian 飲饌服食箋


By Gao Lian (Ming Dynasty)


Chinese edition edited by T’ao Wentai


Translated by Sumei Yi, 2008-9


English version edited by E. N. Anderson


ROUGH DRAFT; HELP SORELY NEEDED WITH THIS.  We have taken major pains to get the plant and animal names right—many defy translation—but the details of the recipes are often unclear and needing further research.


English Editor’s Note:

Gao Lian was a 16th-century playwright, litterateur and practitioner of the arts of healing and longevity. He wrote or compiled several treatises on these matters, collected in his “eight treatises” published in 1591 (Wikipedia).  The present translation is of the material on food and drink from this collection, including a good deal of alchemy and medicine.  Since late Ming has unaccountably been relatively neglected by students and translators of Chinese food texts, this work seems worthy of presentation, even in a rough translation.

Gao’s approach is totally eclectic.  He reproduces a great mass of odd advice and recipes, many of the latter so hard to follow that one doubts strongly if Gao ever tried them or even knew anyone who had. Reproducing any old advice that might help someone live long was a Ming Dynasty practice.  In this book, thoroughly practical village advice is mixed with arcane alchemy.  Most of the recipes are for medicines or preserves, but many are for regular dishes; few, however, are in a state that would allow them to be used easily today.

The book is of interest largely to show what a refined gentleman of the 16th century would think worthy of attention, but some of the recipes are good or historically important.  Particularly interesting is the Sweets section, for it includes several Near Eastern recipes, including several for halwah—specifically so called (“hai luo”) in one case.  Evidently, Near Eastern foods continued to be of interest in China, as they had been in Yuan (Buell et al. 2010).  The nativist reaction after the fall of Yuan had largely eliminated this interest, but it persisted, as shown not only by recipe books like this but also by government reprinting of Yuan works.

In the medical sections, Gao shows a striking fascination with Solomon’s seal, lilyturf, Atractylodes spp., and a few other plants. Sumei Yi and I are not aware if this is his personal devotion or a general Ming idea, but the Yinshan Zhengyao of the Yuan Dynasty also liked Solomon’s seal, reprinting a long paean of praise to it from Ge Hong.  Gao is also interestingly careful about separating the three kinds of cardamom:  baidoukou (the white cardamom familiar in the west), caokou (Ammomum tsaoko, a large round brown cardamom), and sharen (Ammomum villosum and sometimes similar species), very large coarse musky cardamoms from south China and southeast Asia.  He carefully distinguishes their uses and often calls for two kinds in one recipe.  Most of his medicine, alas, is uncritical reprinting of a low order of alchemical and Daoist herbal literature, far from anything verifiable or usable in the non-Immortal world.  By contrast, much of his nutritional advice, and his advice on the few medical recipes that are grounded in normal life, is very good.

Significantly, Gao’s book appeared at almost the same time as Li Shizhen’s great herbal, the Bencao Gangmu (1593).  Both were part of a wide cultural renaissance in the late Ming (Mote 1999) that almost broke through to modern science.  If Ming had not crashed and burned, China might have participated in a worldwide development.  Certainly Li’s book was as advanced as any herbal in Europe in his time, and Gao’s was equal to or at least not far behind what passed for nutritional knowledge in 16th-century Europe.

The Wikipedia entry intriguingly says he described bipolar disorder; we eagerly await details on this.

In translating, we have given scientific names and common popular ones but have not been exhaustive (so far) about identifications (or consistent about citing “authorities” with names).  A cleaned-up translation with all this made consistent will take time, and the editor is lacking that commodity at this point, but needs to make the work available.  Further time and research is sorely needed.

Gao’s health writings have been the subject of an article we have not seen, cited in the Wikipedia entry “Gao Lian, dramatist” (retrieved Oct. 20, 2009):

Carpenter, Bruce E.  1990.  “Kao Lien’s Eight Treatises on the Nurturing of Life,” Tezukayama University Review 67:38-51.

See also:

Buell, Paul D.; E. N. Anderson; Charles Perry.  2010.  A Soup for the Qan.   Leiden:  Brill.

Source on many of the food traditions on which Gao drew.

Clunas, Craig.  1991.  Superfluous Things:  Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China.  Urbana:  University of Illinois Press.

Some discussion of Gao; an excellent account of his world.

Hu Shiu-Ying.  2005.  Food Plants of China.  Hong Kong:  Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.

By far the best modern work on Chinese food plants.

Huang, H. T.  2000.  Science and Civilisation in China.  Vol. 6:  Biology and Biological Technology.  Part V:  Fermentations and Food Science.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.

Definitive work on fermented and prepared food in China, giving full details on almost everything of the sort mentioned by Gao.

Katz, Sandor Ellix.  2012.  The Art of Fermentation.  White River Junction, VT:  Chelsea Green Publications.

This encyclopedic work has full details on Chinese fermentations, including details that even Huang missed.

Li Shizhen.  2003.  Compendium of Materia Medica (Bencao Gangmu).  Tr. Li Zhenguo and group.  Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.

Excellent translation and edition of the greatest of Chinese herbals, one of the great works of premodern science.  Authoritative identification in modern Linnaean terms of the Chinese plants Li listed.

Mote, Frederick.  1999.  Imperial China 900-1800.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


This translation is made from an edition published in 1985 by the China Commercial Press in Beijing.

Translator’s and English-language editor’s comments in text are in square brackets.  Comments in parentheses are parenthetical notes by Gao Lian or his sources, including characters to explain our translation (or lack of it).  Thus Chinese characters and names are in regular parentheses, being part of the original text.   Most of the footnotes—the ones in Chinese—are by the Chinese editor, Tao Wentai, and consist largely of explanations or relevant quotes from other sources.  The translator, Sumei Yi, has contributed footnotes (the ones in English) that are confined to brief comments on translation, including identification or failure to identify.

Many of Gao’s plant names defy all search through the Bencao Gangmu and dictionaries and encyclopedias in Chinese or English; we have searched a wide range of sources. This is unsurprising, as a great deal remains to be recorded about local and specialized usages even in contemporary Chinese.  We have tried to be accurate.  Mei, for instance, is simply turned into an English word (mei), since “plum” is wrong (there are real plums mentioned in some recipes, so confusion is possible) and “flowering-apricot” more accurate but rather clumsy.

The translations for the strictly medicinal recipes are so fiendish that we have included the Chinese, since we are often at somewhat of a loss.




Gao Lian’s preface


Mr. Gao said: “Drinking and eating are the basis of life for humans.” Therefore, in the body, yin and yang move and are used, and the five phases mutually produce each other.  This is not unconnected with drinking and eating. After drinking and eating, the qi of grains will fill one. When the qi of grains is full [has filled one], the qi of blood will thrive. When the qi of blood thrives, the tendons and strength will be improved. The spleen and stomach are basic to the five [major] internal organs. The qi of the [other] four internal organs come from the spleen. The four seasons [sic; presumably life in the four seasons] are based upon the qi of the stomach. Drinking and eating helps support the qi. When qi is generated, the essence is improved. When the essence is generated, the qi will be nourished. When the qi is full, the spirit will be generated. When the spirit is full, the body will be completed. This is because they need and use each other.

A man should not feel indifferent to his daily use of nourishment in his life養生. He should not let those nourishing him harm him or turn the five flavors into killers of the five internal organs. Then he obtains the way of nourishing life.

In my writings, I put teas and waters first, then congee and vegetables, then meat dishes, liquors, flours, cakes, fruits and so on. I have only collected what is proper and useful and do not seek the abnormal. As for cooking living creatures or flavoring precious food with pepper and spices, these are for chefs serving the Office of Grand Official[1] under the Son of Heaven.  Such things are not for a hermit mountain-man山人 like me. I do not collect them at all.

Other food records in the literature of immortals have benefited the world. Recipes consistently proved effective should be made using the proper rules. It is up to the cook to make the recipe in a spiritual and wise fashion. One should choose what can be eaten, and record ones that help cure illnesses and prolong life. Individuals are different based upon their hidden yin (yincang阴藏) or hidden yang (yangcang阳藏). They should take cold or hot medicines accordingly. One must have one’s qi and nature harmonized and peaceful, and have simple desires. The power of what have been taken and eaten will be then effective. If the six desires are too strong, the five sense organs[2] will malfunction, and then a person will be recorded in the register of ghosts even if he takes food based on the immortal recipes. Then what is the benefit of taking it? The knowledgeable should think for themselves.

I have edited the recipes into one group of notes: drinks and foods and how they can be taken and eaten.



Preface on Various Previous Treatises


The Perfected Man[3] said: “the spleen is able to nourish the other organs like a mother.” Men knowing how to nourish life called it Yellow Elder Lady (huangpo黄婆)[4]. Sima Chengzhen taught people that one should keep the yellow qi and cause it to enter into the Muddy Pill (niwan泥丸)[5], which enables him to achieve longevity. Chuyu Yi said that if one can eat when he is ill (angu安穀), he will live beyond his allotted span.  If he cannot eat when he is ill, he will not live up to his allotted time. Therefore, we know that if the spleen and stomach are complete and strong, the hundreds of illnesses will not be produced.

An old man in Jiangnan was seventy-three years old and as strong as the youth. When asked how he nourished himself, he answered, “I have no special formula. Just that all my life I have not been used to drinking soup or water. Ordinary people will drink several sheng a day. I drink only a few he, and merely let them touch and moisten my lips. The spleen and stomach dislike wetness. If one drinks little, his stomach will be strong and the qi will thrive and the liquid flow. If a person risks taking a long journey, he will not feel thirsty either.” These can be considered true words, and not trivial.

Eating and drinking should take time. The degree of hunger and fullness should be moderate. Water and food should change such that the collected qi flows are harmonized. Then the essence and blood will be produced. The circulation of qi and that of blood (rongwei榮衛) will keep going smoothly. The internal organs will remain balanced. The spirit will be peaceful. The upright qi will be full inside the body. The mysterious and pefected will meet the outside [world?]. The inner and outer vicious illnesses (xieli邪沴)[6] will not attack him, and the various kinds of illnesses will not be able to arise.

For proper drinking and eating: if one does not take food till he feels hungry, he will not be satisfied with chewing sufficiently. If one does not drink till he feels thirsty, he will not be satisfied with drinking slowly. One should not wait to eat till he feels very hungry and he should not overeat. One should not wait to drink till he feels very thirsty and he should not drink too frequently. One should not be concerned about how delicate the food is or how warm the drink is.

The sixth in the “Essay on Seven Taboos” (qijinwen七禁文) composed by the Perfected Man of Grand Unity (taiyi zhenren太乙真人) says: Refining the drink and food will nourish the qi of stomach. Peng Helin said that the spleen is an internal zang 臟[7]organ and the stomach is an internal fu腑 organ. The qi of spleen and stomach will compensate each other. The stomach is the sea of water and grains, mainly receiving water and grains. The spleen is in the middle, grinding and digesting them. They will turn into the blood and qi, nourishing the whole body and irrigating the five internal organs. Therefore, the man practicing the technique of nourishing his life cannot eat without refining his food. This does not mean preparing all sorts of things growing in the water and on the ground, or strange and precious dishes. It means not eating the raw or the cold, nor the gross or the hard, nor forcing oneself to eat or drink. One should eat when he feels hungry and should not overeat. One should drink when he feels thirsty and should not overdrink. Otherwise, he will encounter the situations mentioned by Confucius [actually said to be avoided by Confucius]:  the food spoils, the fish stinks, and the meat decays, so that they cannot be eaten. All these situations harm the qi of stomach. Not only will they make people sick, they harm life. If one hopes to gain longevity, he should be deeply alarmed about this. Those who want to support their elder relatives, or those who want to live happily and support themselves, should also know it.

Huang Tiingjian said:  “In Tongzhou, people steam lamb till it is mashed and then add apricot-kernel congee (xinglao杏酪) and eat it with a knife instead of chopsticks. In Nanyang, they add sophora sprouts to the Stirring-Heart Noodle (boxinmian撥心面) and wash them with warm water. The adept’s rice-covered dish (san糝) should be the plastered pork (mozhu抹豬) from Xiangyang. The rice (chui炊) should be the fragrant rice from Gongcheng. The offering (jian薦) should be steamed young goose. Let a chef from Wuxing chop a perch caught in the Songjiang River and then cook it with water taken from the King Kang Valley on Mt. Lu. Use a small amount of the highest-grade tea from Zengkeng. Then take off your [formal] clothes and lie down. Let someone read aloud the first and second Rhymed Essays on the Red Wall (qianhou chibi fu前後赤壁賦) composed by Su Shi. These are enough for one to have an enjoyable break.”  [Or “a laugh,” but Su’s essays on the tragedy of the Red Wall are anything but funny, so something gentler is intended.] Although this is only a fantasy (yuyan寓言) told by Huang Tingjian, we can imagine the refinement of those foods. Would that we might gather them together and offer them to the elders as delicious sustenance.

Su Shi says in his “Rhymed Essay on Gourmets” (laotao fu老饕賦): “The chef waves a knife—Yiya [the mythical super-chef of ancient China] is cooking and stewing! The water should be fresh and the pot clean. The fire must not be old and firewood must not be rotten. Nine times steamed and sunned, more than a hundred times boiled and floated and sunk in the hot stock to make the soup! Taste a piece of meat from the neck. Chew the two pincers [of a crab] before the frost descends (shuangjiang霜降). Cook the mashed cherry with honey. Steam the lamb with almond congee. The clam is to be half cooked with liquor. The crab is served a bit raw, with lees. Therefore, gather the tenderness and tastiness of every food and nourish me as a gourmet. A lovely girl, docile, her face is as fresh as plum and peach, plays the jade se瑟 of Consort Xiang and the cloud ao (yun’ao云璈)[8] of the draughts of the Heavenly God. Ask the immortal lady E Lühua萼綠華 to dance according to the ancient song of Yulunpao郁輪袍. Take the glasses from the southern sea and hold the wine from Liangzhou. They wish me longevity when I divide the remaining wine among the attending boys. My face gradually turns red and I am surprised when the pipa made from sandalwood is played. The song is as wonderful as a string of pearls and as long as a thread spun out of a cocoon. I feel pity for her tired hands and ask her to rest for awhile. I suspect that her lips are dry and some ointment should be applied. Pour a jar of milk, which is as white as snow. Place as many as one hundred jade ship-shaped serving trays. The guests’ eyes are as wet as the water in the fall. Salt and bones are mashed in the liquor made in the spring. The pretty girl asks for leave and then the clouds disperse [probably an arcane erotic reference]. The gentleman suddenly escapes into Zen. The wind passing through the pine trees, as the water is boiled with bubbles as tiny as crab eyes. The rabbit-hair brush is floating above the snow-white paper. The gentleman rises up with a laugh. The sea is broad and the sky is high.”  [Like Huang’s, this is a fantasy, but it is even more surrealistic and visionary.  Su Shi could be a very down-to-earth poet, but he could leap the void too, and this is as far out as he gets.]

A perch dish from Wu Prefecture: collect perch no longer than three chi during the eighth and ninth month when the frost descends. Mince it. Wash it in water and wrap it with a piece of cloth. Let the water completely evaporate. Spread it on a plate. Pick both flowers and leaves of aromatic madder (xiangrou香柔, Elsholzia ciliata) [9]. Mince them and add them into the minced fish. Stir it till it is evenly mixed. The perch caught when the frost descends has meat as white as snow and is not smelly. It is called gold and jade minced fish. It is a wonderful dish from southeast.

It is said in Youyang zazu酉陽襍俎 [The Youyang Miscellany, a well-known Tang Dynasty work by Duan Changshi]:  “A [good] pastry food (geshi餎食) is wonton made by the Xiao family. When the soup is filtered, it is not greasy and can be used to cook tea. The zongzi粽子 made by the Yu family is as white as jade. The cherry biluo [unclear; just possibly a transliteration of “pilau”] made by Han Yue can change color. He can also make cold fish pastes (leng hutu kuai冷胡突膾), thick soup of snakehead fish (liyu yi鳢鱼臆), continuously steamed deer (lianzheng lu連蒸鹿), and river deer skin noodle (zhangpi suobing麞皮索餅). General Qu Lianghan can make roasted (zhi炙) donkey and camel hump.”

He Ying was luxurious in taste. When he ate, he had to have food that filled a square one zhang on each side. Later he reduced his food intake somewhat, but still had white Hemiculter leucisculus fish (baiyu白魚)[10], dried eel (shanla鱓腊), and sugared crab (tangxie糖蟹). Zhong Yuan held that “when the eel is dried, it bends sharply; when crab is added to sugar, it moves restlessly; when a humane man uses his mind, he feels deep empathy.”  [This is one of those striking parallelisms so universal in Chinese literature.]

As for the che’ao clam (che’ao車螯)[11], blood clam (ark shell; han蚶), and oyster, they do not have eyes or eyebrows inside their shells, which shows the strangeness of the undivided (hundun渾沌). Their mouths are closed outside but not because they are bronze men who cannot speak. They neither thrive, nor turn weak, unlike grass and woods. They have no voice or sense of smell. What is the difference between them and tiles and gravel? Therefore, they are suitable for being used in kitchen as food at any time.  [This idea that motionless shellfish are more mineral than animal and thus fair game for vegetarians survives today.]

During the Later Han, Guo Linzong used to stay in the house of Mao Rong (his zi is Jiwei). The next morning, Mao Rong killed a hen and made a dish with it. Guo Linzong thought it was made for him. However, it turned out to be that Mao Rong offered the whole hen to his mother and had a vegetarian meal with Guo Linzong. Thus Guo Linzong rose and bowed to him, saying: “You are really virtuous!” Mao Rong accomplished virtue by showing filial piety.

It is said in Tiaoxi yuyin苕溪漁隱 that Su Shi composed poems and rhymed essays to describe the wonderfulness of food and drinks, such as the Rhymed Essay on the Gourmet [above], and Poem on Bean Congee. The Poem on Bean Congee reads:

River mouth, a thousand qing of snow-white reeds.

From the thatch, a lonely smoke plume appears and disappears.

Mortar and pestle, set on the ground, hull jade-like rice.

A sandpot cooks the beans, as soft as butter.

I am old and have no place to go.

I sold books to ask the landlord to stay at his house.

I lie listening to the crowing rooster, till the congee is ready,

Then come to your house with head disheveled and slippers on.

[This evocation of poverty in a beautiful seven-syllable-line poem shows Su in more realist style.  A thousand qing is 15,000 acres. A samdpot is a sand-tempered earthenware cooking pot, still necessary for Chinese cooking.]

Another poem [still by Su] on a fried pastry (hanju寒具)[12] reads:

Sim hands twist up jade-like stuff several xun in length.

Fried in blue-green oil, it turns light yellow.

On a spring night, the girl tosses about unconsciously,

With her gold bracelet pressed flat.[13]

Hanju is also called “twisted head” (niantou捻头), which comes from a much-told story recorded by Liu Yuxi.

My son came up with a fresh idea that he uses wild yams to make the Jade Crumb Soup (yusan geng玉糝羹). Its color, fragrance, and taste are extremely good. It is unknown how its taste is compared to the Heavenly Cheese (tiansutuo天酥酡)[14]. In this world it is can be confirmed that there is no match for it. The poem reads,

Fragrance like dragon saliva, [color] pure white.

The taste is like that of milk but it is totally clear.

Do not hastily compare Golden Minced Fish from the Southern Sea (nanhai jin?kuai南海金?膾),

To Dongpo’s Jade Crumb Soup.

The Poem on Vegetarian Soup (caigeng菜羹) composed by Yang Wanli also reads,

Use a spoon to take mica-like rice, fragrant and fresh, colored like jade [i.e., white].

The vegetarian soup is newly cooked; in it are thin kingfisher-green slices.

There is no meat or roast like this in the human world–

Vegetarian food from heaven might be as sweet.

The Song Emperor Taizong ordered Su Yijian to explain Wenzhongzi文中子[15] to him. In this book, there was a saying about “wild herb soup and solid food (gengli hanqiu羹藜含糗)” from the Classic of Food composed by Yang Su杨素 and intended to be handed down to his son. The emperor asked, “which food is the most precious?” Su Yijian replied, “the food does not have a set flavor. What suits one’s taste is the precious one! I only know that the [strange plant name; character not in our sources , possibly a miswriting] juice is delicious. I can remember that one night it was extremely cold. I drank a lot by the stove. At midnight, I was thirsty. The moon in the courtyard was bright and there was a basin of [?] juice covered in the remaining snow. I ate several pieces without interruption. At the time I told myself that the phoenix meat made by the immortal chef in heaven would not be as good as what I had eaten. I have tried to compose a biography of Mr. Jade Bottle and record this story, but have not found opportunity and thus have no results to report.” The emperor laughed and agreed with him.

At Tang times, Liu Yan went to the court at the fifth beating of drum. It was in the middle of the coldest days at the time. On the road he saw a shop selling steamed Iranian pancakes (hubing胡饼; [Iranian nan or something similar]). The pancakes were steaming. Liu Yan asked people to buy it for him.  He wrapped it in his sleeves and [then] ate it. He told his colleagues that it was so delicious that it could not be described in words. This is also because food does not have a determined flavor hierarchy; whatever suits one’s taste is the precious kind!  [Food can taste different to different people and under different situations; each to his own.]

Ni Si [Song Dynasty] said that Huang Tingjian composed an essay of Five Seeings at Meal Time (shishi wuguan食时五观). His words were deep and profound. He could be called a person who knew shame. I[16] used to enter a Buddhist temple and saw fasting monks. Whenever they ate, they would have three bites of little flavor. The first bite was to know the right taste of rice. If a person ate too much and mixed up the five flavors, he would not know the right taste. If he ate light-flavored food, the food was delicious by itself and did not need to borrow other flavors. The second bite was to think where food and clothes came from. The third bite was to consider how strenuous the farmers were. These were the five seeings and the meanings were prepared in the process. It was very simple to use this method when eating. If one had three bites first, more than half the rice was eaten. Even if there was no soup or vegetables, he could also finish eating by himself. This was a way of being satisfied with poverty.  [Also a way of satisfying the standard Buddhist directive to think seriously about what you eat, every time you start eating.]

In the Essay on Thinking of Returning (sigui fu思归赋) Wang Fengyuan [of whom little is known] said:

My father was eighty years old and my mother’s hair had also turned white. I am still a clerk, staying far away from my parents. The black bird chirping in the morning even knows to feed his parents. How can I be less than a bird? Whom can I tell my sorrow? The qi of autumn is chilly and moving. In the day my sorrowful thoughts arose and I looked askance at the river bank. I remember that when I was a child, every kind of fruit had been just ripe and the precious ones were offered frequently. Sometimes there were long-waist purple water chestnuts (ziling changyao紫菱長腰), round and solid red foxnuts [17](hongqian yuanshi紅芡圓實), persimmons in shape of a cow’s heart, with green pedicels (niuxin ludi zhi shi牛心綠蒂之柿), chestnuts individually wrapped in yellowish skin (dubao huangfu zhi li獨包黃膚之栗), greenish taros growing in linked [levee-divided?] fields (qingyu lianqu青芋連區), blackish barnyard millet (Echinochloa crus-galli) with five calyxes (wubai wuchu烏稗[18]五出), colorful duck-claw wood with small seeds (yajiao shoucai hu weihe鴨腳受彩乎微核), quinces that grow as if carved out of cinnabar (mugua loudan er chengzhi木瓜鏤丹而成質), breast-like greenish pear (qingru zhi li青乳之梨), oranges in shape of a reddish bottle, salted bee pupae (fengyong yancuo蜂蛹醃醝), honey-covered areca nuts and crab apples [19](binzha zimi檳楂漬蜜). Meat dishes included cormorant[20] (jiaojing鵁鶄) wild goose (yeyan野雁), ducks living in a lake, chirping quails, fatty crabs from a pure river, fresh fish from cold water, covered with purple fronds[?] and mixed with wild rice stem (jiaoshou茭首). There were dogwood berries (Cornus officinalis) (yu萸[21])  and chrysanthemums floating in cups of liquor. Turnips (jing菁[22]) and leeks (jiu韭) were displayed on the table. I sat by the pines and bamboos in the mountain with streams, sweeping under the paulownias (tong桐) and willows in the field in front of my door. My boy servants would not be noisy and I had books by my sides. Sometimes I had kept quiet for a whole day, while other times I had pleasant conversations with my friends. I believed in what my parents liked and had been in the community for long. My heart earnestly desires to decline the official seal and ribbon, but I definitely do not want to imitate the self-locked heart of Tao Yuanming, who was ashamed to bow down for five pecks of grain.  [All the treats mentioned are rustic mountain-and-river foods.  Tao Yuanming famously rejected office, thus nobly following his true nature but less nobly denying the world his services; Wang wants to follow him but is too moral.]







An Essay on Teas


There are many kinds of tea in the world. There are the Flower-on-Stone Tea石花 from the top of Mountain Meng in Jiannan[23], Purple-Bamboo-Root Tea 紫筍in Guzhu (Hu Prefecture[24]), Bright-Moon Tea in Bijian (Shan Prefecture), Missing-the-Peace Tea of Huojing in Qiongzhou, Thin-Flake Tea in Qujiang, True-Fragrance in Badong, Cedar-and-Rock in Fuzhou, White-Dew in Hongzhou, Yangxian Tea in Chang Prefecture, Juyan Tea in Mao Prefecture, Yangpo Tea in Mountain Yashan, Riding-the-Fire Tea in Long’an, High-Stalk Tea in Duru, Qianyang, and Plum-Slope Tea in Naxi, Luzhou, all of which are well-known.

In rank, the Flower-on-Stone Tea is the best, the Purple-Bamboo-Root second.  The Bright-Moon Tea in Bijian and the others rank after them respectively. It is a pity that not all of them can be obtained. In recent years, the tea grown on Mountain Huqiu is said to be surprising; unfortunately we cannot get more of it. If its slender sprouts are picked before the Festival of Grain Rain and withered [lit. “roasted,” but withering is the correct technical English term here] with the correct method, the Heavenly-Lake Tea is green and fragrant. It would satisfy your thirst just to smell it. The real Jie Tea is extremely expensive, twice as expensive as the Heavenly-Lake. I regret the difficulty of obtaining it. It would be wonderful if one could pick by himself as needed. As for the Lu’an Tea in Zhejiang, its taste is delicate. However, it is not good for withering and turns bitter if withered even if its nature is really good. The real Dragon-Well Tea grown in Hangzhou cannot be matched by the Heavenly-Lake. There are only a few families whose skill in withering it is excellent. Nearby, the tea withered by monks living in the mountain is also good.

The Dragon Well is better. However, Mountain Dragon-Well grows on only about ten mou. The tea grown outside of the mountain is not as good, and is used as substitute Dragon-Well.  Teas such as the tea grown in Northern-Mountain and West-River are used to replace the Dragon-well. Even the Hangzhou natives who know the taste of the Dragon-well are few, since there are too many fakes. I think that the beautiful spring of the Dragon-well is made by heaven.  The wonderful tea is grown for the miraculous qi of the mountain and thus can match the mountain. For those that cannot obtain it, the Heavenly-Lake and [ordinary] Dragon-Well[25] are the best. Tianzhu and Lingying tea are ranked next. The Yuqian tea grown in Mountain Tianmu, Hangzhou, is similar to the tea in Shuzhou, both of which are of the second rank.

Tea has become popular in the north, but one should be careful about drinking water and tea if he is in the south, in Fujian and Guangdong. In the past, Lu Yu [the great tea conoisseur] did not recognize the [problems with] teas grown in Lingnan and said that the tea grown in Lingnan tasted very good. We now know that Lingnan has much poisonous qi.  It affects the grass and trees. If northerners eat it, they can easily get sick. Therefore, one should be careful. Anyone wanting to pick some should wait till the sun is up and the mountains are visible. When the mist is gone from the mountains, one can start to pick the tea.

Tea balls and tea bricks are produced by grinding and lose most of the true taste.

Tea is wonderful when it is dried in the sunshine, green and fragrant, much better than withered tea.


[Notes:  The belief that southeast China had poisonous mists is an old and widespread one, not entirely gone today.  The major source for the idea was malaria, which is, of course, associated with mosquito-breeding marshes, and thus with mists. The problem was not the tea, but the malaria-carrying mosquitoes that made dawn and dusk dangerous times to be picking.           Withering tea leaves involves heating them—“roasting”—in shallow pans, over fires or sometimes with charcoal.  It is the normal first step in preparing green tea.]


Picking tea


Tuanhuang “has one flag and one gun,” which means one leaf and one sprout. When it is picked in the morning, it is called “tea,” but is called “chuan” if picked in the evening. The tea picked around the date of Grain Rain is best. Both the rough and the slender can be used except that it should be picked when it is sunny, withered properly, and preserved in the correct way.


[The first sentence here appears fragmentary; what is meant is that people say that the tea should be picked “when it has one flag and one gun,” as explained. The very finest tea still is picked at this stage:  one new leaf and a bud.]


Preserving tea


Tea is compatible with ruo bamboo leaves, but should be kept away from fragrances and medicines (xiangyao香藥). It likes warm and dry and hates cold and wet. Therefore, tea-gathering household use ruo bamboo leaves to pack it, and warm it every two or three days. The temperature of the fire should be close to body temperature. When it is warm, it can get rid of the humidity. If the fire is too hot, the tea is burned and cannot be consumed.

It is said that one can put the tea in bottles [probably ceramic ones], ten jin per bottle, and then put the bottles in a jar. Every year, put the ashes of burned straw into a huge barrel. Put the tea bottles into the barrel and insert the ashes around the bottles. Put the ashes above the bottles and pack down tightly. Whenever wanting to use the tea, open the bottle and take out a little, then put the ashes on it. The tea will not be rotten. In the second year, change the ashes.

It is also said that one can hang a frame in an empty room and put the tea bottles upside down. Because steam comes from the sky and goes down, they are put upside down.  [Steam and vapor rise, of course; evidently something like “drizzle” is meant here.  The text may be corrupt.]

If two kinds of sprout teas are served, they should be cooked with clean spring water, and flowers, fragrances, and fruit should not be added.. Some like to add flowers to tea. They should use tea that is even and delicate [i.e. small, even-sized leaves]; the taste of tea will not be decreased and the mouth will be filled with the fragrance of the flowers, so the tea will not be insipid (脱俗tuosu).

For orange tea and lotus tea, open the half-blossoming lotus at dawn and add a pinch of delicate tea. When the flower is full of tea, tie it up in a hemp skin [sic; evidently a web or sack made of hemp cloth) and leave it overnight. Next morning pour out the tea. Use paper made in Jian to wrap the tea and bake it with slow fire till it is dry. Repeat the previously-mentioned method with another flower. Repeat it for several times and bake it till it is dry. Its fragrance will be unsurpassed when it is tasted.

Osmanthus (muxi), jasmine, rose, wild rose (qiangwei), orchid (lanhui兰蕙), orange flower, gardenia, muxiang木香 (costus, Vladimiria souliei or Saussurea lappa), and mei (Prunus mume) flowers, all can be used in tea. When the flower is blossoming, pick the half-opened blooms, which have the most fragrance. Measure the amount of the tea and add a proper amount of flowers to it. If the flowers are too many, it would be too fragrant and lose the taste of the tea. If the flowers are too few, it would not be fragrant and not good enough. Use three portions of tea and one portion of flowers and it would be fine. With osmanthus, one should get rid of its branches and pedicels and dust and worms and ants. Take a porcelain jar and put one layer of flower and then one layer of tea till it is full. Tie it tightly with paper and put it into a boiler. Boil it with a large amount of water. Then take it out and wrap it with paper when it is cooled down. Bake it on fire till it is dry and then preserve it. Other flowers are treated similarly.


[Most of these flowers, especially osmanthus or sweet-olive, are still commonly used in tea.  Mei or flowering-apricot—often mistranslated “plum”—has a delicate carnation scent.]


Four tips for making tea

  1. Choosing water

When a mountain spring is not sweet [i.e., when it is sulphurous or otherwise mineralized], it will devastate the taste of the tea. Therefore, people of old thought that the selection of water is of utmost importance. Mountain water is the best, river water next to it, and well water the worst. As for mountain water, springs dripping from stalactites and flowing slowly [i.e., somewhat alkaline] is the best. If the water flows fast, don’t use it, or it will make people have neck ailments. As for river water, use that which is far from human beings. For well water, take that which is abundant[i.e., with plenty of water to dilute the pollutants]. If the water is as yellow as a crab or turbid or salty and bitter, don’t use it.

The water taken from the middle of the lake in Hangzhou, the number one spring in Mount Wu, Guo Pu’s Well, The Hupao Well, the Dragon Well, and the Immortal Ge Well, are very good.


  1. Wash the tea

Whenever cooking tea, wash the tea leaves with hot water, so that the dust and cold qi [“breath” or essence, but actual bitter dust is intended too] will be eliminated.  Thus it will be wonderful when cooked.  [Green tea is believed to have cold qi because it is bitter and a “cold” color.]


  1. Then to the brew

The tea should be cooked by slow and “living” fire. Living fire means fire coming from burning charcoal and having flames. One should not let the water boil.  Thus the tea will be properly prepared. At first, the water has dispersed fish-eyes [bubbles] and a low sound can be heard. In the middle of boiling, the water gushes like a spring from the edge and [the bubbles] are like pearls. At the end, the water is surging [boiling high] and the water qi [in this case, the literal air in the water; modern teamakers are still careful not to boil the dissolved air out of the water] disappears.  This is called old water [i.e., overboiled for the purpose]. This method of three-stage boiling cannot be made without living fire. The most serious thing to prevent is smoking the tea by burning firewood—the Five-Bandit-and-Six-Demon Brew mentioned in Qingyilu清异录 (N. Song).


  1. The equipment

When the pot is small, it is easy to get the brew ready. Soaking the tea leaves and pouring the brew should match each other. [I.e., don’t steep more than you are going to drink—always good advice.]  If the pot is large and the tea is left over after drinking, the tea stays too long and thus will not remain tasty. The tea boiler and pot made of porcelain and pottery is the best; bronze or tin is worse. Porcelain pots are best for making tea, while pottery [earthenware] boilers are best for cooking the water. It was said in Qingyilu清异录 that the brew made by the wealthy and prominent people should be cooked by silver boilers, and is wonderful. It is worse when using a bronze boiler to cook the soup or a tin pot to pour the tea.  [The metal leaches out and its taste and chemical action ruin the tea.]

For tea utensils, the cups and plates made from Xuan kiln is the best. They are of thick material and white and shiny, while the style is ancient and delicate. There are white pots stamped with flower patterns that are similar to those from the Xuan kiln. Their style is acceptable, and they shine like jade. Second best are those from kilns of the Jiajing period. When there is a small design [character unclear, probably corrupt] in the middle of it, it is especially beautiful. If one wants to test how the tea is yellow or white, how could he make the assessment harder by using qinghua [bluish-white] porcelain? For liquor, the same theory applies; only pure white vessels are of the highest quality, and others should not be used.


[All the above is good advice, still to be highly recommended.]


Three methods to use for tea


  1. Wash the vessels

When tea pots, cups, and spoons become dirty, they will devastate the taste of the tea. They should be washed till they are clean; then it will be fine.


  1. Warm up the cups

Whenever the tea is poured out, the cups should be warmed.  Thus the tea will show a cream-like surface.  If the cup is cold, the color of the tea will not appear on the surface.


  1. Concerning fruit

Tea has real fragrance, good taste, and right color. When it is cooked or poured, it should not be served with precious fruits or fragrant grasses. Those that can complement its fragrance are pine nuts, orange, lotus seed kernels, Chinese quince, mei flower, jasmine, wild rose, osmanthus, and so on. Those complementing its taste are cow milk, dragon peach, round eye (yuanyan圓眼—longan?), loquat and so on. Those complementing its color are dried persimmon, dried date, fire [-colored] peach, red bayberry, orange and so on.  [These are all ordinary, common items, not “precious” exotica.]  Whenever taking good tea, I feel pure after moving away the fruits. When they are mixed, I cannot distinguish one from another. If one wants to have fruits and nuts with tea, he should try walnut, hazel, melon seeds, apricot kernels, Canarium seed, chestnut, chicken head (jitou雞頭, seeds of the Euryale waterlily), ginkgo seed (yinxing銀杏) and so on. These can be used with tea.


[Again, all good advice, and most of it still practiced in China.]


The uses of tea


When one drinks tea, it can satisfy his thirst, help digestion, get rid of the ailment of having phlegm or insomnia, benefit the “water way” [sic], brighten the eyes, enhance thinking (this comes from Bencao shiyi本草拾遺), get rid of irritation and greasiness. One should not spend a day without having tea. However, there are things to avoid. It will get rid of irritation and greasiness and will not damage one’s spleen and stomach when one washes one’s mouth with strong tea after having a meal. When there is meat between teeth, one should use tea to wash it. Then the meat will be diminished and fall out.  One will not even notice it or feel anxious aboout picking it out. The nature of teeth is bitter [in the Chinese fivefold correspondence theory]. Therefore, his teeth will grow stronger and denser and poison will disappear by itself. However, only Chinese tea (zhongcha中茶) should be used. (The foregoing comes from Mr. Su’s writings.)


The tea set


A tea set includes sixteen vessels, which are collected in a container and work for the “bitter upright man” [a literary term for a furnace, see below]. I name them here and want to manage them as one set, for those that have pure hearts and fine conduct and can manage by themselves.

Shangxiang: the ancient Zhao tripod, used for cooking the tea.

Guijie: baboo brushes, used for washing the pot.

Fenying: ladle, used for measuring the weight of the water.

Dihuo: bronze fire dipper, used for moving fire.

Jianghong: bronze fire sticks, used for piling up the fire.

Zhiquan: balance for measuring tea, use one liang of tea when using two jin of water.

Tuanfeng: white bamboo fan, used for fanning the fire.

Chuchen: tea washer, used for washing the tea.

Jingfei: bamboo frame, a stomach support mentioned in the Classic of Tea.

Zhuchun: pottery pot, used for pouring tea.

Yunfeng: knife, used for cutting fruits.

Gandun: wood chopping block.

Chuoxiang (tasting the fragrant): porcelain cup, used for drinking the tea.

Liaoyun (teasing the cloud): bamboo tea spoon, used for taking fruits.

Najing (showing respect): bamboo tea container, used for containing cups.

Shouwu (receiving the dirty): dishcloth, used for cleaning the cups.


Tea containers (seven in total)


Kujiejun (bitter, upright man): bamboo furnace used for cooking the tea. It is also collected by the travelers.

Jiancheng: cage made from Indocalamus leaves, used for containing the tea to store in a high place.

Yuntun: porcelain bottle, used for taking the spring water for the purpose of cooking.

Wufu: bamboo basket, used for containing charcoal, the material for boiling the tea.

Shuicao: porcelain or pottery urn, used for containg the spring water which is used for boiling.

Qiju: a square box braided from bamboo sticks, used for collecting the tea set.

Also, pinsi: a round basket braided from bamboo sticks, used for collecting every kinds of tea leaves available for cooking and tasting.



Treatise on spring water


Tian Ziyi said: the spring that comes from the mountain foot is called mengxi, wuxi is heaven-given, water xi has the full taste.  Lu Yu said: mountain water is the best. Meng refers to a spring coming from bell-like rocks and rocky ponds with a slow flow. When the spring flows fast and violently, it is not a meng. Therefore, one should avoid consuming it.  [Fast currents carry too much turbidity, and generally lack the slight mineralization of slow, clear mountain water in China.]

The obscure cannot be abandoned, since there is a divinity for everything [obscure and probably corrupt; we suspect that “obscure” was originally used in its root meaning, “turbid water,” and that a direction to avoid turbid water has gotten mixed with an originally separate sentence on the mountain god; see following]. The heavenly divinities produce the myriad things. The Book of Han mentioned three gods. The mountain god is one of them.

Spring water should be heavy [i.e., mineralized].  Good spring water is especially so. The Hermit Xu in Yuhang used to tell me that the mountain spring from Phoenix Mountain and the One-Hundred-Flower Spring in Amudun are not as good as the Five Springs; one can see the advantages of the immortals’ springs.

When the mountain is thick, the springs are thick.  [I.e., a large wide mountain produces a large spring.]  When the mountain is outstanding, the springs are outstanding[ly good]. When the mountain is pure, so is the spring. When the mountain is serene, so is the spring. All of them have their own natures. When not thick, they will be thin. When outstanding, they will not be dull. When not pure, they will be turbid. When not serene, they will be noisy. These will not be good springs.

When the mountain does not come to an end, the water will not. If it ends, there will be no source. When there is a drought, it will dry quickly.  [I.e., a long ridge or a range are more reliable water sources than an isolated hill.]



Stone and Stream


Stone is the bone of the mountain. A stream is moving water. The mountain spreads qi and thus the myriad things grow. Qi spreads and thus mai [“pulse”] grows. [The flow of qi in the mountain is a pulse, equivalent to the human pulse; this idea was universal in China until recently, and the folk view was that mountains contained actual dragons that, as living animals, had actual pulses.  Mai has a wider meaning, though, and can accommodate the circulation of qi in a person, water in the earth, and energy in an earthquake-prone mountain range, as well as a pulse from blood flow.] Therefore, the mountain water is the best. It is said in Bowuzhi博物志 that stone is the source of metal. When the essence of jia [lit. “nail” or “shell,” unclear here] and stone flows out, there is water. It is also said that the mountain spring brings out the qi of the earth.

If the spring does not come out from stone, it cannot be good. So it is said in Chuci (Poems of Chu, ca. 3rd century BCE):  “drink the water of the stone spring and stay in the shade of pine and cypress.” Huangfu Ceng wrote a poem for Lu Yu:

Distant temple—in the mountain a calm time,

Cooking in the wild with clean and clear water from the stone spring.

Mei Yaochen’s poem on the tea on Peak Blue Sky:

The stone spring is good where I cook [the tea].

It is also said that:

Small stones and the cold spring hold the early taste.

These can really be appreciated.

Sometimes, there are springs that hide in the sand and earth. If one takes [water from such a spring] and it is not exhausted, it can be used. Otherwise, it is sinking rain water.  Even if it is clean, do not use it.

If the current flows a long way, its taste will be light. If it stays in a deep pond, its taste is doubled and can be used.

If the spring does not move, it is harmful to drink it. It is said in Bowuzhi博物志 that people living in mountainous areas will have goitre if taking water that does not flow. [Water in the west China mountains is often deficient in iodine, with the result that goitre is common. The Chinese early realized that something was wrong with the water or salt there, since they recognized that iodine-rich sea salt prevented the condition while iodine-lacking Sichuan mountain salt was associated with it; but they had no idea what the actual problem was].

When the spring gushes out, it is called pen. When the spring water drops down suddenly, it is called pu. Both the water curtain in Mt. Lu and the waterfall in Tiantai, Hongzhou, are recorded as highly ranked waters, in contrast to the Classic of Tea written by Lu Yu.  [Lu ranked waters differently.]  Therefore, Zhang Jiuling wrote a poem on the waterfall in Mt. Lu, saying that:

I heard of the meng water at the foot of the Mountain,

It is said by those now living in the wild woods

That the nature of things is mysterious and unstable,

The life-giving kun [a power of the earth] is often diverse and transforming.

I put it away and leave quietly,

Who can understand the transformations?

Therefore, the knowledgeable will not have it. However, a waterfall is truly a precious screen and silk curtain when one lives in the mountains. Used for ears and eyes, who would say that it is not suitable?  [I.e., it is fine for scenery, though not for drinking.]


Pure and cold


“Pure” means clean and quiet, which is the way pure water looks. “Cold” means chill and frozen, which is the way the water looks when poured out. It is not difficult to find pure springs but it is hard to find cold springs. Pure as the water that is shallow and flows over sand, it is not of a good grade. Cold as the water coming from deep rocks and having accumulated enough yin, it is not of a good grade.

When stones are few and earth much, or when the sand is sticky and the mud congealed, it cannot be pure and cold.

The image of the meng water is said to be its fruit. A flowing well’s image is said to be cold. If the spring does not fruit, the qi will be stagnant and its radiance will not be pure. If it is cold, the nature will be dry and the taste will be bitter.

Ice means hard ice. When the qi of yin gathers in a deep canyon and cannot get out, it will be congealed and turn into hidden yin. Water lies bright and light on the ground, while ice is condensed and cold. Therefore, ice is the ultimate status of the pure and cold. The poem composed by Xie Lingyun includes the line:

Chisel the ice and cook the breakfast.

And from Shiyiji拾遺記 (“Record of Collecting What Has Been Forgotten”):

Mt. Penglai’s water is icy,

One who drinks it will live for a thousand years.

[Mt. Penglai is a mythical, divine mountain.]

When there is sulfur under the water, it emerges as a hot spring. There are many of them here and there. There are many cases in which springs come out from the same valley but half are warm and half are cold. Not all of them are of potable grade. An exception is the vermilion spring in Mt. Huang, Xin’an, which can be drunk. It is said in the Illustrated Classic of Herbals that Mt. Huang used to be called Mt. Yi and there is a vermilion spring under the east peak that can be used for cooking tea. In the spring, it is pinkish. It is the liquid cinnabar of nature. [Actually it is ferric iron that stains hot spring water red; red algae may also be involved.]  It is said in Shiyiji拾遺記 that: if one drinks the boiled water of Mt. Penglai, he will live up to one thousand years. This is the drink for immortals. When there is gold, the water must be pure. When there are pearls, the water must be lovely. When there are carp, the water must be foul [as every fisherman knows!]. When there is a dragon, the water must be deep, dark, and somewhat bad. One cannot use waters without distinguishing them.


Sweet and fragrant


Sweet means beautiful. Fragrant means of good smell. In the Book of History it is said: “Make the crops grow and get sweet grains.”  Sweet means fragrant. The grain is sweet and fragrant and thus can nourish people. The spring is sweet and fragrant. Therefore, the spring can nourish people, too. However, it is easy to find a sweet spring that is also a fragrant spring. There is no fragrant spring that is not sweet.

Those tasting good are called sweet springs. Those having fragrant smells are called fragrant springs. One can find them here and there. When there is a noxious plant growing above a spring, its leaves will be nourished and roots moistened. All of them will damage the sweet and fragrant. The ultimately noxious plants can even make the liquid poisonous. So they should be cleared away.

Sweet water is praised for its sweetness. In Shiyiji拾遺記 it is said that there is a sweet river passing by the north of Mountain Yuanqiao. Its taste is as sweet as honey. In Shizhouji十洲記 (“Record of Ten Continents”) it is said that the water from the Dark Canyon in Yuan Continent is like honey. If one drinks it, he will live as long as heaven and earth. It is also said that the water from Sheng Continent is like maltose and cheese.  [Buddhist and Chinese cosmology postulate several continents beyond the bounds of the known world.  They have truly unearthly properties, such as flavored water.  Probably the visions of shamans or spirit mediums were the sources for the information.]

When there is cinnabar in the water, not only the taste is not normal, but can elongate one’s life and cure his illnesses. It can be found only in the famous mountains and great rivers, where the immortals stayed and practiced. In his youth, Ge Xuan used to be the magistrate of Linyuan. In the county, there was a family named Liao whose members enjoyed longevity for generations. He suspected that it is because of the particularly reddish well water. So he tried to dig around the well and got dozens of hu of vermilion cinnabar covered up by ancient people.

Ge’s Well at Lake West was the place that Ge Gong made cinnabar [pills? Elixirs?]. At the Majia Garden, a stone jar was found when people dredged the well. There were several pieces of cinnabar in it. They were like wild lotus seeds and had no taste when tasted. They had been abandoned. Someone gave a fisherman a pill and he lived as long as one hundred six years. This cinnabar water is extremely difficult to gain. It cannot be contained in unclean vessels.

If one cooks tea properly but does not know how to drink it, it is like taking springs from stalactites to irrigate wormwood [i.e., using the finest grade of water to irrigate a bitter herb]. The sin cannot be more serious. When the drinker has it in one sip and does not take time to distinguish the taste, nothing can be more vulgar.


Spiritual water


“Spiritual” means pertaining to the gods. The heavenly Unity gave birth to water, which is essential and bright and not turbid. Therefore, water falling down from heaven is really spiritual water. Isn’t it called “the water of the upper lake” in ancient sources? When inspected, such water provides drinks for the immortals. Use a big jar to collect rain water during the Yellow-mildew period [the rainy period in spring when mildew grows], and also use snow water. Insert above ten pebbles under it. It will not spoil for years. Take a piece of charcoal about three-or –four-cun in length and burn it till it is red. Throw it into the water and let it quench. The water will not grow fleas [water insects]. [Both the heat and the adsorptive qualities of charcoal would purify the water.]

The spiritual is that which has yang qi dominant and spreading. The color is as strong as sweet dew, as congealed as grease, as tasteful as maltose. It is also called paste dew, or heavenly liquor.

“Snow” is the coldness accumulated in heaven and earth. In the Book of Fan Shengzhi [a Former Han agricultural manual] it is said that the snow is the essence of the five grains.  [Fan was giving practical advice for cold, dry northwest China:  snow is the best source of soil moisture, as he was well aware.]  In Shiyiji拾遺記 it is said that when the King Mu went east and arrived at the Great Xi Valley, the Queen Mother of the West came to submit sweet snow from Qianzhou. This is spiritual snow. Tao Gu took snow water to cook tea balls. In a poem on cooking the tea, Ding Wei wrote that:

I cherish it and preserve it in the bookcase,

Insisting on keeping it till snow falls.

In a poem on the Jian Tea submitting to the scholar, Li Xuji wrote that:

I try to use the snow of the Liang Garden,

To cook and stir the spring tea from Jian.

Therefore, snow is especially good for tea drinks. Men without official titles ranked it as the last grade; why? I think that it might be about the taste of dryness. If one thinks it is too cold, I do not think so.  [Snow is pure, a commodity rare in old Chinese waters.  Even today, snow and rain make the best tea, far better than our chlorine-laden and sediment-sullied tap water.]

Rain is harmony between yin and yang. Heaven and earth give the water from the clouds above.  It supports the time, gives birth, and nourishes the living. [Ideally] the wind is mild and the rain is proper. The cloud is bright and the rain is sweet. In Shiyiji拾遺記 it is said that when fragrant clouds moisturize everywhere, they become fragrant rain, which is spiritual rain and surely can be drunk. If the rain is made by dragons, or it is heavy and continuous, or dry and frozen, or foul and black, or the dripping from the eaves, it cannot be taken.  [Mostly good advice—rain often picks up dust and soot in the air, as it falls—but the dragon issue is a difficult one.  Many Chinese believed all rain was made by dragons.  We suspect that Gao considered slow or gentle rains to be natural, but violent storms to be dragon-caused.]

The place close to tides must not have good springs because saline-alkali soil is plentiful there. The most famous tides in the world are in Wulin. So there are no good springs. However, there are good springs in the mountains near West Lake.

The Yangzi is a river. The Nanling [flowing into it] has layered rocks and deep canyon and is taken into the best rank, as an exception [to the general rule that river water is contaminated]. I used to taste it and it was really not different from those found east of the mountain [east of the Nanling]. The water from the Wusong River is the lowest grade of water. Inexplicably, it has also entered the ranks [of waters that some people consider acceptable].


Well Water


When the well is pure, it is because the spring [feeding it underground] is pure. “Tong” [to go through, circulate] means materials circulating [getting through].  “Law” means limits. The law regulates the residents, forbidding them from eating and drinking without limits. The purity [of the well] comes from yin. What has gotten into the well makes it turbid. The law sets up limits [on the well].  Its mai [pulse, in the qi system] is dark and the taste is stagnant. Therefore, Lu Yu said that the well water is ranked lowest. He said that the well has been taken by too many people. When too many people take it, their qi gets in and flows actively there. So it is definitely not a good class. When using the water, put white stones into a jar. This will not only enrich its taste, but can keep the pure water from turning turbid.

Gaozi said:  A beautiful well known to the world is the Zhongling well. However, I have tasted the well on Mt. Jiao four times and it is no worse than that of the Zhongling well. The taste of the water from Mt. Hui is light and pure, and can be safely put into the highest grade. As for the water in our Hangzhou, it is the Running-Tiger well that is best among all the wells. The old Dragon well and that of the Pearl Temple are sweet, too. The taste of the Immortal Ge’s well in Mt. Bei is dense. As for the water inside the city, the number one well in Mt. Wu is the best. When I tasted it, it was not as pure as Mr. Shi’s well or Granny Guo’s well, which are good for tea. As for the water close to the two bridges in the south lake, one should take it in the early morning. It is very good for cooking tea and does not require anything else.




[The recipes in this section are for medicinal preserves, not soups in the usual sense.]


Green and crisp mei soup


Take three jin twelve liang of green and crisp [underripe] mei [flowering apricot, often miscalled “plum”] fruits, four liang of the raw liquorice powder, one jin of baked salt, one jin four liang of raw ginger, three liang of green Sichuan pepper, half liang of dry pepper. Get rid of the seeds of the mei and cut them in half. Probably every family has a recipe for green mei soup and their ingredients are largely identical, though with minor differences. When starting to make it, the fragrant smells are similar too. When it is salt-preserved for several months, it must become fully ripe like yellow mei soup. [I.e., it will taste like ripe mei, which are yellow.] There is an explanation for how to do this. First, the green mei should be collected before the festival of Xiaoman (Grain Fills). Pestle them till mashed. Discard the seeds, but do not use your hands; use a dry wooden spoon instead. When stirring, use a wooden spoon also. After mashing them, spread them out on the sifter. Let the liquid strain off. Second, use raw liquorice. Third, use baked salt–only when it is cooled down. Fourth, use raw ginger and mash it without being saturated in water. Fifth, use green Sichuan pepper right after it was picked and dried. Fry and stir all the previous ingredients and use a wooden spoon to move them into a new bottle. Only materials slightly more than the quantity for ten cups can be preserved in one bottle. Leave some salt in the power. Cover it with double-layered oilpaper and tie the bottle neck tightly. Only when this has been done, one is able to have crisp mei. If the mei and ginger stick to your hands [i.e. if the mashed paste is too difficult to work with], you can cut them into bits instead.

[This would not produce a “soup,” but a preserved paste very much like—and in fact ancestral to—the “liquorice plums” or “liquorice crack seed” so abundant in Asian and Hawaiian markets today.]


Yellow mei soup


Take round and large yellow [i.e., ripe] mei and steam them till fully cooked. Discard the seeds. Take one jin of clean meat, three qian of baked salt, one and a half qian dry ginger powder, two liang of dried purple mint [perilla], liquorice and sandalwood, adjusting to individuals’ taste. Stir them till the flavor is even and put them in porcelain. Dry them in the sun and then preserve them. When eating them, one should add some salt. In the summer, it is even better if water is added.

[Again, this is a preserve, not a soup; it is the salted and dried version of a still-common dish of meat, today always pork, with flowering-apricot sauce.]


Phoenix-Pond soup


Take one jin of pitted black [fermented] mei, four liang of liquorice, one liang of baked salt, and cook them till they become creamlike. One method is to divide them equally into three. Pestle them into powder and stir till they are even. Press them into the bottle tightly. In the twelfth month or in the middle of the hottest days, blend them together. After half a year, bake them till they become powder and take it after cooked with hot water. Otherwise, this also can be taken after it is cooked with water into creamlike stuff.

[Another version of preserved liquorice mei, not a soup.]


Mandarin orange soup


Take one jin of mandarin oranges and take off the skins, discarding the white membranes inside. Cut the skins into bits and mash them with the pulp. Use one liang of baked salt, one liang of liquorice, and one liang of raw ginger. Mash them till the juice comes out and stir them till it is even. For oranges, the method is the same. Dry it in the sun and seal tightly. When it is cooked in hot water, it tastes very good.


Apricot-kernel soup


Take any amount of apricot kernels and boil them till the skins peel off. Soak in water overnight, just as in making mung bean jelly. Drain the water. Or add a little of ginger juice as well as butter and honey. Another method is to use three liang of apricot kernels, two liang of raw ginger, one liang of baked salt, one liang of liquorice powder, and mash them together.

[Again, a preserve, not a soup.]


Fennel spice soup


Take six qian of fennel and the skins of Chinese pepper, two qian of dried salt, half sheng of fully cooked sesame, one jin of roasted flour. Mash them into powder.  Make up as soup with boiled water.

[This would be a thin, highly spiced paste or thick soup.  Salt tends to absorb moisture unless tightly sealed, hence the need to dry it.]


Mei-and-Perilla soup


Take one and a half jin of black mei fruit, four liang of baked salt, two liang of liquorice, ten liang of purple mint [perilla] leaves, half liang of sandalwood, twelve liang of fried flour. Blend them evenly.  Blend in boiled water.


Heavenly-fragrance soup


When the white osmanthus blossoms, use a wood stick to strike off the flowers when they still have dew on them in the early morning. Hold them in a piece of cloth and take off the pedicels and calyx. Put them in a clean container. Use a new basin and mash them into mud-like paste. Squeeze water out and collect it. Add one liang of liquorice and ten salted plums to every jin of this material. Mash and make into cakes. Put the cakes into a jar and seal tightly. Use after making up as soup in boiled water.  [This seems to explain why the recipes are called “soups”:  one can beat up the preserved items in water for a hot drink.  However, the modern equivalents are, in our experience, usually eaten as they are prepared, though sometimes made into drinks.  Osmanthus flowers at night, and has an exquisite sweet scent to attract moths; it is routinely used today as of old for flavoring teas and other drinks.]


Secret-fragrance soup


When the mei blossoms, one should pick half-open flowers with petals in the early morning. Put them into porcelain bottles. Sprinkle every liang with one liang of baked salt. Don’t use hands to take them, or they will be spoiled. [They are extremely fragile.] Use layers of thick paper to seal. Put in the shade. In the next spring and summer, open, and add a little honey first in the cup. Then put two or three flowers in it. Pour boiled water in it. The flower will blossom by itself just as lovely as if fresh. When it is added to the tea, it is extremely fragrant. It is said that pistils also can be dried in the shade and juice added as in the above method.

[Opening mei flowers have a delicate carnation fragrance that is wonderful in tea.]


Need-to-ask soup [i.e., soup you should ask for]


Su Shi composed a song, saying:

Three qian of raw ginger (dried for use) and one sheng of jujubes (dried and pitted for use),

Two liang of white salt (fried to be yellowish) and one liang of liquorice (burned to get rid of the skin),

Nail spice, wood spice, each half qian,

Mash with the right amount of orange skins (get rid of the white membranes),

When cooked well,

When made up well,

It will redden and whiten your face even when you’re old.

[We have translated.“nail spice” (clove) and “wood spice” (Vladimirea or Saussurea) literally above, to keep the parallel construction.  The parentheses are in Gao’s text, and presumably his rather unpoetic addition to the poem.]


Apricot kernel cheese soup


Take three and a half liang of apricot kernels and saturate them in two sheng of repeatedly-boiled water. Cover them with a lid. When the water is cooled down, replace it with more repeatedly-boiled water. Repeat this five times. Then pinch off the skins and grind the kernels carefully in a small pottery basin. Then take one jin of good honey and cook them in a boiler till they boil three times. When boiled for the third time, collect them. When they are half cooled, add some more mashed kernels. Grind again.  Add [still more] mashed kernels and grind till even. Eat after mixing thoroughly in boiled water.

[This produces a form of nut butter, probably a Near Eastern contribution to Chinese cooking; it was widely used in Mongol times; see Buell et al. 2010.  Apricot kernel butter is still part of the Chinese nutraceutical shelf.]


Phoenix marrow soup (nourishing the lung and curing coughing)


Use one liang of pine nuts and walnuts respectively (soaked in hot water and then peeled), and half liang of honey. Grind the above mentioned materials till they are mashed and then add honey to it. Stir till evenly blended. When using it, mix up in boiled water.

[Another nut butter.  Pine nuts are associated with longevity, because pines live long and also because the nuts are genuinely highly nutritious.  Walnuts are, at least in modern China, considered brain food, because the kernel halves look like small brains.]


Finest cream soup (satisfying thirst and generating saliva)


Use one jin of black mei (mashed. Cook them with two large bowls of water till the soup can be contained in one bowl. Let it settle down. Don’t use iron vessels [Gao’s note]).  Add two liang of susha[石宿]砂[26] (ground fine), one qian of white sandalwood power, one fen of musk, and three jin of honey.

Put the mei water, susha, and honey all three together. Cook it in a sandstone vessel with slow fire till it turns reddish. When it is cooled down, add white sandalwood and musk. When using, take one or two spoons of it and mix in boiled water.


Watery-Miraculous-Mushroom soup (opening the qi of heart and benefiting the essence and marrow)


Use one jin of dried lotus seeds (wither them with skins on till they are extremely dry. Mash them into fine powder) and one liang of fine liquorice (slightly withered). Grind the above mentioned materials into powder. Add a pinch of salt to it every two qian. Saturate it in boiled water and use. Mash the blackish skins of lotus seeds till they are as hard as iron. If they cannot be mashed any more, get rid of them then. People usually get rid of the blackish skins when using lotus seeds. They do not understand. When one remains sitting at night, too hungry and tired to take any food, have one cup of this soup and it will greatly compensate for weakness and enhance the qi.  Formerly the immortal Wuguangzi took this and then achieved the Way.


Jasmine soup


Spread honey in the middle of a bowl. Spread it evenly and do not let it flow. Pick twenty or thirty jasmine flowers early every morning. Cover the honey bowl on the flowers and use their fragrance to smoke it. At noon get rid of the flowers. Pour hot water into the bowl.  It is very fragrant.


Fragrant orange soup (widens the Middle Jiao, improves the movement of qi, and cures the discomforts of drunkenness)


Use two jin of large oranges (got rid of the seeds, cut into slices, and use with skins), one half liang of sandalwood power, one liang of raw ginger (cut into slices and withered), one liang of liquorice powder, and three qian of salt. Grind the oranges and ginger in a clean sandstone basin till they are mashed. Then add white sandalwood powder and liquorice powder. Mix them and make cakes out of them. Bake the cakes till they are dry. Grand them into powder. Whenever using, take one qian of it and make it up in boiled water.


Chinese olive [Canarium album] soup


Use one liang of baiyaojian (百藥煎)[27], one qian of white angelica 白芷, five qian of sandalwood, and five qian of honey liquorice甘草炙[28]. Grind the above materials into fine powder. Mix in boiled water and then take it.


[Presumably the ingredients are used to preserve the “olive,” or are used with a preserved one; the “olive” is the preserved fruit of a south Chinese and southeast Asian tree that also has an edible kernel in the seed.  The preserved fruit resembles a cured olive, but the tree itself has no resemblance or close relationship to that plant.]


Cardamom soup


This soup cures every kind of cold qi, fullness in heart and stomach, stagnancy in chest midriff, hiccup and vomiting, diarrhea and weakness and slipperiness[29], indigestion of water and grains, tiredness and powerlessness, lose of appetite (this comes from Jufang局方[30]).

Use one jin of cardamom seeds (baked in flour), four liang of roasted liquorice [here and in the following, “roasted” means parched or toasted in a pan], one jin of roasted white flour, five qian of clove branches and sticks (just use the branches), two liang of dried salt. Grind them into powder. Whenever using it, take two qian of it and mix in boiled water. It is wonderful when used before meals.


Sobering-up soup (use after centering wine [zhong jiiu, Gao’s euphemism for getting drunk!])


Use one and half qian of white tuckahoe [a fungus], five qian of cardamom seeds, three qian of wood spice (muxiang), one and half qian of dried orange skins, one fen of greenish lotus skins 蓮花青皮, one qian of zexie澤瀉[31], one qian of shenqu神曲 (withered till it turns yellowish), three qian of susha, half liang of kudzu flowers葛花, one and half qian of cocklebur猪苓 (get rid of the black skins), one qian of dried ginger, and two qian of large-headed atractylodes (Atractylodes macrocephala) 白术.

Grind them into fine powder and stir them till they are even. Whenever using, take two qian of it and saturate it in hot water. After taking it, the patient will sweat a little bit and then the drunken illness is gone. One should not take too much of it.


Quince soup (getting rid of wetness, satisfying thirst, and improving the movement of qi)


Use four liang of clean, peeled, dried quince, five qian of white sandalwood, three qian of gharu-wood, five qian of roasted [pan-toasted, parched] fennel, five qian of cardamom, five qian of susha, one and half liang of fine liquorice, and half liang of dried raw ginger.

Grind them into extremely fine powder. Take half qian of it everyday. Add salt and boiled water when using it.

[Quince juice, someteimes with spices, is still used for the above purposes, and a more delightful and refreshing nutraceutical would be hard to find.]


No-dust soup


Use two liang of crystal sugar水晶糖霜 and two fen of mei-like borneol梅花片脑.

Pestle the sugar into powder and sift it. Add borneol and grind it till it is even. Whenever using, take one qian and mix up in boiled water. One should not use too much. If one uses too much, it makes people feel full.


Green-cloud soup (one should not take this soup when eating fish)


Use four liang of catnip ear荆芥穗, two liang of large-headed atractylodes, and two liang of liquorice.

Grind them into powder. When using it, add salt and saturate in hot water.


Arborvitae leaf柏叶 soup


Pick tender leaves of arborvitae [Thuja orientalis—though pai can also mean similar evergreens with flat needle sprays]. Tie them with thread and hang it in a large jar. Seal the jar with paper. Use it after several months. If it is not dry yet, seal it till it is dry. Grind it into power. The color is like that of tender grass. If the jar is not used, it can also be put in a closed room. But it won’t be as green as that made in a jar. It turns yellowish when it meets the wind. This soup can be used to replace tea, especially if people talk at night and are frightened [presumably because of drinking too much tea]. If one drinks too much tea, it will harm his health, consume the qi of essence, and harm the spleen and stomach. Arborvitae leaf soup is very beneficial. It is even better if it is picked freshly, cleaned, and mixed in boiled water.


Three-goodness soup


Use one sheng of glutinous rehmannia地黄 juice and Chinese wolfthorn枸杞 berry juice respectively, and half sheng of honey. Cook them in silver till it is like thin maltose. When using it, take a large spoon of it and saturate it in hot water or liquor. It enriches the qi and nourishes the blood. It is good for a person when taken over a long time.

[Rehmannia is medicinal; Chinese wolfthorn berries are rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron, hence the benefit to the blood—traditional Chinese did not know that iron and vitamins were responsible, but, as we can attest, they did know from observation that wolfthorn berries significantly benefited the blood, making thin and pale blood stronger and redder.]


Dried Lichee荔枝soup


Use two jin of white sugar, five liang of large black mei pulp (steam it with boiled water and get rid of the sour liquid), a small amount of cinnamon powder, a small amount of raw ginger thread, and a small amount of liquorice.

Pestle the sugar and black mei pulp till they are mashed. When using, mix it in boiled water.


Pure charm清韻 soup


Use three liang of susha, one liang of stone calamus powder石菖蒲末, and five qian of liquorice powder. Add a small amount of salt. Mix in clear boiled water and take.


Orange soup


Use fifty oranges, one liang of dry wild yam powder 干山藥末, one liang of liquorice powder, and four liang of white mei pulp.

Mash them and bake until dry. Make it into cakes. Mix it in clear hot water and use.


Osmanthus soup


Use four liang of osmanthus (baked and made into powder), a small amount of dry ginger, and a small amount of liquorice. Make them into powder and stir it till it is even. Add proper amount of salt and contain it in porcelain jar. Do not let the qi get out of the jar. Use it frequently after mixing in white hot water.


Dongting soup


Use four liang of aged orange skins (peeled) and four liang of raw ginger.

Mix the orange skins and ginger for one night. Toast them and add six qian of liquorice powder, thirty white plum pulps, as well as five qian of baked salt. Stir them till they are even.  Mix in boiled water and use.


Quince soup (second recipe)


Use ten liang of quince, two liang of raw ginger powder, two liang of baked salt, two liang of liquorice powder, and ten liang of purple mint powder.

Merge them and stir till they are even. Mix in boiled water and use. If one’s hands and feet are sour [sour perspiration?], he will feel better after drinking it.

Another recipe: add two liang of susha powder and three liang of yam powder. This enhances digestion, dissolves the qi化氣, and strengthens the spleen.


Ginseng and dwarf lilyturf soup


Use one qian of ginseng, six fen of dwarf lilyturf门冬 [Ophiopogon], and three fen of five-flavor [spice powder]五味.

Put them in a small jar and cook. As the soup is ready, drink it.


Green mung bean soup


Sift and clean green [but dried] mung beans and put them in a pot and add water. Boil it once over a high fire. Take the soup and wait till it is cooled down. The color is green. It cures heatstroke/insolation. If it boiled several times, the color will become turbid and one cannot bear to eat it.  [This is still an extremely common folk remedy, not only in China but in Korea and elsewhere.]



BOILED WATERS (twelve kinds)


Paddy-leaf boiled water (daoye shushui稻葉熟水)


Pick seedlings of growing rice plants and dry them in the sun. For use, pour boiled water in a pot. Burn the leaves and throw them into the pot while still alight. Cover tightly. After a short while, pour the water out.  It is extremely fragrant.


Tangerine-leaf boiled water


Pick and dry in the sun. Make as above.


Osmanthus-leaf boiled water


Pick and dry in the sun. Make as above.


Purple-mint-leaf boiled water


Pick purple mint [perilla] leaves and toast them over fire with a piece of paper inserted between the leaves and fire. Do not stir them. When the fragrance can be smelled, collect them.  For use, wash quickly in boiled water. Then pour away the water. Add the saturated purple mint into a pot and then pour boiled water in it. After using this water, the breast can broaden out and the stagnant can be guided through (kuanxiong daozhi寬胸導滯).


Gharu-wood boiled water


Use one or two pieces of gharu-wood of the best grade. Burn in a stove and let it smoke. Cover the stove with the mouth of a pot and do not let the smoke escape. When the smoke does not come out any more, add boiled water into the pot immediately. Cover it tightly and then pour it out and drink it.


Clove boiled water


Use one or two cloves. Mash and put in a pot. Pour boiled water into the pot. The fragrance is thick; it is a little heating (shaore少熱).


Large cardamom (sharen砂仁) boiled water


Use three to five sharen and one or two qian of liquorice. Mash them and add them into a pot. Add boiled water. This is fragrant and can be eaten.  It can eliminate blockage (xiao yongge消壅隔) and remove what has congealed and been detained in the stomach region.


Flower-fragrance boiled water


Pick jasmines and roses with half-opened buds. Use one bowl of boiled water and let it cool down. Saturate the buds in the water and cover it with a bowl tightly. Remove the flowers next morning. Fill a pot with boiled water and then add one or two small cups of flower-saturated water. Then the whole pot is fragrant and the water can be taken.


Sandal-wood boiled water


Use the same method as for gharu-wood boiled water.


Cardamom boiled water


Use one qian of cardamom, three qian of liquorice, and five fen of sweet flags growing on rocks (shichangpu石菖蒲). Slice them and add them into a clean pottery vessel. Pour boiled water on them, then drink. If the taste is too strong, add boiled water and then it can be used.


Cassia liquid (guijiang桂漿)


Use one liang of royal cassia (guan gui官桂, Chinese cinnamon) powder and two bowls of white honey (baimi白蜜). Boil two dou of water till only one dou remains. Pour it into a porcelain jar and wait till it is cooled down. Add cinnamon and honey and stir it for more than two hundred times. First cover it with a layer of oil paper. Then add several layers of cotton paper. Seal the jar tightly. After five to seven days, the water can be used. Otherwise, wedge a piece of wood into the jar and seal it tightly. Put it in a well. After three to five days, it is cool and tasty. Drink one or two cups frequently. Heat will be dispelled (qushu祛暑) and anxiety resolved. The hot will be removed and the cool will be generated (qure shengliang去熱生涼). Hundreds of illnesses will be prevented.


Medicinal citron (xiangyuan香櫞) soup


Use any amount of of large fragrant (medicinal) citrons and set twenty of them apart. Cut them in half. Use a bamboo knife to scrape out the pulp. Remove the part resembling a bag(nangdai囊袋). And the membrane resembling a tendon (jin筋). Collect it. Peel it till there is no white pith. Mince totally. Take it with a bamboo strainer and put it into boiled water. Scald it briefly once or twice. Squeeze it and let it dry. Collect it into the bag-shaped part. Add four liang of baked salt, one liang of liquorice powder, three qian of sandal-wood powder, one qian of gharu-wood powder (it will also be suitable if gharu wood is not used), and two qian of white cardamom powder. Mix evenly and seal tightly in a bottle. This can be preserved for a long time. Use chopsticks to get out one or two spoons of it and pour fully boiled water (baiguntang白滾湯) into it. It cures swelling and inflation in the diaphragm area (xiongge zhangman pengqi胸膈脹滿膨氣), sobers one up from drunkenness, improves digestion (xingjiu huashi醒酒化食), removes phlegm and dissolves congealed matter (daotan kaiyu導痰開郁). Its wonderfulness cannot be described in words. It cannot be taken in too large quantities, or it will hurt one’s original qi (yuanqi元氣).



CONGEES AND PORRIDGES (zhoumi粥糜), thirty-eight kinds


Gordon euryale (foxnut or chicken-head, the edible fruits of a water plant; qianshi芡实) congee


Use three he合 of peeled Gordon euryale. If they are new crop, grind them into paste. If they are old, make them into powder. Mix it with three he of japonica rice. Cook it as it turns into congee and eat it. It will enhance the essence and qi, strengthen the intelligence, and sharpen ears and eyes.


[Still commonly used in soups and congee; highly nutritious and digestible, it does provide benefits, though possibly not great intellectual supplementation.]


Lotus seed congee


Use one liang of lotus seed pulp. Peel and cook it till it is mashed. Pestle it carefully. Add three he of sticky rice. Cook them till it turns into congee. Eat it and the curative effects are the same as above.


Bamboo leaf congee


Use fifty pieces of bamboo leaves, two liang of gypsum (shigao石膏), and three bowls of water. Cook them till it can be contained in two bowls. Let it settle down and remove the sediment. Add three he of rice and cook them into congee. Add one or two spoons of white sugar and eat it. It cures the wind and heat above the midriff (or diaphragm; geshang fengre膈上风热) and red eyes (toumuchi头目赤).


Turnip seed (manjing蔓菁, possibly including a kind of beet) congee


Use two he of turnip seeds and mash them. Add two large bowls of water and stir. Take the clean juice and add three he of rice. Cook it into congee. It cures difficulty in urination (xiaobian buli小便不利).


Cow milk congee

Use one zhong钟 of raw real cow milk [as opposed to soybean milk, etc.]. First make a congee with japonica rice and cook it till it is half cooked. Remove a little of the soup. Add cow milk. When it is fully cooked, contain it in a bowl and add one spoon of butter (su酥) and eat it.  [An interesting recipe, appearing thoroughly Indian; it probably came from India with Buddhism.]


Sugar cane congee


Extract three bowls of sugar cane juice and add four he of rice. Cook it into congee. Eat it with empty stomach. It cures cough, heat accompanied with weakness (xure虛熱), dry and hot mouth (kouzao口燥), thick phlegm (tinong涕濃), dry tongue (shegan舌幹).


Wild yam (shanyao山藥) congee


Use four liang of lamb and mash it. Add one he of yam powder, a small amount of salt, and three he of japonica rice. Cook them into congee. Eating it will cure illness caused by long-term weakness (xulao虛勞) and hot bones (gezheng骨蒸).[32]


Wolfthorn (gouqi枸杞) congee


Use one he of wolfthorn [presumably berries] from Ganzhou甘州 and add three he of rice. Cook it into congee and eat it.


Perilla (zisu紫苏) congee


Use Perilla frutescens crispa powder and add water to get the juice. When one is cooking [rice] congee and it is about to be fully cooked, add proper amount of juice and mix them evenly. Eating it will cure old men’s foot qi (laoren jiaoqi老人脚气). (It is wonderful using domestic perilla. [Gao’s note.])


Glutinous rehmannia (dihuang地黄) congee


Use more than ten jin of glutinous rehmannia newly grown by the tenth month. Mash them till the juice comes out. Add four liang of white honey to every jin of the juice. Slowly cook it till it turns into paste. Collect and seal it. When cooking three he of congee, add three or two qian of glutinous rehmannia paste and a small amount of ghee. Eating it will moisturize yin and moisten the lung (ziyin runfei滋阴润肺).


Sesame congee


Use peeled sesame and steam them till full cooked. Toast till the fragrance can be smelled. Use three he of rice and wash. Add two he of sesame and grind up into juice. Fully cook it into congee. When eating, add butter to it. [“Grinding into juice” evidently means grinding up the sesame and rice in water, or grinding and then putting into water.]


Mountain chestnut (shanli山栗) congee


Fully cook chestnuts and powder them. Add rice and cook into congee. Then one can eat it.


Chamomile seedling (jumiao菊苗) congee


Use new born sprouts of chamomile (ganju甘菊) with clustered leaves. Pick and clean them. Mince finely. Add salt and cook with rice into congee. Eating it will clarify the eyesight and pacify the heart (qingmu ningxin清目宁心).


Wolfthorn leaf congee


Use new tender leaves of wolfthorn. Cook it as the above method. It is also wonderful.


[Chinese wolfthorn leaves and berries are extremely rich in vitamins and minerals, and have many of the benefits claimed for them in Chinese medicine.]


Job’s tears (yiyi薏苡) congee


Wash job’s tears and add the same amount of white rice. Cook them into congee. When eating, add one or two spoonfuls of white sugar.


Sandy-husk rice (shakemi沙殼米) [rice with rough, sandy-feeling husks] congee


Collect sandy-husk rice and wash it roughly with water. Add it to boiled water. When it is boiled again, take it out immediately. Therefore it will not turn into paste. It cures diarrhea (xiali下痢) and is extremely effective.


(wulou芜蒌) congee


Fully cook red beans (chidou赤豆) in a pottery jar. When the rice congee is slightly boiled, add the cooked red beans to it and cook. Eat it.


Mei flower congee


Collect fallen mei petals and clean them. Use snow water to cook congee. When the congee is fully cooked, add petals to it. When it is boiled again, take it up immediately and eat it.


Tumi 荼蘼 congee


Pick petals of tumi [a small tree with white flowers, according to note in text; unidentified] and boil briefly with hot liquorice soup. When the congee is fully cooked, add them to it and reboil.

Or pick tender leaves of muxiang木香, and boil them briefly with hot liquorice soup. Add oil, salt, ginger, and vinegar to make a dish. It has two kinds of pure fragrances and is truly a food that should be offered to the immortals.


River-god (heqi河祇) congee


Fully cook Chinese herring (haixiang海鲞). Remove the bones and cut it finely. When the congee is fully cooked, add the fish to it and cook together. Stir till evenly mixed, and eat.


Wild yam (shanyao山药) congee


Use yam from Huai and make it into powder. Add rice to it with the ratio four to six. Cook them into congee. Eating it will compensate the lower cinnabar field (xiayuan下元)[33].


Goat or sheep kidney (yangshen羊肾) congee


Use half jin of wolfthorn leaves, three he of rice, two goat/sheep kidneys, five minced green onion heads (it is also suitable if dried). Cook them with rice into congee. Add some salt. Eating it will effectively cure pains in waist and feet.


Elk horn (mijiao麋角) congee


Use elk horns that have been cooked to produce glue. Grind them into fine powder. Add one qian of powder to every cup of congee. Add a small amount of salt. It cures the weakness in the lower cinnabar field (xiayuan xuruo下元虚弱).


Deer kidney congee


Use two deer kidneys. Remove the fat and membranes. Mince them finely and add a small amount of salt. Cook till very soft. Add three he of rice and cook into congee. It cures the weakness of qi and deafness (qixu erlong气虚耳聋). Another recipe: add one liang of desert cistanche (congrong苁蓉), which has been washed by liquor and peeled. Cook it with kidneys and rice. It is also good.


Pig kidney congee


Use two fen of ginseng, a small amount of green onion white (congbai葱白), and one fen of (fangfeng防風)[34]. Mash all of them into powder. Cook them with three he of japonica rice (jingmi粳米) till they are half cooked. Remove the membranes from a pair of pig kidneys. Cut them into thin slices and salt them. Let stand for a while. Add them into the congee pot. Do not stir after the kidneys have been thrown into the pot. Cook it with slow fire for a long time. Eating it will cure deafness.


Lamb congee


Use four liang of cooked [?] lamb (lanyangrou烂羊肉). Mince it finely. Add one qian of ginseng powder, one qian of tuckahoe powder, two jujubes, and finely minced membranous milk vetch (huangqi黃耆)[35]. Add three he of japonica rice and three or two fen of good salt. Cook them into congee. Eating it will cure weakness (leiruo羸弱) and enhance the yang (zhuangyang壮阳).


Dolichos bean (biandou扁豆) congee


Use half jin of white dolichos beans and two qian of ginseng. Mince them into thin slices. Cook them with water till the juice comes out. Add rice to it and make it into congee. Eating it will improve one’s essence and strength (yi jingli益精力). Also, it cures children’s cholera (xiao’r huoluan小儿霍乱).


Tuckahoe (fuling茯苓) congee


Make tuckahoe into powder. Use one liang of it and two he of sweet rice. Fully cook the rice into congee. Then add the tuckahoe and cook them together. Eat it after taking it up. It treats insomnia (“the symptom that one wants to sleep but cannot,” yushui budeshui欲睡不得睡).


Perilla and cannabis congee


Use five qian of real Perilla frutescens crispa seeds (zhen zisuzi真紫苏子) and cannabis seeds (damazi大麻子) respectively. Wash them with water. Bake them till the fragrance comes out. Add water and grind them into mud-like stuff. Take the juice. Use the juice taken from the two kinds of seeds to cook congee. It cures every kind of weakness that has congealed in an old man’s body for a long time (laoren zhuxu jiejiu老人諸虛結久), wind that cannot been terminated (fengmi bujie風秘不解), the stagnancy gathered in the diaphragm area (yongju gezhong壅聚膈中), inflation in the stomach and sickness in heart (fuzhang exin腹脹噁心).


Bamboo trickle (zhuli竹瀝)[36] congee


Cook congee as normal. Add a half bottle of bamboo trickle. Eating it will cure the fire accompanying the phlegm (tanhuo痰火).


Dwarf lilyturf (mendong門冬) [37]congee


Wash raw dwarf lilyturf till it is clean. Extract one cup of juice out of it. Take two he of white rice, one he of Job’s tears (yiyiren薏苡仁), two he of extracted raw glutinous rehmannia (dihuang地黄) juice, and half cup of raw ginger juice. First, fully cook Job’s tears and white rice. Then add the other three sorts of juices. Cook them into thin congee. It cures nausea and vomiting (fanwei ouni翻胃呕逆).


Daikon (luobo萝卜) congee


Use daikon that is not spicy. Add salt and boil it till it is fully cooked. Mince it into bean-shape bits. Add it to congee that is almost cooked and it can be eaten when it is boiled.


Lily bulb (baihe百合) congee


Use one sheng of lily bulbs. Mince them and add one liang of honey. When the congee is almost ready to eat, add three he of lily bulbs and cook them together. Eating it is wonderful.


Heshouwu (何首乌) congee


(The red heshouwu is the female and the white is male. The bigger, the better.)

When picking the bigger, iron tools cannot be used. Use a bamboo knife to peel and slice it. Collect the slices. Use five qian of it and cook it in a pottery jar till it is mashed. Add three he of white rice and make them into congee.


Cornel (shanzhuyu山茱萸) congee (it can also be made into powder)


Peel and mash it. Grind it into mud-like stuff. Whenever using one cup of it, add two spoons of honey. Bake them together and let them congeal. When eating, mix it with congee and stir evenly.


Breast milk (renru人乳) congee


Use breast milk from a fat person (feiren肥人). When the congee is half cooked, remove the soup and add breast milk to it. Replace the soup with breast milk and cook it till it is fully cooked. Contain it in a bowl. Add one or two qian of butter (suyou酥油). Stir immediately. It is sweet and tasty. It greatly supplements the original qi (dabu yuanqi大补元气). It is also suitable if butter is not added.


Wolfthorn berry (gouqizi枸杞子) congee


Use raw wolfthorn berries and grind them into mud-like stuff. If they are dry, grind them into powder. Add half cup of the powder to every basin of congee. Add one or two spoons of white honey and stir it till it is even. Eating it is greatly beneficial (dayi大益).


Meat and rice (roumi肉米) congee


Use white rice and cook it into soft rice. Use chicken soup (jizhi鸡汁), meat soup, or shrimp soup. Mix them and let it become limpid. Mince fully cooked meat into bean-like bits. Add wild rice stem [i.e. sliced swollen stems of “wild rice,” Zizania; jiaosun茭笋], hispid arthraxon (xiangjin香荩)[38], or (songrang松穰). Mince them finely. Add them and the rice to the soup. When it is boiled, take it immediately and serve it. Use pickles to add flavors to it (guowei过味). It is very good.


Green bean congee


Wash green beans till they are clean. Put them into a boiler. Add a lot of water and cook them till it is mashed. Then add rice. Use high fire (jinhuo紧火) to cook them into congee. When it is cooled down, it is good for eating. In the summer months, one should stop when having enough of it. It should not be eaten too much.


Counted-member (koushu口數) congee[39] [i.e. congee for everyone in the household]


At the night of the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, use red beans to cook congee with the same method of cooking green bean congee. Share it with the whole family. For those that have been out and returned, one should have them eat too. It is called koushu congee. It can repulse epidemics and vicious demons (ligui疠鬼). This comes from Tianjia wuxing田家五行.




STARCHES AND POWDERS (fenmianlei粉面类), eighteen kinds


Lotus root starch (oufen藕粉)


Take any amount of thick lotus roots. Clean and cut them off. Soak [in water] for three days. Change the water every day. When the water is clean and clear, take the lotus roots out. Mash them into mud-like stuff (dao ru nijiang捣如泥浆). Use a piece of cloth to get the juice. Then mash the dregs. Then extract the juice, sift the remaining, and remove any contaminants. Add clean water, slightly mix and stir them. Then let it settle and remove the water. What has settled is good starch.


Jitou Starch (jitoufen鸡头粉)


Use fresh jitou and dry them in the sun. Remove the husks and mash them into powder.


Chestnut starch (lizifen栗子粉)


Use mountain chestnuts. Slice them and dry them in the sun. Grind them into fine powder.


Water caltrop starch (lingjiaofen菱角粉)


Peel the water caltrops and make them into powder as in making the lotus root starch.


Ginger starch


Mash the raw ginger and extract the juice. Let the starch settle. It can be added to soup (hegeng和羹).


Arrowroot starch (gefen葛粉)


Peel the arrowroots. Obtain starch by using the above method. It stimulates the appetite and terminates anxiety and thirst (kaiwei zhi fanke开胃止烦渴).


Tuckahoe starch (fulingfen茯苓粉)


Slice tuckahoe. Soak, and remove the red juice. Change the water and soak for one day. Get the starch by using the above method. When it is stirred with uncooked congee (weizhuzhou未煮粥), its benefits are best (buyi zuijia补益最佳).


Pine and cypress starch (songbofen松柏粉)


Take leaves when they still have dew on them. If picked overnight, it will not produce starch. Use the tender leaves and mash them. Let the starch settle down. It is like the tender leaves, green and lovely.


Yam starch (shanyaofen山药粉)


Use fresh yams. Follow the above method. The dry can be grinded into starch.


Brake [presumably bracken fern root] starch (juefen蕨粉)


Use it to make cakes, which are wonderful. There are such made-cakes (zhichenghuo治成货).


Lotus seed starch


The dry lotus seeds can be ground into powder.


Taro starch (yufen芋粉)


Use white taro (baiyu白芋). Make them into powder by using the above method. The purple ones should not be used.


Caltrop starch (jilifen蒺藜粉)


Mash it in a wood mortar till its sticks and skins are off. Take the starch out of it as the above method. It can lighten the body and remove the wind (qingshen qufeng轻身去风).




DRIED MEAT AND FISH (puzhalei脯鲊类), fifty kinds


One thousand li dry meat (qianlipu千里脯)


Beef, lamb, or pork can be used. Use one jin of thin meat, two cups of strong liquor (nongjiu秾酒), one qian of thin vinegar (dancu淡醋), four qian of white salt, three qian of dong 冬, one qian of fennel and Chinese pepper powder. Stir them overnight. Cook them with slow and high fire (wenwuhuo文武火)  till the juice is dry. Dry it in the sun. It is extremely wonderful. It can be preserved for one month.  [Presumably good for a journey of a thousand li, about 300 miles.]


Meaty dried flesh (rouzha肉鲊) it is also called willow-leaf dried meat (liuyezha柳叶鲊)


Use one jin of thin meat (remove the tendons) and one liang of salt. Add a small amount of rice starch (mifen米粉)—it will turn sour if too much rice starch is added. Use three jin of pig skins (roupi肉皮). Boil them briefly with water. Slice them into thin pieces. Mince them with the thin meat. Stir them. Use a piece of bamboo shoot (ruo箬) skin to wrap a meat cake of the weight of four liang. Bake it above the ashes in the winter (dongtian huihuo冬天灰火) for three days. Use a cover and keep a small hole on it. In the summer, it can be eaten after one week.

[Zha often means dried fish specifically—see below—but, obviously, not here.]


Pestled dry meat (chuipu槌脯)


Use one jin of thin meat from a pen-raised pig that has been just slaughtered, while still warm. Chop it into four or five pieces. Add half liang of baked salt. Press them into the meat till the tendon and pulse cannot take them any more. Half dry them in the sun. Measure and use good liquor and water, Chinese pepper, dill (shiluo莳萝), orange skins (jupi橘皮). Cook them with slow fire till it is dry. Then mash it into bits.


[This spiced, pemmican-like dried shredded meat is still a common snack food.]


Fire meat (huorou火肉)


Use the four thin legs from a pig that has just been slaughtered and was raised in a pen. Add salt when they are still warm. Add one liang of salt to every jin of meat. Rub the salt from the skin into the meat. Let it turn soft. Press down with bamboo fencing [woven slats] and stones. Put it in a jar. After about twenty days, add ashes burned from paddy stalks (daochaihui稻柴灰) to each layer of meat. Repeat this for three or five times. Burn paddy stalks to smoke the meat for one day and one night. Hang the meat in the place for smoking. In early summer, soak it in water for one day and one night, clean it, and hang it up as before.


[Modern Chinese huotui “fire leg” is ham, but here we have a more complex recipe.]


Twelfth-month meat (larou腊肉) [La is a general term for preserved meats]


Use ten jin of fat, tender pork from a castrated pig (fenzhu?猪). Cut it into twenty pieces. Use eight liang of salt and two jin of liquor. Mix them evenly and rub them with high pressure into the meat till it turns soft. Use a big stone to force out the liquid. Air it till dry. Spread the remaining liquor and dregs on the meat. Use a piece of bamboo strip to piece the meat and hang it in a well-ventilated place.

Another method: use ten jin of meat. Cook twenty liang salt with water till the water is clean. Take the liquid and add it to the meat. Take it out after twenty days and hang it up in a well-ventilated place. Another method: summer-month salty meat. Rub baked salt into the meat. Let it evenly salted for one night. Then hang it up. If any trace of liquid is visible, use a big stone to extrude the liquid. Then hang it in the wind.


Roasted fish (zhiyu炙鱼)


Use long-tailed anchovy (jiyu鲚鱼)[40] just caught from the river. Clean it. Roast it on burned charcoal till it is fully dried, and gather it up.

Another method: remove the head and tail of the long-tailed anchovy. Cut it into pieces. Fry it with oil till it is fully cooked. Use the skin of bamboo shoots to separate the fish, and arrange them in a pottery jar. Use mud to seal the jar.


Fish in salted water (shuiyanyu水腌鱼)


In the twelfth month, cut a carp (liyu鲤鱼) into large pieces. Wipe off the water. Use four liang of baked salt for every jin of fish. Rub the salt on the fish and let it stay for one night. Then wash it and air it till it is dry. Then use two liang of salt and one jin of dregs. Mix them evenly and put them in a jar. Use paper and mud to seal the jar.


Raw crab (xiesheng蟹生)


Mince fresh crab into bits. Cook the sesame oil till it is cooked. Let it cool down. Use (caoguo草果), fennel, large cardamoms (sharen砂仁), Chinese pepper powder, water ginger (shuijiang水姜), pepper powder. Then add green onion, salt, and vinegar. There are ten kinds of flavors. Add them into the crab and stir it evenly. It can be eaten immediately.


Dry fish (yuzha鱼鲊)


Carp (liyu鲤鱼), herring (qingyu青鱼), weever (luyu鲈鱼), or sturgeon (xunyu鲟鱼) all can be used to make dry fish. Remove the scales and intestines. Use old bamboo brush to brush away the fat and blood till it is very clean. Hang it in the wind for one or two days. Cut it into small squares. Add one jin of raw salt for every ten jin of fish. In summer months, use one jin four liang of salt. Stir it evenly and let it be salted in a container. In the winter, it should be salted for twenty days. In the spring and autumn, it should be salted for less time. Wrap it with a piece of cloth and press it with a rock. Let the liquid go out till it is fully dry, not slippery (hua滑) or pliable (ren韧). Use two liang of Sichuan pepper skins, half liang of dill (shiluo莳萝), fennel, large cardamoms, and red beans (hongdou红豆) respectively, a small amount of liquorice. Make them into rough powder. Wash seven or eight he of white japonica rice and cook it. Use one and half jin of raw sesame oil, one jin of purely white green onion slices, one and half he of red distiller’s yeast (hongqu红曲). Mash them and stir evenly. Press them into a porcelain or wood jar tightly. Cover it with lotus leaves. Insert bamboo strips to fix it. And then press small stones on it. Wait till it is gradually ready. It is suitable to be made in the spring or autumn. In the winter, one can prepare salted fish as a base. When it is used, add other materials to it immediately. This is the method used in the capital. Long-tailed anchovy (jiyu鲚鱼) can be made in the same way. But it should be dry; then it will be good.


Meat that is like dry fish (rouzha肉鲊)[compare above recipe, from a different part of Gao’s oeuvre]


Cook fresh pig or goat lean legs. Slice them and pestle the slices with the back of a knife blade for twice or three times. Cut them into squares. Boil them and then take them out immediately. Wrap them in a piece of cloth and twist it till dry. For every jin of meat, add one cup of good vinegar, four qian of salt, a small amount of Chinese pepper oil, caoguo草果, and sharen砂仁. It is also tasty when it is served [at a meal].


Large stewed meat (dalurou大卤肉)


Choose a pig that has been raised in the pen and is about forty jin in weight. Use only the fore legs. Remove the fat, bones and the (tuodu拖肚). Pick a piece of pure meat (jingrou净肉) and cut it into pieces about four or five jin in weight. Then cut two times in a cross shape and then make them into squares (qie shizi wei sifang kuai切十字为四方块). Boil them with pure water till they are about seventy or eighty percent cooked. Take them out and let them cool down. Slice them and let each slice have both fat and lean meat and one finger in thickness. Remove the grease on the surface and add a small amount of water. Use the original soup (yuanzhi原汁) [that was used to boil the meat]. Put the soup in a pot. First add spices (luliao卤料), then add the meat, and then add soy sauce, and then add the original soup. Boil them. Then add fine spice powder (mozi xi luliao末子细卤料) to the meat, and then add red dreg powder (hongqumo红曲末).  [A red fungal ferment.] Let it soak in the meat juice and get thinner. Pour the juice onto the meat. Use slow and high fire to boil them till the meat is red all over. Then add previously cooked sauce (suzhi宿汁). Add some salt, remove (jiangban酱板), and then add shrimp sauce (xiazhi虾汁). Remove the grease floating on the surface. Measure how clean (qing清) the sauce is and cook it till it is proper. Use when it is warm. The meat and sauce should not be warmed in a pot again.

Fermented-soybean-sauced goose (chizhi e豉汁鹅) is made as the above method. But the red dregs should not be used. Instead, add some fermented soybeans to the sauce.

The method of extracting a thin sauce (qingzhi清汁): how to remove the grease previously. Mash raw shrimps and soy sauce and add them to the soup. Boil the soup and let it boiled in the pot. At the same time, skim what is floating on the surface. (If there is no shrimp sauce, mash pig liver and add water. Replace the shrimp sauce with the liver sauce.) After three or four times, it is all right, when there is no floating grease, if the shrimp sauce is added.

The method of preserving previously cooked sauce (suzhi宿汁): boil the previously cooked sauce everyday. Let it settle down for awhile and it is usable when clean. If it is not used, contain it in a tin container or pottery jar and seal it. Then hang it in a well.

The method of using the red dregs (yong hongqu fa用红曲法): use about a cup of liquor for every yeast ball (qu曲). Let it soak in the liquor overnight and turn soft. Grind it into mud like stuff. Use the meat soup to dilute it.

The method of making rough spices (cu luliao粗卤料): use equal amount of royal cinnamon, white angelica (baizhi白芷)[41], and fine ginger (liangjiang良姜). Do not cut them and use up all of them.

The method of making fine spices (xi luliao细卤料): use as much as liquorice, and equal amount of royal cinnamon, white angelica, fine ginger, osmanthus flowers, sandal wood, ageratum (huoxiang藿香), asarum (xixin细辛), nard (gansong甘松), Chinese pepper, susha[石宿]砂, red beans, and apricot seeds. Make them into fine powder for usage.

The meat soup should be very clean. It is wonderful when there is no floating grease. But the meat should not be dry or shriveled.



Salted vinegar fish in jelled stock (daidong yancu yu帶凍鹽醋魚)


Cut fresh carp into small pieces. Salt them. Cook in soy sauce. Add the fish scales and catnip (Schizonepeta tenuifolia, jingjie荊芥)[42] to the sauce and boil them. Remove the dregs. When the soup is thick, flavor it according to one’s taste. Keep the soup in a tin container. Put it in a well or in [cold] water [to jell it]. Pour thick gingered vinegar on it.


Cucumber sauce (guaji瓜齏)


Use equal amount of cucumber [or gourd] pickles (jianggua醬瓜), raw ginger, green onion (congmian蔥面), unsalted dried bamboo shoots (dansungan淡筍乾) or wild rice stem (jiaobai茭白), baby shrimps (xiami蝦米), and chicken breasts. Cut them into long slices. Fry them with sesame oil and then it can be served.


Dried moorhen (a duck-like wild bird; shuiji ganzi水雞幹子)


Clean a large moorhen. Boil it in the water and take it out immediately when it is boiled. Press it with a stone. Let it dry totally and then store it.

[Not generally considered very edible.]


Abacus-strip cake (suantiao bazi算條巴子)


Use fat and lean pork and cut them into pieces three cun in length, in shape of abacus strip. Use proper amount of granulated sugar (shatang砂糖), Chinese pepper powder, and susha宿砂 powder. Blend them evenly. Dry them in the sun and steam them till fully cooked.


Minced pork and clam (saozi hali臊子蛤蜊[43])


Use half fat and half lean pork. Cut into small squares like dices. Add some liquor and half-cook these. Add soybean sauce and then Chinese pepper, large cardamoms, green onion white, salt, and vinegar. Blend them evenly. Then mix green bean powder and water evenly. Add them into the pot and contain it when it is boiled. Use this as the sauce (ni膩). Boil the clams in the water and remove the shells. Place them one by one in a boiler (tangguzi湯鼓子). Place the sauce above the clams and serve them. The same method can be applied to fresh leek (xinjiu新韭), onion (hucong胡葱), bok choy hearts (caixin菜心), pig kidney (zhuyaozi猪腰子), bamboo shoots, and wild rice stem.


Oven roasted chicken (lubeiji炉焙鸡)


Use one hen. Boil it till it is eighty percent cooked. Cut it into small squares. Add a small amount of oil in a pot and fully heat it. Place the chicken in the pot and fry it briefly. Use a metal plate (xuanzi鏇子) or a bowl to cover it. Cook it till it is extremely hot. Add equal amount of liquor and vinegar, a small amount of salt. Cook. When it is dry, [add water and] cook it. Repeat this for several times till the chicken is very soft and full cooked. It can be used.  [The “oven” thus appears to be a large pot. The idea here is to cook the chicken pieces down to preserve them.]


Steamed hilsa herring (or Reeves shad; shiyu鲥鱼)[44]


Remove the intestines of the hilsa herring but not the scales. Use a piece of cloth to wipe off the blood. Place it in a boiler. Mash Chinese pepper, large cardamoms, and soy sauce. Add liquor (shuijiu水酒) and green onion and blend them till the flavor is even. Steam the fish with the sauce. Remove the scales and serve it.


Soft-bone fish (suguyu酥骨鱼)


Clean a large crucian carp (jiyu鲫鱼). Add a small amount of soy sauce, a large pinch of perilla leaves (zisuye紫苏叶), and a little liquorice. Cook for half a day [evidently braising over very low heat; this would soften the otherwise extremely annoying small bones of this fish]. When it is fully cooked, it can be served.


Sichuan pig head (chuanzhutou川猪头)


Boil the pig head with water till it is fully cooked. Cut it into strips. Blend granulated sugar, Chinese pepper, large cardamom, and soy sauce with it evenly. Boil it in the original soup [boiling stock]. When it is as soft as if mashed, remove the bones and tie it with threads. Press a large stone on it tightly and make it into cream-dreg like stuff (gaozao膏糟). Then it can be eaten.

[Much like European head cheese.]


Stuffed stomach (niangduzi釀肚子)


Clean a pig stomach. Stuff dried lotus seeds (shilianrou石蓮肉)[45] into it. Wash the bitter skin (kupi苦皮) [of the lotus seeds] till it is very clean. Wash white sweet rice as much as the lotus seeds. Stuff them into the stomach. Tie the stomach with threads. Full cook it and press it tightly. When it is cooled down, slice it. Place the cooked stomach above a piece of paper on the floor. Spray fine vinegar on the stomach and cover it with an earthen bowl. After a while, it can be eaten. Both the stomach and the pulp are thick and edible.


The method of making salted meat (yanrou腌肉) in summer months


Use baked warm salt to scrub the meat till the meat turns soft. Place it in a jar and press stones on it evenly. Press it overnight and then hang it up. If there is any trace of liquid, use a big stone to press it till it is dry. Hang it in a windy place and it will not spoil.


The method of making salted pig tongue and ox tongue


Use eight qian of salt for every jin of tongues. One recipe: use five qian [of salt][46], a bowl of fine liquor, a small amount of Sichuan pepper, dill (shiluo莳萝), fennel (huixiang茴香), and sesame oil, and minced green onion white. Blend them and let them be for five days. Stir them for three or four times. Pierce the tongues, then use a piece of thread to hang them up in a windy place. Let them dry in the shade and wrap them in paper. Boil them and they can be used.


Recipe for air-dry fish (fengyufa风鱼法)


Cut open the stomach of herring (qingyu青鱼) or carp (liyu鲤鱼) and remove the intestines. Use four or five qian of salt for every jin of fish. Salt it for seven days and then take it up. Clean it and wipe off the liquid. Cut below the gills. Scrub the gills and inside and outside of the abdomen with Sichuan pepper, fennel, and baked salt. Wrap it with paper. Then use a piece of hemp skin (mapi麻皮) to wrap all the fish into one bundle. Hang it in a windy place. It would be wonderful if there are more spices stuffed in the fish abdomen.


Recipe for raw meat (roushengfa肉生法)


Cut lean pork into narrow, thin slices. Wash them with soybean sauce. Fry them quickly in a red-heated pot. When the blood disappears and the meat turns white, it is prepared. Take it out and cut it into threads. Then add pickles, radish pickled in lees (zaoluobo糟萝卜), garlic, Amomum villosum cardamom (sharen砂仁), Amomum tsaoko cardamom (caoguo草果)), Chinese pepper, orange slices, and sesame oil. Mix them and fry. When eating it, one should add vinegar to the meat threads and blend them evenly. It is very tasty.


Recipe for making fish paste (yujiang鱼酱)


Use one jin of fish. Mince it and wash it till it is clean. Use three liang of baked salt, one qian of Chinese pepper, one qian of fennel, one qian of dried ginger, two qian of (shenqu神曲), five qian of red dregs (hongqu 红曲). Add liquor to them and blend them evenly. Blend them with fish and contain it in a porcelain jar and seal it tightly. After ten days, it can be used. When eating, one should add some minced green onion.


Recipe for making mashed and/or lees-cured pig head and feet (zaozhutou tizhua糟豬頭、蹄爪)


Boil pig head and feet till they can be easily mashed. Wrap them in a piece of cloth and spread them. Add a big stone on it and press the stone, flattening them for one night. It is very good when brewing lees are used (zaoyong糟用).


Recipe for making liquor fish (jiufayu酒發魚)


Cut a large crucian carp (jiyu鯽魚) open. Remove the scales, eyes, and intestines. Do not let unboiled water touch it. Use a piece of cloth to wipe off the water. For one jin of fish, use one liang of shenqu神曲, one liang of red dreg (hongqu红曲) powder, two liang of baked salt, one liang of pepper, fennel, Sichuan pepper, and dried ginger. Blend them and insert them into the abdomen of the fish. Add one more layer of spices and place it in a jar. Wrap it and seal it with mud. If it is made in the twelfth month, it should be opened after the fifteenth day of the first month. Turn the fish over and add fine liquor to it and let it saturate in the liquor. Seal it with mud till the fourth month. By then it is ready and can be eaten. It can be preserved for one or two years.


Recipe for making liquor-soaked shrimps (jiuyanxia酒腌虾)


Use large shrimps and do not wash them with water. Clip the antennae and tails. Use five qian of salt for every jin of shrimps. Salt them for half day. Let them dry and put them in a bottle. When placing one layer of shrimps, add thirty Chinese peppercorns. It would be wonderful if more peppercorns are added. Or it would be wonderful if one blends peppercorns with shrimps and place them in a bottle. After placing them in the bottle, one should use three liang of salt for every jin of shrimps and dilute the salt with fine liquor and pour the salted liquor into the bottle. Seal it with mud. It will be tasty after five to seven days in the spring or autumn. It takes ten days in the winter.


Huguang recipe for making dried fish (huguang yuzha湖广鱼鲊)


Use ten jin of large carp (liyu鲤鱼). Cut them into small squares like cloves (dingxiang丁香). Remove the bones and other wastes. Stir and toast old yellow rice till dry. Grind into powder. Use a half sheng of it.  Add one and a half sheng of baked red dregs (chaohongqu炒红曲). Make into powder for use. Measure ten jin of the fish pieces and use two bowls of fine liquor, one jin of salt (use one jin and four liang of salt in summer months). Blend them with the fish and put them in a porcelain container. Let it be salted for half of a month in the winter, ten days in the spring or summer. Then take it up and wash it till it is clean. Wrap it in a piece of cloth and extract water out of it till it is very dry. Use two liang of Sichuan pepper, one liang of Amomum villosum cardamoms (sharen砂仁), five qian of fennel, five qian of red beans, a small amount of liquorice that is made into powder, one jin and eight liang of sesame oil, and one jin of white stalks of green onions. First, add one sheng of rice-koji powder (miqumo米曲末) to them and blend them evenly. Contain them in a jar and press a stone on it. It can be eaten after fifteen days in the winter and seven or eight days in the summer months. When eating it, it would be wonderful if spices and rice vinegar (jiaoliao micu椒料米醋) are added.


Deep-fried meat in water (shuizharou水煠肉); also called “split-and-burned” (boshao擘燒)


Cut raw pork into large strips of two fingers in width. Carve patterns like brick stairs [i.e., cut little notches] on both sides of the strips. Then use sesame oil, sweet sauce (tianjiang甜酱), Chinese pepper, fennels, and blend them evenly. Rub them on the carved meat till they are evenly spread. After a while, add a bowl of oil obtained by cooking the pig fat, a bowl of sesame oil, a large bowl of water, a small bowl of liquor to a pot. Add the spiced meat till it is saturated in the juice. Then add one liang of garlic (suanlang蒜榔) and stew it with a cover on the pot. When the meat turns soft, take it up and eat it. The meat seems to have no grease at all because the grease turns into gas.


Water steamed meat (qingzhengrou清蒸肉)


Boil a piece of fine pork once. Take clean squares. Wash it by water and scrape it till it is clean. Carve the skin with a knife. Wrap anise seeds, fennel seeds (daxiaohuixiang大小茴香),  Chinese pepper, Amomum tsaoko cardamoms (caoguo草果), and royal cinnamon in a piece of sparsely-woven cloth. Put it in a boiler and press the meat on it. First, boil chicken or goose meat to get the pure broth and flavor it properly. Pour the broth onto the meat. Then cover it with scallion (dacong大葱), pickles (yancai腌菜), and garlic (suanlang蒜榔) in the boiler. Steam it with the boiler covered. When eating it, remove the scallion, garlic, wrapped spices, and so on.


Fried goat stomach (chaoyangdu炒羊肚)


Wash a goat stomach till it is clean. Cut it into narrow strips. Boil a large pot of water. At the same time, cook oil in a pot. First, put the stomach in the boiler and boil it quickly by holding it in a bamboo strainer (zhaoli笊篱). Then use a piece of coarse cloth (cubu粗布) to extract the water in the stomach. Put it immediately into the wok with oil in it and fry it with high fire. When it is about to be fully cooked, blend green onion, sliced garlic, Chinese pepper, fennels, soybean sauce, liquor, and vinegar evenly and add them to stomach. Take it up immediately after it is cooked. It is delicious and crisp. If one is slow in doing this, the stomach will be slick like a strip of skin.  It is then disgusting.


Fried kidney (chaoyaozi炒腰子)


Cut a pig kidney open and remove the white membrane and tendons. Carve patterns on the outside of the kidney. Place it in boiled water and boil it briefly. Take it up and let the water go. Fry it quickly in a wok. Add spices (xiaoliao小料) such as minced green onion, coriander (yuansui芫荽), sliced garlic, Chinese pepper, ginger, soybean sauce, liquor, and vinegar. Take it up immediately when it is cooked.


Razor clam and dried fish (chengzha蛏鲊)


Use one jin of razor clams and one liang of salt. Let the clams be salted for one day and one night. Then wash the clams and let them dry. Wrap them in a piece of cloth and press a stone on it. Add five qian of cooked oil, five qian of ginger and orange slices, one qian of salt, five fen of sliced green onion, a large cup of liquor, and one he of rice (fanshen飯糝) that is made into powder. Blend them evenly. Put in a bottle and seal it with mud. It can be served after ten days. Dried fish can be made in the same way.


Wind-dried fish (youfengyu又风鱼)


Use four qian of salt for every jin of fish. Add Chinese pepper, Amomum villosum (sharen砂仁), minced green onion, sesame oil, sliced ginger, and finely sliced orange. Let them be salted for ten days and then hang the fish up in the smoke.


Sugar-roasted meat (tangzhirou糖炙肉) and roasted meat strips (hongrouba烘肉巴)


Remove the skin and bones in a piece of pork and cut it into large slices of two cun in thickness. Use a small amount of granulated sugar to remove the smell [of the pork]. Blend soybean sauce, aniseeds, fennel seeds (daxiaohuixiang大小茴香), and Chinese pepper with the meat. Dry it for one day and collect it. Cook sesame oil and add the meat to it. Cover the wok and do not burn firewood. It is ready when it turns soft.

Cut lean and tender pork into slices or strips. Salt them for awahile and blend them with Chinese pepper. Dry them for one day. When eating, roast them on iron grill above burning charcoals.


Three recipes for soybean sauce crab (jiangxie醬蟹), dreg crab (zaoxie糟蟹), and drunk crab (zuixie醉蟹)


Add sesame oil in soybean sauce, which can make the crab be preserved longer without turning granulate (jiuliu busha久留不砂). Use one bowl of dregs, vinegar, liquor, and soybean sauce, respectively. When the crabs are many, add a plate of salt. Another recipe: use seven bowls of liquor, three bowls of vinegar, and two bowls of salt. Drunk crabs are delicious too. Place a piece of charcoal at the bottom of the jar and the crab fat (xiegao蟹膏) will not granulate. Add one qian of angelica root (baizhi白芷) to the crabs in liquor dregs and then the crab fat will keep firm. But the crabs will probably be tainted with a smell of medicine, which is not good.


How to dry shrimps in the sun without letting their redness fade away


Stir and bake shrimps with salt till they are fully cooked. Put them in a bamboo basket. Wash away the salt with well water. Dry them in the sun and their redness will not fade away.


Recipe for boiling a fish (zhuyufa煮鱼法)


For river fish (heyu河鱼), place in water and boil till bones turn soft. For fish of big rivers and seas (jianghaiyu江海鱼), first flavor the stock for boiling and then place the fish in it, so the fish bones will be hard.


How to boil crabs and let them remain green in color; how to remove the meat from clam (geli蛤蜊)


Use three to five persimmon pedicels (shidi柿蒂) to boil with crabs and the crabs will remain green in color. Boil loquat kernels (pipaheneiren枇杷核内仁) with clams and the clam meat will fall from the shell.


Recipe for making meat paste (roujiang肉酱)


Use four jin of lean pork and remove the tendons and bones. Use one jin and eight liang of soybean sauce, four liang of finely ground salt, one bowl of finely minced green onion white, five or six qian of Sichuan pepper, fennel, and preserved orange peels (chenpi陈皮) respectively. Blend these spices with liquor and add the meat into it till it is like a thick congee. Place it in a jar and seal it tightly. Dry it in a scorching sun. After more than ten days, open it and see whether it is dry or not. If it is dry, add liquor. If it is light, add salt. Seal it with mud again and dry it in the sun.


Dried yellowbird (huangque黄雀) [Yellow buntings or siskins]


Clean every bird. Wipe it with liquor and do not let it be touched by water. Use yellow wheat yeast (maihuang麥黃)[47], red rice starter (honhqu红曲), salt, Chinese pepper, and sliced green onion. Taste it till the flavor is right. Place the birds in a flat jar. Spread one layer of spices on every layer of birds. Stuff the jar and fasten it with bamboo leaves and stalks. When the brine (lu卤) comes out, pour it away and add liquor to it. Seal it tightly and it can be used for a long time.


List of cooking tips (zhishi youfa tiaoli治食有法条例)


Use flour to wash pig liver and use granulated sugar to wash pig intestines and there will not be any smell.

When boiling bamboo shoots, add mint to them and add less salt or ashes. Then the bamboo shoots will not taste sour.

Place a half piece of the fruit of Chinese honeylocust (zaojiao皂角) on the jar containing dregs and soybean sauces (zaojiang糟醬), and it can be preserved longer. [Possibly the saponins in the pod have some preservative effect.]

Add one or two drops of raw oil to the water and use it to wash the fish. The there will not be any sticky liquid (xian涎).

When boiling fish, add ground incense (moxiang末香)[48] to it and it will not be smelly.

When boiling goose, add several slices of cherry and then it will turn soft easily.

When boiling old dried meat (chenlarou陈腊肉) that is about to be fully cooked, throw several pieces of burning charcoal into the boiler and then the meat will not have a sour, greasy smell.

When boiling any kind of meat, cover the boiler and cook them with one or two pieces of paper mulberry fruit (Broussonetia papyrifera, chushizi楮实子). Then the meat will easily turn soft and become delicious.

In summer months, boil meat with vinegar alone and it can be preserved for ten days.

Flours (mian面) should not be eaten along with unboiled water (shengshui生水). Use boiled water and let it cool down and eat it.

When cooking meat, do not use mulberry branches as firewood. [Most of the tips in this section are practical, but this one seems magical.]

Do not place crabs in soybean sauce or crabs in dregs in the light of a lamp. Otherwise, the meat will turn coarse (or sandy, sha沙).  [Possibly another magic trick, but more likely the idea is that one cannot see by lamplight well enough to get the sand out.]

If the liquor turns sour, bake one sheng of red beans (xiaodou小豆) till they are burned. Put them in a bag and place the bag in the liquor jar. Then the liquor will be good.

Dry the light ashes (danhui淡灰) extracted from a dye house in the sun. Use to cover raw cucumbers or eggplants completely, and they will be edible till the winter.

Wrap oranges with pine needles (songmao松毛) and the oranges will not dry up for three to four months. It is also possible to use green beans to cover oranges.

On the fifth day of the fifth month, boil wheat flour into congee. Add a small amount of salt and let it cool down. Pour it into a jar. Collect recently picked unripe red peaches and place them in the jar. Seal the jar. The peaches will be fresh in the winter months.

For yellow apricots in honey (mijian huangmei蜜煎黄梅), one should change the honey frequently. Place asarum (xixin细辛) on top of them and worms will not grow in them.

Use the water taken in the twelfth month (lashui臘水), a handful of mints, and a small amount of potassium alum (mingfan明矾). Place them into a jar. Soak loquats枇杷, apples, or waxberries (yangmei杨梅) in it and their color will not change. They taste cool and are edible.

[Most of these tips are quite practical, and similar to old-time preserving methods in Europe and frontier America.]








These are what I have made by myself and thus I know how they taste. These recipes are collected in my notes, not recorded randomly (fei manlu ye非漫录也). If they are different from what is circulated, it is because of difference of opinion (xiting zhidu悉听制度).


Salted gourds and vegetables (peiyan guashu配盐瓜蔬)


Use fifty jin of old gourds and tender eggplants. Use two and a half liang of pure salt. First use a half liang of salt to salt the gourds and eggplants for one night in order to let the water go. Then use five jin of orange peels, two jin of fresh perilla (zisu紫苏) with roots, three jin of raw ginger, two jin of peeled apricot kernels, four liang of osmanthus flowers (guihua桂花), two liang of liquorice, and one dou of soybean. Boil them. Blend them with five jin of liquor and place them in a jar. Stuff the jar and press five layers of bamboo leaves on them. Use bamboo strips to fasten them. Use bamboo leaves with mud to seal the jar. Dry it in the sun. Take them out after two months. Add half jin of Chinese pepper (dajiao大椒), half jin of fennel and Amomum villosum (sharen砂仁) respectively. Spread them and dry them in the sun light. When they glow [probably:  turn a glowing color], they turn soft and delicious. For soybeans, one should use large ones and fully cook them till they can be easily mashed. Use bran (fupi麸皮) to cover the cooked soybeans till they glow. Then remove the bran and use the pure soybeans.


Sugar steamed eggplants (tangzhengqie糖蒸茄)


Use tender and large cow-breast eggplants (niunaiqie牛奶茄). Do not remove the pedicels. Cut them into six-side shape (liuleng六棱). Use one liang of salt for every fifty jin of eggplants. Blend them evenly. Then boil them briefly in boiled water and let their color change. Strain them. Use mint and fennel powder, two jin of granulated sugar, and half cup of vinegar. Soak them in it for three nights. Dry them in the sunlight and then use above spices to salt them again (lu卤). When the spices have been used up and the eggplants are dry, flatten the eggplants and collect them.


Garlic mei (suanmei蒜梅)


Use two jin of green and hard mei (qingying meizi青硬梅子, i.e. very unripe) and one jin of peeled garlic. Add three liang of stirred-and-baked salt to proper amount of water and boil it. When it is cooled down, soak the mei and garlic in it. After five to ten days, the brine (lushui卤水) is about to change color. Pour it out and boil it again. When it is cooled down, saturate the mei and garlic in it again. Contain them in a bottle. Eat them till the seventh month. The mei will not taste sour and the garlic will not have a rank smell (hunqi荤气).


[Suanmei are still a common delicacy, but are now made from more ripe mei.]


Stuffed gourds (nianggua酿瓜)


Choose hard, old, and large green gourds (qinggua青瓜) and cut them into halves. Remove the pulp and salt them briefly to get rid of excess liquid. Slice raw ginger, orange peels, mints, and perilla (zisu紫苏). Stir and bake fennel and Amomum villosum cardamoms (sharen砂仁). Add granulated sugar to them and blend evenly. Stuff these into the gourds. Use threads to tie them into whole pieces. Then place them into a jar. After five or six days, take them out and dry the stuffed gourds in the sunlight. Collect the withered gourds. Mince them and dry them in the sunlight.[49]


Garlic cucumbers (or gourds; suangua蒜瓜) [the recipe seems to be for cucumbers]


Use one jin of small cucumbers picked in the autumn. Boil them briefly in calx and white alum water (shihui baifan tang石灰白矾汤). Strain them and use half liang of salt to salt them for one night. Use another half liang of salt, three liang of peeled, mashed garlic. Blend them with the cucumbers evenly. Place them in the water that is obtained from the previously salted cucumbers. Slowly cook liquor and vinegar. Saturate them in it and place them in a cool place. The same method can be applied to wax gourd (donggua冬瓜) and eggplants.


Boiled-for-three-times gourds (sanzhugua三煮瓜)


Cut hard, old green gourds into halves. Use half liang of salt, one liang of soybean sauce, a small amount of perilla (zisu紫苏) and liquorice for every jin of gourds. During the hottest days (fushi伏时), boil them with the brine water at night and dry them in the day. After three times of boiling and then drying in the sunlight for two days, steam them in a pot. Preserve them after they are withered in the sunlight.


Dried garlic sprouts (suanmiaogan蒜苗干)


Cut one jin of garlic sprouts into pieces of one cun in length. Use one liang of salt to salt them and remove the smelly water. Strain them briefly. Add some soybean sauce and sugar. Steam them and dry them in the sunlight and collect them.


Preserved mustard plants (cangjie藏芥)


Use thick mustard plants (jiecai芥菜) that do not touch water. Dry them in the sunlight till they are sixty to seventy percent dry. Remove the leaves. Use four liang of salt for every jin of mustard. Salt them for one night and take them out. Wrap plants in small handfuls and place them in a small bottle. Pour out all the water and boil it with the mustard. Take the clean liquid and let it cool down. Put it in a bottle and seal the bottle tightly. Eat in summer months.


Green bean sprouts (lüdouya绿豆芽)


Soak green beans in cold water for two nights. When they are swelling, change the water and wash them twice. Bake them till they are dry. Sweep the floor and make it clean. Spread water on the floor and place a piece of paper on the wet floor. Then place the beans on the paper. Cover them with a basin. Spread water on them twice every day. When the sprouts grow, wash them and remove the peels. Boil them briefly in water. Add ginger and vinegar to them. It is especially good when ground meat is added.


Spicy mustard (jiela芥辣)


Finely grind two-years-old mustard seeds (jiezi芥子). Add water to them and pack tightly in a bowl. Seal tightly with a piece of firm paper (renzhi韧纸). Saturate it in boiled water twice till the water turns yellowish. Place the bowl upside down on the cold floor. After a while, there will be gas. Add light vinegar (dancu淡醋) to it. Unwrap it and use a piece of cloth to remove the dregs. Another recipe is to add two or three fen of asarum (xixin细辛) to it and then it will be more spicy.


Buddha’s-hand citron (foshou佛手), citron (xiangyuan香橼), or pear (lizi梨子) preserved in soybean sauce


Place pears without peels in a jar of soybean sauce and they will not spoil for a long time. Place citron peels after removing the pulp in soybean sauce. Place the whole Buddha’s-hand citron in soybean sauce. Fresh orange peels, edible lichens (shihua石花), and wheat gluten (mianjin面筋) can also be soaked in soybean sauce and their taste will be better.


Recipe for making brewed eggplants (zaoqiezi糟茄子)


With five jin of eggplants, six jin of dregs, and seventeen liang of salt, plus river water, [the brewed eggplants] are as sweet as honey.[50]

Use five jin of eggplants, six jin of dregs, seventeen liang of salt, and two small bowls of river water that is used to blend with the dregs. This eggplant is tasted sweet by itself. This is a method of preserving eggplants and not for heavy eating.

Another recipe: soak middle-sized eggplants that are picked late in season (wanqiezi晚茄子) in water for one night. Use four liang of salt and one jin of dregs for every jin of eggplants. It also tastes good.


Recipe for making brewed ginger (zaojiang糟姜)


Use one jin of ginger, one jin of dregs, and five liang of salt. Pick a day before Earth Day (sheri社日)[51] to saturate them in the dregs. Do not let water get into it. Do not damage the ginger peels. Use a piece of cloth to wipe off the mud on the ginger. After half-drying them in the sunlight, blend dregs and salts with them and contain them in a jar.


Sugar-and-vinegar gourds (tangcugua糖醋瓜)


Use white long-crooked gourds (baishenggua白生瓜) that are just picked in the sixth month. For every fifty jin of gourds, cut them in halves and remove their (lian练). Cut them into squares about one cun in length and three fen three li in thickness. Then use water and a bamboo strainer to wash them till they are clean. Use five liang of salt for every ten jin of gourds. Salt them in a jar for about two hours. Then stir them and salt them for another hour. Strain them and spread them on a piece of reed mat. Dry them in scorching sunlight and let them half dry. First, slice orange peels and gingers, sift Chinese pepper peels and baked salt till they are pure. Boil fine vinegar in a pot and use twenty two liang five qian of vinegar for every ten jin of gourds. Add ten liang of fine granulated sugar to the salt and vinegar. Pour them into a container. When they cool down, add gourds, ginger, Chinese pepper and so on to the vinegar and blend them evenly. After one night, stir them. After another night, stir and collect them. As long as the containers are clean and have not water in it and they are kept in the shade, they will be fine.


Vegetarian bamboo-shoot that is like dried fish (susunzha素笋鲊)


Use six or seven fine haofu (好麸) [unclear; fron the context, presumably a kind of bamboo shoot] and pull them into strips like little fingers. Measure five jin of them and add them into boiled water. Boil them till boiled for four times and place them in a bamboo strainer. Dry them when they are still warm. First, bake half a he of dill (shiluo莳萝) and fennel in total. Grind them till they cannot be ground further. Pick slightly less than a half he of Chinese pepper peels. Use more than a half he of red yeast rice (chiqumi赤曲米) and soak them in boiled water till they turn soft. Cut a half bowl of green onion heads. Use about one he of apricot kernels and remove the tips and mash them. Use liquor to flavor the soup. Cook two liang of oil. Put out the fire when the oil is fully cooked. Pour the apricot kernels into the oil, and then the yeast rice and spices. Use an iron turner to stir them three or four times. Taste it and decide whether it is salty or light. Then pick it up with a bamboo strainer and keep it in a container. Add the warm red yeast rice to it and press it. Cover it with lotus leaves and fasten it with bamboo strips. Press a stone on it. It can be eaten after three or four hours.


Another recipe for bamboo-shoot like dried fish (sunzha笋鲊)


Use tender bamboo shoots in the spring and remove the old heads. Cut them into strips about four fen in thickness and one cun in length. Steam them in a bamboo steamer till they are fully cooked. Wrap them with cloth and extract water out of them till they are extremely dry. Place them in a container. When using them, add them to oil. The recipe is the same as the preceding.


Recipe for making lees-cured turnip (zaoluobo糟萝卜)


Use one jin of turnip and three liang of salt. No water should get onto the turnips. Wipe them clean. Keep the roots and fibrils. Dry them in the sunlight. Blend lees and salt. Then add the turnips. Stir them and place them in a jar. This recipe cannot be used for heavy eating.


per, one liang of nter, ten days in the spring or summer.

Recipe for making garlic sprouts (suanmiao蒜苗)


Use a small amount of salt to salt garlic sprouts for one night. Strain them and then boil them briefly in water and then strain them again. Blend them with soup having liquorice in it. Steam them and then keep them in a jar, after drying them in the sunlight.


Three harmony vegetables (sanhecai三和菜)[52]


Use one portion of thin vinegar (dancu淡醋), one portion of liquor, one portion of water, and proper amount of salt and liquorice. Blend them to get the right flavor. Boil them. Then add a small amount of vegetables (cai菜, almost certainly meaning Chinese cabbage greens here), sliced ginger and orange peels, one or two small pieces of Dahurian angelica (baizhi白芷) to the vegetables. steam them with water (chongtang重湯) and do not let it boiled. When they are fully cooked, eat them.


Quick-fried bits (baoji暴齏)


Boil briefly the tender stalks of young pakchoi (songcai菘菜) until half cooked. Strain till dry. Mince them into small bits. Add a small amount of oil and fry quickly. Then put them in a container and add a small amount of vinegar. After a while, eat them.


Carrot dish (huluobocai胡蘿蔔菜)


Slice red, slim carrots and mustard greens (jiecai芥菜). Saturate them in vinegar for a while. They are crisp when eaten. Add a small amount of salt, aniseed and fennel (daxiao huixiang大小茴香), ginger, and sliced dried orange peel. Blend them with vinegar and let them be for a while. Then they can be eaten.


Carrots (huluobozha胡蘿蔔鮓), commonly called red carrots, with fish flavorings


Slice [carrots] and boil them briefly in boiled water. Strain them and add a small amount of minced green onion, aniseed and fennel (daxiao huixiang大小茴香), ginger, dried orange peels, Chinese pepper powder, and mashed red yeast (hongqu紅麴). Stir them with salt evenly. Let them stand for two hours and eat them.


Another recipe


Cut white turnips and wild rice shoots (jiaobai茭白). Boil bamboo shoots till they are fully cooked. Apply this recipe[53] to all the three materials. It can be offered when they are salted.


Sun-dried light bamboo shoots (shaidansungan曬淡筍乾)


Use any amount of the tips of fresh bamboo shoots. Peel them and cut into slices or strips. Boil briefly in boiled water. Dry in sunlight and collect them. When using them, saturate them in water that have been used to wash rice (miganshui米泔水) till they are soft. Their color is as white as silver. If they are boiled in [heavily] salted water, they will be salted bamboo shoots.


Garlic dish/pickles (suancai蒜菜)[54]


Cut tender, white winter vegetables (dongcai冬菜) into strips about one cun in length. Use four liang of stir-baked salt [rock salt crystals stirred in a pan over a fire till heated to high temperature], one bowl of vinegar, and two bowls of water, for every ten jin of vegetables. Marinate the vegetables in a jar.


Recipe for cooking gourds [gua, general term for gourds, melons, cucumbers; China’s firm, nonsweet cooking melons possibly meant here, or perhaps this is just a general recipe for gourds.]


Cut hard, raw gourds open and remove the pulps. Wipe them till they are dry and do not let water get onto them. Carve them into triangular pieces. For every ten jin of gourds, use a half jin of salt and place them in a large tub for one night. In the next morning, place them in a bag made from hemp cloth and press stones on it till the slices are dry. Use five qian of dill seed (shiluo蒔蘿), fennel, Chinese pepper, dried orange peel, perilla (zisu紫蘇), and raw ginger respectively. Slice all of them and blend them evenly with the gourds. Use ten liang of fine granulatedd sugar and two bowls of vinegar. Grind the sugar as fine as possible. Place [evidently all the above] in a porcelain container. Dry them in the sunlight and stir them frequently. When the juice is dried up, collect them in a bottle.


Recipe for making light eggplants (danqiegan淡茄幹)


Wash large eggplants. Boil them in a pot and then do not let water[55] get into them. Cut them in halves and then press stones on them to let them dry. When it is sunny, put tiles in the sun till they are warmed up and then place eggplants on the tiles. When they are dry, collect them. Preserve them till the first or second month and blend them with other food. Their taste is as good as fresh eggplants.


Recipe for making the ten-flavor salted fermented soybeans (shixiangxianchi十香鹹豉)


Use equal amount of raw gourds (shenggua生瓜) and eggplants. For every ten jin of them, use twelve liang of salt. First, use four liang of the salt to salt the gourds and eggplants for one night. Then strain them. Use half jin of sliced raw ginger, half jin of fresh perilla (zisu紫蘇) that has stalks and has been cut up, half liang of liquorice powder, two liang of ground Chinese pepper with sticks and seeds removed, one liang of fennel, one liang of dill seeds (shiluo蒔蘿), two liang of large cardamoms (sharen砂仁), and a half liang of agastache leaves (huoye藿葉) (it is also acceptable if there are no agastache leaves).  Five days earlier [or:  in the first five days ?] boil large soybeans and mash. Use one sheng of cooked bran (chaofupi炒麩皮) and blend with the soybeans, and make them into yellow bits (huangzi黃子). [Presumably means roll the slices of gourds and eggplants in the soybean mash, but this recipe seems corrupt, and in fact may be two recipes run into each other.]  After heating, sift them and remove the bran. Use only fermented soybeans. Use a bottle of liquor and more than half a bowl of vinegar dregs (cuzao醋糟). Blend them with the fermented soybeans. Clean a jar and stuff the mixture into it. Use four or five layers of bamboo leaves to cover it and fasten it with bamboo strips. Then use paper and bamboo leaves to wrap the mouth of the bottle. Seal it with mud and dry it in the sunlight. After forty days, take them out and slightly dry them in the shade. Then collect them in a jar. For drying them in the sunlight, one can turn around the jar after twenty days and this will let the sun reach every part.


Another recipe for making spicy mustard (jiela芥辣)


Use one he of mustard seeds and finely grind them in a grinder. Use a small cup of vinegar and blend them with water. Use a piece of fine silk cloth to extract water out of it. Place it in a cool place such as a water cylinder. When using it, add soybean sauce and vinegar and stir till evenly mixed. This is as spicy as it can get, and the taste is very good.


Recipe for making sesame paste (zhimajiang芝麻醬)


Mash one dou of fully cooked sesame. Boil it with water taken on the sixth day of the sixth month. When it cools down, blend evenly in a jar till the water is as deep as one finger. Seal the jar and dry it in the sunlight. After five to seven days, open the jar and remove the blackish peels. Add three bowls of fine liquor dregs (haojiuniangzao好就釀糟), three bowls of fine soybean sauce, two bowls of fine liquor, one sheng of red yeast powder (hongqumo紅麴末), one sheng of stir-baked green beans, one sheng of stir-baked rice, and one liang of fennel seed powder (xiaohuixiangmo小茴香末). Blend all of them and use after fourteen days.


Recipe for making piled gourds and eggplants in soybean sauce (pan jianggua qie fa盤醬瓜茄法)


Use one jin of yellow bits (huangzi黃子 [from the recipe above?]), one jin of gourds, and four liang of salt. Rub the gourds with the salt. Use the water that is obtained by salting the gourds to blend the yellow soybean sauce (jianghuang醬黃). Pile them up twice every day. After forty-nine days, place them in a jar.


Dry sealed-in-a-jar vegetables (ganbiwengcai幹閉甕菜)


Use ten jin of vegetables and forty liang of stir-baked salt. Salt the vegetables in a jar. Whenever placing in a piece of vegetable, place equal amount of salt. When they are salted for three days, take up the vegetables and rub them in a basin. Place them in another jar. Collect the brine for future use. After another three days, take up the vegetables and rub again. Place them in another jar and keep the brine for future use. After repeating this for nine times, place them in a jar, applying one layer of Chinese pepper and fennel (xiaohuixiang小茴香) to every layer of vegetables while placing the vegetables [and spices] in the jar. Repeat this step and pack in tightly. Pour three bowls of the previously prepared brine into each jar. Seal the jar with clay. It can be eaten after the New Year.


Pouring, stirring and blending vegetables (sabanhecai撒拌和菜)


Add sesame oil to Chinese pepper. Use after bringing to boil one or two times. When using it, measure out one bowl of the oil and add a small amount of soybean sauce, vinegar, and white sugar to it. Blend properly and save. For any food that is to be stir-fried with oil, pour some of this oil to it and stir. It is delicious. If stirring with bok choy (baicai白菜), bean sprouts (douya豆芽), water dropwort (Oenanthe javanica) (or achillea; shuiqin水芹; normally the dropwort), one should boil the vegetables briefly [i.e. blanch them] in boiling water and soak them in pure water. When using them, strain them and stir(-fry) them with the oil. The vegetables will remain green and will not turn blackish. They are crisp and delicious.


Recipe for making fermented soybean in water (shuidouchifa水豆豉法)


Use ten jin of yellow bits (huangzi黃子)[56], forty liang of fine salt, and ten bowls of sweet liquor made in Jinhua. One day in advance, add the salt to twenty bowls of boiled water to make brine. Let it cool and settle down, for future use. Place the yellow bits into a jar and add liquor to it. Then add the salted water. Set in sunlight for forty-nine days. Then add three liang of aniseeds and fennel (daxiao huixiang大小茴香) respectively, five qian of large cardamom (caoguo草果), five qian of royal cinnamon, three qian of muxiang (木香), one liang of preserved orange peels, one liang of Chinese pepper, half jin of withered sliced ginger, and one jin of apricot kernels. Place all the spices into a jar. Dry it in the sunlight while beating it. After three days, store it in a jar. It tastes good after one year. It is even better if it is used as a dipping for meat.


Upside-down hairy vegetables (daodaocai倒纛菜)


Use one hundred jin of vegetables. Blend burned-hair ashes (maohui毛灰) like flour with salt brine (yanlu鹽鹵) for sealing [the jar]. Arrange the vegetables and then seal the jar. There is no need to put grass in the jar.  [The idea seems to be to produce a bacteriostatic seal.  The “grass” can then be assumed to be some sort of preservative herb.]


Pure-boiled spicy mustard (lajiecai qingshao辣芥菜清燒)


Use mustard stalks that water is not got onto. Dry them in the shade till they turn soft. Boil them briefly with boiled water and take them up immediately. Use a bamboo strainer to scoop them up and place them in a sifter. Let them cool down. Add some puffy salt (songyan松鹽) to them and stir. Contain them in a bottle. Then add dried, cold vegetables. Pour the brine on them and wrap them tightly. Place the bottle on the cold floor.


Steamed wilted vegetables (zhenggancai蒸乾菜)


Use large, fine vegetables. Pick, wash, clean, and dry them. Boil them briefly in boiled water till they are fifty to sixty percent cooked. Dry them in the sunlight. Boil them with salt, soybean sauce, dills (shiluo蒔蘿), Chinese pepper, granulatedd sugar, and orange peels till they are fully cooked. Then dry them in the sunlight again. Steam them for a while and preserve them in a porcelain container. When using them, rub them with sesame oil and add some vinegar. Steam them over rice [when cooking rice].


Quail-like eggplants (anchunqie鵪鶉茄)


Pick tender eggplants and cut them into slim threads. Boil them with boiled water and strain them. Blend them with salt, soybean sauce, Chinese pepper, dills (shiluo蒔蘿), fennels, liquorice, preserved orange peels, apricot kernels, and ground red beans. When they are evenly flavored, dry them in the sunlight. Then steam and gather them. When using them, soak them in boiled water till they turn soft. Dip them in sesame oil and quickly fry them in oil.  [The resemblance to quail is hard to find; possibly the spicing was that used for quail in those days.]


Good-tasting gourds and eggplants (shixiang guaqie食香瓜茄)


Use any amount of [gourds or eggplants] and cross-cut them into pieces. For every jin of them, use eight liang of salt. Blend “taste-good” (or “eating fragrance”; shixiang食香)[57] and the gourds evenly. Salt them in a jar for one or two days. Then take them out and dry them in the sunlight. At night, place them in the brine again. On the next day, take them out and dry them in the sunlight again. Repeat this three times; do not let them get too dry. Keep them in the jar for future use.


Gourds and eggplants in dregs (zaoguaqie糟瓜茄)


For every five jin of gourds or eggplants, use ten liang of salt. Blend them with brewing dregs (zao糟) evenly. Spread fifty bronze coins on every layer of gourds or eggplants. After ten days, take away the coins. Do not replace the dregs.  Keep all in a bottle. They will keep as green as if fresh for a long time. [Not to be recommended; the green would come from copper salts, which are poisonous.]


Salted wild rice stems (jiaobaizha茭白鮓)


Cut fresh wild rice stems (jiaobai茭白) into slices. Boil them briefly and strain them. Blend them with finely sliced green onion, dill seeds, fennel, Chinese pepper, ground red yeast (hongqu紅麴), and salt. Eat them after two hours. Use the same method to make salted lotus root tips (ousaozha藕梢鮓).


Sugar-and-vinegar eggplants (tangcuqie糖醋茄)


Cut fresh eggplants into triangular pieces. Boil these in water and strain them. Wrap them in cloth and extract the water. Salt them for one night. Then dry them in the sunlight. Blend them with sliced ginger and perilla (zisu紫蘇). Fry them and pour the mixture of sugar and vinegar on them. Then place them in a porcelain container. The same method can be applied to gourds.


Ginger in dregs (zaojiang糟薑)


Use any amount of tender ginger before the Spring or Autumn Festival for the Earth God[58]. Remove the leaves and clean them. Blend them with liquor, dregs, and salt. Place them in a porcelain jar and add one block of granulated sugar (shatang沙糖) on top. Wrap the jar with bamboo leaves and seal it with mud. After seven days, they can be eaten.


Pickled and salted vegetables (yanyancai醃鹽菜)


Remove the roots and yellow, old leaves of bok choy (baicai白菜). Wash and strain them. For every ten jin of vegetables, use ten liang of salt and several pieces of liquorice. Place them in a clean jar. Spread the salt into the leaf junctions of the vegetables and place them in the jar. Add a small amount of dill seeds (shiluo蒔蘿). Press tightly with hands. When half of the jar is filled, add more several pieces of liquorice. When the jar is full, press the vegetables with bricks and stones. Salt them for three days and then pour the vegetables out. Squeeze the brine out and place the vegetables in another clean container. They should be kept from contact with unboiled water. Pour the brine over the vegetables instead. After seven days, follow the previous step and pour out the vegetables and soak them in the brine that is newly squeezed out. Keep pressing bricks and stones on top of them. The leaves will be delicious and crisp. For those that have not been used up, blanch them in boiled water and dry them in the sunlight and preserve them. In the summer, soak the vegetables in warm water and squeeze them till they are dry. Add sesame oil to them and blend. Put in a porcelain bowl and place the bowl over rice. Eat them after steaming.


Wax gourd with garlic (suan donggua蒜冬瓜)


Choose large ones and remove the peels and pulp. Cut it into pieces as wide as one finger. Add alum and calx (baifan shihui白礬石灰) to boiled water. Blanch the vegetables in the water. Then take them out and strain them. For every jin of vegetables, use two liang of salt and three liang of garlic. Mash the garlic and put together with the wax gourd in a porcelain container. Soak in boiled fine vinegar.


Recipe for making salted, pickled leek (yanyanjiufa鹽醃韭法)


Before frost comes, choose large leeks without yellowish tips and wash them. Then strain them. Place one layer of leeks in a porcelain basin and then spread one layer of salt till the leeks and salt stuff the basin. Salt them for one or two nights. Stir them for several times and then place them in a porcelain container. Use the original brine. It will be even better if a small amount of sesame oil is added. One can also salt small cucumbers and small eggplants with the leeks. Salt them to extract the water and then blend them with the leeks. Put in a jar and preserve them.


Recipe for making vegetables with grains (zao gucai fa造穀菜法)


Use spring stalks of caitai [a mustard-green-like vegetable] that are not yet old (chunbulao caitai春不老菜苔) . Remove the leaves and wash them. Mince them into bits as big as the hole in a coin. Dry them in the sunlight and let the vapor go off. Do not let them get too dry. Add fried soybean halves (huangdouban黃豆瓣) with sliced ginger. For every jin of vegetables, use one liang of salt. Add the same amount of “taste-good” (see above; shixiang食香)[59]. Knead the vegetables with the salt (rouhui luxing揉回鹵性). Keep in a jar. Use them when they are ready (houshu suiyong候熟隨用).


Yellow sprouts of vegetables (huangyacai黃芽菜)


Cut the stalks and leaves of bok choy and keep only the hearts. From two cun away, pile earth (fentu糞土, wet soil) around the hearts, as high as they are piled. Cover with a large jar and pile soil outside of the jar tightly. Do not let gas in. After half a month, pick it and it tastes the best. The same method can be used to produce yellow sprouts of leeks, ginger, turnips, and Sichuan rhizome (Cnidum, chuanxiongya川芎芽)[60].


Recipe for making fermented soybeans in liquor (jiu douche fang酒豆豉方)


Use one dou five sheng of yellow bits (huangzi黃子)[61] and sift them to remove the flour. Use five jin of eggplants, twelve jin of gourds, one jin fourteen liang of ginger, sliced oranges as much as one wants, one sheng of fennel (xiaohuixiang小茴香), four jin six liang of stirred-and-baked salt, and one jin of green pepper. Blend them and place them in a jar. Press them tightly. Pour the Jinhua liquor (jinhuajiu金花酒) or fermented rice (jiuniang酒娘) into it till the liquor is about two cun higher than the vegetables. Wrap the jar with paper and bamboo leaves and seal it with mud. Place it outside for forty-nine days. Write down something[62] on the jar to mark it (tanshang xiedongxi zi jihao壇上寫東西字記號). When they have been dried for enough days, pour the vegetables into a large tub. Dry them in the sunlight and cover them with a mat made from yellow grasses.


Red salted beans (hongyandou紅鹽豆)


First, place a flowering-apricot fruit frosted with salt (yanshuangmei鹽霜梅) at the bottom of a wok. Use large green beans (qingdou青豆), that have been washed, to cover the apricot. Make a pit in the middle of the peas and add salt to it. Add a small amount of alum (baifan shihui白礬) to boiled water that is cooked with sapanwood (sumu蘇木). Pour the water around the rim of the wok till it is as high as the beans. Heat it till the water is gone. When the beans are fully cooked, the salt will not be visible, and they turn red.


Five-beauties ginger (wumeijiang五美薑)


Slice one jin of tender ginger. Mash half jin of white mei (baimei白梅, a type of preserved mei) and remove the kernels. Add two liang of stirred-and-baked [rock] salt to it and blend them. Dry them in the sunlight. Then add to it one qian of nard/spikenard (gansong甘松), five qian of liquorice, and two qian of sandal powder (tanxiangmo檀香末). Again blend them and dry them in the sunlight for three days. Then take and contain them.


Salted mustard greens (yanjiecai醃芥菜) (the principle is to use eight liang of salt for every ten jin of vegetables)


Use fresh, tender mustards that are picked in the tenth month. Mince and blanch them in boiled water. Scoop them up with the boiled water in a basin. Blend them with raw lettuce (celtuce, i.e. thick-stemmed lettuce; woju萵苣), cooked sesame oil, mustard flowers (jiehua芥花), sesames, and salt. Pack them in a jar. After three to five days, eat them. They will not spoil till spring.


“Taste-good” (“eating-fragrance,” shixiang食香)[63] turnips (shixiang luobo食香蘿蔔) (use eight liang of salt to salt every ten jin of turnips)


Cut the turnips into dice-like squares. Salt them with sea salt (dayan大鹽) for one night. Then dry them in the sunlight. Slice ginger and oranges. Blend them with aniseeds and fennel (daxiao huixiang大小茴香). Boil vinegar and pour it onto the vegetables. Contain them in a porcelain bottle and place the bottle in the sun. Preserve them after they are dried.


Turnips, wild rice stems, bamboo shoots, gourds, eggplants, and so on in dregs (zao luobo jiaobai suncai gua qie糟蘿蔔,茭白,筍菜,瓜,茄等物)


Add alum and calx (baifan shihui白礬石灰) to boiled water and let it cool down. Soak above vegetables in it for one day and one night. Warm up liquor and add salt to dregs. Also add one or two bronze coins to them. Measure out the dregs and add them to the vegetables. After ten days, take up the vegetables and replace the previous dregs with fine dregs. Add salt and liquor to them. Blend them and place them in a jar. Wrap it with bamboo leaves and seal with mud.


Recipe for making five-spice vinegar (wula cu fang五辣醋方)


Use one spoon of soybean sauce, one qian of vinegar, one qian of white sugar, five to seven Chinese peppers, one or two peppers, and one fen of raw ginger. It would be even better if one or two cloves of garlic.




WILD VEGETABLES (yesulei野蔌類) (new section)


What I have selected is totally different from what Wang Pan[64] has done.  I dare record only those that people recognize and are edible, not what Mr. Wang has selected. This is because I want to accomplish something.  [The hapless Wang must have recommended some pretty inedible items.]


Yellow fragrant daylily (Hemerocallis flava, huangxiangxuan黃香萱)


Pick the flowers in the summer and wash them. Blanch them in the boiled water and then they can be eaten when blended with spices. If they are added to vegetarian food that have been boiled in flavored sauce (aosupin熝素品), such as Toufu, the taste is very good. If one wants to eat this wild vegetable, he should wash it and make it clean. He should still look for small worms hiding on the back of the petals and not eat them by mistake. First, prepare a flavored sauce (liaotou料頭). For every large cup of vinegar, add three fen of liquorice powder, one qian of white sugar frost (baitangshuang白糖霜), and half cup of sesame oil. Blend them and use this as a flavored sauce to stir with the vegetables. Adding some mashed ginger to it gives another recipe. For flowers that have picked and cleaned, blanch them in boiled water and rinse them in water for two hours. Then take them up and squeeze them till they are dry. Blend them with spices and then they can be served. Their color will not change and be as if fresh. At the same time, they are crisp, tender, not mashed, and have more flavor. The same method can be applied to domestic vegetables. As for the roasted, the quickly-fried, and the minced (zhibozuoji炙煿作齏), they are included in this recipe.  [Daylily flowers are still a common food in China, and are excellent eating.  The buds or just-opening flowers are used.  These have to be gathered early, since, as the name implies, the flower opens, blooms, and fades in a day.]


Chamomile shoots (“sweet chrysanthemum,” ganjumiao甘菊苗)


Pick tender tips of well-grown chamomile shoots in the spring and summer. Blanch them in the boiled water as previous recipe. Then eat them. If they are coated with the mixture of liquorice liquid (gancaoshui甘草水) and yam powder (shanyaofen山藥粉) and then deep-fried, they will be extremely delicious.


Wolfthorn heads (gouqitou枸杞頭)


Use tender wolfthorn leaves and sprouts. Follow the above cooking method. They will taste even better if they are used in cooking congee. Of the four seasons, eat only in winter.

[This refers to Lycium chinense.  Wolfthorn berries now very often come from Lycium barbarum, which has inedible shoots.]


Water caltrops (lingke菱科)


Pick them in the summer and autumn. Remove the leaves and roots and only keep the round clusters on the stalks (gengshang yuanke梗上圆科). Use the above method. It tastes delicious when fully cooked. It tastes even better when blended with dregs (zaoshi糟食). It is of the first rank in the wild vegetables.


Water shield (Brasenia, chuncai蓴菜)[65]


Pick [shoots] in the fourth month and blanch them in the boiled water. Then rinse them in water for future use. These can be eaten with ginger and vinegar. They can also be used in cooking meat congee (rougeng肉羹[66]).


Wild amaranth (yexiancai野苋菜)


Pick it in the summer [when young] and eat it when fully cooked. It can also be blended with pices or fried. It is more delicious than domestic amaranth.


Wild white mustard (Sinapis alba or Brassica hirta, yebaijie野白芥)


Pick [sprouts] in the fourth month. The tender ones can be eaten when they are raw or fully cooked.


Wild radishes (yeluobo野萝卜)


The vegetable is like the radish [or turnip]. One can pick the root and shoots. Fully cook it and then it can be eaten.


India wormwood herb (Artemisia selengensis /Artemisia absinthium /Artemisia vulgaris, louhao蒌蒿)


Pick the hearts in the early spring. These are most fragrant if added to tea. The leaves are edible when fully cooked. In the summer and autumn, the stalks can be used to make a minced mixture (ji齑)[67].


Chinese goldthread heads (Coptis, huangliantou黄连头)


It is the same as the huanglian used for medical purposes. Pick the heads and salt them. Dry them in the sunlight. It tastes best when added to tea. It is also delicious when fully cooked.


Bengal water-dropwort herb or water-cress (shuiqincai水芹菜)


Pick them in the spring months and boil them in boiled water. Blend them with ginger, vinegar, and sesame oil. it is very delicious. Or one can also add salt to the boiled water and blanch the vegetables in it. Dry them in the sunlight. It is also good if it is added to tea.


Jasmine leaves (moliye茉莉葉)


Pick tender jasmine leaves and wash them clean. Boil them with toufu in the flavored sauce (lushi熝食) and it is of the best grade of food (juepin絕品).


Goosefoot flower (ejiaohua鵝腳花) [an unidentified plant called “goosefoot” in Chinese, not the familiar plant called “goosefoot” in English]


Pick the univalve [?  Obscure character, hard to understand] flowers, which are edible. The multivalve flowers are harmful. Blanch them in the boiled water. Add salt and blend them with spices. It can also be boiled in flavored sauce (lushi熝食). [Lushi, today, means a rich stock.]  It can also be fried with minced gourds. In the spring, the sprouts are edible.


Gardenia (zhizihua栀子花), also called yanpu檐葡


Pick the flowers and wash them clean. Rinse them in water to remove the smell (xing腥). Add sugar and salt to flour and make it into a paste. Coat the flowers in the paste and deep-fry them and then they can be eaten.


Cassia seeds (jindour金豆儿); the same as juemingzi决明子


Pick the beans (dou豆) and blanch them in boiled water. They can be added to tea and taste delicious and sweet.


Broom flowers (jinqiao’r金雀兒)


Pick the flowers in the early spring. Blanch them in salted boiled water. They can be added to tea. They can also be blended with spices and become a dish.


Purple flowers (zihuar紫花兒) [unidentified]Both the flowers and leaves are edible.


Cedrela sinensis A. (a.k.a. Toona sinensis; xiangchunya香春芽)


Pick the heads and sprouts and blanch them in the boiled water. Add a small amount of salt and dry them in the sunlight. They can be preserved for more than one year. Blend them with sesame and serve. The fresh ones can be added to tea. They are most suitable for adding to fried gluten (chaomianjin炒麵觔). Toufu and vegetables can also be added.

[These intensely-flavored shoots are still a fairly well-known food.]


Penghao (a mugwort, a type of sagebrush; 蓬蒿)


In the second or third month, pick the tender heads and wash them clean. Salt them in a small amount of salt. Blend them in flour and make them into cakes. Deep-fry them and they are delicious.

[Various mugwort or sagebrush cakes are still very common in Korea, but have become rather rare in China.]


Grey amaranth (huixiancai灰莧菜)


Pick the whole plant and boil it. It can be boiled or fried (jianchao煎炒). It is more delicious that the domestic amaranth.


Ear fungus on mulberry and agaric growing on willow (sangjun liujun桑菌柳菌)[68]


Both of them are edible. Pick them and boil them with vegetarian food in flavored stock (lushi熝食).


Aquatic malachium herb /Malachium aquaticum Moench /(echangcao鹅肠草)


Use the thick ones.  Pick them and blanch them in boiling water. Blend them with spices and then they can be eaten.


Eritrichium pedunculare (jichangcao鸡肠草) can also be cooked in the same way as the above.


Cotton fiber tips (mianxutou綿絮頭) [unidentified]


These are white and grows on the field levee (tiangeng田埂). Pick them and wash them clean. Mash them till they are like cotton. Add them into flour or powder and make cakes with them.


Buckwheat leaves (qiaomaiye荞麦叶)


In the eighth or ninth month, pick the newly growing tender leaves . They can be eaten after being fully cooked.


Western ocean great purple (seaweed? xiyangtaizi西洋太紫)


In the seventh and eighth month, pick the leaves. Use them to boil toufu in the flavored soup. It is wonderful.


Mushroom (mogu蘑菇)


Pick and dry them in the sunlight. When raw or made into a thick soup, these are so delicious that they cannot be described in words. This is the best among vegetarian foods.


Dictyophora (zhugu竹菇)


This is even more delicious.  [Than the best?]  It can be eaten when fully cooked.


Trollius chinensis Bunge? (jinlianhua金莲花; the name now refers to nasturtium, but that flower was unknown to China in Ming)


In the summer, pick the leaves and stalks that are floating above the water. Blanch them and blend them with ginger, vinegar, and oil. Then they can be eaten.


Solanum indicum L. (tianqier天茄兒)


Blanch them in salted, boiled water. Add them to the tea. It can also be made into a dish after being blended with ginger and vinegar.


Alopecurus aequalis Sobol (Amur foxtail, kanmainiang看麥娘)


It grows along with wheat in the field. Pick it in the spring. Eat it after fully cooked.


Cochinchina leaf-flower herb (goujiaoji狗腳跡)


At frost time, its leaves are like the footprints of a dog. Pick them and eat when fully cooked.


Xie artemisia (xiehao斜蒿)


It grows in the third and fourth month. For the small ones, the whole plant can be used. For the large ones, pick the tender tips. Blanch them in boiling water and dry them in the sunlight. When eating them, soak them in boiled water and blend them with spices.

[Another mugwort or sagebrush, edible only when very young.]


Potamogeton distinctus (pondweed, ganzicai眼子菜)


Pick them in the sixth and seventh month. It grows in the water and marsh. The leaf is green and the back is purple. The stalk is soft, smooth, slim, and as long as several chi. Pick it and blanch it in the boiled water. Eat it when fully cooked.


Nostoc commune /T.japonicum (Bluml) Makino (ditaye地踏葉) [an alga]


It is also called di’er地耳. It grows when it rains in the spring and summer. Pick it after the rain. Fully cook it and blend it with ginger and vinegar. When the sun is out, it disappears and withers.

[This is an algae growing on wet soil or mineral springs.]


Snail mustard (woluojie窩螺芥)


In the first and second month, pick it and fully cook it.


Purslane  (Portulaca oleracea, machixian馬齒莧)


Pick it in the early summer. Blanch it in the boiled water. Dry it in the sunlight. Eat it when the winter comes.


Kalimeris indica heads/sprouts (malantou馬蘭頭)[69]


It grows in clusters in the second and third month. Fully cook it. It can also be made into a minced dish (ji齏).


Artemisia apiacea (yinchenhao茵陳蒿) it is the same as qinghaor青蒿兒


Pick it in the spring. Add it to flour and make it into cakes.


Wild goose intestines (yanrchang雁兒腸) [unidentifiable]


It grows in the second month. It is like green bean sprouts. Fully cook it. It can be eaten when it is raw.


Wild rice stem (yejiaobaicai野茭白菜)


In the early summer, it grows in the marsh. It is the same as jiaoyar茭芽兒. Fully cook it.

[Probably a Zizania, not true rice, but term rather ambiguous.]


Shepherds’ purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris, daoguanji倒灌薺)


Pick it and fully cook it. It can also be minced for eating.

[Still a common food all over Eurasia.]


(kumatai苦麻台) [unidentified]


Pick it in the third month. Mash the leaves and add it to flour. Make cakes with it and eat.


Cole flowers (huanghuar黃花兒)[70]


Pick it in the first and second month. Fully cook it.


Wild water chestnuts (yebiqi野荸荠)


Pick them in four seasons. They can be eaten when they are raw or fully cooked.


Wild green beans (yelüdou野绿豆)


Its leaves and stalk are like those of green bean but smaller. It grows in the wild field and has many vines. It can be eaten when it is raw and fully cooked.


Lustrous herb (youzhuozhuo油灼灼) [unidentified]


It grows by the water. The leaves are glossy (guangze光澤). It can be eaten when it is raw or fully cooked. It can also be salted and then dried. Steam it when eating.


Bannqiaoqiao(板蕎蕎) [unidentified]


Pick it in the first or second month. When eating, cook it. It cannot be eaten in the third or fourth month.


Cardamine hirsuta L. /(suimiji碎米薺) [a small mustard of good flavor]


Pick it in the third month. It can be eaten only when it is minced and mingled with spices.


Heavenly lotus roots (tian’ou’r天藕兒)


Its root is like that of the lotus but smaller. It can be eaten after it is fully cooked and blended with spices. The leaf cannot be eaten.


Broad bean (Vicia faba) sprouts (candoumiao蠶豆苗)


Pick it in the second month. Fry in sesame oil and then boil it with soybean sauce and salt. Add a small amount of ginger and green onion.


Broad cocklebur leaves (Xanthium sibiricum, cang’er cai蒼耳菜)


Pick tender leaves and wash them clean. Blanch them in the boiled water. Blend them with ginger, salt, and bitter liquor (kujiu苦酒). It cures the rheumatism/wind-damp illness (fengshi风湿). The seed can be blended with rice powder and made into dry provision (qiu糗)[71].

[Not gourmet fare, but widely eaten to this day.  Only very young leaves are edible.]


Lotus flower (furonghua芙蓉花)


Pick the flowers and remove the pistil and petal. Blanch it once or twice in boiled water. Blend it with toufu and add a small amount of pepper. It is red and white and lovely.


Mallow (?Althaea rosea or, more likely, Malva spp.; kuicai葵菜) this is the Sichuan mallow (shukui蜀葵). The cluster is short and leaves are larger. Its nature is mild (xingwen性温).

Pick the leaves. it can be eaten when cooked in the same way as cooking thick vegetarian soup (caigeng菜羹).


Osmanthus (danguihua丹桂花)


Pick the flowers and spread liquorice liquid on it. Blend it with mashed rice and make it into cakes (gao糕). Its pure fragrance will fill the mouth.


Lettuce stem (wojucai莴苣菜)


Pick the stem and remove the leaves and skin. Cut it into pieces one cun in length. Soak them in boiled water. Add ginger oil, sugar, and vinegar to them and blend them.

[Now called “celtuce” when it appears in English-speaking markets.]


Great burdock (Arctium lappa Linne, niupangzi牛蒡子)


In the tenth month, pick the root and wash it clean. Avoid to boiling it too much. Take it up and mash and flatten it. Press it till it is dry. Blend it with salt, soybean sauce, dill (luo萝), ginger, Chinese pepper, cooked oil. Soak it in the spices for one or two days. Then take it and bake it till it is dry. It tastes like dried meat.


Pagoda-tree Pod (Sophora japonica L)  leaves (huaijiaoye槐角叶)


Pick narrow, clean, tender leaves and mash them till the juice comes out. Blend it with flour [and make it into flour food]. Rinse it in the mixture of vinegar and soybean sauce (xijiang醯酱) . Add fully cooked, minced food to it and it can be eaten.


Cedrela chinensis root (chunshugen椿樹根)


Pick the root before the autumn. Mash and sift it. Blend it with flour and make it into small dough/patches. Boil it in pure water and eat it.


Lily bulbs (baihegen百合根)


Pick the bulb and dry it in the sunlight. Blend it with flour and make it into noodle. Steam the noodle and eat it. It enhances the qi and blood.






Snake gourd (Trichosanthes kirilowii Maximovich) root (kuolougen括蔞根)


Dig deeply to get the large root. Peel it till it is white. Cut it into pieces one cun in length and soak them in water. Change the water every day. After five to seven days, take them and mash them into pulp. Use a piece of thin silk to sift through thin pulp and powder [sic; “powder” here seems likely a scribal error of anticipating the next sentence]. When it is dried, it turns into powder. Mix it with non-glutinous rice powder (jingfen粳粉) and make it into congee. If it is added with cheese, it will be very tonic (bu補).


Few-flowered wildrice fruit (diaogumi調菰米)[72]


Few-flowered wildrice is now called Barbarian Rice (huji胡穄). Dry it in the sunlight. Hull and wash it. Steam it and its fragrance cannot be expressed in words.


Weigela florida (jindaihua錦帶花)


Pick the flowers and use them to make a thick soup. They are soft, crisp, and edible.


Sweetgrass Acorus calamus and/or Acorus tatarinowii  Schott, changpu菖蒲)


Boil sweetgrass (shichangpu石菖蒲) with atractylodes (Atractylodes macrocephala or A. ovata, baishu白術) together till they turn into paste. Use three jin of Chinese yam rhizome (shanyao山藥) for every jin of this powder. Add honey water (mishui蜜水) to the flour and make cakes with it. Steam the cakes and eat.  [This would be a medicinal recipe. Presumably the rhizome of the sweetgrass is used; the leaves do not cook down to pulp.]


Plum (lizi李子)


Take large plums and remove the pits. Take white mei (baimei白梅) and liquorice and soak them in boiled water. Blanch the plums in the boiled water. Add white sugar to ground pine nuts (songzi松子) and terminalia (Terminalia superba or T. catappa L., lanren欖仁). Stuff them in a steamer and eat it when it is fully cooked.


Yam tubers (shanyutou山芋頭)


Pick yams and slice them. Boil them with torreya nuts (feizi榧子). Make bitter apricot seeds (kuxingren苦杏仁) into powder. Add a small amount of soybean, water, and salt to the bitter apricot seed powder and make into a paste. Dip the sliced yams in the paste. Then deep fry them and eat.


“East-wind vegetable” (dongfengji東風薺) [the author’s note:] it is the same as shepherd’s purse (jicai薺菜)


Pick one or two sheng of shepherd’s purse and wash them clean. Add three he of taomi(淘米), three sheng of water, and one ginger sprout to them. Mash them and blend them in a pot till it are even. Pour one clam shell (xianke蜆殼) of sesame oil to it. Then do not move it any more. Boil over fire. If it is moved, there will be a greasy flavor. Do not add any salt or vinegar. If one tastes this, he will feel that the eight precious foods of seas and lands (hailubazhen海陸八珍) are as nothing.  [Hyperbolic praise for a boiled-down weed.]


Plantain lily (Hosta fortunei, yuzanhua玉簪花)


Pick the half-blossoming flowers and split them into two pieces or four pieces. Dip them in paste and deep fry them. If add a small amount of salt and white sugar to the paste and blend them evenly. It is very delicious after being dipped in the paste [and deep fried].


Gardenia (zhizihua梔子花), another recipe, recorded for a second time.


Pick the half-blossoming flowers and blanch them in alum water (fanshui礬水). Add thinly sliced green onions, aniseeds and fennel (daxiaohuixiang大小茴香), Chinese pepper, red yeasts (hongqu紅麴), and yellow steamed rice (huangmifan黃米飯) to them. Grind them till they are mashed. Blend evenly with salt. Salt it for half a day and eat. When it is blanched with alum water and soaked in honey, it is very delicious.


Wood fungus /timber fungus (mujun木菌)


Use decayed mulberry wood (sangmu桑木), camphor wood (zhangmu樟木), and Persea nanmu Oliver/Phoebe zhennan wood (nanmu楠木). Cut them into pieces one chi in length. In the twelfth month, sweep decayed leaves and choose a rich and shady place (feiyindi肥陰地). Bury the wood and leaves deeply at the place, using the same method of planting vegetables. In the spring months, irrigate it with water that has been used to wash rice. Soon, fungus grows. Irrigate it three times every day. Then it will grow as large as a fist. Pick it and fry it with vegetarian food. It is also delicious when withered. It grows on the wood and is not harmful.

[Not the usual substrates for shiitake; possibly for oyster mushrooms, at a guess.]


Sollya (Wistaria?)  (tenghua藤花)


Pick the flowers and wash them clean. Pour salted water on them and blend them evenly. Steam them in a steamer till they are fully cooked. Then dry them in the sun. They can be used to make a stuffing. It is delicious. When it is mixed with meat, they are also delicious.


River Shepherd’s-purse (jiangji江薺) [Presumably a riparian form of, or close relative of, shepherd’s-purse]


It grows in the twelfth month. It can be eaten raw or fully cooked. Do not eat the flower. However, the flower can be made into minced dish (ji齏).


Poke Phytolacca arinosa Roxb. Or Phytolacca esculenta van Houtte (shanglu商陸)


Pick the seedling and stalk. Wash them clean and steam them till fully cooked. Add salt and spices to them. The purple ones are tasty.


Achyranthes spp. (?) (niuxi牛膝)


Pick the seedlings using the same method of cutting leeks. It is edible.  [Achyranthes is a genus of rather small, tender herbs.]


Lotus rhizomes growing in a lake (hu’ou湖藕)


Pick raw lotus rhizomes and cut them into pieces about one cun in length. Blanch them in boiled water. Then salt them to remove some water. Add a small amount of green onion, oil, sliced ginger roots, sliced orange peel, aniseeds, fennel, and yellow steamed rice (huangmifan黃米飯). Mash them and blend them carefully. Wrap them with lotus leaves tightly. Leave overnight, then eat.


Ledebouriella seseloides (=Saposhnikovia divaricata) (fangfeng防風)


Pick the seedlings. These can be made into vegetarian food. Blanch them in boiled water and blend them with spices. It is very good at removing the wind (qufeng去風).


Plantain/Chinese banana (bajiao芭蕉)


There are two kinds of plantains (jiao蕉). Those having sticky fruits (gen根) are glutinous plantains (nuojiao糯蕉). They are edible. Pick the fruits and cut them into pieces about the size of a hand. Boil them in the ash-liquid (huizhi灰汁)[73] till they are fully cooked. Remove the ash-liquid and boil them in clean water. Replace the water twice till the smell of ashes disappears. Take the leaves and press them till they are dry. Grind salt, soybean sauce, aniseeds, fennel, Chinese pepper, dried ginger roots, and cooked oil, carefully. Blend them with the plantains. Salt them in a jar for one or two days and then take them out. Bake them for a while till they are almost cooked and turn soft. When one eats it, it tastes exactly like fatty meat (feirou肥肉).


Water cress (shuicai水菜)


Its shape is similar to bok choi (baicai白菜). It grows in the seventh and eighth month, in the field or on the water bank. It grows in clusters and its color is dark green. Blanch it in boiled water. Boil it with soybean sauce and then it can be eaten.


Lotus seed pod (lianfang蓮房)


Pick the tender ones. Remove the peel, seeds, and stalks. Boil it with ashes and boil it in clean water in order to remove the taste of ashes. Bake them with the plantains till they are dry. Flatten them with stones. Then slice them and eat.


Sesame leaves (kupencai苦盆菜) [the author’s note:] it is also called huma胡麻


Pick the tender leaves and make them into thick soup. It is large, sweet, crisp, and smooth.


Pine-needle-shape vegetable (songhuarui松花蕊)


Pick it and remove the red skins. Use the tender and white ones and soak them in honey. Bake them for awhile till the honey is fully cooked. But do not let it be overcooked. It smells good and it is crisp and tasty.


Angelica dahurica Benth. et Hook (baizhi白芷)


Pick the tender roots. Soak them in honey or preserve them in dregs. Then they can be eaten.


Ledebouriella sprouts (fangfengya防風芽)


Pick the scarlet-colored sprouts (yanzhi胭脂). Blend them with spices like normal vegetables and eat.


Lilyturf  (Ophiopogon spp.) sprouts (tianmendongya天門冬芽)


Use [lilyturf or] ligusticum sprouts (chuanqiongya川芎芽), sokji (Cassia?) sprouts (shuizaoya水藻芽), Achyranthes sprouts (niuxiya牛膝芽), chrysanthemum sprouts (juhuaya菊花芽), and Villarsia nymphaeoides (? Or Nymphoides spp.) sprouts (xingcaiya荇菜芽). Blend them with spices. Eat it when fully cooked.  [The identification of these wild sprouts is dubious.]


Water [Sphagnum?] moss (shuitai水苔)


In the early spring, pick the tender tips. Wash and trim them till they are very clean. Wash away any sand, gravel, and worms. Press them with stones till they are dry. Add salt, oil, Chinese pepper, and minced leeks. Blend them and place them in a bottle. Add vinegar and ginger. It is very delicious. It can also be fried with oil. It is also good when it is added with salt and soybean sauce.


Pulu sprouts (puluya蒲蘆芽)[74]


Pick the tender sprouts and cut them. Blanch them in boiled water and wrap them in cloth. Press them till they are dry. Then add spices. It tastes like dried fish and it is very delicious.


Garden Balsam (Impatiens balsamina) stalks(fengxianhuageng鳳仙花梗)


Pick the thick stalks and peel them. Peel them till they are clean. Add them into dregs in the morning and eat at noon.


Safflower seeds (honghuazi紅花子)


Pick the seeds. Soak them in water and remove those floating on the surface of the water. Mash them in a pestle and soak the mashed material in boiled water to get the liquid. Mash it again. Boil the mash and liquid. When the water is boiled in the pot, add vinegar into it in order to let it coagulate. Use a piece of thin silk cloth to strain it. What has been obtained [i.e., the residue after straining] is like fatty meat. If it is added to vegetarian food, it will be extremely delicious.


Golden-bird flower (jinquehua金雀花) [broom]


It blossoms in the spring. The appearance of the flower is like a golden-bird (siskin, canary or goldfinch; jinque金雀). Each flower is worthy of being picked. Blanch them in boiled water and they can be served as tea food (chagong茶供). If it is blended with frost sugar [fine crystallized sugar], oil, and vinegar, it can be served as a dish. It is very pure (qing清).


Cold bean sprouts (handouya寒豆芽) [presumably a kind of pea, not literally cold sprouts]


Wash peas till they are clean. Wrap them in the container made from cattail (pu蒲) leaves when they are still wet. In the spring and winter, place them near the kang (raised household heating platform, 炕), where is close to fire. In the summer and autumn, this is not necessary. Spray water on it every day. When the sprouts grow, remove the shells and wash them till they are clean. Blanch them in boiled water and serve them as tea food. If the sprouts are long enough, they can be made into a regular dish.


Soybean sprouts (huangdouya黃豆芽)


Use large soybeans and follow the above method. When the sprouts grow a little bit, take them and remove the shells. Wash them till they are clean and fully cook them. Add Arthraxon hispidus (?) (xiangjin香藎), sliced oranges, wood-ear fungus (muer木耳), and sliced Buddha’s-hand citron (foshougan佛手柑) to them. Blend them till they are even. Add as much as possible of sesame oil and frost sugar. Then add vinegar. Serve it after blending them.




BREWS (niangzaolei釀造類)


These are liquors made in the families of Mountain Persons [i.e. immortals, hermits, or the like; shanren山人] for the purpose of nourishing life. Either they are sweet, or they are medicines. They are very different from those tasty foods. Those who booze [lit. “drink immoderately”] should not join our conversation here.

[These are basically medicinal or herbal ales.  Most old brewing recipes are hard to follow, and translations below are highly tentative. One often suspects that our author had not tried these himself. A brewing expert would have to look at them and try them before serious translation.  On all these, see Huang 2000.]


Liquors (jiulei酒類)


“Peach flower stream” liquor (taoyuanjiu桃源酒) [The name refers to Tao Yuanming’s famous story of a fisherman who followed a trail of peach flowers up a stream and found a land of Mountain Folk]


Use twenty liang of white yeasts (baiqu白曲) and cut them into almond shape[75]. Soak them in one dou of water and let them ferment (fa發). Wash one dou of sweet rice till it is very clean. Steam it till it is mashed. Spread the rice and let it cool down. Add it to the yeast liquid according to the changing weather of the four seasons (yi sishi xiaoxi qihou toufang quzhi zhong以四時消息氣候投放曲汁中). Stir it and make it into a thick congee. When it ferments, add two dou of steamed rice. if it does not [yet] taste like liquor, one should not feel surprised. Let it ferment and two more dou of steamed rice. Then the liquor is ready. If the weather is warm, there will be clean liquid emerging in the jar three to five days after it is ready. Take the liquid and drink it. Even if one guzzles this liquid, it will not be harmful. This recipe was originally [hyperbolically said to be] obtained at Peach Flower Stream, Wuling. Then it was recorded in Qimin yaoshu齊民要術. Neither entry catches the full wonder of this liquor. This recipe is the only true version. Now I think that it will be even better if one uses only water to soak the rice. When making the liquor, boil one dou [presumably of sweet rice][76] and then take one sheng of clean liquid. Then soak the yeast in it. One day after it ferments, steam rice and let it cool down. Take [the rice] out of the jar and mix it with yeasts. Then place it back into the jar. Repeat this step for every time of brew (dou酘). For the third and fifth brew, place the rice in the jar one day after liquor emerges. When it has been moved for five times, press it one or two days after liquor emerges. Then more than half of the rice has transformed into liquor. If the taste is hard (ying硬), steam three sheng of sweet rice for every dou [of rice]. And use a large spoon of yeasts made from shoots growing from old barley (damai niequ大麥櫱曲) and a large fen of white yeast powder. Blend them evenly and place them in a cambric bag. Contain it in a liquor jar. When it becomes sweet and tasty, remove the bag. However, since it is cold in the north, it is proper to brew at one’s will. Since it is warm in the south, it is proper to make liquor when the weather is extremely cold [otherwise it goes off to vinegar easily].


Fragrant-snow liquor (xiangxuejiu香雪酒)


The requires one shi of sweet rice. First, use nine dou of sweet rice and wash it till it is very clean and there is no sediment in the water that was used to wash the rice. Contain the carefully measured sweet rice in a barrel. Add the same amount of water to the sweet rice. It is proper to add one more dou of water in order to compensate the washed-away sediments of sweet rice. Soak the sweet rice in a jar. Then use one dou of sweet rice. Wash it as previously it has been done. Steam rice and place it on the sweet rice. Cover the jar with grasses. After more than twenty days, [the steamed rice] floats [indicating top-fermentation here, as in ale]. Take the steamed rice dregs (fanke飯殼) first and then the sweet rice. Let them dry. Then steam the rice and use it when it is just fully cooked. Use the water that was used to soak the rice and remove the sediments in it. Use twenty jin of white yeasts that have been cut into small pieces. Blend them. Place the steamed rice dregs (mi ke米殼) at the bottom of the jar. If it is warm, let the warmth [of the steamed rice] come out for awhile and then stir and blend them till they are even. Then cover the jar. After one day and one night, rake over the rice for the first time and do not cover the jar. After one day or one night, rake it over for the second time. If it is warm, one should rake it to let the warm gas get out. Rake it thoroughly for the third time. Then cover the jar and wait till it is ready. If one uses a normal recipe, the rice must normally be fine and white. The rice should be washed and clean. When raking over, the warm gas should be let out completely and then the rice will not spoil.


Greenish-and-Fragrant liquor (bixiangjiu碧香酒)


Use one sheng of sweet rice and wash it till it is clean. Use nine sheng of the sweet rice and soak them in a jar. Use one sheng of steamed rice and blend four liang of white yeast power with it. Bury a bamboo sifter (chou篘) in the soaked rice. When the steamed rice floats, dredge it out [with the sifter]. Steam nine sheng of rice and blend sixteen liang of white yeast powder with it. First, place the clean steamed rice at the bottom of the jar. Then place the soaked sweet rice and steamed rice in the jar. Use ten jin or twenty jin of the liquid that was used to wash the rice. Use four or five layers of paper to seal the jar tightly. In the spring, it takes several days. If the weather is cold, it will be ready in one month.


The twelfth-month liquor (lajiu臘酒)


Use two shi of sweet rice, two hundred jin of yeast-in-water (shuiyujiao水與酵) [presumably concentrated starter liquid] in full measure (zucheng足秤), forty jin of white yeast in full measure, two dou of sour steamed rice (suanfan酸飯) or two dou of fermented rice. The liquor tastes thick (nong濃) and spicy. It is made in the twelfth month. When boiling it, use two baskets with large meshes to hold liquor bottles and place them in the boiled water. When the liquor is boiled, take them out.


Red liquor from Jianchang (jianchang hongjiu建昌紅酒)


Use one shi of fine sweet rice and wash it clean. Place the sweet rice in a jar and make a small pit in the middle of the sweet rice. Pour one shi and two dou of water in the jar. Use another two dou of sweet rice and boil it till it is fully cooked. Spread it and let it cool down. Make it into a ball and place it in the pit. Then cover the jar. After more than twenty days, the cooked rice starts to float and the liquid in the jar becomes sour. Remove the floating cooked sweet rice and dredge out the soaked sweet rice. First, wash five dou of rice till it is clean and spread it at the bottom of a steamer. Place wet rice on it. Spread a little bit the cooked rice and let the gas out. Then cover the jar. Use eight dou of the liquid that was used to soak the rice and one liang of Chinese pepper that is fried and just comes out of pan. When [the Chinese pepper] is cooled down, use three jin of white yeast, three bowls of finely mashed yeast (jiaomu酵母), and proper amount of rice just as in brewing normal liquor. Do not make it too thick. If it is very cold, place it in a warm place. Wrap it with grass for one night. Divide the cooked rice into five portions in the next morning. Place each portion in one small jar and use one sheng of red yeast, half sheng of white yeast. Divide the yeast (jiao酵) into five portions too. Blend each portion with each portion of the cooked rice till they are even. Force them down in the jar and place the remaining cooked rice on top of it. Then cover the jar. After two days, beat and rake over it. If the surface is thick and it cannot be thoroughly beaten in three or five days. After being beaten, the surface will float and puff up. Then beat it one more time and still cover the jar. It will be ready in twenty days if it is in the eleventh month, in one month if it is in the twelfth month, and in twenty days in the first month. In the other months, it is not appropriate to make this liquor. Squeeze it and let it settle down. Then add a small amount of white sandalwood (baitan白檀). Wrap [the jar and seal it] with mud. Use boiled water for the original dregs (touzao頭糟) and add any amount of dregs to it at will. After two nights, the mixture can be squeezed.


Five-flavor distilled liquor (wuxiang shaojiu五香燒酒)


For each brew, use five dou of sweet rice, fifteen jin of thin yeast, three large jars of white distilled liquor, sandalwood (one liang) and five qian of muxiang (木香), frankincense (ruxiang乳香), ligusticum (chuanxiong川芎), and myrrh (moyao沒藥) respectively, five qian of cloves (dingxiang丁香), four liang of ginseng, fifteen jin of white frost sugar, two hundred walnut kernels, and three sheng of red jujube with the seeds removed. First, steam the rice till it is fully cooked. Let it cool down. Follow the normal way to make liquor and stuff the jar with the rice till it is almost to the brim. Seal the jar tightly. When it starts to spread heat slightly, add sugar, distilled liquor, spices, walnuts, jujubes, and so on, to it. Seal the jar with thick wrappers. Do not let the gas out. Open it for every seven days. Seal it for forty-nine days. Squeeze it as in the above method. When one drinks one or two cups and eats the foods soaked in it, it feels like the genial wind in the spring.


Yam liquor (shanyujiu山芋酒)


Use one jin of yams (shanyao山藥), three liang of ghee (suyou酥油), three liang of lotus seed pulp (lianrou蓮肉), and half fen of borneol (bingpian冰片). Grind them together and make them into pills. For every bottle of liquor, throw one or two pills in it. It is good for health if one drinks it when it is warmed up.


Grape wine (putaojiu葡萄酒)


Use one dou of grape juice and four liang of yeast (qu曲). Blend them evenly and place them in a jar. Seal the jar and it will become wine naturally. It has a special fragrance.

Another recipe: use three jin of honey and one dou of water. Boil them together and then pour them in a bottle. When it is mildly warm, add two liang of yeast powder (qumo曲末) and two liang of white yeast (baijiao白酵) to it. Seal the bottle with wet paper and place the bottle in a clean place. In the spring and autumn, it takes five days. In the summer, it takes three days. In the winter, it takes seven days and it is also good. When one is practicing kongfu and doing exercises of guiding qi and stretching the body (xinggong daoyin行功導引)[77], he should drink one or two cups. Then he will feel dozens of pulses grow fluid and open, and will feel the qi move without obstruction. The wine is what one should not abandon if he wants to take care of his own health.  [Excellent advice.  This is, of course, a bit of western influence in Gao’s work, but grape wine was long nativized in northwest China by this time.]


Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum spp.) root liquor (huangjingjiu黃精酒)


Use four jin of polygonatum root, three jin of Chinese asparagus (tianmendong天門冬) with the hearts removed, six jin of pine needles (songzhen松針), four jin of Atractylodes macrocephala (baishu白術), and five jin of wolfthorn [presumably berries]. All of them should be raw. Contain them in a pot and add three shi of water to it. Boil it for one day and remove the dregs. Use the liquid to soak yeast (qu曲) as homemade brews. When the liquor is ready, use the clean liquid. One can eat at will. It cures the hundred illnesses, prolongs life, changes one’s beard and hair [i.e. from gray back to black, a common belief about this substance in old times], and makes teeth grow. It has wonderful functions that cannot be exhausted.  [The ingredients are particularly famous “Mountain Folk” medicinal foods.]


Atractylodes macrocephala liquor (baishujiu白術酒)


Use twenty five jin of Atractylodes macrocephala. Slice them and soak them in two shi and five dou of flowing water (shuliushui束流水) in a jar for twenty days. Then remove the dregs and pour the juice into a large basin and place it in the inner yard (tianjing天井) at night. After five nights, the juice turns blood-colored and then it can be used to soak yeast. Make it into liquor and drink it by itself. It cures illnesses and prolongs life, changes hair and strengthens teeth, and makes face radiant. One will live longer if he drinks frequently.


Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch liquor (dihuangjiu地黃酒)


Use a large dou of thick, large rehmannia roots. Mash them. Cook five sheng of sweet rice, use a large sheng of yeast (qu曲). Knead these three materials in a basin till they are evenly mixed. Pour it into a jar and seal it with mud. In the spring, it takes twenty-one days. In the autumn and winter, it takes twenty-five days. When the date comes, open the jar and take a look. There will be a cup of green liquid on the surface, which is the essence. Drink it first. Squeeze the remaining material with a piece of new cloth (shengbu生布) in order to get the liquid. Preserve the liquid. It tastes sweet and delicious. It has functions as the above.


Sweetgrass liquor (changpujiu菖蒲酒)


Use sweetgrass (Acorus calamus) with nine nodes (jiujiechangpu九節菖蒲) and squeeze out five dou of raw juice by mashing it. Cook five dou of sweet rice and blend five jin of thin yeast (xiqu細曲) with it evenly. Place them in a porcelain jar and seal it for twenty one days. Then open the jar and drink it after warming it up. Drink it three times a day. It will open veins and pulses, nourish stomach, cures the illness of migratory arthralgia/”wind and numbness” (fengbi風痹), the illness of being as thin as “standing bones” (guli骨立) and the illness of losing functions for some part of body and being yellowish (weihuang痿黃). It cures those that cannot [otherwise] be cured. If one takes one prescription [every day], after one hundred days his skin will have brighter color and be radiant, his feet will have strength several times than they had previously, his ears will be able to catch subtle sounds and his eyes become brighter, his white hair will turn black, his falling teeth will grow again, he will have brightness at night (yeyouguangming夜有光明; see clearly at night?) , his lifespan will be extended and he will achieve longevity. Its functions cannot be totally described here.


Lamb liquor (yanggaojiu羊羔酒)


Use one shi of sweet rice and soak it [in water] to get the liquid following the normal method. Use seven jin of fat lamb, fourteen liang of yeast (qu曲), one jin of apricot-red (xinghong杏紅; apricot flowers?), which has been boiled in order to remove the bitter liquid. Then boil it with the lamb in plenty of water till the meat can be easily mashed. Keep seven sheng of the soup and blend it with the sweet rice mentioned previously. Add one liang of muxiang(木香) to it and brew them together. Do not let water get into it. After ten days, it can be eaten. It tastes sweet and smooth.

[Various forms of lamb or mutton wine or tincture remained common in China through the 20th century.  ENA knew a man in Hong Kong in the 1960s who had drunk a lot of it to treat his malaria; he was healthy at the time of interviewing.]


Lilyturf liquor (tianmendongjiu天门冬酒)


Use one dou of ripe liquor (chunjiu醇酒), one sheng of yeast powder (qumo曲末) [made on] the sixth day of the sixth month, and five sheng of sweet rice.  Make them into a drink. Boil five sheng of lilyturf root. The rice should be washed and dried in the sunlight. Use the boiled soup of lilyturf root to soak the rice. First, soak the rice in the liquid with yeast as the normal recipe. When it is ripe, cook rice and blend the cooked rice with the boiled liquid according to proper heat so that [their flavors will] penetrate each other. In the spring and summer, it takes seven days. One should frequently check it because it can easily get too warm. In the autumn and winter, it takes ten days to be ripe. Su Shi’s poem reads: “when the lilyturf [liquor] is ripe, a happy new year comes. The yeast and rice are so fragrant that they can be smelled all over the house.” This is true.


Pine blossom liquor (songhuajiu松花酒)


Use pine blossoms [pollen cones] like mouse tails in the third month. Scrape and use one sheng.  Place in a bag made from thin silk cloth. When one makes distilled liquor (baijiu白酒) and it is ready, place the bag in the middle of the liquor and then place [the liquor jar] in a well. Soak it for three days and then take it out. Pour out the liquor and drink it. It tastes pure, fragrant, sweet, and delicious.


Camomile liquor (juhuajiu菊花酒)


Pick camomile (ganjuhua甘菊花) in the tenth month and remove the petals. Use only two jin of the flowers and trim them. Then them in liquor in which dregs have not been removed (pei醅) and blend them evenly. In the next morning, it is fragrant and limpid after being squeezed. For flowers having fragrance, such as osmanthus, orchids, and wild roses (qiangwei蔷薇), liquor can be made with them in the same way.


Brewed-three-times liquor with wujia bark (Acanthopanax spinosus) (wujiapi santou jiu五加皮三骰酒)


Use a large sheng of wujia roots and stalks, Achyranthes (niuxi牛膝), red sage root (danshen丹参), wolfthorn roots, honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica Thunb.) (jinyinhua金银花), turpentine (songjie松节), orange (zhike枳壳, referring to various citrus spp.) branches and leaves, respectively. Boil three large shi of water in a pot and use six large dou of it. Remove the sediments and let it settle down in order to get the pure water. Then soak yeast (qu曲) in the water for several times. Cook five large dou of rice. Then use one dou of raw rehmannia roots (dihuangjiu地黃) and mash all till it is like mud. Blend it with the rice and place it in a jar. For the second time, cook five dou of rice. Then use two dou of finely minced great burdock (niupangzi牛蒡子) roots and mash it into mud-like stuff. Blend it with the rice and place it in the jar. For the third time, cook two dou of rice and boil one dou of bimazi蓖麻子; lit. “castor bean fruits” but these are poisonous, so something else must be implied). Then finely mash the castor beans and blend with the rice and place in the jar. Follow the normal recipe when it becomes too cold or too warm. The taste of the liquor is good. One should drink it after removing the dregs. If the liquor is too cold to be fermented, add yeast powder (qumo曲末) into it. If the taste is bitter and thin, cook another two dou of rice and brew it. If the rice is too dry to be fermented, boil those herbs (yaowu药物) and receive the liquid and add them to the rice when they are still warm. When the liquor is ripe, the dregs should be removed. If one drinks it for a long time, the flavor of the liquor will not disappear (時常飲之多少,常令有酒氣). Both men and women can drink it. There is no food that he cannot eat because of drinking it. If one drinks, it can remove the wind, the tiredness, and the cold qi (qufenglao lengqi去風勞冷氣). It cures illnesses that have accumulated and persisted in the body for a long time. It makes people gain weight and health, and walk as does a running horse. Its functions and benefits are numerous.

[Wujiapi medicinal wine remains one of the few really common medicinal liquors in China.  It certainly has a warming, tonic effect, whatever other virtues it may have.]





Whether the liquor tastes good or bad is determined by the fineness of the yeast and the purity of water. Therefore, yeast is an important material (yaoyao要藥). If the yeast is not good, how can the liquor [that is produced with it] be good? So I record wonderful recipes of making the yeast, below.


White yeast (baiqu白曲)


Use one dan擔 of white yeast and one dou of sweet rice powder (nuomifen糯米粉). Add water to it and stir it till it is evenly wet. Sift it and tread (ta踏) it into cakes. Wrap it with paper and hang it in the wind. After fifty days, take it down. In the day, dry it in the sunlight; at night, place it outside and let the dew fall on it. For every dou of rice, use ten liang of yeast.


Secret recipe of making yeast, from the royal inner palace (neifu michuan qufang內府秘傳曲方)


Use one hundred jin of white flour (baimian白麵), four dou of yellow rice (huangmi黃米), and three dou of green beans (lüdou綠豆). First, grind the green beans till their shells are peeled. Toss them and remove the shells. Soak [the shells] in water for future usage. Second, grind the yellow rice and add it into the flour and the green bean powder. Place the soaked green bean shells into the mixture of rice, flour, and green bean powder. Blend them. If the mixture is dry, add more soaked green bean shells till it can be twisted together into dough. Tread it into square yeast (fangqu方曲). [I.e. press into square yeast cakes?] The more solid (shi實), the better. Dry it in the sunlight on a rough board? (cuzhuo粗卓). It would be wonderful if it is made in the third hottest period (sanfu三伏). When one makes liquor, add seven jin of yeast to every shi [of rice]. Do not add too much yeast into it. Then the liquor will be pure (qinglie清冽).


Lotus yeast (lianhuaqu蓮花曲)


Use three jin of lotus blossoms, one hundred fifty liang of white flour, three dou of green beans, three dou of sweet rice (author’s note: all should be ground into powder), and eight liang of Sichuan pepper. Make and tread it (zaota造踏) as normal.


Dew-on-the-golden-stalk yeast (jinjingluqu金莖露曲)


Use fifteen jin of flour, three dou of green beans, and three dou of sweet rice. Make them into powder and tread [the powder].


Xiangyang yeast (xiangyangqu襄陽曲)


Use one hundred fifty jin of flour, three dou of sweet rice (author’s note: make it into powder), five jin of honey, eight liang of Sichuan pepper.


Red-and-white liquor-making material (hongbai jiuyao紅白酒藥)


Use five tsaokou cardamoms (caoguo草果), two jin of green tangerine peel(qingpi青皮), royal cinnamon (guangui官桂), large cardamoms (sharen砂仁), galangal (liangjiang良薑), cornel (or evodia; zhuyu茱萸), and (guangwu光烏) respectively, one jin of dried orange peels (chenpi陳皮), Amur cork tree bark (Phellodendron amurense; huangbo黃柏), Cyperus rotundus Linn. rhizome (xiangfuzi香附子), atractylodes (cangshu蒼術), dried ginger (ganjiang乾薑), camomile (ganjuhua甘菊花), and apricot kernels respectively, half jin of turmeric (jianghuang薑黃) and mints (bohe薄荷) respectively. For one jin of such a mixture, add one dou of sweet rice, three to five jin of smartwee (laliao辣蓼), two jin of mashed water ginger (shuijiang水薑), and one jin four liang of French chalk/talcum powder (huashifen滑石粉). Put in jar as usual. Add spices such as long pepper (bibo蓽撥), clove (dingxiang丁香), asarum (wild ginger, xixin細辛), four liang of Alpinia oxyphylla (yizhi益智), (dingpi丁皮), and large cardamom (sharen砂仁).


Dongyang liquor yeast (dongyang jiuqu東陽酒麴)


Use one hundred jin of white flour, three jin of walnut kernels (taoren桃仁), three jin of apricot kernels, one jin of aconite (caowu草烏), three jin of aconite [presumably a second species, but we have no way to tell what two species are meant here] (wutou烏頭)—if it is peeled, the amount can be reduced to half, and five sheng of green beans. Cook them till they are fully cooked. Use four liang of muxiang (木香), eight liang of royal cinnamon, and ten jin of piquant smartweed (laliao辣蓼 [presumably Polygonum hydropiper, one of the “hot” spicy species that give the plant its English name]). Soak them in water for seven days and then let them dry. Use ten jin of mother’s vine (muteng母藤), cocklebur (cangercao蒼耳草) (author’s note: wrapped with two pieces of mulberry leaves, alongside with the previous prepared three kinds of spices): smartweed (蓼草 [presumably a less piquant species), royal cinnamon, and muxiang (木香). Boil them together with the green beans. Add one jin of yeast to every shi of rice. It will not be good if one adds too much of yeast.


Smartweed (Polygonum sp.) yeast (liaoqu蓼曲)


Use any amount of sweet rice and soak it in the juice of smartweed for one night. Take the rice out of the juice and blend it with flour. After a while, sift it and remove the extra flour. Kep it in a thick paper bag. Hang it in a windy place. In the summer months, it can be used after two months. If one uses it to make liquor, the liquor will taste very delicious.






SWEETS (tianshilei甜食類)—author’s note: fifty-eight sorts


Recipe for making sugar syrup (qi tanglu fa起糖鹵法)


Whenever one makes sweets, he should prepare sugar syrup first. This is a secret recipe coming from the Imperial inner palace (neifu內府).


Use ten jin of white sugar (or one can use any amount of sugar. I now use ten jin as a standard). Use a movable stove or hearth (xingzao行竈) to set up a large boiler. First, use two and a half scoops of cold water. If the scoop is small and the sugar is too much, add the proper amount of water. Stir it and break the sugar into pieces. Boil it with mild fire. Pour (dian點)[78] two scoops of water that has been mixed with milk into it. If there is no milk, water mixed with egg white is also fine. When it is boiled, add the milk liquid (or egg white liquid) to it. Remove the firewood and quench the fire. Cover the boiler with a lid for enough time to eat a meal. Remove the lid and then set up the fire in the stove. When it is boiled, pour [the liquid] into it. After it is boiled for several times, one should have poured [the liquid] like this. If the foam in the sugar floats, use a skimmer to take it off. Be careful and do not let it burn. Use a brush to dip in the previously prepared liquid and brush [the boiler]. For the second time that the foam gathers, use the skimmer to get it out. For the third time, use high fire and pour pure water to the foam. The milk will be boiled and separated [from the foam]. When [the foam] gathers for the time that one meal takes, all the foam should be picked out. When the black foam is removed and white flower-like stuff can be seen, it is good. Use clean cotton cloth to sift it and contain it in a bottle. The utensils should be clean and avoid grease and pollution. Whenever one makes sweets and uses black granulated sugar (heishatang黑砂糖), he should boil it—no matter how much of it—thoroughly. Then use fine ramee cloth (xixiabu細夏布) to sift it. Otherwise, it is not good for making sweets. If one uses white granulated sugar, he should first dry it in the sunlight.

[The milk and/or egg are used to clarify the sugar—to get out any protein and other materials other than pure sucrose.  They clump with it and can be skimmed off.]


Recipe for roasted flour (chaomian fang炒麵方)


Sift white flour for three times. Place it in a large wok. Use a wood rake (mupa木耙) to stir it till it is fully browned. Place it on the table and grind it into fine powder. Then sift it again. Thus it can be used to make sweets.


Whenever one uses ghee, the ghee should be fresh. If it is old, it cannot be used.


Recipe for pine-nut cookies (songzibing松子餅)


For one serving of pine-nut cookies, use six liang of ghee, six liang of white sugar syrup, and one jin of white flour. First, melt the ghee and put it in a porcelain container when it is still warm. Pour the white sugar into it and rub it evenly. Then add white flour into it and blend them. Knead and rub it till it is even. Place it on the table and mould the dough (ganmian擀面) into a flat shape. Use bronze circle molds to print on it and make it into round pastes. Spread pine nuts on them and then place them in a tray, which is used to bake them.  [This is strikingly similar to New Mexico’s “pine-nut shortbread,” and must be a western recipe, almost certainly from the Near East—a rare bit of western borrowing in this book.]


Recipe for oil-harmonized-with-flour [candies] (mianheyoufang面和油方)


Use any amount of [flour]. Use a small pan, two scoops of sugar sauce, and any amount of ghee. Fry the sugar sauce in shallow ghee in the small pan. Sift it with thin cloth. Add uncooked flour (shengmian生面) to it with one’s hand till it is neither thin nor thick. Use a small rake to stir it till the flour is fully cooked. First, cook the sugar syrup over slow fire till one can draw threads of sugar from it. Use a stick to dip in it and test it. Add proper amount of the flour that has been fried in ghee. Stir it and then remove it from the pan. Spread it on the board when it is still hot. Mould it [with a rolling pin] and cut it into eye-shaped [or eye-sized] pieces (xiangyankuai象眼塊).  [This and several following recipes are Near Eastern halwah recipes.]


Recipe for pine nut hailuo (松子海羅[口幹]方) [hai luo, literally “sea radish,” clearly a transliteration of halwah]

One can also use both walnut kernels and gourd seeds (guaren瓜仁)


Put sugar syrup in a small wok. Cook over slow fire for one meal’s time. Stir it till it is cooled down. Add fried flour to it with one’s hand. Then add chopped pine nut kernels and stir them till it is even. Spread ghee on the board and place [the dough] on the board. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eye-shaped pieces. When one cuts the dough into pieces, he should do it when the dough is still warm. If the dough is cold, it is hard. It would be difficult to cut and one would be afraid of breaking it into crumbs.  [Again a Near Eastern recipe—the transliteration clinches it.]


Recipe for white and moist [candy] (bairunfang白閏方)


Add a small amount of ghee to the sugar syrup and cook over slow fire. Add fried flour to it conveniently (suishou隨手) and stir it evenly. Place it on the board and flatten it with a rolling pin. Cut it into eye-shaped pieces. If one uses bronze circles as molds, it will be called Sweet-Dew Gluten (ganlujin甘露筋).  [Again, apparently a halwah recipe.  It is sweet and looks like gluten cakes.]


Recipe for snow-flake shortbread (xuehuasu雪花酥)


Melt ghee in a small pan and sift it. Add heated flour to it with the hand. Stir it till it is even, neither thin nor thick. Then remove the pan from the fire. Spread white sugar powder on the mix and stir it. When they are mixed together, place it on the board and mould it with a rolling pin. Cut it into eye-shaped pieces.


Recipe for Manchu candied fritter (shanshima fang芟什麻方)[79], called “poured-and-cut” in the south


Cook sugar syrup in a small pan over slow fire till one can draw threads of sugar from it. First, peel sesame seeds and dry them in the sun light. Or bake them briefly and grind them into powder. Add them into the sugar conveniently. Stir and make it mix together, while it should be neither thin nor thick. Spread sesame powder on the board in advance and let it not be sticky. Place [the dough] on the board when it is still warm. Spread sesame powder on the dough, which will keep it from being sticky. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eye-like pieces.  [This is straightforward sesame halwah!  Similar Manchu recipes survive today, and have been noted by Charles Perry; see footnote.]


Recipe for yellow and moisturized halwah (huangrun fang黃閏方)


[It is] the same as the homemade (jiachang家常) ones. Sift black [dark brown] granulated sugar. Cook it along with sugar syrup over slow fire. Add a small amount of honey. Then let it cool down. Add toasted flour conveniently. Still spread ghee on the board. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eyelike pieces.


Recipe for slices with mint (boheqiefang薄荷切方)


Dry mints in the sunlight and grind them into fine powder. Put sugar syrup in a small pan and cook over slow fire till one can draw threads of sugar from it. Add a small amount of toasted flour in advance. Then add mint powder and mix them together. Spread mint powder on the board in advance and place [the dough] on the board when it is still warm. Spread more mint powder on the dough. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eyelike pieces.  [These mint candies look, once again, Near Eastern.]


Recipe for a nest of threads [taffy] (yiwosi fang一窩絲方)


[Author’s note:] prepare a piece of fine stone as a board and spread cooked sesame oil on it. Sift toasted flour till it is pure. Prepare them in advance.  [All candy makers will recognize this!]

Fully cook sugar syrup over slow fire till one can draw threads of sugar from it and it is slightly burned (aocheng laosi熬成老絲). Pour it on the stone board. Use two chopping knives to scrape it up alternatively (zhuanzao lueqi轉遭掠起). When it is cooled down and gets thicker, pull (ba拔) it with hands till it is elongated. Fold it in half [and pull it again]. When it is pulled for more times, it becomes whiter. If it is cold and hard, bake it on fire. Stretch it for dozens of times and make it into a double-circle shape (shuangquan雙圈) and place it on the board. Spread toasted flour on it. Then it requires two persons, face to face, to pull it in opposite directions and turn it around clockwise (erren duiche shunzhuan二人對扯順轉). Pour toasted flour on it at his convenience. Pull it for dozens of times till it turns into thin threads. Sever them with knife, separate and make them into small nests. When one pulls the sugar and place it on the board, he should fold it in half and make it into a circle. Then pull it, fold it and make it into a circle. Repeat this for dozens of times and it will become thin threads.


Recipe for comb-print crisps (su’eryin fang酥兒印方)


Use uncooked flour and add soybean powder (doufen豆粉) to it. [add water to them and blend them](tonghe同和). Knead it into bars (tiao條) as large as the tip of a chopstick (jintouda筋頭大). Cut it into pieces as long as two fen分. Use a small comb to print patterns on them separately. Contain them and deep fry them with ghee till they are fully cooked. Pick them up with a sifter. Then spread white granulated sugar over, and mix.


Recipe for puffed buckwheat (qiaomaihua fang蕎麥花方)


First, bake buckwheat till it is puffed into flower-like [popped] kernels. Measure it. Add a small amount of honey to sugar syrup and put in a wok. Do not move them. Cook them till one can draw threads from it. Then [let the fire] higher (luedaxie略大些). Add the puffed buckwheat into it at one’s convenience and stir it evenly. Do not let it become thin. Spread puffed buckwheat on a board, which will prevent stickiness. Move the puffed buckwheat with sugar from the wok to the board and spread it. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eye-like pieces.  [This is similar to Mexican alegría—a rather striking parallel.  Alegría is pre-Columbian, except for the sugar, but again there must be some Near Eastern influence here.]


Recipe for goat marrows (yangsui fang羊髓方)


Use half a bottle of goat/sheep milk (yangruzi羊乳子) or cow milk (niuruzi牛乳子) and add half a cup of water to it. Add three pinches of white flour to it. Sift it and place it in a wok. Cook over slow fire. When it is boiled, add white granulated sugar or sugar syrup at one’s convenience. Then use high fire [to cook it]. Beat it with a wood rake. When it is fully cooked, sift it and place it in a bottle. Pour it out in a bowl and serve it.  [This is evidently a form of the various milk sweets of India.]


Recipe for black and moist [candy] (heirun fang黑閏方)


Cook black [very dark brown] granulated sugar with slow fire and sift it till it is pure. Add the same amount of sugar syrup and mix them. place them in a wok. Cook them for one-meal’s time, add half a bottle of ghee to it. Cook and add fried flour and Chinese pepper powder to them at one’s convenience. Blend them into one piece. Then place it on the board and knead it till it is flattened. Cut it into eye-like pieces.


Recipe for saboni (灑孛你方)


Cook material that has been used to cook mushrooms (aomoguliao熬磨古料) with slow fire. Do not use walnuts. Scoop it out and spread it on a board. Circle and fix it with sweet rice (jiangmi江米). Print it with bronze circles. This is saboni灑餑你. When one cuts it into eye-like pieces, it is called white sugar squares (baitangkuai白糖塊). [This recipe is incomprehensible, and evidently involves transcriptions.  The mushroom reference makes no sense, and aomoguliao is very probably a transcription of a foreign word, as saboni certainly is.  Charles Perry informs ENA, per email of Aug. 25, 2015: “There was a medieval Arab sweetmeat called sabuniyyah which had something of the crumbly texture and faintly sinister luster of soap and was probably cut into pieces resembling bars of soap (sabun): Dissolve sugar and set aside. Put half the syrup in the pan, dissolve starch, add, and stir continuously on the fire; for every raṭl of sugar, use two ūqiyahs of starch. Stir with sesame oil, slowly moisten with the rest of the syrup, and stir. When it comes off the fire, add honey, the same amount by weight as the starch. When done, set aside and work in, for every raṭl,two ūqiyahs of blanched almonds or pistachios and an ūqiyah of rosewater. Then spread it out and sprinkle with sugar.” Further email, Aug. 26: ”It’s a recipe that all the 13th-century cookbooks of the eastern Arab World swiped from some earlier source. You can credit ‘The Description of Familiar Foods,’ which I translated in Medieval Arab Cookery, Prospect Books: Totnes, Devon, 2001. I can hazard a guess for aomoguliaoal-maghli, something that has been boiled. It’s not a literary word (in form it’s a passive participle and the verb ghala is intransitive) but it exists in two senses: 1) herb tea or decoction and 2) in Lebanon and Syria as the name of a sort of rice pudding made with water instead of milk (the rice is ground to a powder and it is boiled with sugar and spices for an hour to thicken) which is served on the birth of a son. In the second sense the first vowel is generally u: mughli, which could be a colloquial pronunciation of mughla, the proper word for ‘something that has been boiled.’”


Clearly this is our saboni, and the aomoguliao must be the ingredients called for in Perry’s recipe (translated from a medieval Arab source).]


Recipe for pepper-and-salt cookies (jiaoyanbing fang椒鹽餅方)


Use two jin of white flour, a half jin of sesame oil, a half liang of salt, and one liang of good pepper peels [sic, probably a miswriting], a half liang of aniseeds (huixiang茴香). Divide [the flour] into three equal portions. For each one of them, use only oil, pepper, salt, and aniseeds to mix with the flour. Then make them into the stuffing (rang穰). If one adds some coarse sesame crumbs to it, it would be even better. For each cookie, insert one piece of the stuffing. Knead the cookie till it become thinner. Then place them in the oven. Another recipe: mix the same amount of boiled water and oil. For the stuffing, use sugar and sesame crumbs and the oil [mixed with boiled water].  [This is a thoroughly Near Eastern recipe; cf. kourabiyeh.  The lack of sugar in the dough is evidently a mistake; probably the “good pepper peels” were sugar until a bad copyist got at this recipe.]


Recipe for crisp cookies (subing fang酥餅方)


Use four liang of ghee, one liang of honey, and one jin of white flour. Blend them into pastes. Place it into molds and make it into cookies. Then bake them in a oven. Otherwise, one can also use lard. If he uses two liang of honey, it will be even better.


Recipe for wind-dissolved cakes (fengxiaobing fang風消餅方)


Use two sheng of sweet rice and mash it into very fine powder. Divide them into four portions. One portion is used to make a dough (米孛). Another portion is mixed with water, made into cakes and fully cooked. Blend the remaining two portions [of sweet rice powder]. Use a small half cup of honey, two pieces of fermenting liquor in which the dregs have not been removed (zhengfa jiupei正發酒醅), and white maltose (baixing白餳)[80]. Melt them and then mould it with the sweet rice cakes till it is as thin as a spring [roll] wrapper (chunbing春餅). If the wrapper is broken, there will be no problem. Bake it on a tray and do not let it burn. Then hang it in a windy place. Measure how much [sweet rice] has been used, deep fry it in lard. When one deep fries it, use chopsticks to stir it. At the same time, mix white sugar and fried flour. Then use raw hemp cloth (shengmabu生麻布) to rub the mixed crumb onto the wrappers.  [I.e., thin tortilla-like cakes have crumbs shaken over them as topping.]

Another recipe: use only a small amount of fine and cooked powder and boil it. Then spread it on a sifter and dry it one hundred percent in sunlight. For every dou of sweet rice powder, use twelve liang of yam powder (yumo芋末). This recipe is simple and wonderful.

[With this we leave the Near Eastern-style recipes and move to more purely Chinese ones, though a few exotic recipes appear below.]

Recipe for meat-and-oil cake (rouyoubing fang肉油餅方)


Use one jin of white flour, one liang of cooked oil, one liang of sheep and pig fat respectively ([the author’s note:] cut them into small-pea-like pieces). Use two cups of liquor that comes out in the summer (dajiu大酒)[81] and blend it with the flour. Divide it into ten pastes. Mould it into wrappers and wrap lean meat in the wrapper. Bake the pie in an oven till it is fully cooked.  [This rather resembles a moon cake.  Possibly an ancestral form.]


Recipe for vegetarian oil cake (suyoubing fang素油餅方)


Use one jin of white flour and one liang of real sesame oil (zhenmayou真麻油). Blend them and make them into pastes. Insert granulated sugar stuffing at one’s convenience. Then print patterns on the cake and bake them in an oven.  [Same comment.]


Recipe for snow-flake cakes (xuehuabing fang雪花餅方)


Use one hundred percent snow-white flour that has been sifted thoroughly when first sifted (shifen touluo xuebaimian十分頭羅雪白面). Steam it till it is fully cooked and it is one hundred percent white. For every jin of flour that has been used, use six liang of lard and half jin of sesame oil. Cut the pig grease into dice-like squares and mix it with a small amount of water and cook them with slow fire. When the grease is about to disappear and there is yellowish and burnt stuff, use a skimmer [scoop, sifter] to pick [the yellowish and burnt stuff] out. If [the grease] does not disappear, one should continue to cook it and then pick [the yellowish and burnt stuff] out with the skimmer. When one has done this, the lard will be white. Mix the lard with the flour and make it as the foundation of the wrappers (bingdi餅底). Place some grass and wood ashes (caochaihui草柴灰) on the baking tray and then place a piece of paper on it. Place the wrapper on [the paper] and bake it.


Recipe for taro cake (yubing fang芋餅方)


Mash raw taro (yunai芋奶)[82] and blend it with sweet rice powder and make into cakes. Deep fry them. Or one can stuff them with sugar and bean paste (dousha豆沙). Or one can stuff them with walnut and sliced orange peels that has been mixed with pepper, salt, and sugar.


Recipe for leek cake (jiubing fang韭餅方)


Use pork with fat and make it into ground meat (saozi臊子). Fry oil till it is half cooked. Use raw leek and mince it. Mince goat fat. Blend Chinese pepper, Amomum villosum cardamoms (sharen砂仁), and soybean sauce evenly. Mould [the dough into] two thin cakes. Stuff them with the stuffing and bake them. When one uses shepherd’s purse (jicai薺菜), the recipe is the same.


Recipe for white crisp cakes (baisu shaobing fa白酥燒餅法)


Use one batch of dough (mianyige面一個), two liang of oil, and good liquor in which dregs have not been removed. Use the liquor as yeast. When the dough is one hundred percent leavened, knead it. Make exactly as with sesame and sugar (zhimatang芝麻糖) above. When one uses one batch of dough and two liang of sugar, he can make sixteen baked cakes.


Recipe for Solomon’s-seal cakes (huangjingbing fang黃精餅方)


Steam Solomon’s seal root till fully cooked. Remove its peels and fibrous roots. Mix it with baked and fully cooked peeled soybeans. Mash them in powder. Then add white sugar sauce to it and make them in dough. When one uses it to make cakes, it tastes pure.


Recipe for fried rolls (juanjianbing fang卷煎餅方)


This wrapper is the same as a thin pie (baobing薄餅). For the stuffing, one should use two jin of pork, one jin of pig fat or chicken. It is similar to the stuffing in a bun (mantou饅頭) and uses a lot of green onion whites or withered bamboo shoots and so on. Wrap it in the wrapper and make it into a roll. On both ends, [seal the holes] with paste. Deep fry it and let it float on the surface of the oil (fuyou浮油) till it turns reddish and slightly burnt. Or one can just bake it till it is fully cooked. Serve it with five spices and vinegar (wulacu五辣醋). The vegetarian stuffing is made with the same recipe.  [Note that mantou still meant a filled dumpling at this time, as in earlier centuries.  Today it means an unfilled steamed bread roll, and filled dumplings are jiaozi.]


Recipe for sugar Torreya nuts (tangfei fang糖榧方)


Add yeast to white flour and leave it for leavening. Add boiled water to [the flour] and make it into paste. Cut it into pieces that look like Torreya nuts (feizi榧子). Place them in completely boiled oil and deep fry them. Then pick them out and wrap them in the mixture of sugar and flour (chan纏). The mixture is made by mixing the same amount of sugar and flour.

[These classic fried dumplings are probably another Near Eastern recipe; they resemble western doughnuts.]


Recipe for meat cake (roubing fang肉餅方)


Use one jin of flour and six liang of oil. The stuffing is the same as that for the fried rolls (juanjianbing卷煎餅). Bake them in a tray. Cook maltose (xingtang餳糖) [till its color changes] and brush it on the paste to color it.


Recipe for oily shilaier (youshilaierfang油[食夾]兒方) [meaning unclear; lit. “oil eat-come-lets” but surely another transliteration]


Use flour to make paste. Stuff it and make it into shilaier [食夾]兒. Deep fry in oil. The stuffing is the same as that for the meat pie.

[Diligent search throughout Asian cookbooks fails to retrieve anything that could serve as an original for the name, but it is obviously a western dish with a transliterated western name.  The nearest ENA can find is an Azerbaijan delicacy called shor, which is more similar in recipe than in name.]


Recipe for sesame-butter cakes (mani bingzi fang麻膩餅子方)


Use a fat goose. Fully cook it and remove its bones. Cut the fat and lean into strips. Place blanched leek, sliced raw ginger, blanched and sliced wild rice stems, sliced fungus (mu’ersi木耳), and sliced dried bamboo shoots in bowls respectively. Steam sesame butter (mani麻膩) till it is fully cooked. Pour the hot soup that has been used to boil the goose onto the sesame butter (mani麻膩). The cake is like the spring cake (chunbing春餅) but a little thicker and smaller. Wrap the prepared materials and eat it.

[Somewhat unclear, but sounds good.]


Recipe for five-spice cake (wuxiang gao fang五香糕方)


Use two portions of the best white sweet rice (shangbai nuomi上白糯米) and six portions of non-glutinous rice (jingmi粳米), one fen of dried foxnuts (qianshi芡實), ginseng, Atractylodes macrocephala (baishu白術), tuckahoe (Poria cocos, fuling茯苓), and Amomum villosum cardamoms (sharen砂仁), one fen in total. Grind till the powder is very fine and sift it thoroughly. Blend [the rice with] white granulated sugar and boiled water till it is even. Place in a steamer. For one dou of powder, use four liang of foxnutd (qianshi芡實), two liang of Atractylodes (baishu白術), two liang of tuckahoe (fuling茯苓), one liang of ginseng, and one qian of the cardamom (sharen砂仁). Grind them into fine powder and blend it with the powder. Then blend one sheng of white sugar wit it.


Recipe for fluffy cake (songgao fang松糕方)


Use one dou of old non-glutinous rice and three jin of granulated sugar. Wash the rice till it is very clean and bake it till it is dry. Mix it with sugar and spread water on it. Then mash it in a mortar. Keep two fen of rice to blend with [the mashed rice]. Mash [the rice] till any coarse grains disappear. Or one can add honey to it. Or one can use the pure powder and pick out the blackish rice. When one makes fluffy cakes, he should wait till the water is boiled and add the powder to it gradually. So the steam will move upwards. Do not let the steam out. Do not stop [the process] in the middle. It is fine to place the cakes sparsely in the steamer. Or one can spread straws in the steamer.


Recipe for wrapped cake (guogao fang裹糕方)


Steam sweet rice till it is soft and fully cooked. Blend it with sugar till it is even. Wrap it with bamboo leaves and make it into small-corner shape (xiaojiao’er小角兒). Then steam it again.

[“Small corner” refers to dumplings with pointed ends like corners or horns.]


Recipe for ground spices (fanyong xiangtou fa凡用香頭法)


Use one jin of granulated sugar, three garlic (for the large ones, cut them into pieces as long as three fen), seven stalks of green onion white with roots, seven slices of raw ginger, and a piece of muskiness (shexiang麝香) as large as a pea. Place them at the bottom of a steamer. Then place sugar on them. First, wrap it with bamboo leaves (?; huaruo花箬). Then seal it with a single piece of oilpaper. Then steam it for one day and one night (chongtang重湯). It will not spoil for years. When one uses it, use a small amount of it and [the food] will be delicious.


Recipe for round dumpling (rice ball or sweet soup ball pudding) (zhushatuan fa煮砂團法)


Add granulated sugar to red beans or green beans. Boil them till they become a dough. Wrap it with raw sweet rice paste and make it into large balls. Steam them. or one can boil them in boiled water.


Recipe for sticky rice dumplings (zongzi fa粽子法)


Wash sweet rice till it is clean. Add jujubes, chestnuts, dried persimmon (shigan柿幹), ginkgo biloba/gingko (yinxing銀杏), and red beans to [the rice]. Wrap [the mixture] with wildrice (Zizania aquatica/Z. latifolia) leaves (jiaoye茭葉) or bamboo leaves. Another recipe is to soak rice and wormwood leaves (aiye艾葉) in water and wrap [the rice]. This is called wormwood-rice dumpling (aixiang zongzi艾香粽子). When one boils rice dumplings, he should use the liquid that has been used to wash straw or fire wood ashes. Sometimes people also add some lime (shihui石灰) to the water when they boil rice dumplings. [By doing this,] they want to keep the greenness and fragrance of the wildrice leaves (jiaoye茭葉). [These are still made, and resemble contemporary Korean dumplings made of powdered wormwood leaves mixed with sticky rice.  Sumei Yi remembers bathing in wormwood-infused water, and putting wormwood branches in front of the house to drive off insects.]


Recipe for the Jade-Filled-Lung (yuguanfei fang玉灌肺方)


Use zhenfen (真粉, unclear), oily pies (youbing油餅), sesame, pinenuts, walnuts, and aniseeds. Blend these six ingredients and make them into rolls. Steam them in a steamer till they are fully cooked. Cut them into squares. It is very delicious. There is no need to add oil. If one uses powders and flours of every kind and blend them and steams them, it is also wonderful.  [Again this is basically a Near Eastern recipe.]


Recipe for ground pork paste (saoziroumian fa臊子肉面法)


Use tender pork and remove the tendons, skin, and bones. Use the same amount of fat and lean meat and cut them into dice-like pieces. Use proper amount of water and liquor to boil [the pork] till it is half cooked. Grind the fat (yizhi胰脂) into paste. Then blend it with soybean sauce and afterwards add fragrant pepper (xiangjiao香椒) and Amomum villosum cardamom (sharen砂仁) to it. Use the spices to flavor it. Do not use too much water and liquor. Place the fat pork [into the boiler] first. Then add green onion whites. Do not add green leaves of green onion. Blend green bean powder [with water] to make a paste (jiang糨).


Recipe for wonton (huntun fang餛飩方)


Use one jin of white flour and three qian of salt. Blend them for a continuous dough sheet (luosuomian落索面). Add water to it frequently and knead it into paste. After a while, knead it for one hundred times. Twist and break it into small pieces. Mould it with a rolling pin. Use green bean powder as wrapper? (bo[米孛]). The four margins should be thin. Stuff [the wrapper] with the stuffing. The wrapper should be strong. No fat should be mixed with the lean meat. Fry [the meat] with green onion white and oil till it is fully cooked. Then [the meat] will not have a rank smell. Use proper amount of Chinese pepper, minced ginger, apricot kernels, Amomum villosum (sharen砂仁), and soybean sauce and blend them. It will be even better if one adds it with deep-fried bamboo shoots (suncai筍菜), or any kind of radish (laifu萊菔), or shrimp meat, crab meat, Wisteria (Sollya; tenghua藤花), or any kind of fish. When one places the dumplings in a wok and boils them, he should stir the soup and place a bamboo utensil (zhuxiao竹篠)[83] in the boiled soup. Stir [?] frequently and let the soup be boiling as if fish are making bubbles. The wonton will not be broken and the wrapper will be strong (jian堅) and smooth.

[Fine wonton recipes, but Gao is stretching his definition of “sweets” quite far.  Evidently any casual snack could qualify.]


Recipe for water-smooth pastry (shuihuamian fang水滑面方)


Use one hundred percent white flour. Knead it into paste. For one of flour, make it into more than ten pieces. Place them in water. When the dough is fully leavened (houqi mianxing fade shifen manzu候其面性發得十分滿足), stretch and pull (chouzhuai抽拽) it off piece by piece and place it in boiled water. Fully cook them. It will be good if the stretched-and-pulled pieces are broad and thin. Use sesame butter (mani麻膩), apricot kernel butter (xingrenni杏仁膩), salted dried bamboo shoots, pickled gourd (jianggua醬瓜), salted eggplants (zaoqie糟茄), ginger, salted leek (yanjiu醃韭), and sliced cucumber. Make them into minced sauce (jitou齏頭). If one adds fried meat to it, it will be even better. [These “water-smooth” or “water-polished” noodles again seem Near Eastern or Central Asian in ultimate inspiration.  The name, and also the sauce mixture, especially the nut butters, are close to the mysterious and elaborate Central Asian recipes in the Yinshan Zhengyao.]


Recipe for in-mouth crisp (daokousu fang到口酥方)


Use ten liang of ghee, seven liang of white sugar, and one jin of white flour. Melt the ghee and pour it into a basin. Add white sugar to it and mix them evenly. Knead it with hands for one hour. Then add it to the flour and blend them into dough. Let it be even. Then mould [the dough] with a rolling pin and make into a long strip. Then divide it into small cakes and bake them in an oven with low fire. When it is fully cooked, one can eat it.

(Near Eastern or Indian background.]


Recipe for midriff-purifying cakes with persimmon frost(shishuang qingge bing fang柿霜清膈餅方)


Use two jin four liang of persimmon frost (shishuang柿霜)[84], eight liang of orange peels, four liang of Platycodon root (jiegeng桔梗), two liang of mints, two liang of dried kudzu vine root (gange幹葛), four liang of fangfeng root (Ledebouriella seseloides, 防風), and one qian of (piannao片腦) [an aromatic, almost certainly borneol camphor; see fn 98, p. 101; lit. “sliced brain,” a disturbing image]. Make them into powder. Blend them with liquorice paste (gancaogao甘草膏) and make them into cakes. Then print patterns on the cakes and [cook them and then] eat them. Another recipe: add one liang of Sichuan one-hundred-medicine decoction (chuanbaiyaojian川百藥煎)[85].


Recipe for chicken-crisp cakes (jisubing fang雞酥餅方)[86]


Use ten liang of white mei pulp (baimeirou白梅肉), six liang of lilyturf root (maimendong麥門冬), one jin of white sugar, six liang of perilla (zisu紫蘇), four liang of one-hundred-medicine decoction (baiyaojian百藥煎), two liang of ginseng, two liang of black plums (wumei烏梅), and four liang of mints. Make them into powder. Blend them with liquorice paste till the paste is even. Make the paste into cakes. Or one can make it into pills (wan丸) and coat them with white sugar.


Recipe for mei and perilla (meisuwan fang梅蘇丸方)


Use two liang of black mei pulp (wumeirou烏梅肉), six qian of dried kudzu roots (gange幹葛), one qian of sandal wood (tanxiang檀香), three qian of perilla (zisu紫蘇) leaves, one qian of baked salt, and one jin of white sugar. Make all the ingredients into powder. Mash the black mei pulp into mud-like stuff. Blend it with other ingredients and make it into small pills for usage.


Recipe for watery-and-transparent corners [pointed dumplings] (shuimingjiao’r fa水明角兒法)


Use one jin of white flour and dust it into boiled water bit by bit. Keep stirring it with hand till it becomes a thick porridge (hu糊). Divide it into ten to twenty portions and soak it in cold water till it turns snow white. Place it on a table and squeeze it till the water comes out. Add the same amount of soybean powder into it and knead it into thin wrappers (baopi薄皮). Wrap sugar and fruits in it as the stuffing. Then steam it in a bamboo steamer. It tastes very good.


Recipe for poppyseed curd (zaosufu fa造粟腐法)


Grind poppy seeds (yingsu罌粟) and water till fine. First, use a piece of cloth to sift through the shells. Then use a piece of silk cloth to sift. Add to boiled water and it will be like the fluid (jiang漿) for making toufu. Place it into a wok and boil it. Then add green bean powder and stir it till it is made into curd (fu腐). For one portion of poppy seed, use one portion of green bean powder.

Sesame curd should be made in the same way.

[Interesting recipes of obscure origin.  Poppy seed in China is generally a marker of an introduction from the far west—west Asia or Europe.  But no such dish exists there.]


Fish-like-taste bran (fuzha麩鮓)


Use one jin of bran (fu麩) and cut it into thin strips.  [The bran is evidently made up into some kind of cake.] Dye them with red yeast powder (hongqumo紅麴末). Use one sheng of miscellaneous spices (zaliaowu雜料物), dried bamboo shoots, carrots, and green onion white (all should be sliced). Use two qian of fully cooked sesame and Chinese pepper, half qian of Amomum villosum cardamoms (sharen砂仁), dill seeds (shiluo蒔蘿), and aniseeds, a small amount of salt, and three liang of fully cooked sesame oil. Blend them till they are even. Then it can be served. It will also be fine if one blend every kinds of ingredients and fry them with oil and make them into a minced dish (ji齏).


Fried bran (jianfu煎麩)


Place bran and germ (fupei麩胚) in a steamer and do not use a rock to press it. Steam it till it is fully cooked. Then cut it into large slices. Fully boil spices (liaowu料物), liquor, and soybean sauce. Dry it in the shade. Deep fry it with oil (fujian浮煎) and it can be eaten.


Cakes for immortals and rich-and-powerful people (shenxian fugue bing神仙富貴餅)


Use one jin of atractylodes (baishu白術) and one jin of sweetgrass (Acorus calamus, changpu菖蒲). Soak them in the water that has been used to wash rice. Then scrape off the blackish peels and cut them into slices. Add a small piece of [mineral] lime (shihui石灰) and boil it with them till the bitter flavor is removed. Dry them in the sun light. Then add four jin of yams (shanyao山藥) to them and make them into powder. Blend them with flour and make them into paste. Then steam the paste and make them into cakes and eat them. Or one can add white sugar to it and mould it into thin wrappers. It can be steamed or baked. It originally has a flavor of purity and luxury (fugui富貴).


Recipe for ghee (zaosuyou fa造酥油法)


Boil cow milk once or twice in a boiler. Then pour it into a basin. When it is cooled down, the surface will be congealed into a thin skin of cheese (laopi酪皮). Bake (jian煎) the layer of cheese in a wok till grease (you油) comes out of it. Pour the grease into a bowl and it is ghee. [Not a very good description of any normal ghee-making process.  Gao seems to have confused methods for making qaymaq and for making ghee.]


Recipe for pure baked cakes (guangshaobing fang光燒餅方)


For baked cakes, use one jin [of flour] and one and half liang of oil (shaobing meimian yijin, ruyou laingban 燒餅每面一斤,入油兩半). Use one qian of baked salt and blend it with [the flour] and cold water. Knead it into [dough] and mould [the dough] with a rolling pin (guluchui骨魯槌) till it is flattened. Bake it on a pan (ao鏊) till it becomes harder. Bake it with slow fire till what is inside is also fully cooked. When it is tasted, it is very delicious.


Recipe for twice-oven-baked cakes (fulu shaobing fa複爐燒餅法)


Use one jin of peeled walnut kernels and mince them. Add one jin of honey to [the minced walnuts]. Make one jin of ghee cakes baked in an oven (lushao suyoubing爐燒酥油餅) into crumbs. Blend them till they are even and make them into small balls (xiaotuan小團). Use the ghee cake crumbs to wrap [these] and make them into cakes. Then place them in an oven and bake them till they are fully cooked.

[I.e., make a coating of the blended crumbs for the walnut mixture.  This is a very Near Eastern or Central Asian recipe, not far from baklava.]


Recipe for thin-and-crisp caramel (tangbocui fa糖薄脆法)


Use one jin four liang of white sugar, one jin four liang of vegetarian oil (or clear oil; qingyou清油), two bowls of water, and five jin of white flour. Add a small amount of ghee, pepper, and salt to them. Knead them into dough. Then mould it into thin pies as large as the mouth of a liquor cup. Evenly spread peeled sesame on them. Place them in an oven and bake them till they are fully cooked. It tastes delicious and crisp.  [Another shortbread recipe of obvious Near Eastern origin; similar cookies are made in the Middle East today.]


Exclusive recipe for the yellow crisp (suhuang dufang酥黃獨方)


Slice fully cooked yams (yu芋). Make apricot kernels and Torreya nuts (feizi榧子) into powder. Blend them with flour and make them into a paste. Dip the yam slices into the paste and deep fry the yam slices with oil. It is delicious.


Recipe for Koguryo chestnut cake (gaoli ligao fang高麗栗糕方)


Use any amount of chestnuts. Dry them in the shade and remove the shells and mash them into powder. Use one third of it and blend it with sweet rice powder till they are even.[87] Blend honey liquid with it and moisturize it. Steam it till it is fully cooked. It is very good if one adds white sugar to it.

[The Korean origin is explicit here, and indeed similar recipes still exist in Korea.]


Recipe for catnip candy (jingjie tang fang荊芥糖方)


Use thin sticks of catnip (Schizonepeta) and bundle them up like flowers. Dip them with one layer of sugar sauce and then one layer of sesame. Bake them till they are dry. They can be eaten.


Recipe for crabapple cakes (huahong bing fang花紅餅方)


Use large crabapples (Malus asiatica) and remove the peels. Dry them in the sun for two days. Flatten them with hands. Then dry them in the sun again. Steam them till they are fully cooked. Then store them in a container. The large and hard ones [apples] are good. One should a knife to carve ridges [on the cakes].


Recipe for soybean paste cake (dougaobing fang豆膏餅方)


Bake and stir large soybeans and then remove the peels. Make them into powder. Then add white sugar, sesame, ground spices (xiangtou香頭). Blend evenly. Then make them into cakes and print patterns on them. Then these can be eaten.




FORMULATED MEDICINES (fazhi yaopin lei法制[88]藥品類), twenty-four kinds


Recipe for processing Pinellia ternata Breit. (fazhi banxia法製半夏)



[it] opens the stomach and strengthens the spleen. It ends throwing-up. It removes phlegm congested in the chest. It also helps letting the lung qi.


半夏 八兩圓白 者切二片  晉州絳 四兩

丁皮 三兩   草荳蔲 二兩   生薑 五兩切 成片

Use Pinellia ternata Breit rhizome ([the author’s note:] eight liang. Use the round and white ones. Cut them into halves.) , four liang of the reddish alum (jiangfan絳[89]) from Jinzhou晉州[90], three liang of (dingpi丁皮), two liang of tsaoko cardamom (caodoukou草荳蔲), and five liang of sliced ginger.


右件洗,半夏去滑,焙乾.三藥麄剉.以大口瓶盛生薑片. 前藥一處用好酒三升浸.春夏三七日,秋冬一月.却取 出半夏,水洗焙乾.餘藥不用.不拘時候,細嚼一二枚,服 至半月,咽喉自然香甘.

Wash the materials mentioned on the right. Remove the smooth part (quhua去滑) of the Pinellia rhizome and bake it till it is dry. Roughly cut the three kinds of medicines and contain the sliced ginger in a large bottle. Use three sheng of good liquor to soak the medicines. In the spring and summer, it takes three to seven days. In the autumn and winter, it takes one month. [When it is ready,] take out the Pinellia. Wash it with water and bake it till it is dry. Do not use the remaining medicines. Whenever one has time, chew slowly one or two pieces. When he has taken it for half a month, his throat will be naturally fragrant and sweet.


Recipe for processing orange peels (fazhi jupi法製橘皮)



Rihuazi said, “[orange] peels are warm. It removes phlegm and stops coughing. It cures the illness of having moving or fixed hard tumor in the stomach. It cures the illness of having a tumor in the groin. And it cures the illness of having a tumor in the chest. (po zhengjia xuanpi破癥瘕痃癖)”[91]


橘皮 半斤 去穰  白檀 一兩   青鹽 一兩

茴香 一兩

Use half jin of orange peels ([the author’s note:] remove the pulp.), one liang of white sandalwood (baitan白檀), one liang of greenish salt (qingyan青鹽), and one liang of aniseeds.


右件四味用長流水二大椀同煎,水乾為度.揀出橘皮, 放於磁器内.以物覆之,勿令透氣.每日空心取三五片 細嚼,白湯下.

Use two large bowls of flowing water to boil the four materials mentioned on the right. When the water is out, it is ready. Then pick the orange peels out and place them in a porcelain container. Use something to cover it and do not let the gas come in or out. Every day one should eat three to five pieces with pure boiled water (baitang白湯), chewing carefully.


Recipe for processing apricot’s seeds (fazhi xingren法製杏仁)



[it] cures the qi in the lung. It kills coughing. It terminates short and fast breath. It cures congestions in the stomach and spleen. It cures anxiety and depression.


板杏 一斤滚灰水焯過,晒乾.麩炒熟.煉蜜拌杏仁勻,用下藥末拌.   茴香 炒   人參  砂仁 各三 錢    粉草 三錢    陳皮 三錢  白荳蔲 木香 各一錢

Use one jin of flat apricots’ [seeds] (banxing板杏). Blanch them in boiled limewater, and then dry them in the sun. Then stir and bake [them with]the bran till they are fully cooked. Then blend the apricot’s seeds with refined honey (lianmi煉蜜) till they are even. Then add the powder medicine of lower rank (xiayaomo下藥末) [to it] and blend them. Use three qian of baked aniseeds, ginseng, and Amomum villosum seeds (suosharen砂仁) respectively, three qian of (fencao粉草), three qian of preserved orange peels, one qian of white cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum, baidoukou白荳蔲) and muxiang(木香) respectively.



Grind the ingredients mentioned on the right into fine powder and blend it with the apricots’ seeds till they are even. Every time eat seven pieces. Eat them after meal.


Recipe for making crisp apricot seeds (su xingren fa酥杏仁法)


杏仁不拘多少,香油煠燋胡色為度.用鐵絲結作網兠 搭起.候冷定,食極脆美.

Use any amount of apricot seeds. Fry them with sesame oil till they are slightly burnt. Make a string bag with iron wires and put the seeds in it. When they are cooled down, one should eat them. they are very crisp and delicious.


Recipe for processing Amomum villosum cardamom fruits (fazhi susha法製砂)



It helps digesting liquid and grains. It warms up the spleen.


砂 十兩去皮,以朴硝水浸一宿, 䀶乾.以蔴油焙燥,香熟為度.   桂花  粉草 各一錢半,已上共碾為細末.

Use ten liang of fruits. Peel them and soak them in the liquid dissolved with rough nitre (poxiaoshui朴硝水) [92] for one night. Then dry them in the shade. Then bake them with sesame oil till they smell good and are fully cooked. Use one and a half qian of osmanthus (guihua桂花) and (fencao粉草). Grind all the materials mentioned above into fine powder.



Blend the materials mentioned on the right and make them into pills. One should chew it carefully after he drinks liquor or eats.


Precious crumbs for Tipsytown (i.e., for a drunken man) (zuixiang baoxie醉鄉寶屑)



It sobers [the drunken man] up. It broadens/relaxes the internal organs (kuanzhong寛中). It dissolves phlegm.


陳皮 四兩   砂 四錢   紅豆 一兩 六錢  粉草 二兩 四錢

生薑 三錢   丁香 一錢 剉  葛根 三兩已上 共㕮咀   白荳蔲仁 一兩 剉  鹽 一兩   巴豆 十四粒不去皮殻,用鐵絲穿.

Use four liang of preserved orange peels, four qian of Amomum villosum (suosharen砂), one liang six qian of red beans (hongdou紅豆), two liang four qian of (fencao粉草), three qian of raw gingers, one qian of ground clove (dingxiang丁香), more than three liang of kudzu root (gegen葛根) (carefully chewed.[93]), one liang of ground white (small) cardamom (baidoukouren白荳蔲仁), one liang of salt, fourteen croton beans (badou巴豆) (do not peel them. piece them together with a iron wire)



Boil the ingredients mentioned on the right with two bowls of water till the liquid is gone. Then remove the croton and dry [the remaining ingredients] in the sun. [when they are dry,] one can chew them carefully and eat them with pure boiled water.


Boiled muxiangjian (木香煎)


木香二兩,搗羅細末.用水三升煎至二升.入乳汁半升, 蜜二兩,再入銀石器中煎如稀麵糊.即入羅過粳米粉 斗合.又煎.候米熟稠硬,捍為薄餅,切成棊子,晒乾為度.

Use two liang of muxiang. Mash them into fine powder and boil them with three sheng of water till the liquid reduces to two sheng. Then add a half sheng of milk and two liang of honey to it. Boil it in a silverware or stoneware till it turns into a thin glutinous mush. Then add one dou one he of sifted non-glutinous rice powder. Boil it again till the rice is fully cooked and [the paste] turns thicker and harder. Then mould them into thin cakes and cut them into chess-piece-like pieces. Dry them in the sun till they are dry.


For processing quince (fazhi mugua法製木瓜)

取初收木瓜於湯内煠過,令白色,取出,放冷.於頭上開 為盖子,以尖刀取去穰了,便入鹽一小匙.候水出,即入 香藥:官桂,白芷,藁本,細辛,藿香,川芎,胡椒,益智子,砂仁.

Use freshly picked quinces and blanch them in boiled water till they turn white. Then take them out and let them cool down. Then cut one piece of skin from the base of the fruit and use the cut piece as a lid. Use a sharp knife to remove the pulp (rang穰) and add a small spoon of salt. When the liquid comes out, add spices and medicines (xiangyao香藥): royal cinnamon (guangui官桂), Angelica dahurica Benth. et Hook root (baizhi白芷), (gaoben藁本)[94],  Asarum sieboldii Miq (xixin細辛), ageratum (huoxiang藿香), Ligusticum Wallichii (or Conioselinum univittatum Turcz) (chuanxiong川芎), pepper, Alpinia oxyphylla fruit (yizhi益智), and Amomum villosum seeds (sharen砂仁).

右件藥搗為細末,一箇木瓜入藥一小匙,以木瓜内鹽 水調勻.更曝.候水乾,又入熟蜜令滿.曝.直候蜜乾為度.

Mash the medicines mentioned on the right into fine powder. Place a small spoon of the medicine into each quince and blend [the medicine] with the salty liquid inside the quince. Then dry them in the sun. When the liquid is gone, stuff with cooked honey (shumi熟蜜). Then dry it in the sun again till the honey is dry.  [Quince-honey syrup is still a standard, and very effective, cough medicine and throat soother in China.]


Recipe for processing shelled shrimps (fazhi xiami法製蝦米)



鰕米一斤去皮殻,用青鹽酒炒,酒乾再添,再炒,香熟為 度.真蛤蚧青鹽酒炙,酥脆為度.茴香青鹽酒炒四兩.淨

椒皮四兩青皮酒炒,不可過濁.煑酒約二升,用青鹽調 和為製.

Use one jin of shelled shrimps. Stir and bake them with blackish-salt liquor (qingyanjiu青鹽酒). When the liquor is dry, add liquor to [the shrimps] and stir and bake them again till [the shrimps] smell good and are fully cooked. Roast real gecko (zhengejie真蛤蚧)[95] with the blackish-salt liquor till it is crispy. Stir and bake four liang of aniseeds with the blackish-salt liquor. Stir and bake four liang of pure Chinese pepper skins (jingjiaopi淨椒皮) with the greenish-skin liquor (qingpijiu青皮酒)[96] and [the liquor] should not be too turbid. Boil about two sheng of liquor and blend it with blackish salt.


右先用蛤蚧,椒皮,茴香三味製鰕米.以酒盡為 度.候香熟,取上件和前三味一併拌匀.再用南木香麄 末二兩同和,乘熱入器盫,四圍封固,候冷取用每一兩. 空心,鹽酒嚼下.益精壯陽,不可盡述.

For the ingredients mentioned on the right, first use the three ingredients of gecko, pepper skins, and aniseeds to process the shrimps. When the liquor is gone, [the shrimps] are ready. When [the shrimps] smell good and are fully cooked, blend [the shrimps] with the three ingredients previously mentioned till they are even. Then blend them with two liang of coarse powder of southern muxiang(南木香) [unclear]. Place them into a container when they are still warm. When they are cooled down, one should eat one liang of them. Eat them with empty stomach (kongxin空心) and chew them with the salty liquor. It benefits the essence and strengthens the yang (yijing zhuangyang益精壯陽). [Its benefits] cannot be fully described.

Delicious tea cakes (xiangcha bingzi香茶餅子)


孩兒茶芽茶四錢,檀香一錢二分,白荳蔲一錢半,麝香 一分,砂仁五錢,沉香一分半,片腦四分,甘草膏和糯


Use four qian of cutch (hai’rcha孩兒茶) and sprout tea (yacha芽茶)[97], one qian two fen of sandalwood (tanxiang檀香), one qian half fen of white cardamom (baidoukou白荳蔲), one fen of musk (shexiang麝香), five qian of Amomum villosum cardamom seeds (sharen砂仁), one and a half fen of Aquilaria agallocha Roxb. (lignaloes) (chenxiang沉香), four fen of borneol camphor (piannao片腦)[98], liquorice paste (gancaogao甘草膏), and sweet rice paste (nuomihu糯米糊). Blend them and make them into cakes.


Recipe for processing sprout tea (fazhi yacha法製芽茶)


芽茶二兩一錢作母.荳蔲一錢,麝香一分,片腦一分半, 檀香一錢細末,入甘草内纒之.

Use two liang one qian of sprout tea as the base (zuomu作母). Use one qian of white cardamom (doukou荳蔲), one fen of musk (shexiang麝香), one and a half fen of borneol camphor (piannao片腦), and one qian of fine powder of sandalwood (tanxiang檀香). Add them into liquorice and mix them.


Extremely fragrant pill (toudingxianwan透頂香丸)

孩兒茶,茶芽各四錢,白荳蔲一錢半,麝香五分,檀香一 錢四分,甘草膏子丸.

Use four qian of cutch (hai’rcha孩兒茶) and sprout tea (yacha芽茶) respectively, one and a half qian of white cardamom (baidoukou白荳蔲), five fen of musk (shexiang麝香), one qian four fen of sandalwood (tanxiang檀香), and liquorice paste. [Blend them and make them into] pills.


orax/sodium borate pill (pengshawan硼砂丸)


片腦五分,麝香四分,硼砂二錢,寒水石六兩,甘草膏丸, 硃砂四錢為衣.

Five fen of borneol camphor (piannao片腦), four fen of musk (shexiang麝香), two qian of borax (pengsha硼砂), six liang of calcite(?) (hanshuishi寒水石), and liquorice paste. [Make them into] pills. Use four qian of cinnabar (zhusha硃砂) for coating the pills.


Hawthorn paste (shanzhagao山查膏)


山東大山查刮去皮核,每斤入白糖霜四兩,搗為膏.明 亮如琥珀.再加檀屑一錢,香羙可供,又可放久.

Use large hawthorn paste (shanzha山查) and remove the skins and kernels. For every jin of them, add four liang of white frost sugar. Then mash them into a paste till it is as transparent as amber. Then add one qian of sandalwood powder (tanxie檀屑). It smells good and tastes delicious. It can also be preserved for a long time.


Sweet dew pill (ganluwan甘露丸)

百藥煎一兩,甘松,訶子各一錢二分半,麝香半分,薄荷 二兩,檀香一錢六分,甘草末一兩二錢五分,水撥丸.晒 乾,用甘草膏子入麝香為衣.

Use one liang of one-hundred-medicine decoction (baiyaojian百藥煎), one qian two and a half fen of spikenard (gansong甘松) and Terminalia chebula Retz fruit (hezi訶子),[99] a half fen of musk (shexiang麝香), two liang of mints (bohe薄荷), one qian six fen of sandalwood (tanxiang檀香), and one liang two qian five fen of liquorice powder. Add water to them and make them into pills. Then add musk into liquorice paste and make it into a coat [for the pill].


Recipe for salted apricot seed (xian xingren fa醎杏仁法)

用杏仁連皮以秋石和湯作滷,㣲拌,火上炒香燥,食之 亦妙.

Use unpeeled apricot seed and Prepared Salt (qiushi秋石)[100]. Add the Prepared Salt to boiled water and slightly blend it with [the apricot seeds]. Then stir and bake [the apricot seeds] on fire till it smells good and turns dry. It tastes also good.

Delicious orange cakes (xiangcheng bingzi香橙餅子)

用黄香橙皮四兩,加木香,檀香各三錢,白荳仁一兩,沉 香一錢,蓽澄茄一錢,氷片五分,共搗為末.甘草膏和成 餅子,入供.

Use four liang of yellow fragrant orange peels (huang xiangcheng pi黄香橙皮). Add three qian of muxiang (木香) and sandalwood (tanxiang檀香) respectively, one liang of white cardamom seeds (baidouren白荳仁), one qian of Aquilaria agallocha Roxb. (lignaloes, chenxiang沉香), one qian of cubeb (bichengqie蓽澄茄)[101], and five fen of borneol camphor (bingpian冰片). Mash them into powder. Blend it with liquorice paste and make them into cakes. Then it can be eaten.


Lotus seed twist (lianzichan蓮子纒)

用蓮肉一斤煑熟,去皮心,拌以薄荷霜二兩,白糖二兩. 褁身烘焙乾入供.杏仁,欖仁,核桃可同此製.

Boil one jin of lotus seeds till they are fully cooked. Remove the peels and hearts. Then blend two liang of frosted mint (boheshuang薄荷霜), two liang of white sugar. Coat the lotus seeds with [the mixture] and bake them till they are dried. Then they can be eaten. Apricot seeds, olive seeds (lanren欖仁), and walnuts can be processed in the same way.

Recipe for processing torreya nuts (fazhi feizi法製榧子)

將榧子用磁瓦刮黒皮,每斤淨用,薄荷霜,白糖熬汁拌. 炒香燥,入供.

Use porcelain or tile fragments to scrape off the blackish skins of the seeds (feizi榧子). Use the peeled seeds. Blend them with the syrup made from boiling frosted mint (boheshuang薄荷霜) and white sugar. Stir and bake them till they smells good and are dried. Then they can be eaten.

Recipe for processing gourd seeds (fazhi guazi法製瓜子)


Blend large gourd seeds found in the area of Yan燕[102] with the liquid made from dissolving Prepared Salt (qiushi秋石) in water. Then stir and fry them till they smells good and are dried. Then they can be eaten.

Canarium album pills (ganlanwan橄欖丸)

百藥煎五錢,烏梅八錢,木瓜,乾葛各二錢,檀香五分,甘 草末五錢,甘草膏為丸,晒乾用.

Use five qian of one-hundred-medicine decoction (baiyaojian百藥煎), eight qian of blackish (smoked) mei (wumei烏梅)[103], two qian of quince and dried kudzu roots (gange幹葛), five fen of sandalwood (tanxiang檀香), and five qian of liquorice powder. [Blend them] with liquorice paste and make them into pills. Dry them in the sun and then they can be used.


Recipe for processing  white cardamom (fazhi doukou法製荳蔲)

白荳蔲一兩六錢,腦子一分,麝香五厘,檀香七分半.甘 草膏,荳蔲作母,腦麝為衣.

Use one liang six qian of white cardamom (baidoukou白荳蔲), one fen of borneol camphor (naozi腦子)[104], five li of musk (shexiang麝香), seven and a half fen of sandalwood (tanxiang檀香). Use liquorice paste and white cardamom as the base and use the borneol camphor and musk as the coat.
Another recipe for processing orange peels (youzhi juepi又製橘皮)



Use twenty liang of orange peels found in Tangnan塘南[105] ([the author’s note:]boil them with salt), four qian of tuckahoe (fuling茯苓), four qian of (dingpi丁皮), seven qian of liquorice powder, and three qian of Amomum villosum seeds (sharen砂仁). Make them into powder and blend them with the orange peels. Then bake them till they are dried. Then they can be used.

Recipe for decocting liquorice paste (jian gancao gaozi fa煎甘草膏子法)

粉草一斤剉碎,沸湯浸一宿.盡入鍋内,滿用水煎至半. 濾去渣,紐乾,取汁.再入鍋.慢火熬至二碗.換大砂鍋,炭 火慢熬,至大碗.以成膏子為度.其渣減水煎三兩次,取 入頭汁内併煎.

Use one jin of (fencao粉草)[106]. Mince them and soak them in boiled water for one night. Then pour [the liquid with liquorice] in a boiler. Add water to the boiler till it is full. Then boil it till the liquid is reduced by half. Then sift through the dregs. Twist [the liquorices] till they are dried and take the liquid from them. Then place [the liquid] in the boiler and boil it with slow fire till the liquid turns into the amount of two bowls. Then replace the boiler with a large marmite/casserole (shaguo砂鍋) and boil it with slow fire (burnt from charcoals) till the liquid turns into the amount of one large bowl. When the liquid turns into a paste, it is ready. For the dregs, reduce the amount of water and boil them for two or three times. Then place them in the liquid that has been gathered for the first time and decoct them.


Recipe for decocting the Jade-Dew Frost (shenglian yulushuang fang升煉玉露霜方)

用真豆粉半斤,入鍋火焙無豆腥.先用乾淨龍腦,薄荷 一斤入甑中,用細絹隔住,上置豆粉,將甑封盖,上鍋蒸 至頂熱甚,霜以成矣.收起粉霜,每八兩配白糖四兩,煉 蜜四兩,拌勻.搗膩,印餅或丸.唅之消痰降火,更可當茶. 兼治火症. Use half jin of real soybean powder (zhendoufen真豆粉). Place in a wok and bake till it does not have the smell of beans. First, place one jin of clean borneol camphor (longnao龍腦) and mints in a steamer. Use a piece of thin silk cloth to cover them and then place the soybean powder on it. Cover the steamer and steam it till the top of the steamer is hot. Then the frost is ready. Gather the frost made from the soybean powder. For every eight liang of the frost, add four liang of white sugar and four liang of refined honey. Blend them till they are even. Mash them into butter. Mould them with print mold and make them into cakes or pills. When one place it in his mouth, it can remove the phlegm and reduce the fever. Moreover, it can be used as tea. It also cures the diseases that are caused by fire (huozheng火症).


Methods for taking cinnabar (fushifang lei服食方類) [107]

[Note that most of what follows in this section is traditional alchemy; by this time, “internal alchemy” consisting largely of meditation and herbs was replacing outright use of poisonous metal salts (“external alchemy”), but obviously had not replaced it in Gao Lian’s world.]


髙子曰:余錄神仙服食方藥,非泛常傳本,皆余數十年 慕道精力,考有成據.或得經驗,或傅老道,方敢鐫入.否 恐悞人,知者當着慧眼寳用.

Gaozi[108] says, “The recipes and medicines, used and taken by the immortals, that I have recorded, are not ordinary editions. They are the result of what I have learned after dozens of years of longing for and concentrating on the Dao. Some are what I gain from my own experiences. Others are what I learn from senior Daoist priests. Only them dare I record. Otherwise, I am afraid of misguiding people. The wise men should look upon them with insights and cherish them. ”

Method for taking pine resin (fu songzhi fa服松脂法)   採上白松脂 一斤,即今 之松香.  桑灰汁 一石.    先將灰汁一斗煑松脂半乾.將浮白好脂摝入冷水  凝.復以灰汁一斗煑之.又取如上.兩人將脂團圎  扯長十數遍.又以灰汁一斗煑之.以十度煑完遂成.  白脂研細為末.毎服一匙,以酒送下,空心近午晩,日  三服.服至十兩不饑,夜視目明,長年不老.

Pick one jin of the best white pine resin (shangbai songzhi上白松脂), which is now rosin (dried resin with volatiles evaporated out; songxiang松香). Use one shi of mulberry-ash liquid (sanghuizhi桑灰汁). First, use one dou of the ash liquid to boil the pine resin till [the liquid] dries to the half. Then place the good white rosin floating on the liquid into cold water and let it congeal. Then use another dou of ash liquid to boil the rosin. Then pick the rosin as above. Ask two persons to pull the rosin and let it elongate for more than ten times. Then boil it with the ash liquid. After it has been boiled for ten times, it is ready for use. Grind the white rosin into fine powder. Every time, take one spoon of it and take it with liquor. One should have an empty stomach and take it when it is close to noon or night. Take it three times every day. When one has taken about ten liang of it, he will not feel hungry. And he can see at night with bright eyes. He will not get older for years.

又一法 以松脂一斤八兩,用水五斗煑之.侯消去濁滓,取清浮 者投冷水中.如此投煑四十遍,方換湯五斗又煑.凡三 次一百二十遍止.不可率意便止.煑成脂味不苦為度. 其軟如粉,同白茯苓為粉,同煉脂,乘軟丸如豆.毎服三 十丸,九十日止.久當絶穀,自不欲飲食矣.

Another method

Use one jin eight liang of rosin and boil it with water. When the turbid sediments settle down, one should pick the pure and floating stuff and place it in cold water. Then boil it for forty times and replace five dou of water and boil it again. Repeat it for three times and thus boil it for one hundred twenty times in total. One should not be negligent and stop at will. Boil the rosin till it does not taste bitter. Then it is as soft as powder. Make it into powder together with white tuckahoe (baifuling白茯苓). Then make them into butter (zhi脂). Knead it into soft pills as big as peas. Every time one should eat thirty pills. After ninety days, he can stop. When one eats it for a long time, he will naturally stop eating grains. He will not want to eat food by himself.


又一蒸法 上白松脂二十觔為一劑.以大釡中著水,釡上加甑,甑 中先用白茅鋪密,上加黄山土一寸厚,築實以脂放上, 以物密盖,勿令通氣.灶用桑柴燃之.釡中湯乾以熱水 旋添.蒸一炊久,乃接取脂入冷水中凝.又如蒸.如此 三遍,脂色如玉乃止.每用白脂十觔,松仁三斤,栢子仁 三斤,甘菊五升,共為細末.煉蜜為丸,桐子大.每服十丸, 粥湯下.日三服或一服.百日已上,不饑,延年不老,顔色潤.

Another method (steaming)

Use twenty jin of the best white rosin for one dose (ji劑). Add water to a large boiler. Place a steamer on the boiler. Spread a thick layer of cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica, baimao白茅) in the steamer and then add a layer of yellow mountain earth (huangshantu黄山土) as thick as one cun. Punch the earth and make it tight. Then place the rosin on the earth and cover it with something tightly. Do not let the air come in or out. Use mulberry wood as the firewood. As soon as the liquid in the boiler is dry, add boiled water to it. Steam it for the time of a meal. Then pick the rosin and place it in cold water. When it congeals, steam it again. Repeat it for three times and stop when the color of the rosin is like that of jade. Use ten jin of white rosin, three jin of pine nuts, three jin of cypress nuts (baiziren栢子仁), five sheng of camomile (ganjuhua甘菊), and make them into fine powder. Refine it with honey and make it into pills as large as a tung nut (Aleurites fordii; name also includes Idesia polycarpa fruit) (tongzi桐子). Take ten pills with congee or soup. Take it three times or one time every day. After more than one hundred days, he will not feel hungry. His lifespan is elongated and he will not turn old. The color of his skin is shiny and moisturized.

Method for taking arsenic sulphide/king’s yellow/realgar (fu xionghuang fa服雄黄法)

透明雄黄 三兩,聞之不臭 如雞冠者佳.  次用甘草, 紫背天葵, 地胆, 碧稜花, 各五 兩. 四味為末,入東流水,同雄煑砂礶 内.三日漉出.搗如麄粉.入猪脂内,蒸一伏時.洗出又同 豆腐内蒸.如上二次.蒸時甑上先鋪山黄泥一寸,次鋪 脂,蒸黄.其毒去盡,收起成細粉.毎黄末一兩,和上松脂 二兩,為丸如桐子大.每服三五丸,酒下.能令人久活延

年,髪白再黒,齒落更生,百病不生,鬼神呵護,頂有紅光, 無嘗畏不敢近.疫癘不惹,特餘事耳.

Use three liang of transparent arsenic sulphide (realgar, xionghuang雄黄)[109] (those that do not smell and are in shape of cockscomb are best). Then use five liang of liquorice, Begonia fimbristipulata Hance (zibei tiankui紫背天葵)[110], cantharide beetles (didan地胆)[111], and (bilenghua碧稜花) respectively. Grind the four ingredients into powder and add them into water that is flowing east (dongliushui東流水). Boil them together with the arsenic sulphide in an earthenware pot (shaguan砂礶). After three days, pick them out. Mash them into coarse powder and steam them with pig fat for one day and one night. Take them out and wash them. Then steam them with toufu as mentioned above. Repeat twice. When steaming them, spread a layer of yellow mountain earth as thick as one cun. Then place the pig fat [on top of the earth]. Steam them till they turn yellow. Therefore, the poison毒 is removed. Pick them up and grind them into fine powder. For every liang of the yellow powder, add two liang of the best pine resin. Then make them into pills as large as a tung nut (Aleurites fordii; name also includes Idesia polycarpa fruit) (tongzi桐子). Every time, one should eat three to five pills with liquor. It can enable a person to live longer. It can change one’s white hair into black and make his teeth grow where they fell. He will not have any of the one hundred kinds of diseases. The ghosts and gods will protect him. On top of his head, there is red light. The ghost called “impermanent” is afraid of him and would not approach him.[112] Epidemic diseases would not touch upon him. Those will be matters that he does not have to pay attention to.

Another recipe for preparing arsenic sulphide (you zhixiong fa又製雄法)

用明雄 二兩,  先將破故紙 四兩,  杏仁 四兩,  枸杞 四兩,  地 骨皮 四兩,  甘草 四兩,  用水二斗煎至一斗,去渣留汁.又 取灶上烟筒内黒流珠四兩,山家灶中百草霜四兩,同 雄一處研細,傾入藥汁内,熬乾.入羊城礶内.上水下火, 打四炷香取出,冷定收起.每用以治心疾,風痺,及膈氣, 咳嗽,毎服一分效.

Use two liang of transparent arsenic sulphide (mingxiong明雄). First, use four liang of old paper (poguzhi破故紙), four liang of apricot seeds, four liang of wolfthorn fruits, four liang of the peels of wolfthorn roots (digupi地骨皮), four liang of liquorice, and boil them with two dou of water till the liquid reduces into one dou. Remove the dregs and keep the liquid. Then use four liang of black beads (heiliuzhu黒流珠)[113] that are taken from the chimney connected to the stove and four liang of frost of one hundred grasses (baicaoshuang百草霜)[114] that are taken from a stove of a household living in mountain area. Grind them into fine powder together with the arsenic sulphide. Then pour it into the liquid and boil it with slow fire till it is dry. Then place it into a Yangcheng pot (yangchengguan羊城礶)[115]. Add water to the upper portion and set on a fire in the lower portion. After burning four sticks of incense [for timing—so presumably these are burned consecutively], take them out and let them cool down. Then put in container.  They can be used to cure heart diseases (xinji心疾), the wind-and-numbness disease (fengbi風痺)[116], the qi in the midriff (geqi膈氣), and coughing. After the patient takes one fen of the medicine, the medicine will have effects.


Another recipe(又一法) 以黄入鴨肚煑三日夜,取黄用者.

Stuff arsenic sulphide into a duck’s stomach. The boil the duck for three days and nights. Then use the arsenic sulphide.

[Arsenic was well known as an alchemical drug; of course is was deadly, and countless adepts, including probably a few emperors, died of consuming arsenic and mercury compounds and other fatal medications.]


服椒法 陳晔恬為之歌

Method for taking Chinese pepper ([the author’s note:] Chen Yetian composed a song for it)


The Old Man from Qingchengshan (qingchengshan laoren青城山老人)[117] takes Chinese pepper and obtained wonderful ideas about it. He is more than ninety years old, yet does not look like an old man. I saluted him again and again and asked him for the tips. He was glad to tell me:


蜀椒二斤淨(揀去梗核及閉口者.淨秤.) ,解鹽六兩潔 (其色青白,龜 背者良.細研.)

Use two jin of clean Sichuan pepper ([the author’s note:] pick out the sticks and closed ones. Clean the steelyard.) and six liang of pure salt from Xiezhou ([the author’s note:]the salt is good if it is greenish and white, in shape of a turtle’s back. Grind it finely).


Blend [the Sichuan pepper] with the salt and boil them with slow fire. When [the pepper] is fully cooked, roll it in chrysanthemum powder; blend the salt with the Sichuan pepper. Soak the Sichuan pepper with boiled water as high as five cun. After one night, boil it in a silver or stone boiler with slow fire. Then keep a half cup of the liquid. Then sweep the floor and place a piece of clean paper on the floor. Pour the Sichuan pepper on the paper and cover it with a new basin. Then seal it with yellow earth. After one night, place the Sichuan pepper in a basin and blend it with six liang of dry chrysanthemum powder. Let them be even. Then spread the remaining liquid on them. Then spread them in a sifter and dry them in shade. The chrysanthemum is real only when it is with small flowers, being yellow, with thick leaves and purple stalks, smelling good and tasting sweet, called camomile blossoms (ganjurui甘菊蕋), and can be used to make a soup. Dry them in shade and make them into powder).


At first, one should take fifteen grains of [Sichuan pepper]. He should not stop in the morning or in the evening.


He should gradually increase the number of Sichuan pepper grains [small fruits] he eats every month. Gradually he comes to take two hundred [every day]. ([The author’s note:] for the first month, he should take fifteen grains in the morning. At noon and night, it is the same. For the second month, he should take twenty grains in the morning and evening. For the third day[118], add ten more grains. Increase the amount to two hundred grains and then stop increasing.)


Salted liquor or salted soup, drink as you want [when you take the Sichuan pepper].


After you have taken the Sichuan pepper for half an year, you will feel your midriff be slightly stuffed.


Then decrease ten grains every day till you takes fifteen grains every day.

俟其無碍時,數復如前日. (服半年後,覺胷膈間横塞如有物礙,即毎日退十粒,退十五粒止.俟其無礙,所服仍如前.)

When you feel comfortable with this, take the same amount of [the Sichuan pepper] as you did before. After you have taken it for half an year, you will feel stuffing in your midriff. Then decrease ten grains every day and stop decreasing when you take fifteen grains every day. When you feel all right, take the same amount of the Sichuan pepper as before.)

常令氣裏蒸,否則前功失. (須終始服之,令椒氣早晩裏蒸. 如一日不服,則前功俱廢矣.)

Keep making the qi [of the Sichuan pepper] surround and steam (guozheng裏蒸) you. Otherwise, what you have done before will be wasted. ([Author’s note:] you should keep taking it and let the qi of the Sichuan pepper surround and steam you day and night. If you do not take it for one day, what you have achieved before will be wasted.)


For food and vegetables, you do not have to avoid eating anything or having a diet on anything.


After one year, you will see the result. Your face will turn shiny.


Your eyes will be bright and your ears be alert to any sound. Your beard will turn black and your head hair, too.


[the Sichuan pepper] nourishes the kidney and lightens waist and weight. It solidifies the qi and benefits the essence and blood.


The Sichuan pepper is mild and the salt is mild, too. The nature of chrysanthemum is to reduce anxiety and fever.


One should take it when he is forty years old. And when he takes it, he should not be negligent.


After dozens of years, his efforts will be comparable to those of the nature.

耐老更延年,不知幾歳月.(四十歳方可服. 若四十歳服,至老只如四十歳人顔容.此其騐也.)

He will not get old easily and his lifespan is extended. He will not feel how many years pass by. ([the author’s note:] one should take it when he is forty years old. When he takes it at forty, he will look like a person of forty years old when he gets old. This is the effect [of this recipe].)


If he could forget desires, the effects will be even better.


I wish people peace and thus compose this song sincerely.


Method for taking Siegesbeckia orientalis Linn (fu xixian fa服狶薟法)

狶薟俗呼火忺草,春生苗葉,秋初有花,秋末結實.近世 多有單服者,云甚益元氣.蜀人服之法:五月五日,六月

六日,九月九日,採其葉去根莖花實,淨洗,曝乾,入甑.層 層洒酒,與蜜蒸之.如此九過則已.氣味極香美.熬搗篩 蜜丸服之.云治肝腎風氣,四肢麻痺,骨間疼,腰膝無力. 亦能行大腸氣.張垂崖進呈表云:誰知至賤之中,乃有 殊常之效.臣吃至百服,眼目清明.至千服,髭鬢烏黒,筋 力較徤,效騐多端,陳書林《經騐方》叙述甚詳.療諸疾患, 各有湯使.今人採服.一就秋花成實後,和枝取用,洒酒 蒸,曝,杵臼中舂為細末,煉蜜為丸,以服之.

  1. orientalis Linn (xixian豨薟)[119] is called by the commoners huochuicao火忺草. In the spring, it grows sprouts and leaves. in the autumn, it blossoms. By the end of the autumn, it bears fruits. In recent years, people take it by itself and claim that it is good for the original qi (yuanqi元氣). This is how Shu people 蜀人 take it: on the fifth day of the fifth month, sixth day of the sixth month, ninth day of the ninth month, pick the leaves and remove the roots, stalks, flowers, and fruits. Wash them till they are clean and dry them in the sun. Place them in a steamer and spread liquor on each layer of the leaves. Steam them with honey. After nine times, stop steaming them. They will smell very good. Then boil and mash them. Sift them through and make them into pills with honey. Then they can be taken. It is said that it can cure the wind qi in the liver and kidney (ganshen fengqi肝腎風氣)[120], numbness in four limbs (sizhi mabi四肢麻痺), aches in bones (gujiantong骨間疼), and lack of strength in the waist and knees (yaoxi wuli腰膝無力). It can also make the qi in the large intestine (dachangqi大腸氣) move. Zhang Chuiya張垂崖[121] submitted a memorial and reported, “who knows that [S. orientalis] is among the things of lowest rank but having extraordinary effects? When I have taken one hundred doses, my eyes turn bright. When I have taken one thousand doses, my beard and hair turn black. My strength is enhanced. Its effects are various.” Chen Shulin陳書林described it in details in Jingyanfang經騐方. It cures every kind of diseases and it can be used for different decoctions. Order someone to pick it. Another method is to pick the branches with [the leaves] after it blossoms and bears fruits. Spread liquor on them and steam and dry them in the sun. Pound them into fine powders with a pestle and mortar. Refine honey and make them into pills. Then they can be taken.

Method for taking mulberry fruit (fu sangshen fa服桑椹法)

桑椹利五臟,闗節,通血氣.久服不飢.多收晒乾.搗末.蜜 和為丸.每日服十六丸.變白不老.取黒椹一升,和蝌蚪 一升,瓶盛封閉,懸屋東頭,盡化為泥,染白如漆.又取二 七枚,和胡桃二枚,研如泥,抜去白髪,填孔中,即生黒髪.  出本草拾遺.

Mulberry is good for the five internal organs and the joints. It opens the blood qi (tong xueqi血氣). After one has taken it for a long time, he will not feel hungry. Pick many of them and dry them in the sun. Then mash them and blend them with honey. Make them into pills. Take sixteen pills every day. It can change white hair and make the person look less old. Use one sheng of black mulberry and blend them with one sheng of tadpoles. Contain them in a bottle and seal the bottle. Hang the bottle in the east side of the house. When they turn into mud, [use the mud] to dye the hair and the hair will be as black as lacquer. Another method: use twenty-seven mulberries and blend them with two walnuts. Grind them into mud-like stuff. Pull out white hairs and [stuff the mixture] in the pores. Then black hairs will grow [out of the pores]. This comes from Bencao shiyi本草拾遺.

Recipe for baby chick cinnabar (jizidan fa雞子丹法)


黄白,即以上好舊坑辰砂為末. (硃砂有毒,選豆辨舊砂, 豆腐同煑一日,為末.)  和塊,入卵中,蠟封其口.還令白雞抱之.待雛出,藥成.和 以蜜服,如豆大.毎服三丸,日三進.久服長年延算.

Raise pure white cocks and hens and do not let other chickens mix with them. Open a small hole on a raw egg [laid by the white chickens]. Pour out the yolk and white. Then make the best cinnabar found in the old mines in Chenzhou (shanghao jiukeng chensha上好舊坑辰砂)[122] into powder. ([Author’s note:] cinnabar is poisonous. Choose the bean-segment-like old cinnabar bits and boil them with toufu for one day. Then make them into powder.) Blend [the cinnabar] with water and make into a paste. Stuff the paste into the egg. Seal the egg with wax. Still let the white chicken sit on it. When the chicks hatch, the medicine is ready.  [Since the chick in the egg would be killed, this probably refers to other eggs in the clutch—used basically as timers.] Blend it with honey and make it into [pills] as large as peas. Every day take two pills and take them three times a day. After one has taken it for a long time, he will live longer and his lifespan is extended.

Long-life purple miraculous cinnabars made with pearls nourished by a greenish dragon (canglong yangzhu wanshou zilingdan蒼龍養珠萬壽紫靈丹)


The method to make the cinnabar: [one should] enter the deep mountain and choose a pine tree big enough that one’s arms can barely reach around it. Pick a day that heavenly virtue, moon virtue, metal, and wood converge (yong tian yue de jin mu bing jiao ri shang用天月德金木并交日上). Dig a square hole on the waist of the tree. The hole should be as large as three to four cun by each side. Dig deeply into the middle of the pine tree and then stop digging. Dig a deep concave place under the hole. Then use one jin of the best cinnabar found in the old mines in Chenzhou and eight liang of transparent arsenic sulphide. Make them into powder and blend them together. Wrap them with cotton paper and seal it with red thick silk cloth. Then place the wrapper into the tree hole and stuff the hole with tuckahoe (fuling茯苓) powder. Cut a wedge with skin as large as the hole and pound it into the hole. Use a piece of black dog fur to cover the hole. Since spirits and gods might come to take the cinnabar, one should ask someone to stay in the mountain and watch over it. This will use the pine resin (songzhi松脂) to boost the miraculous qi [of the cinnabar and arsenic sulphide] and the cinnabar and arsenic sulphide will be cultivated into miraculous cinnabar (lingdan靈丹). After they are inserted into the tree for one year, fluorescence appears on the tree. After two years, the fluorescence becomes larger. After three years, the fluorescence lights up the whole mountain. Take out the two kinds of powder and grind them into dust-like stuff. Blend [the dust] with jujube pulp and make them into pills as large as a Chinese parasol tree fruit (Firmiana simplex, wuzi梧子). First, use one plate of the pills to offer to gods in heaven and earth. Then take ten to twenty pills with well water, which is freshly taken in the morning (jinghuashui井花水), in the early morning. After one month, he can read tiny words in the evening. After half a year, he can walk as fast as riding a horse. After one year, the Three Corpses/Cadavers (sanshi三尸)[123] will be separated out. The Nine Worms (jiuchong九蟲)[124] will flee and hide. The Jade Girl (yunü玉女) will come to protect him and the Liujia God (liujia六甲)[125] will come to do the cooking. If he accumulates hidden merits and virtues (yingong jide陰功積德), at least the position of an earthly immortal (dixian地仙) can be secured for him. The pine tree is the essence of a greenish dragon. The cinnabar is the body of a reddish dragon. They obtain the qi of water and fire that naturally ascends and descends in heaven and earth. Then they become cinnabar. They are not produced by human beings. How miraculous this all is!


Nine cycle longevity miraculous-tripod-and-jade-liquid cream (jiuzhuan changsheng shending yuye gao九轉長生神鼎玉液膏)

白术氣性柔順而補,每用二斤,秋冬採之,去粗皮 赤术即蒼术也。性剛雄而發,每用十六兩,同上。

The qi nature of Atractylodes macrocephala (baishu白术) is soft and compliant. Use two jin of it and pick it in the autumn and winter. Remove the coarse peels. Atractylodes sinensis (chishu赤术) is the same as (cangshu蒼术).[126] The nature of the latter is hard, male, and (gangxiong er fa剛雄而發). Use sixteen liang of the rhizomes. Repeat the method above [rather unclear which is intended].


Mash these two medicines in a wood or stone mortar and then place them in an urn. Soak them in the One-Thousand-li water (qianlishui千里水)[127] for one day and one night. Mountain spring water is also good. Then place them in a earthenware pot and boil them for liquid. Then contain the liquid. Then boil them again. Use thick silk cloth to sift through the dregs and remove them. Refine the liquid with slow fire by burning mulberry woods. When it is slowly boiled into a cream, contain it in a porcelain jar and seal it. Inter the jar in the earth for one or two days in order to remove the fire qi (chu huoqi出火氣). Take it on a date of Heavenly Virtue (tianderi天德日). Take three qian of it every time with pure boiled water. Or he can also take it in his mouth and let it thaw. After he takes it for a long time, his weight will be lightened and his lifespan be extended. His skin will look shiny. He should avoid eating peach, apricot (li李), sparrow (que雀), clam (ha蛤), and sea food. Moreover, there is a method to enhance the effects of the medicine, which is called Nine Cycle.


The second cycle: add three liang of ginseng. Boil the ginseng twice to get a thick liquid and boil the thick liquid slowly tillit forms a cream. Then add the cream to the previous made cream. This is called Miraculous-Mushroom-for-Longevity Cream (changsheng shenzhi gao長生神芝膏).



The third cycle: add one jin of polygonatum root (huangjing黃精). Boil it and use the liquid to refine a cream. Then add the cream to the previously made cream. This is called the Three-Prime-Minister-Extend-Lifespan Cream (santai yisuan gao三台益算膏).



The fourth cycle: add tuckahoe Polygala root (yuanzhi遠志)[128]. Remove their hearts. Use eight liang of them respectively and boil them slowly till they turn into a cream. Add this cream to the previously made cream. This is called Four-Immortal-seek-Cream (sixian qiuzhi gao四仙求志膏).



The fifth cycle: add eight liang of angelica (danggui當歸). Wash it with liquor and boil it into a cream. Then add the cream into the previous made cream. This is called the Five-Old-Men-Paying-Homage-to-the-Premordial-Celestial-Worthy Cream (wulao chaoyuan gao五老朝元膏).



The sixth cycle: add antler velvet of a young deer (lurong鹿茸) and elk’s horn (mirong麋茸). Add three liang of them respectively. Grind them into powder and boil them into a cream. Add this cream into previously made cream. This is called the Six-Dragon-Ruling-Heaven Cream (liulong yutian gao六龍御天膏).



The seventh cycle: add amber (hupo琥珀). The amber that is as red as blood is best. Steam it on rice till the rice is ready. Then grind the amber into fine powder. Use one liang of it and add it to the previous made cream. This is called the Seven-Stars-Returning-Their-Original-Status Cream (qiyuan guizhen gao七元歸真膏).



The eighth cycle: add sour jujube kernels (suanzaoren酸棗仁). Remove the kernels [and evidently grind them to pulp] and use eight liang of the pure pulp. Boil them into a cream and add it to the previously made cream. This is called the Eight-Gods-Protecting Cream (bashen weihu gao八神衛護膏).



The ninth cycle: Add arborvitae seeds (baiziren柏子仁). Use four liang of the shelled seeds and grind them into mud-like stuff. Add it to the previously made cream. This is called the Nine-Dragon-Enhancing-Longevity Cream (jiulong fushou gao九龍扶壽膏).



The cinnabar is made by adding ingredients in nine ways, which are based upon the disease one has and [the ingredients] are added. I am also afraid that if one uses all of them to make the cream at one time and the heat is not reached yet, some effects of the medicine are done and others are not. Therefore, when the ancient sages make a recipe, they must have a wonderful way.


The Mysterious-Origin Protecting-Life Purple-Miraculous-Mushroom Cup(Xuanyuan huming zizhibei玄元護命紫芝)


This cup can cure the Five Strains and the Seven Impairments (wulao qishang五勞七傷)[129], every kind of weakness and one hundred sorts of damages (zhuxu baisun諸虛百損), paralysis (zuotan youhuan左癱右瘓), every kind of wind sickness (fengji風疾)[130], every kind of bad influences and one hundred kinds of illnesses (zhuxie baibing諸邪百病). Once there was a Daoist practitioner Wang Jin who took it. When he was dying, he had a dream, in which two ghosts opened the door and came in. They watched him for a while and then left. Later he had another dream, in which someone told him that, “you should have died at that time. When the two Impermanent Ghosts came to catch you, your face had a red light because you had taken the miraculous cinnabar. Therefore, the ghosts could not approach you. After this event, your lifespan cannot be measured.” Later, this Daoist priest lived for over three hundred years and then achieved transcendence.



Use one and a half jin of transparent and clean pieces of cinnabar (mingjing zhusha明凈朱砂). First, take four liang of them and place them in a water-and-fire Yangcheng pot (shuihuo yangcheng guan水火陽城罐)[131]. Boil them with high fire for one day and one night. Then take them out and grind them finely. Then add another four liang [of cinnabars]. Repeat the process of adding [cinnabars] and boiling [cinnabars] with high fire till the sixth time. Make all the cinnabars into fine powders. Forge the iron lamp into a large liquor cup. Polish it and make it into a mould (zuosu作塑). Then hang it in the Yangcheng pot. Paste five layers of gold foils on the body of the iron cup. Stuff the pot with cinnabars and place the cup on the mouth of the pot. Burn it with high fire for three days and nights. Frequently rub the iron cup with water till [the cinnabars] congeal and form a cup attached to the iron cup. Then take [the cinnabar cup] off. Use three li of good bright arsenic sulphide (mingxiong明雄). Grind it and place it in the cinnabar cup. Pour warm liquor into the cup and drink it. Drink two cups every time and then keep the cup for future use. It is so wonderful that cannot be described.


            The Immortals’ Method for Taking the Miraculous Herb Sweetgrass (Acorus calamus) (Taiqingjing shuo shenxian lingcao changpu fushi fa《太清經》說神仙靈草菖蒲服食法)

The method: pick sweetgrass  (changpu菖蒲)] on the third day of the third month, the fourth day of the fourth month, the fifth day of the fifth month, the sixth day of the sixth month, the seventh day of the seventh month, the eighth day of the eighth month, the ninth day of the ninth month, the tenth day of the tenth month. One should pick those growing in water above clean rocks and it would be better if the stream flows south. It is not good if the stream flows north. Wash the picked sweetgrass till it is clean. Remove all the root hairs carefully. Then contain it in a bag and soak the bag in water. Remove the turbid liquid and hard pieces and slice up. Dry it in the sun.  Pestle it into powder and sift it through to get really fine powder. Select an auspicious day of the Heavenly Virtue and the Yellow Path (huangdao黃道)[132] to make it. The method of making it: soak aged sweet rice in water for one night and then remove the rice wash water (migan米泔). Grind [the soaked sweet rice] in a sandstone mortar and make it into fine powder. Cook [the powder] into congee on fire. Then blend [the congee] with the previously made sweetgrass powder. More than two hands are required to make them into pills. Otherwise, it is difficult to make them into pills when [the congee] is dried. The pill should be as large as a tung nut (wutongzi梧桐子). Dry them in the sun light and contain them in a box. First, take ten pills every time and then chew one mouth of rice and swallow it with the pills. Later on, drink liquor to swallow [the pills]. It would be even better if he eats [the pills] with some dimsum (dianxin點心). He should not worry about avoiding anything. He will feel his body become warm. Decoct one or two qian of Gentiana macrophylla Pall. roots (qinjiao秦艽)[133] into a soup. Drink it when it is cooled down and [his body temperature] will be normal because the gentian serves as an envoy drug (shi使). After he takes it for one month, his spleen will be pacified and it helps digesting (hepi xiaoshi和脾消食). After two months, any cold diseases (lengji冷疾) will be cured. After one hundred days, one hundred kinds of diseases will disappear. Its functions include pacifying the heart (relieving palpitation; zhenxin鎮心)and enhancing and replenishing qi (yiqi益氣). It strengthens the memory (qiangzhi強志) and the spirit (zhuangshen壯神). It replenishes the marrows (tiansui填髓) and the sperm (bujing補精). It blackens the hair (heifa黑髮) and lets the teeth grow (shengchi生齒) [in place of fallen teeth]. After ten years, one’s skin become fine and smooth. One’s face is like a peach blossom. Thousands of spirits serve and watch over the taker. His essence will never be exhausted (jingxie bugan精邪不乾).[134] He is promised longevity and transcendence (dushi度世).[135]



The Recipe for the Immortal’s First-Rate Yellow-Dragon Cinnabar (shenxian shangcheng huanglong dan fang神仙上乘黃龍丹方)

Ten liang of halloysite (red bole, chishizhi赤石脂)[137], three large sheng of yellow cow [an ordinary cow, as opposed to special cattle such as black cattle or water buffaloes] meat juice (huangniu rouzhi黃牛肉汁)[138], one jin of transparent frankincense (mingruxiang明乳香)[139],one jin of white honey (baimi白蜜), three liang of liquorice powder, and three dou wu sheng of white non-glutinous rice (baijingmi白粳米) ([author’s note:]divide it into five portions to cook with the medicine till it is fully cooked).

赤石脂十兩 黃牛肉汁三大升 明乳香一斤 白蜜一斤  甘草末三兩 白粳米三斗五升,分作五分炊藥,以熟為度


Use the above six ingredients. Make the red bole into powder. Put it in a raw thick silk bag and soak [the bag] in water which was used to wash rice, for half a day. Knead the medical bag with hands and shake it in water. Take the stone powder that settles at the bottom of the water and place it on a piece of paper to let it dry. Use five liang of clean and fine powder and contain it in a silver box. If there is no silver box, a Blue-and-White porcelain round box (qingbaici yuanhe青白磁圓盒) is also fine. For the first time, on the seventh or eighth day [of the month], wash seven sheng of the rice and place it in a steamer. Then place the box containing the medicines inside of the rice and cook them till the rice is fully cooked. Then remove the cover of the box and place it under the stars for one night. For the second time, on the day around full moon(yuewang月望), cook seven sheng of rice as before. Place the box inside of the rice and steam it. Then remove the cover and place it in the sun light. Therefore, it absorbs the three kinds of lights of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. For the fourth time, first pour three sheng of cow milk into an earthware pot. Boil it with charcoal fire till the water has bubbles as large as fish eyes. Then add the frankincense powder into it. When this melts, add the red bole powder that has been steamed for three times into the cow milk. Use a willow stick (liutiao柳條) to mix them till they are even. Then pour them into a mortar and grind them thoroughly. Then place them into the previous box again. Steam seven sheng of rice and place the box inside of the rice. Take the box out when the rice is fully cooked. For the fifth time, add two jin of honey into the earthen pot and boil it with slow fire till the boiling water has bubbles as large as fish eyes. Then pour the medicines in the steamed box into the honey and continuously stir it with a willow stick till it is even. Then add three liang of liquorice powder and boil them together till it is wet (daishi帶濕). Then place seven sheng of rice into the steamer and then place the box into the rice. Steam it till the rice is fully cooked. Then take out the box and place it in a basin of water. Soak the box in the water for half day and do not let the water get into the box. Then take the box out and place it in a clean container. When one starts to take it, he should choose an auspicious day having the Heavenly Virtue, the Moon Virtue, and the Yellow Path (tianyuede huangdao jiri天月德黃道吉日). In the early morning, he burns incense and salutes the east for seven times with an empty stomach. Then mix it with a spoon of good liquor [and take it]. This is an immortals’ cinnabar that is precious in this world and can prolong one’s lifespan. It does not have the poison of metals and rocks (jinshizhidu金石之毒). Neither does it have the mechanics that incurs loss in one’s life (wushengzhili誤生之理). After one takes it, the Four Qi is harmonious (siqi tiaohe四氣調和)[140] and the “hundred bones” [the hundreds of bones in the body] are eased (baihai shuchang百骸舒暢). Its wonderful functions cannot be entirely recorded. If he only uses it to help others achieve transcendence and does not make profits from it, its effects will be especially fast. After one takes the pill for about ten days, he will feel his internal organs being opened (zangfu tongkuai臟腑通快) and his spirits pure (jingshen qingshuang精神清爽). All kinds of diseases that are difficult to treat, such as the Wind Diseases [paralysis and the like], the Labor Diseases [tuberculosis?], the Cold Diseases, and the Qi diseases (feng lao leng qi風勞冷氣), will be cured. If he takes double doses, he will live as long as one hundred years. For every person, he should nourish his spleen. If the spleen is nourished, the liver will flourish (piyang ze ganrong脾養則肝榮)[141]. When the liver flourishes, the heart will be strong (ganrong ze xinzhuang肝榮則心壯). When the heart is strong, the lung will be vigorous (xinzhuang ze feisheng心壯則肺盛). When the lung is vigorous, the Original Organ will be solidified (feisheng ze yuancang shi肺盛則元藏實)[142]. When the Original Organ is solidified, the foundation [of the body] is stabilized (yuancang shi ze genben gu元藏實則根本固).Therefore, the way to deeply cultivate and solidify the root as well as a wonderful way to achieve longevity can be found in this medicine. How could it be any ordinary medicine? The vessels used to make the medicine are described as below:



Two silvers: one large silver pot and one small silver box. The smaller one can contain five or six liang of medicine and has a cover. The capacity of the larger one is five dou. If the pot is porcelain inlaid with silver, it is wonderful.



Three unused earthen basins. They should be able to contain one dou of beans.



One wood steamer. It should be able to contain one dou of cooked rice.



One basin that is used to cover the steamer, one set of unused pot and stove, one mortar, two bamboo or wood spoons (large and small), three to five willow forks (liumuqiao柳木鍬), one small bamboo strainer (zhaoli笊籬), and one hundred jin of firewood.




Wolfthorn tea (gouqicha枸杞茶)

Pick red and ripe wolfthorn fruits in the late autumn. Blend with dry flour and make them into a paste. Then mold into thin cakes with a rolling pin and dry in the sun. Then grind them into fine powder. For every liang of river tea (jiangcha江茶), use two liang of the wolfthorn fruit powder. Blend them till they are even. Then add three liang of melted ghee or sesame oil. Then immediately add boiled water and make them into a paste. Add a small amount of salt and decoct them in a pot till they are fully cooked. Then they can be drunk. It is very good for health and brightens eyes.

[An interesting contrast with the wild alchemy above.  This is a perfectly practical recipe which would, in fact, work, because of the high vitamin and mineral content of the wolfthorn berries.]


The recipe for the Replenishing-Qi Cow Milk (yiqi niuru fang益氣牛乳方)

Yellow cow milk is best for old men. Its nature is neutral (xingping性平). It enriches the blood and pulses (buxuemai補血脈). It replenishes the heart qi (yixinqi益心氣). It lets the muscles grow (zhangjirou長肌肉). It enables the body to be healthy, strong, radiant, and moisturized (lingren shenti kangqiang runze令人身體康強潤澤). It makes one’s face radiant with good color (mianmu guangyue面目光悅). It makes the memory not decline (zhibushuai志不衰). Therefore, people should take it frequently and make it a daily food. Or one can make milk cakes (rubing乳餅) or milk drinks (ruyin乳飲) as long as he would like to take it and takes plenty of it. This thing is much better than meat.

[Again, we are back to perfectly practical advice here. “Yellow cow” probably means ordinary cow as opposed to water buffalo, not necessarily a literally brown or yellow cow.]



The Jade Cream of Mr. Iron Jar (tieweng xiansheng qiongyu gao鐵瓮先生瓊玉膏)

This cream replenishes the essence and marrows (tianjing busui填精補髓). It transforms the intestines into tendons (chang huawei jin腸化為筋).[143] It makes thousands of spirits complete (wanshen juzu萬神俱足) and enriches the Five Internal Organs (wuzang yingyi五臟盈溢). It transforms the white hair into black. It rejuvenates the old man into a childlike condition and enables him to walk as fast as a galloping horse. If he takes it several times a day and does not eat other food, he will not feel hungry. it opens [the body] and strengthens the memory (kaitong qiangzhi開通強志). It enables the person read ten thousand words a day. It makes his spirit superior (shenshi gaomai神識高邁) and enables him not to have dream at night (ye wu mengxiang夜無夢想). After he takes ten doses, he will suppress his desires (jueqiyu絕其欲) and cultivate secret virtues and become an Earthly Transcendent (xiu yingong cheng dixian修陰功成地仙). Divide one dose into five portions and each portion can cure five patients with grievous sores (yongji癰疾). Divide one dose into ten portions and each portion can cure ten patients with the Labor Diseases/phthisis (laoji癆疾). When one makes the medicine, he should take a bath and purify his mind and does not show it to others impudently.



Twenty-four liang of Silla [Korean] ginseng (xinluoshen新羅參) ([author’s note:] remove the leaves?(lu蘆)). Sixteen jin of raw Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch roots (sheng dihuang生地黃) ([author’s note:]take the juice). Forty-nine liang of peeled white tuckahoe (baifuling白茯苓). Ten jin of refined and pure white granulated honey (baishami白沙蜜).

新羅參二十四兩,去蘆 生地黃一十六斤,取汁 白茯苓四十九兩,去皮  白沙蜜十斤,煉凈


Make the above-mentioned ginseng and tuckahoe into fine powder. Sift the honey with a piece of raw thick silk cloth. Squeeze the natural juice (ziranzhi自然汁) from the Rehmannia roots. When mashing these, do not use bronze or iron vessels. After taking all of the juice, remove the dregs. Blend the medicines together till they are even and contain them in a silver or stone ware or good porcelain container. Use twenty or thirty layers of paper to seal the container. Place [the container] in boiled water and boil it with mulberry firewood for three days and nights. Then take [the container] out. Wrap the mouth of the bottle with several layers of wax paper. Then place [the bottle] in a well in order to remove the fire poison (huodu火毒)[145]. Take it out after one day and one night. Then place it into the previous boiled water and boil it for one day. Let the vapor out and then take [the bottle] out. Unseal [the bottle] and take three spoons [of the medicine] and contain them into three cups. [Use the three cups of medicine] as offerings to gods in heaven and on earth. He should be pious when he sets up the offerings and salutes.every day, he should mix the medicine with a spoon of liquor and take it with an empty stomach. The original recipe is like this. However, for those who have phthisis and cough, whose qi is high (lao sou qisheng癆嗽氣盛), who have blood deficiency and lung-heat (xuexu feire血虛肺熱), ginseng should not be used.



The Earthly-Transcendents’ Decoction (dixianjian地仙煎)


It cures aches in the waist and knees (yaoxi tengtong腰膝疼痛) and every kind of Cold Diseases in the stomach (funei lengbing腹內冷病). It makes one’s skin easy on the eyes and moisturized (yanse yueze顏色悅澤). It strengthens the bones and marrows and enables people walk as fast as galloping horses.治腰膝疼痛,一切腹內冷病,令人顏色悅澤,骨髓堅固,行及奔馬。


One jin of yams (shanyao山藥). One sheng of apricot seeds ([author’s note:]soak them in boiled water and remove the peels and tips (pijian皮尖)).two jin of raw cow milk.

山藥一斤 杏仁一升,湯泡去皮尖 生牛乳二斤


Grind the above mentioned apricot seeds finely. Then add cow milk and yams into [the apricot seeds]. Blend them and squeeze them to get the juice. Put [the juice] in an unused porcelain bottle and seal [the bottle]. Boil [the bottle] for one day. Every day one should mix one spoon of the medicine with liquor and take it with an empty stomach.




The Golden-Water Decoction (jinshuijian金水煎) [146]


[it] elongates the lifespan. It replenishes the essence and marrows (tianjing busui填精補髓). If one takes it for a long time, his white hair will change into black and he will be rejuvenated and become like a child.



Any amount of wolfthorn fruits. Pick the red and ripe ones.



Soak the above ingredients in No-Ash liquor (wuhuijiu無灰酒) for six days if it is in the winter and for three days if it is in the summer. Place [the wolfthorn fruits] in an earthen basin and grind them very finely. Then use a cloth bag to squeeze juice [out of the ground wolfthorn fruits]. Then boil [the juice] and the previous used liquor with slow fire till they become a cream. Place the cream in a clean porcelain container and seal it. Then steam [the container]. Every time, take one spoon of it. Add a small amount of sesame oil to it and mix it with warm liquor. Then take it.



Lilyturf Cream (tianmendonggao天門冬膏)


It cures the Accumulated Disease (jiju積聚)[147] and removes  the wind-phlegm (fengtan風痰)[148]. It cures epilepsy (dianji癲疾). It kills the Three Worms and lying corpse (fushi伏尸). It drives off the epidemics (wenyi瘟疫). It lightens the body and replenishes the qi (qingshen yiqi輕身益氣).



Any amount of lilyturf  roots. Peel them and remove the hearts. Wash the roots till they are clean.



Mash the above material and squeeze juice out of them with a piece of cloth. Then sift through [the juice] and take the pure liquid. Pour the liquid in a porcelain, sandstone, or silver pot and boil it with slow fire till it turns into a cream. Every time, take one spoon of it and mix it with warm liquor and then eat it with an empty stomach.


[The Three Worms, or Three Types of Worms, are in the body and nourished by grains; a goal of alchemy is reducing or even getting rid of them—but some say they are essential and can only be reduced.  No doubt the idea came from observing parasitic worms.]


Not-Fearing-Cold Recipe (buweihan fang不畏寒方)


Use lilyturf (tianmendong天門冬) and tuckahoe (fuling茯苓) and make them into powder. Mix them with liquor or water and take them. every day, take them frequently. When it is extremely cold and [one takes it], he will sweat and forget out the coldness even if he wears one-layer clothes.


Sayings about taking Acanthopanax spinosus Miq bark(fu wujiapi shuo服五加皮)


Shun used to climb up [Mt.] Cangwu and said, “This is a Golden-and-Jade fragrant herb (jinyu xiangcao金玉香草).”He is referring to the acanthopanax bark (wujiapi五加皮). If one takes it, he will achieve longevity. Therefore, it is said that, “one would rather have a handful of acanthopanax than a cart full of gold and jade. One would rather have one jin of Sanguisorba officinalis root (diyu地榆)[149] than precious pearls like a bright moon.” In the past, the mother of Lord Dinggong in Lu drank acanthopanax liquor alone and achieved longevity. As for Zhang Zisheng, Yang Shijian, Wang Shucai, and Yu Shiyan, they are ancient persons. They drank acanthopanax liquor and had sex (fangshi房室) frequently. [Wujiapi liquor abounds today in Chinese markets, so the reader can try this.]  All of them achieved longevity and had many children. There are many persons who achieved longevity by drinking acanthopanax liquor. [Author’s note:] this comes from the Perfected East-Flower’s Classic of Boiling Rocks (donghua zhenren zhushijing東華真人煮石經) .



The method of taking pine nuts (fu songzi fa服松子法)


Use any amount of pine nuts and grind them into a cream. Mix one spoon of it with warm liquor and take it with an empty stomach. Take it three times every day. Then he will not feel hungry or thirsty. If he takes it for a long time, he will be able to walk five hundred li every day and his body is lightened and becomes strong. [In spite of the wild exaggeration at the end, the ancient and still-current tradition of eating pine seeds for health is a sound one.  These seeds are extremely rich in vitamins, minerals, and easily digested proteins and oils.]



The method of taking Sophora japonica (pagoda tree) fruits (fu huaishi fa服槐實法)


Soak the pagoda tree fruits in cow gall (niudan牛膽) for one hundred days and then dry them in the shade. Every day, one should take one piece and his body will be lightened after one hundred days. After one thousand days, his white hair will become black. After he takes it for a long time, he will become enlightened (tongming通明).




The method of taking lotus blossoms (fu lianhua fa服蓮花法)


Pick seven fen of lotus blossoms on the seventh day of the seventh month. Pick eight fen of lotus roots on the eighth day of the eighth month. Pick nine fen of lotus seeds on the ninth day of the ninth month. Dry them in the shade and eat them. they will let people not turning old.



The method of taking pine roots (fushi songgen fa服食松根法)


Use pine roots that grows eastwards (dongxing songgen東行松根). Remove the white peelings and finely cut them up. Then dry them in the sun and pestle and sift them. One should eat them till he feels full. Then he will be able to renounce grains (juegu絕谷). If he feels thirsty, he can drink water.



The method of taking tuckahoe (fushi fuling fa服食茯苓法)


Remove the black skins of the tuckahoes and mash them into powder. Fully soak them into good liquor in a earthen ware. Then cover the earthen ware and tightly seal it with mud. After fifteen days, open the earthen ware and make [the tuckahoes] into cakes like making cinnabars (ershi餌食). Eat it three times a day. One can also make them into powder and take one one-cun-square spoon (fangcunbi方寸匕)[150] of it. He will not feel hungry or thirsty. It cures illnesses and helps people achieving longevity.



The method of taking (fushi shu fa服食术法)


Use one shi of Atractylodes macrocephala root found in Yuqian (yuqianshu于潛术)[151]. Wash them till they are clean. Then mash them. Use two shi of water and soak in the water for one night. Then boil them till the liquid is reduced to half. Then add five sheng of pure liquor (qingjiu清酒) and boil them again. Take one shi and squeeze them and remove the dregs. Then boil them with low fire. Add two sheng of soybean powder and one sheng of lilyturf root (tianmendong天門冬) powder. Blend and make into pills as large as a bullet. Take three pills in the morning and take one pill during the day. One can also use it to replace food when he lives in mountains or travels. It helps people resist the wind and chill (naifenghan耐風寒). It helps people achieve longevity and make him not affected by any illnesses. This method is invented by Cuiyezi. One should remove the hearts and peels of the lilyturf.


The method of taking Solomon’s seal (fu huangjing fa服食黃精法)


Finely cut one shi of Solomon’s seal. Use two shi five sheng of water ([author’s note:] another saying is six shi) to boil over low fire from the morning to the evening. When they are fully cooked, one should take them out and let them cool down. Then mash them with hands. Use a cloth bag to squeeze juice from them and boil [the juice]. Dry the dregs in the sun and make them into powder. Add [the powder] into [the liquid] in the pot ad boil them slowly. Then make them into pills as large as eggs. Take one pill every time and take three times every day. Then he will not want to eat grains (juegu絕穀). And it cures the hundred diseases. His body will be lightened and become strong. If he takes less of it, he will become normal. But he should not take too much of it or stop taking it in the middle. If he feels thirsty, he can drink water. This method is the best. It comes from the Five Charms五符.


Another method又法


Mash the Solomon’s seal and take three sheng of the juice. If they cannot produce so much juice, pour water on them and then squeeze them to get the juice. Use three sheng of raw Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch roots (sheng dihuang生地黃) juice and three sheng of lilyturf root (tianmendong天門冬) juice. Blend them and boil them with low fire till the liquid is reduced to one half. Then add five jin of white honey into them and boil them again till they can be made into pills. Make them into pills as large as a bullet. Take them three times every day. Then he will not feel hungry and his skin color will be good. One can also merely squeeze three sheng of the juice and boil it till it can be made into pills. Take one pill as large as an egg every day. After he takes it for thirty days, he will not feel hungry and will be able to walk as fast as a galloping horse. One should remove the hearts and peels of the lilyturf.



The method of taking Maianthemum racemosum(fushi weirui fa服食葳蕤法)


Usually pick Maianthemum racemosum [false lily-of-the-valley, a small lily-like plant] leaves on the ninth day of the second month. Then mince the leaves and dry them. Then take one one-cun-square spoon of it every time and take it three times a day. One can also take it as taking the Solomon’s seal [and?] cinnabar. It opens the qi pulses (daoqimai導氣脈) and strengthens the tendons and bones. It cures stroke/the strike of a wind (zhongfeng中風). It cures twisted tendons and muscles (diejin jierou跌筋結肉). It removes wrinkles in the face (mianzou面皺). It makes one’s skin color good. If one takes it for a long time, he will achieve longevity and become a transcendent.



Method of taking lilyturf (fushi tianmendong fa服食天門冬法)

Use ten jin of dried lilyturf root and one sheng of apricot seeds. Mash them into powder and blend (the powder) with honey. Take one one-cun-square spoon full (fangcunbi方寸匕) three times during the day and once at night. This is what Gan Shi甘始[152] took. It is called the Immortals’ Food (xianren liang仙人糧).


Method of taking black sesame (fushi jusheng fa服食巨勝法)

Use any amount of black and thick sesame seeds. Winnow them with a bamboo fan (bozhi簸治) and steam them. Let the hot steam surround them as in cooking rice. Then put them under the sun. On the second day, steam them and place them in the sun again. Repeat the process nine times and then stop. If the sunlight is scorching, one can steam and dry them in the sun three times a day. Thus he can finish the procedure of nine times of steaming and drying in the sun in three days. When they are thoroughly dried, briefly dip them in boiled water and mash them in a mortar till they become white. Then dry them in the sun again and winnow them in order to remove the peels. Then cook them till they smell good. Then mash them quickly and sift them roughly. Take them at will. Take two or three sheng of them one day. One can also make them into honey-blended pills as large as an egg. Take five pills one day. One can also blend them with maltose (yi飴) or blend them with liquor. Gradually reduce [the dose]. After one hundred days, he will not have any diseases. After one year, his body and face will be smooth and radiant. When he washes [his body and face], the water will not stay on the flesh. After five years, water or fire will not harm him and he can walk as fast as a galloping horse.


The Immortals’ method of taking caltrop (shenxian er jili fang神仙餌蒺藜方)

Use one shi of caltrop (Tribulus terrestris). It is usually ripe in the seventh and eighth months. Pick them then. Then dry them in the sun. First pestle them in a mortar in order to remove the sticks (ci刺). Then make them into fine powder. Take two spoonfuls of them each time. Blend them with water taken recently (xinshui新水)[153] and eat them. Take them three times a day and do not terminate [the process]. Taking [them] will help one achieve longevity. After taking them for one year, he will neither feel cold in the winter nor feel hot in the summer. After taking them for two years, he will be rejuvenated. His white hair will turn black. His fallen teeth will be replaced by new ones. After taking them for three years, his body will be lightened and he will achieve longevity.


The Immortals’ method of taking Sophora japonica (Chinese scholar tree) seeds and thus achieving longevity and being ageless (shenxian fu huaizi yannian bulao fang神仙服槐子延年不老方)

Usually the seeds should be picked on the third day of the third month.[154] Then place them in a new porcelain container and cover [the container] with a basin. Seal it with mud and do not let the gas come in or out. After twenty one days, open it and remove the peels. Take them in the beginning of a month. Take one pill with water every day. Take one more pill every day till the fifteenth day of the month. Then take one pill less every day. Repeat the process. It will make the person be able to see tiny characters at night. After taking them for a long time, his strength will be enhanced one hundred times.


The method of eating no grains and living and eating (bigu zhushi fang辟谷住食方)

Use one dou of sorghum and rice(shumi秫米),fried with six liang of sesame oil and then cooled down. [It would seem that abstaining from grains is not quite total here!] Use ten liang of salt powder, Sichuan ginger (chuanjiang川薑), and small peppers (xiaojiao小椒) respectively. Use three sheng of turnip seeds (manjingzi蔓菁子) and five sheng of large dried jujubes (gandazao乾大棗).

秫米一斗,麻油六兩炒,冷 鹽末 川薑 小椒各等分,十兩 蔓菁子三升  乾大棗五升


Make the above six ingredients into thin powder. Take one large spoon of it with water newly taken (xinshui新水) every time. Take three times every day. One will feel hungry or thirsty (ru jike如飢渴).[155] He will gradually have strength. He can eat every kind of fruits and teas at will. He must not eat meat. It is the greatest taboo.

There are eight great taboos in food:



A horse that dies when walking, a donkey that dies when drinking, a cow that dies when it is overfed, and a ram with red eyes.



A pig that dies by itself, a turtle with eggs,[156] a pregnant rabbit, and a scaleless fish.



In the ancient book, it is said that, “all of them cannot be eaten. If one eats them, he will have one hundred kinds of diseases.”


[Likely true for the self-dying animals—they would be sick—but the other taboos seem more related to conservation and to possible religious influence.]

The method of eating no grains and escaping from famine (bigu bihuang fang辟谷避荒方)

On the seventeenth day of the second month, the second year of the Yongning永寧 Reign (120-121), the Attendant at the Yellow Gate (huangmen shilang黃門侍郎), Liu Jingxian劉景先, submitted a memorial, saying that “I met a hermit from Mountain Taibei and received this recipe. I hear that the price of rice in the capital runs very high. I think that it is appropriate to relieve it by using this recipe. It will let a person avoid feeling hungry. His eyes will turn bright and his ears can hear weak sounds. The color of his skin will be radiant. If I am lying, my whole family should be punished by the law. In the four seasons, use five sheng of black beans. Wash them till they are clean and then steam them for three times. Then dry them in the sun light and remove their peels. Then use three sheng of large hemp seeds (dahuomazi大火麻子) and soak them in boiled water for one night. Then take them out of the water and dry them in the sun. Blend them with the sticky liquid (jiaoshui膠水) and dry them in the sun. Then peel them and wash them till they are clean. Then steam them three times and mash them with a pestle. Then add soybeans to them and make both of them into thin powder. Blend [the powder] with sweet rice congee and make them into round pills as large as a fist. Then place [the pills] in a steamer and steam them from the evening to the midnight. Then quench the fire. Take [the pills] out [of the steamer] at the three to five o’clock in the morning. Place them in a porcelain container and cover them and do not let them be dried by the wind. Take three pieces every time. Refrain from eating till full. Do not eat any other food. After the first meal, he will not feel hungry for seven days. After the second meal, he will not feel hungry for seven times seven days. After the third meal, he will not feel hungry for three hundred days. His looks will be good and not emaciated. If he feels thirsty, he should grind hemp seeds and drink the liquid, which nourishes the internal organs. If he wants to eat [ordinary] food again, he should mash three he of cluster mallow fruits (kuizi葵子) and boil them into a soup and drink the soup. The soup will open the stomach (kaidao weiwan開導胃脘) and make it peaceful (chonghe冲和). It is harmless.”this recipe is carved in a stone at the Taiping Xingguo Temple太平興國寺 in Mt. Dabieshan大別山, Hanyang Military Prefecture漢陽軍.



The recipe of the Purple-Cloud Cup(zixia bei fang紫霞杯方); this is a wonderful secret recipe.此至妙秘方。

This cup of medicine [helps the person be] in tune with nature (peihe zaohua配合造化) and nurses the yin and yang(tiaoli yinyang調理陰陽). It takes the peaceful qi in heaven and earth and acquires the recipe that saves one from fire and water (duo tiandi chonghe zhi qi, de shuihuo jiji zhi fang奪天地冲和之氣,得水火既濟之方). It is neither cold nor hot, neither slow nor fast. It has the effect of achieving longevity and the anti-aging effect. It has the wonderful effect of transforming one’s inner embryo and bones (tuotai huangu脫胎換骨). It can greatly purify the upper [body] and nourish the lower [body](qingshang buxia清上補下). It makes the yin and yang rise up and fall down (shengjiang yinyang升降陰陽). It opens the nine holes (tong jiuqiao通九竅)[157]. It kills the Nine Worms (jiuchong九蟲). It prevents wet dreams (nocturnal emission, mengxie夢泄). It makes one looking pleasant (yue rongyan悅容顏). It relieves the head wind (jie toufeng解頭風)[158]. It makes the body lighter and stronger. It makes the internal organs work in harmony (zangfu hetong臟腑和同). It opens the chest midriff (kai xiongge開胸膈). It removes phlegm and saliva. It brightens one’s eyes. It moisturizes the skin. It increases the essence (or sperm, tianjing添精). It cures hernia (juan shanzhui蠲疝墜)[159]. It also cures the women’s diseases of weakness and cold in the blood sea (xuehai xuleng血海虛冷)[160],and the gynecological disease of having red and white sticky discharges (chibai daixia赤白帶下). Only the pregnant women cannot use this medicine. For other men and women, the old and young, in the early morning, pour warm liquor into the cup and drink two or three cups of it. It cures one hundred kinds of diseases. Other medicines cannot be better than this recipe. [the author’s note:]when one uses the cup for a long time, it becomes thin. Then take one bowl of bran (kangpi糠皮) and place the cup in the bran. Then pour the liquor into the cup and drink it. If the cup is broken into pieces, take one fen of the medicine in the cup and grind it. Then add it to the liquor and drink it. When the pieces of the cup are used up, make another one.



One qian of pearls (zhenzhu真珠), one qian of amber, one qian of frankincense (ruxiang乳香), twenty pieces of gold foil (jinbo金箔), one qian of arsenic sulphide (xionghuang雄黃), one qian of actinolite (陽起石yangqishi)[161], one qian of fragrant Angelica dahurica Benth. Et Hook (xiangbaizhi香白芷), one qian of cinnabar/cinnabaris (zhusha硃砂), one qian of hemonode (xuejie血結), one qian of borneol camphor (piannao片腦), one qian of camphor (chaonao潮腦)[162] ([Author’s note:]add it when the cup is toppled), seven and a half fen of musk, one qian of Kaempferia galanga (sannai三奈), one qian of purple powder (zifen紫粉), one qian of halloysite (red bole, chishizhi赤石脂), one qian of muxiang (木香), one qian of benzoin (anxi安息)[163], one qian of lignaloes (chenxiang沉香), and one qian of myrrh (moyao沒藥).

真珠一錢 琥珀一錢 乳香一錢 金箔二十張 雄黃一錢 陽起石一錢 香白芷一錢 朱砂一錢 血結一錢 片腦一錢 潮腦 一錢,傾杯方入 麝香七分半 甘松一錢 三奈一錢 紫粉一錢 赤石脂 一錢 木香一錢 安息一錢 沉香一錢 沒藥一錢


Method of making sulfur (liu硫)


Place Spirodela polyrhiza (zibei fuping紫背浮萍) in a pot. Wrap sulfur with a piece of thick silk cloth bag and hang the bag in the pot. Boil [the sulfur] till the liquid is boiled for dozens of times and then take it out and let it dry. Grind it into powder. Use ten liang of the powder and previously mentioned spices and place them in a bronze spoon. Melt them down with slow fire. Then taken them out and let the fire qi disperse for awhile. Use a liquor cup with a good shape and wrap it with cloth and paper. Open a hole in the [wrapper] and pour the sulfur into it. Hold the cup with a hand and rotate it till [the sulfur] is even. Then place [the cup] in a basin of cold water. Then take it out. If one has fire diseases (huozheng火症), he should not take it.


The method of making the Rising-and-Mysterious Transparent Powder(shengxuan mingfen fa升玄明粉法)

Use five jin of good and pure sulfate of soda (pixiao皮硝), half jin of Chinese honey locust Fruit (zaojiao皂角), and more than ten jin of white daikon (bailuobo白蘿蔔). Slice [the daikon] and use more than half pot of water and boil the slices for more than ten times. Then take out the daikon slices and do not use them. Then slice the daikon and boil the slices again. Repeat this for three or four times till the daikon does not have a bitter taste. Then use a thin silk to sift through dregs and contain it in a pot. Place the pot outside for one night. On the next day, teeth-like soda sulfate (yaxiao牙硝) appears in the pot. Take it out and wrap it with a piece of cotton paper bag. Hang the bag in a windy place and it will turn into powder by itself. In the summer months, for every liang of the powder, use one qian of liquorice and blend. Take one qian of it with boiled water every time. It can greatly relieve the summer-heat (jie shure解暑熱) and dissipate phlegm that has been there and cannot be eliminated for a long time (hua wanjie laotan化頑結老痰). It is a wonderful medicine for releasing the phlegm fire from the after-body (cong hou xiechu tanhuo shengyao從後瀉出痰火聖藥)[164].


The Above-the-River Gentleman’s method of taking foxnut medicinal powder (Heshanggong fu qianshi san fang 河上公服芡實散方)

Use one jin of husked foxnut (qianjitoushi千雞頭實), honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica, rendong忍冬) stalks and leaves ([the author’s note:]pick the fresh and thick ones with no worm’s stains. It is the same as the gold-and-silver flower,jinyinhua金銀花.), and dried lotus roots respectively.

千雞頭實去殼 忍冬莖葉揀無蟲污新肥者,即金銀花也 乾藕各一斤


Cut the three above ingredients into slices and pieces and steam them till they are fully cooked. Then dry them in the sun and mash and sift them into powder.  After one has a meal, he should eat one one-qian spoon of it with warm soup in the winter and with water in the summer. After he takes it for a long time, he will achieve longevity and his body will be lightened and he will not become old. The color of his skin will be pleasant. It will strengthen the skin and the spleen and stomach. It will remove what stays inside of the body (qu liuzhi去留滯). Its good effects cannot be entirely listed. One will know it by himself after he uses it for a long time.


The method of taking lilyturf root (fu tianmendong fa服天門冬法)

Use two jin of lilyturf and one jin of cooked Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch roots (shu dihuang熟地黃).Mash and sift them into powder. Refine honey and make them into pills as large as a bullet. Take three pills with warm liquor every time and take it three times every day. After one takes it for a long time, it will strengthen the bones and marrows, rejuvenate the looks, and remove the Three Corpses. It helps the person abstain from grains, and lightens his weight. It helps him achieve longevity and is anti-aging. He will not have any diseases. If he takes it with the same amount of Tuckahoe, he will sweat even if he wears one-layer clothes in the winter. He should not eat carp or any kind of rank-smelling food.[165]



The method of taking lotus seeds and stalks (fu oushi jing fa服藕實莖法)

It tastes sweet. Its nature is neutral. It is cold. It is non-poisonous. (wei gan ping han wudu味甘平寒無毒). It mainly nourishes the Middle Burner and the spirit (buzhong yangshen補中養神). It enhances the qi and strength. It cures one hundred kinds of diseases. After one takes it for a long time, his body will be lightened and he will not turn old. He will not feel hungry and he will achieve longevity. It is also called shuizhi水芝. In the Danyaoxinglun丹藥性論 (Thesis on the Nature of the Cinnabars), it is said that, “the lotus juice can also be used separately. It tastes sweet. It can trim the bruises that have not disappeared for a long time. Mash the lotus burls and take the juice. It mainly cures continuous bleeding in the mouth and nose and hematemesis (koubi tuxue buzhi口鼻吐血不止) and it can cure all of them.” It is also said that, “the nature of the lotus seed is cold. It mainly cures the deficiency in the Five Internal Organs (wuzang buzu五臟不足), the damaged Middle Burner and breathlessness (shangzhong qijue 傷中氣絕),and benefits the blood qi [circulating in] the twelve pulses (liyi shier jingmai xueqi利益十二經脈血氣)[166]. If one eat the raw [lotus seeds], it will slightly arouse the qi (wei dongqi微動氣). It is good if he eats the lotus seeds after steam them. Besides, when they are cooked, remove the hearts and make them into powder. Blend them with wax-like honey (lami蠟蜜) and make them into pills. Take ten pills every day and they will let the person feel no hunger. This recipe is used by the transcendent.”Chen Cangqi陳藏器 said that, “the lotus pedicel (hebi荷鼻) tastes bitter and its nature is neutral. It is non-poisonous. It mainly prevents miscarriage and protects the embryo (antai安胎). It removes bad blood and keeps the good blood (qu exue, liu haoxue去惡血,留好血). If one has bloody diarrhea (xueli血痢), he will be cured after taking the boiled lotus pedicels. As for the lotus leaves, pedicels, and lotus seed pod (heye bing di ji lianfang荷葉并蒂及蓮房), they mainly cure hemorrhagic distension and stomachache (xuezhang futong血脹腹痛). It cures the condition of failure to deliver the afterbirth (chan hou taiyi buxia產後胎衣不下). Boil them with liquor and take them. Besides, if one is poisoned by poisonous mushrooms, he can be cured by boiling and taking them.”The lotus starch (oufen藕粉) was made by  Shuiyunshenchu水云深處 (the deep place amidst the clouds and water)[167]. Take the thick [lotus rhizomes] and wash them till they are clean. Mash them and squeeze them with a piece of cloth in order to get the liquid. Then use a piece of thickly-woven cloth (mibu密布) and sift [the lotus root powder] again. Then let it settle down and remove the clean water above. If the liquid is too thick to be settled down, add water to it and stir. Then it will become the starch. [Note that this very standard method of getting lotus starch—once a very common starch in China—is found earlier in the book by itself as a simple recipe.] If one eats it, his body will be lightened and he will achieve longevity.


The method of taking the Cinnabar-and- Arsenic Sulphide Cup (fu zhusha xionghuang bei fa服朱砂雄黃杯法)

Grind the cinnabar found in Chenzhou into thin powder. Melt down white wax and add the cinnabar into it. Then pour them into a liquor cup and make them into a cup as the previous mentioned method. It pacifies the heart and the mind (ningxin anshen寧心安神) and it helps one person achieve longevity. If one takes arsenic sulphide, the method is the same. It has the power of detoxification and repelling one hundred kinds of worms (jiedu bi baichong解毒辟百蟲). I am afraid that these two kinds of cups are not as good as the Purple-Cloud Cup.



The Transcendent’s Recipe of the Black Sesame Pill (shenxian jusheng wan fang神仙巨勝丸方)

It lightens the body and strengthens the yang (qingshen zhuangyang輕身壯陽). It rejuvenates the person. It removes the Three Corpses. It kills the Nine Worms. It cures ten thousand kinds of diseases.



Use one liang of black sesame ([Author’s note:] soak them in liquor for one night. Then steam and dry them in the sun for nine times), Achyranthes bidentata (niuxi牛膝) ([author’s note:] soak them in liquor and slice and bake them), Morinda offcinalis root (bajitian巴戟天)[168] ([author’s note:]remove the hearts), lilyturf roots (tianmendong天門冬) ([author’s note:] remove the hearts and bake them), cooked and dried Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch (shu gan dihuang熟乾地黃), tender cinnamon branches(liugui柳桂)[169] ([the author’s note:] remove the rough peels), jujube kernels (suanzaoren酸棗仁), raspberry (fupenzi覆盆子)[170], Cuscuta sinensis Lam. seeds (tusizi兔絲子) ([author’s note:]soak them in liquor and mash them and bake them till they are dry), wild yam (shanyu山萸), Polygala root (yuanzhi遠志) ([author’s note:] remove the hearts), chrysanthemum, ginseng, white Tuckahoe (beifulin白茯苓) ([author’s note:] remove the black peels) respectively.

巨勝酒浸一宿,九蒸九暴 牛膝酒浸切焙 巴戟天去心 天門冬去心焙  熟乾地黃焙 柳桂去粗皮 酸棗仁 覆盆子 兔絲子酒浸別搗焙乾  山萸 遠志去心 菊花 人參 白茯苓去黑皮。各一兩


For the above fourteen ingredients, pick and trim them. Then mash and sift them into powder. Blend them with refined honey and make them into pills as large as a tung nut (tongzi桐子). When one takes it, he should have an empty stomach and take twenty pills with warm liquor. After he takes it for one month, his body will be lightened and strengthened. Ten thousand kinds of diseases will not strike him.


The method of taking cypress seeds (fu baishi fa服柏實法)


In the past, in the eighth month, dry the cypress seed pod (baifang柏房) in the sun. Let it breach and the kernels will fall down by themselves. Place [the kernels] in clean water and take the heavy ones that sink at the bottom of the water. Then pour out the water and lightly pestle the kernels in order to take the seeds. Every time, take one two-qian-capacity spoon of it with liquor. In the winter months, take it with warm liquor. Take one doze in the early morning, at noon, and at dusk. Gradually increase the dose to four or five qian. One can also add the same amount of chrysanthemum to it and make them into honey-mixed pills (miwan蜜丸) as large as a tung nut. Take ten pills or twenty pills every time. Take it three times every day with liquor.


The method of taking the Great-Tuckahoe Pills (fushi dafulin wan fang服食大茯苓丸方)


Use one liang of white Tuckahoe ([author’s note:] remove the black peels), Tuckahoe that have a piece of wood in the middle (fushen茯神)([author’s note]: it is said to embrace a piece of wood. Remove the wood), large jujubes, and cinnamon ([the author’s note:]remove the rough peels) respectively. Use twelve liang of ginseng, Atractylodes macrocephala (baishu白術), Polygala root (yuanzhi遠志) ([author’s note:] remove the hearts and stir and bake them till they turn yellow), Asarum (xixin细辛) ([author’s note:] remove the sprouts and leaves), sweetgrass (shichangpu石菖蒲) ([author’s note:] use those as long as one cun and having nine joints. Soak them in  rice washing liquid (migan米泔) for three days and replace the liquid every day. Then finely mince them and dry them in the sun). Use eight liang of liquorice ([author’s note:]dip them in water and split them. Then roast them), and five liang of dried ginger ([author’s note:]roast it till it is split).

白茯苓去黑皮 茯神抱木者,去木 大棗 桂去粗皮,各一兩 人參 白术 遠志去心炒黃 細辛去苗葉 石菖蒲一寸九節者,米泔浸三日,日換泔浸,碎切曝乾,各十二兩  甘草八兩,水蘸擘破炙 乾薑五兩,炮裂


As for the above eleven ingredients, mash them and sift them till they become powder. Refine honey till it is yellow and skim the foam. Let it cool down and blend it with [the powder] and make them into pills as large as a bullet. Take one pill every time. After one takes it for a long time, he will not feel hungry or thirsty. If he eats raw food and fruits with cold water and will not digest, he will immediately be well after taking it. For those having the reversing qi gather in the Five Internal Organs (wuzang juji qini五臟聚積氣逆), those having sharp heartaches or stomachaches (xinfu qietong心腹切痛), those having stagnant qi and abdominal distension (jieqi fuzhang結氣腹脹), or those that throw up and cannot ingest any food (tuni bu xiashi吐逆不下食), take the pill with boiled ginger soup. If he is weak and skinny and does not have an appetite, take it with liquor. As long as he takes it, it will cure ten thousand kinds of diseases and allow the person achieve longevity. When making the medicine, one should do it at the chen hours[171] of the chen day (chenri chenshi辰日辰時), in an empty room, wearing clean clothes, and do not let chickens, dogs, women, or sons in mourning (xiaozi孝子) see it.


Li Babo’s recipe of the Apricot Golden Cinnabar (Li Babo xing jindan fang李八伯杏金丹方)

Use five dou of thick apricot seeds and put them in a cloth bag. Soak [the bag] in well water that is freshly taken in the morning (jinghuashui井花水) for three days. Then place [the seeds] in a steamer and cover it with a piece of thick silk cloth. Then place yellow mud as thick as five cun on top of it. Steam it for one day and then remove the mud and take out [the seeds]. Then place [the seeds] in the middle of millet (su粟) and steam them for one day. Then steam [the seeds] in the middle of wheat (xiaomai小麥) for one day. Press [the seeds] to get five sheng of oil from them. Then let it settle down and remove the dregs. Make a silver bottle in shape of a bottle for containing water. If one does not have silver, he should make a good earthenware pot. Put the oil in [the silver bottle] and do not let the bottle be full. Then use a piece of round silver foil as large as the bottle mouth to cover the mouth. Melt down silver and use the liquid silver to seal the apertures around the bottle mouth. Then place the bottle in a large pot and boil it for seven days. Stir it frequently. When the oil congeals (kan you jie看油結), open [the bottle] and take out the medicine. Put it in a container. When the fire qi disappears, [the medicine] becomes a liquid (huoxiao chengzhi火消成汁). Pour out the liquid and let it cool down. the color [of the medicine] is like that of gold. Then place [the medicine] in a mortar and mash it. When it can be made into pills, make it into pills as large as glutinous millet grains (huangmi黃米). One should have an empty stomach when taking it and take it with liquor in the morning and at evening. Or he can take twenty pills with saliva (jinye津液)[172]. After one takes it for a long time, it will save the qi (baoqi保氣)  and help the person achieve longevity. It will turn his white hairs into black. It can cure ten thousand kinds of diseases.




The recipe for the Lightening-Body-and-Achieving-Longevity Theurgical Pill (qinshen yannian xianshu wan fang輕身延年仙術丸方)


Soak Atractylodes sinensis  (cangshu蒼術) in rice swill for three days if it is in the summer and autumn or for seven days if it is in the spring. Remove the peels and wash them till they are clean. Steam them for half day. Then slice them and bake them till they are dried. Mash them in a stone mortar and make them into powder. Blend them with refined honey and make them into pills as large as a tung nut. Take fifty pills in the morning and at noon every day.


The recipe for the Wolfthorn Decoction (gouqi jian fang枸杞煎方)


Use any amount of wolfthorn fruits and remove the pedicels. Wash them with clean water and take them out of the water and drain them. use one double-layer cloth bag and place the wolfthorn fruits in it. Pestle [the bag] on a clean chopping block. Then take the natural juice (ziranzhi自然汁) and let it settle down for one night. Then remove the dregs and boil it in a piece of stoneware with slow fire till it becomes a decoction. Then take it out and contain it in porcelain. Take half spoon of it with warm liquor every time. It brightens eyes and prevents one’s looking old (zhuyan駐顏). It strengthens the vital qi (zhuang yuanqi壯元氣) and moisturizes the skin. If one takes it for a long time, it is very beneficial. If it is warm when one makes it, the pressed juice do not need to be preserved overnight. This decoction will not spoil in two or three years. If one takes the decoction long after it was made, it does no harm to boil it again [before taking it].


[Again, a rare recipe for something actually practical.]


The recipe for the [Curing-]Ten-Thousand-Disease Solomon’s-seal Pill(wanbing huangjing wan fang萬病黃精丸方)


Use ten jin of Solomon’s- seal (huangjing黃精) ([the author’s note:] clean them. Steam them till they can be easily mashed), three jin of white honey, three jin of lilyturf ([author’s note:] remove the hearts and steam them till they can be easily mashed).

用黃精十斤凈,洗蒸令爛熟 白蜜三斤 天門冬三斤,去心蒸令爛熟


As for the above three ingredients, blend them till they are even. Place [the mixture] in a stone mortar and pestle it for ten thousand times.  [Hopefully intended as a hyperbolic number!] Then divide it into four portions. Pestle each portion for another ten thousand times. When they are thoroughly mashed, take them out and make them into pills as large as a tung nut. Take thirty pills with warm liquor every time. Take it three times every day. One does not have to take it at specific times. It helps achieve longevity and nourishes the qi. It cures ten thousand kinds of diseases.  One can expect to obtain the position of a transcendent.


The recipe for the Anti-Aging Seven-Essence Powder (quelao qijing san fang卻老七精散方)


Use three liang of Tuckahoe, which is the essence of heaven. Use two liang of Rehmannia glutinosa (dihuanghua地黃花), which is the essence of earth, and mistletoe (sangjisheng桑寄生)[173], which is the essence of wood, respectively. Use one liang three fen of chrysanthemum, which is the essence of moon. Use one liang three fen of bamboo fruits(zhushi竹實)[174], which is the essence of the Sun, Kochia scoparia seeds (difuzi地膚子)[175], which is the essence of the stars, and plantain seeds(Plantago sp., cheqianzi車前子)[176], which is the essence of the thunder, respectively.

用茯苓,天之精三兩 地黃花,地之精 桑寄生,木之精各二兩 菊花,月之精一兩三分 竹實,日之精 地膚子,星之精 車前子,雷之精各一兩三分


As for the above seven ingredients, they are correspondent with the Sun, the Moon, and stars above the sky. If one wants to make this medicine, he should pick a thriving or supportive date in the four seasons(sishi wangxiang ri四時旺相日)[177], fast for nine days, burn incense in a quiet room, and make the medicinal powder by mashing and sifting. Every time, take three one-cun-square spoon of it with well water that is freshly taken in the morning.He should face the Sun when he takes the medicine. Take one dose on a yang date and two doses on a yin date. After forty nine days, it will solidify the essence and help the person achieve longevity. It will cure one hundred kinds of diseases. It will improve eyesight and hearing. It is very effective. The Rehmannia should be picked in the fourth month. Bamboo fruits are found in the bamboo forests in Lantian.


The Removing-the-Three-Corpses and Killing-One-Hundred-Worms and Beautifying and Improving-Eyesight-and-Hearing arsenic sulphide Pill (qu sanshi mie baichong mei yanse ming ermu wan去三尸滅百蟲美顏色明耳目雄黃丸)


Use one liang of arsenic sulphide ([author’s note:] use transparent ones in shape of cockscomb that is not mixed with other rocks. Mash and sift them) and rosin (songxiang松香) ([the author’s note:] pick the transparent, clean, and pure white rosin. Boil it in water for once or twice. Use what is floating [on the water] as the previous method mentions).

用雄黃透明如雞冠,不雜石,搗羅一兩  松香採明凈純白者,水中煮一二炊,將浮起者取用,如前法


Blend above two ingredients till they are even. Pestle them and make them into pills as large as a bullet. Take one pill with liquor every morning. After ten days, the Three Corpses and the One Hundred Worms will be excreted from the lower part of the body. The purple and black complexion (qise氣色) on the face will be eliminated, too. After one takes it for one month, one hundred kinds of diseases will be cured. He should keep pure and clean. Otherwise, [anything that is not pure or clean] will harm the efficacy of the pill.


Mr. Gao’s Theory on the Harms of the Sex Drugs (Gaozi lun fangzhong yaowu zhi hai高子論房中藥物之害)

Mr. Gao[178] says, “ever since Bijue比覺’s theory of the Mud-and-Water [medicine] (nishui zhi shuo泥水之說) became popular, the art of the bedchamber (fangzhong zhi shu房中之術) is rampant. Therefore, the medical stones/medicines (yaoshi藥石) start to poison human beings. [I.e., people are having too much sex and then depending too much on dangerous aphrodisiacs.] How can the harms be entirely enumerated? A human being receives the essence/sperms and blood (jingxue精血) from his parents. If [the essence/sperms and blood] are thick, his life is strong. Thus he will have enough to spend even if he has many desires. If [the essence/sperms and blood] are thin [depleted], his life is weak. Thus he will be inefficient even if he has few desires. There are strong persons dying because of having too much sex, while there is not a single weak person achieving longevity because he has excessive sex. Drinking, eating, and sex are major desires of a human being. He should neither quit them nor have too many of them. If he has too many of them and is not content with them, he will be tired and cannot bear them anymore. Then he will seek medical stones to strengthen his body in order to satisfy his desires. Therefore, the magicians and sorcerers (fangren shushi方人術士) are able to meet his interests and show off their techniques. They make hot and poisonous medicines and claim that [the medicines] come from mysterious recipes from oversea. For the ears, there is the Ear-Pearl Pill(erzhudan耳珠丹). For the nose, there is the Enhancing-the-Desire Incense (zhuqingxiang助情香). For the mouth, there is the lignaloes Mixture (chenxianghe沉香合). For grasping in the hand, there is the Violet-Gold Seal(zijinqian紫金鈐). For sealing the navel, there are the Protecting-the-Nature Cream (baozhen gao保真膏), the One-Sphere-of-Gold [Pill](yiwanjin一丸金), the Steaming-the-Navel Cake (zhengqibing蒸臍餅), and the Fire-Dragon Talisman (huolongfu火龍符) . For strengthening the waist, there are the Spider Cream(zhizhugao蜘蛛膏) and the Massaging-the-Waist Cream (moyaogao摩腰膏).  For inserting the penis (han yu gui含於龜), there is the Nourishing-the-Nature One-Pill Cinnabar (xiantian yili dan先天一粒丹). For applying on the penis, there are the Three-Li powder (sanlisan三厘散) and the Rejuvenating-in-Seven-Days Recipe (qiri yixin fang七日一新方). For tying the penis, there are the Mr. Lü’s Cord (lügongtao呂公縧), the Sulphur Band (liuhuanggu硫磺箍), the Centipede Tie (wugongdai蜈蚣帶), the Precious Tie (baodai寶帶), the [Feeling]-the-Wonderful-Night-Too-Short [Medicine](liangxiaoduan良宵短), and the Fragrant Silk Kerchief (xiangluopa香羅帕). For covering the lower abdomen, there are the Downwind Flag (shunfengqi順風旗), the Jade-Toad (yuchan 玉蟾), and the Dragon-and-Tiger Coat (longhuyi龍虎衣). For rubbing the penis, there are the Long-Penis Recipe (changjingfang長莖方) and the Gold-in-the-Hand (zhangzhongjin掌中金). For inserting in the vulva (yinhu陰戶), there are the Lifting-the-Quilt Fragrance (jiebeixiang揭被香), the Warm-Stove Powder (luanlusan暖爐散), the Narrow-Vulva Cream (zhaoyingao窄陰膏), and the Every-Night-Is-Licentious (yeyechun夜夜春). For inserting anally, there is the Kingkong Wedge (jingangxie金剛楔). These are applied on the skin and ignite the fire in the kidney by using the qi (yi qi gan shen jia xiang huo以氣感腎家相火) . Then the person can erect for a while and [the medicines] can enhance his desire and support him to enjoy the sex. If he does not cease to use them, the poison will turn into a Waist ulcer (yaoju腰疽) if it flows and turn into a Excretion carbuncle/ulcer(bianyong便癰) if it gathers. It will cause the glans penis (guishou龜首) and the anus to rot.  [All these conditions sound suspiciously like syphilis, but they might also follow from too many medicines containing heavy metals and the like.] Although the harm is as rampant as roaring flame, the person can still extricate himself. If one uses only one or two [of those medicines], they are useful and not all of them are [as ferocious/harmful] as tigers and wolves (hulang虎狼). For internal medicines (fushi zhi yao服食之藥), there are many of them, such as the Peach-Headstream Secret-Treasure Cinnabar (taoyuan mibao dan桃源秘寶丹), the Male-Dog Pill (xionggoudan雄狗丸), the Sealing-the-Sperms Talisman (bijingfu閉精符), and so on. The toxicity in those medicines harms people. Nine out of ten persons will die after taking them.  They cannot be saved.  And [the medicines] frequently cause serious calamities and diseases, making the intestines fester and the skin chap. These are faults that happened to or were made by people in the past. How could one not know them? [As to the libertine,] his desire is stronger than his knowledge and he [is like someone who] would like to step on a knifepoint. Seen from those persons that eat greasy and delicious food and drink good liquor, nourish their lives every meal, even they cannot reverse the passing of months and days. They cannot avoid becoming thin [eventually]. Neither are they able to make the essence and spirit complete. However, [those magicians and sorcerers claim that] a small amount of medicinal pills and powder can make an impotent person erect immediately and allow the tired person to be potent. How wonderful are their effects!”

[This is an amazing insight into the sexual life of late Ming!  One recalls, vividly, that Gao was writing about the same time that the author of the Jin Ping Mei was immortalizing many of the practices above.]



[Those medicines have some effects because they] rely upon toxic heat (redu熱毒) in them. For example, gecko (gejie蛤蚧)[179], sea horse (haima海馬), dog kidney (goushen狗腎), earthworm (dilong地龍), musk bag of musk-deer (sheqi麝臍), spirifer (shiyan石燕)[180], (woliu倭硫), actinolite (yangqi陽起), honeycomb (fengfang蜂房), ants or ant eggs (yizi蟻子), and so on. This is like that one boils water by blaze. The blaze warms up the water just as the kidney is warmed up at the moment and thus the person is able to erect. How could those medicines be the transcendents’ cinnabars and elixirs, which have miraculous effects so fast? How could people who nourish the life not fear, and stop having the idea of improving [the potency] ? A guest may say, “someone named XYZ uses some medicine. He achieves longevity. How could you be so starchy about all this?” I say, “this is really true. However, two or three out of ten persons using the medicines for external use would survive, while there is not a single person out of ten or one hundred persons survive after he takes the oral medicines. As for the oral medicines and medicines for external use, how could there not be any person who has real miraculous power? How could one obtain his miraculous teaching? Bijue’s theory is a side door beside the Great Way. It uses the yin and yang wonderfully. Thus he belongs to the Righteous School (zhengmai正脈) . His theory is not used to achieve licentious pleasure. The activity of a human body is related to the Ren and Du Pulses (Ren Du ermai任督二脈). The Du pulse is the father of yang, while the Ren pulse is the mother of yin. [The acupuncture points of](weilü尾閭) and (jiaji夾脊) are the gates of the Du pulse, while [the acupuncture points of]the Middle Stomach (zhongwan中脘)[181] and (danzhong膻中)[182] are the holes of the Ren pulse. The Ren qi gathers in the sea of qi, while the Du qi gathers in the brain (niwan泥丸)[183]. Yin and yang rise up and fall down. When the person inhales, [yin and yang] are rising up from the navel. When he exhales, [yin and yang] are falling down to the brain.[184] The vital qi (xingqi行氣) meets and converges. When [the vital qi] moves to the anal, the qi converges if the person makes [the anal] contract tightly (jinti緊提).when [the vital qi] moves to the Earth Gate (dihu地戶)[185], the qi meets if he closes [the Earth Gate] tightly. As the Genuine Qi (zhenqi真氣) descends, the Heavenly Qi (tianqi天氣) comes in and meets with the Earthly Root (digen地根). It stops there since it gets the earth (detu ze zhi得土則止). As the Genuine Qi ascends, the Grain Qi (guqi谷氣)[186] comes out and meets with the Heavenly Root (tiangen天根)[187]. It rests there since it meets with the earth. This is the most important key of yin and yang. Its principle is the most apparent as well as most secret. This is so called that the nature and the life stay together (xing yu ming xiangshou性與命相守), while the spirit and the qi depend on each other (shen yu qi xiangyi神與氣相依). Therefore, it is said in the Classic, ‘the spirit controls the qi and the qi keeps the body (qi liu xing氣留形). One needs no other medicines to achieve longevity. If one acts like this morning and night, he will naturally have plenty of essence (jingman精滿) and the Gu Gods exist (gushen cun谷神存)[188]’. At the important moment of life and death, one should understand that exploring the extremes of this wonderful state (qiong cimiaojing窮此妙境) is the greatest medicine for me to take care of my life(wu sheng booming dayao吾生保命大藥). If one seeks the miracles of the nature from metals and stones—[medicines] like tigers and wolves, how many mistakes he is making? I am deeply sighing for those who die while not knowing the harms [of the metal and stone medicines]!”



The Thesis on What is Bad for Drinking and Eating(yinshi dang zhi suo shun lun飲食當知所損論)

Mr. Gao says, “Drinking and eating can nourish the life.But the greed for eating without any restriction could benefit people as well as harm people. Especially for those who eat what is not nourishing the life and just want to taste special food and satisfy his mouth, the hidden damage is usually not trivial. I mean one serving of vegetable, one serving of fish, one serving of meat, and one serving of rice are rich for a scholarly official. However, they are not enough for a feast with lovely songs, liquor, musical instruments, and silver mats. If one prepares food that fill the Five Tripods (wuding五鼎)[189] and displays the Eight Precious Dishes (bazhen八珍), they are sumptuous even for what the Emperor’s kitchen serves. Why will someone still collect strange food from far away in order to satisfy his mouth and stomach? I think that both the Qiongsu liquor (qiongsu瓊蘇)[190] contained in a jade cup and ordinary liquor contained in an earthenware jar can make a person drunk. Both chicken claws and bear paws (jizhi xiong雞跖熊蹯) and brown rice and wild vegetables (lifan lizheng糲飯藜蒸) [i.e. the greatest delicacies and the plainest food] can feed a person. If one can be drunk and fed up by either liquor and food, why we discriminate [food] by luxury and thrift? How could one person not know that good fortune should be cherished? Nonetheless, it is said in the Treatise on the Principle of Things (Wulilun物理論)that, ‘if the Grain Qi is more thriving than the Vital/Original Qi (yuanqi元氣), the person will be fat. But he will not achieve longevity.’The techniques of nourishing the life require the Grain Qi to be little. Thus the person will not have diseases. It is required such as this for the Grain Qi. For the delicious food with five flavors, aren’t they harmful to the Five Internal Organs? I conclude that birds and beasts which eat grains are good for human beings. They are the normal food in the world. As for those precious food coming from far away and the wild animals from remote valleys, I am afraid what they eat have a lot of toxicity. Even though sometimes people advocate precious food, whether those foods are good or bad for the internal organs of a man is unknown. How precious would it be to satisfy the mouth and feed up the intestines? Therefore, the sage from the West asks us to stop killing and eat vegetables. Is he really pursuing a different/vicious Dao? When the person does not kill, his nature is lenient and has good will (shannian善念). [If he] eats vegetables, his heart is pure and his stomach and intestines are thick. [If he] is neither angry nor greedy, he will not be unlike this. Therefore, aren’t Confucius’ praises of coarse clothes and rough food (eyi eshi惡衣惡食) and his saying one should not seek to be full when eating (shi quqie bao食無求飽) the same Dao? I record the maxims from every kinds of scriptures and feel that they knew how to restrict drinking and eating and thus they achieved longevity.”



It is said in the Internal Classic Neijing內經 that, “If the person is cautious when making the five flavors, his bones will be rectified and his tendons will be soft (guzheng jinrou骨正筋柔). His qi and blood will flow fluently. His skin will be tight. He will have the life bestowed by Heaven for ever. Too much sour food will harm the spleen. The muscles will crumple up and the lips will peel. Too much salty food will harm the heart. The blood will congeal and the color [of the skin] will change. Too much sweet will harm the kidney. The bones will be sick and the teeth will be rotten. Too much bitter food will harm the lung. The skin will be dry and the hair will be shed. Too much spicy food will harm the liver. The tendons will contract and the nails will be dry.”When eating, one should first eat hot food, then warm food, and then cold food. After he eats the hot and warm food, if there is no cold food, he should drink one two mouth of cold water. It is very good. If one can keep this in mind for ever, this would be the key method of nourishing the life. When eating, one should inhale once or twice and then eat. It will make him avoid diseases. The Perfected Person (zhenren真人) said, “hot food harms the bones. Cold food harms the internal organs. [One should not eat] hot food that burns his lips. [One should not eat] cold food that causes a toothache. If one walks slowly after a meal, he will achieve longevity. If he is full, he should not speak aloud. Drinking too much [liquid] will close the blood pulses. Being drunk will make the mind distracted. In the spring, it is good to eat spicy food. In the summer, it is good to eat sour food. In the autumn, it is good to eat bitter food. In the winter, it is good to eat salty food. These [techniques] will help the Five Internal Organs and nourish the blood qi and cure every kind of disease. Do not eat too much sour, salty, sweet, or bitter food. In the spring, do not eat liver. In the summer, do not eat heart. In the autumn, do not eat lung. In the winter, do not eat kidney. In the four seasons, do not eat spleen. If one can eat none of the Five Internal Organs, he will follow the principle of the nature even closer. Do not eat sparrow, which will turn into a jiao dragon (jiao蛟) in water. Do not kill what a snake swallows. If one lies down immediately after he is fed up, he will be sick and have a backache.



One should not drink too much liquor. If he drinks too much liquor, he will throw up and throwing up is not good. If one is drunk and lying down, he should not stay at a windy place. Neither should he use a fan. [The wind and the fan] will harm him. Do not eat white honey with plum (lizi李子). It will harm the Five Internal Organs. If one is drunk, he should not be forced to eat. Otherwise he will have superficial infection (yongju癰疽) and ulcer (chuang瘡). If one has sex (jiaojie交接) when he is drunk and full, he will have a blackish and withered face (miangan面皯) and cough if it is not serious; or he will be unlucky, his internal organs and pulses will be hurt, and his life is damaged, if it is serious.



As for food, one should keep eating warm foods, which are appropriate for ingesting and easy for digesting. [Keeping eating warm foods] are better than being used to cold foods.



As for food, the fully cooked is better than the raw. Eating less is better than eating more. If one is full and rides a horse, his heart will be stupefied (xinchi心痴). When drinking, one should not ingest the water quickly. Otherwise he will have a qi disease (qibing氣病) and water tumor (shuipi水癖). When eating cheeses, one should not eat vinegar. Or [the cheese and vinegar] will transform into bloody phlegm (xuetan血痰) and haematuria (niaoxue尿血). When the person is eating hot food and thus is sweating, he should not wash his face. It will make him lose the [healthy] color [of the skin]. And he will feel as if a worm is crawling in his face (mian ru chong xing面如蟲行). After eating hot food, one should not rinse the mouth with vinegar. Or he will have bad breath and bleeding teeth (xuechi血齒). If the sweat, breath, and tail hair of a horse is mixed with food, it will harm people, too. Do not eat chicken, rabbit, and dog meat together. If the water drops from a rotten animal hutch and has stood overnight, it is called yupu鬱脯. Eating it will harm people.



Perfected Person Sun (Sun zhenren孫真人)[191] said, “if one has been hungry for a long time, he should not eat too much. If he eats too much, he will have a tumor (pibing癖病). If one is fed up and sleeps at night without having himself covered, the person will usually die from cholera (huoluan霍亂). If one is recently recovered from an epidemic (shibing時病), he should not eat raw fish. Or he will have unstoppable diarrhea. If one eats raw fish, he should not eat cheese, or they will transform into worms. When one eats rabbit meat, he should not eat dried ginger. Or they will cause cholera. When one eats meat, he should not choose the fattest portion, which everyone would like to choose. Eating it will cause a qi stagnation (jieqi結氣) and contagious diseases (zhuli疰癘) . If one eats it, he will have it.”



It is said in Mr. Councilors’ Book (Canzanshu參贊書)that, “do not eat raw fruits with an empty stomach. It will cause the heat above the midriff (geshangre膈上熱) or it will cause bone steaming transform into  ulcers (guzheng zuo yongjie骨蒸作癰癤)[192]. If one covers food with a bronze and sweat is falling into the food, eating the food will cause ulcers on the head and in the muscles(fachuang rouju髮瘡肉疽). If one catches a cold and does not recover from it (chuhan weijie觸寒未解), he will have a spiky wind (chifeng刺風) when eating hot food. If one drinks liquor and feels hot, he should not wash face with cold water before the heat is over. Ot he will have ulcer in the face. When drinking and eating, one should not wash the hair. Or he will have a head wind (toufeng頭風). If one eats buckwheat (qiaomai蕎麥) together with pork for three meals, he will have the hot wind (refeng熱風). Dried meat should not be placed in a millet container(shumi秫米). Eating it will cause the person to choke up (biqi閉氣). If one does not move the dried meat when roasting it, moves it when taking it out of the fire, and the tendons intersect when the meat is cut open, eating this meat will cause disease (huanren患人) or cause the person to commit manslaughter (sharen殺人). A piece of ball-like meat in a sheep spleen is called yangxuanjin羊懸筋. Eating it will cause epilepsy (dianxian癲癇). For every kind of wet food (shishi濕食) that does not have a shape or shadow, eating it will cause a contagious disease (zhu疰) and abdominal distension (fuzhang腹脹). One must not drink liquor after being struck by a serious disease suddenly. It will cause the heat above the midriff.”



It is said in What Should Not Be Eaten(Shiji食忌), “When one is recently recovered from a disease, he should not eat raw jujube, lamb, and raw vegetables. They will damage the color [of his skin] and it will be so for his whole life. It usually cause death and the heat and steaming above the midriff (geshang re zheng膈上熱蒸). If one eats hot greasy cakes, he should not eat cold vinegar or liquor. Otherwise, he will lose his voice and speak as if sobbing. Eating raw green onion white with honey will harm people. One should definitely avoid it. If dried meat moves by itself when being placed in water, it will kill people. If one dries meat in the sun in order to make dried meat while the meat cannot be dried, do not eat the meat. Do not eat sheep liver with pepper. They will hurt the heart. If one eats (hugu胡菰) together with lamb, he will have fever.”



It is said in Prolonging Life (Yanminglu延命錄): “drinking nourishes yang, while eating nourishes yin. One should always eat less food, while he should not make the stomach be empty. If one is not hungry and still eats, the spleen will be tired. If one is not thirsty and still drinks, the stomach will have gaseous distention. In the winter, do not keep the stomach empty in the morning. In the summer, do not be full at night. If one is fed, he should not lie on his back. Otherwise, he will have the qi tumor in the chest and abdomen (qipi氣痞). If one sleeps right after eating, he will have one hundred kinds of diseases. For food, do not eat those with a bad color. Do not eat those with a bad smell. If the food is not well cooked, do not eat it. If it is not the meal time, do not eat it. Do not eat [the animals] that belongs to your parents’ or your zodiac sign (shengxiao生肖). Do not eat uncovered food. Do not eat preserved food that has not been tightly sealed. Do not eat abnormal food. Do not eat the Three Abominations (sanyan三厭).[193] If a fish does not have intestines or gall, do not eat it. Do not eat food of strange shapes. If a mushroom has hair or it does not have patterns on the back, do not eat it. Do not eat Chinese pepper that does not open the mouth (bikoujiao閉口椒). [The peel of a mature Chinese peppercorn splits; before that it is generally too green to eat.] Do not eat food that has tiny white or black powder on it. Do not eat roasted food that is still hot. Do not eat preserved food that emits gas. Do not eat food that is covered by a bronze vessel. Do not eat raw vinegar that is recently made. Do not eat animal brains. Do not eat the Six Kinds of Domestic Animals (liuchu六畜)[194] that die by themselves. If a kernel has two seeds, do not eat them. If a piece of meat moves by itself, do not eat it. Do not eat chicken heart. Do not eat animals that have hair on their paws and claws. Do not eat birds that have six fingers, three feet, or four short fingers on the back of the bird’s legs(ju距). Do not eat eggs that have a mark like character ‘八’. For every kind of living beings/raw food (shengwu生物), what should not be eaten in certain month (yueling dang ji月令當忌), and what is harmful to the Five Internal Organs, one should prepare the Edible Herbs (Shijian bencao食鑒本草) on his desk. Then he can look up everyday food in this book and should not think it trivial. Drinking liquor and eating meat is called the Stupid Grease (chizhi痴脂), who is sorrowful, mad, and not persistent (youkuang wuheng憂狂無恒).  Those who eat good medicines (liangyao良藥) and the five grains are satisfied and pleasant (chongyue充悅), who are the Middle shi (zhongshi中士). They would worry about the diseased and the suffered. Those eating qi and maintaining the spirit and gods are called the Upper shi (shangshi上士). They will live as long as Heaven.”

[Long lists of food prohibitions, mixing practical and magical lore, are a stock feature of Chinese medical-nutrition books. Many of the above tips are shared with the Yinshan Zhengyao.]




Mr. Gao says, “if one knows what should not be eaten, there are eighteen kinds of good ways to achieve longevity:



Vegetarian food and soup, happily eaten, can bring longevity.



Following time and following a proper course, and not having vile ideas, can bring longevity.



Not being obsessed by slaughtering, or making oneself an opponent to living things, can bring longevity.



Finding it unbearable to cook or cut up the living can bring longevity.



If one feels the suffering when hearing the sounds [of slaughtering],or one feels the pain when seeing the killing, one can achieve longevity.



For birds and animals, do not seek them far away, and you can achieve longevity.



Do not eat the farm cattle, do not eat the Three Righteous (sanyi三義), and you can achieve longevity.([Author’s note:] the Three Righteous are the wild goose, dog, and mullet.)



Do not eat raw meat frequently, do not too much meat preserved overnight, and you can achieve longevity.



Do not hinder [the growth of] sprouts, disturbing the nature of Heaven, and you can achieve longevity.



Being afraid to use knife and chopping block, and hating cooking pots, can bring longevity.



[If you do not use so many] peppers and other spices with the five flavors that you poison the five sense organs, you can achieve longevity.



What a bird carries in the beak and what mice steal, do not eat, and you can achieve longevity.



Do not eat [animals] killed by others, do not eat [animals] killed at home, and you can elongate your years.



Do not eat when hearing [an animal] being killed, do not eat when seeing [an animal] being killed, and you can achieve longevity.



Do not pursue food, by setting up crafty snares, and you can achieve longevity.



Do not punish the cook for ruining the taste, and you can achieve longevity.


[The previous directions have been Buddhist morality, but this one is a solid Chinese secular injunction.]


For every bowl of congee and every plate of vegetables, by cherishing thoughts of their origins, one can achieve longevity.




If you cannot bear to waste even a bit or grain, you can achieve longevity.



靈秘丹藥箋  上卷






[1] An office from the Han dynasty, taking charge of food in the palace.

[2] Ear, eye, mouth, nose, and tongue.

[3] The author meant Sun Simiao.

[4] It is because the spleen belongs to the earth and the earth is yellow. It is also because the spleem assumes the nourishing role of mother or grandmother.

[5] The upper cinnabar field (shangdantian上丹田).

[6] The original meaning of li is that water cannot flow freely. It is used to refer natural disaster or illness.

[7] Zang includes heart, liver, spleen, lung, and kidney. Fu includes stomach, gallbladder, triple burners, bladder, large intestine, and small intestine.

[8] A stringed instrument.

[9] The formal way to write it should be 香葇. It is also called xiangru香薷.


香薷, 一年生或多年生芳香草本植物。茎和叶可以提取芳香油。全草入药。 宋  赵叔向 《肯綮录·香薷》:“藥有所謂香薷者,薷字不見于《篇韻》,獨《本艸》音柔,今人多不識此字,北人呼爲香茸,南人呼香蕕,其實皆音譌耳。” 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·草三·香薷》:“香薷有野生,有家蒔。中州人三月種之,呼爲香菜,以充蔬品。”

[10] Or baitiao白鰷.

[11] 車螯, 蛤的一种。璀璨如玉,有斑点。肉可食。肉壳皆入药。自古即为海味珍品.

[12] 一种油炸的面食。 北魏  贾思勰 《齐民要术·饼法》:“環餅,一名‘寒具’;截餅,一名‘蝎子’。皆須以蜜調水溲麪。若無蜜,煮棗取汁。牛羊脂膏亦得;用牛羊乳亦好--令餅美脆。”明  李时珍 《本草纲目·穀部四·寒具》:“ 林洪 《清供》云:寒具,捻頭也。以糯粉和麪,麻油煎成,以糖食之。可留月餘,宜禁煙用。觀此,則寒具即今饊子也。以糯粉和麪入少鹽,牽索紐捻成環釧之形,油煎食之。”

A kind of fried pastry. Before frying, add honey water, jujube juice, cow and sheep fat, or cow and sheep milk, to the flour.

[13] This is a metaphor. The image of hanju is like a flattened gold bracelet.  There is a double-entendre for lovesickness here.

[14] It is said in Buddhist scripture that tiansutuo is the food served in heaven or the ancient India. 古 印度 酪制食品名。《法苑珠林》卷一一二:“諸天有以珠器而飲酒者,受用酥酡之食,色觸香味,皆悉具足。” 宋  林洪 《山家清供·玉糁羹》:“ 東坡 一夕與 子由 飲,酣甚,槌蘆菔爛煮,不用他料,只研白米爲糝。食之,忽放箸撫几曰:‘若非 天竺 酥酡,人間決無此味。’”Unknown in China.

[15] The collected works composed by Wenzhongzi, or Wang Tong, Sui Dynasty.

[16] Huang Tingjian.

[17] Also called chicken-head; Euryale sp.

[18] It is also called wujincao烏金草.

[19] Here I follow the translation provided in the book, in which binzha is bin and zha, or pinang and crab apple. But there is a kind of plant called binzi槟子, a kind of apple, which is red and turns purple when ripe, small, sour and acerb. 槟子树,一种苹果树。果实红色,熟后转紫,个小,味酸甜带涩

[20] It is also called chilu池鷺  and luci鸬鹚.

[21] It is zhuyu茱萸.

[22] Or wujing芜菁.

[23] Nowadays Southern Sichuan, Northern Yunnan and Guizhou.

[24] in Zhejiang.

[25] Dragon-well might be wrong.

[26] Said to be a ginger-like plant, spicy.  We cannot trace it; presumably a type of cardamom, possibly fresh large cardamom.

[27] A kind of medicine made from gallnuts and tea.

[28] A cream made by cooking liquorice with honey.

[29] Slipperiness refers to the intestines. When the intestines are slippery, they cannot absorb nutrition in the food and the food will slide out.

[30] This should be a book title. Brief.

[31] 多年生草本植物。叶椭圆形,开白色小花。块茎可入药,为利尿剂。Chinese editor’s note.  We can’t trace the plant.

[32] It is a kind of weakness in yin. According to Chao Yuanfang, the root of guzheng is located in the kidney. The patient’s body is cold in the morning, while hot at night. 骨蒸, 中医学病症名。为阴虚劳瘵的一种症状。 隋  巢元方 《诸病源候论·虚劳病诸候下》:“夫蒸病有五,一曰骨蒸,其根在腎,旦起體凉,日晚即熱。”

[33] Xiayuan is located under the navel. It is said in Yunji qiqian, composed in the Song, that there are three cinnabar fields in the human body, which are the upper yuan, midlle yuan, and lower yuan…the lower yuan cinnabar field is the sea of qi, which is also called the gate of the essence.


[34] 药草名。多年生草本植物,羽状复叶,叶片狭长,开白色小花。根供药用,有镇痛、祛痰等作用。《新唐书·方技传·许胤宗》:“即以黄耆、防風煑湯數十斛,置牀下,氣如霧,熏薄之,是夕語。” 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·草二·防风》:“銅芸、茴草、屏風、蕳根、百枝、白蜚。防者,禦也。其功療風最要,故名。屏風者,防風隱語也

[35] It is also written as huangqi黄芪. 多年草本植物,奇数羽状复叶,小叶卵形,花黄色,果为荚果,其根入药.

[36] Bake new bamboo stalks on fire and there will be clean juice trickling down from inside. This liquid is zhuli.

[37] It is also called maimendong麦门冬, maidong麦冬, or tianmendong天门冬. 一种多年生草本植物,叶条形,丛生,初夏开紫色小花,总状花序,果实裂开露出种子,块根略呈纺锤形,可入药. 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·草五·麦门冬》:“虋冬, 秦 名羊韭。俗作門冬,便于字也。”

[38] 荩草 [hispid arthraxon]。一种一年生草本植物(Arthraxon hispidus),茎很细,花灰绿色或带紫色,茎和叶可做黄色染料,纤维可做造纸原料。[The plant is an annual herb, usable for dye or fibre as well as medicine.]

[39] 旧俗农历十二月廿五日煮赤豆粥,全家计口而食,称“口數粥”或“口數”。 宋  范成大 《腊月村田乐府十首》序:“二十五日煮赤豆作糜,暮夜闔家同饗,云能辟瘟氣,雖遠出未歸者亦留貯口分,至襁褓小兒及僮僕皆預,故名口數粥。”按,一说云:廿四日作糖豆粥,谓之“口數”

[40] ,亦作鮆 [long-tailed anchory]。体狭而扁,头小,口大,脊鳍短,臀鳍甚长,生活在近海,春季上溯于江河而产卵。太湖中亦有产者,全体银白色,亦名“刀鱼”、“鲚刀鱼”


[42] The editor notes that this might be wrong because fish cannot be eaten together with catnip. Also the recipe did not mention how to deal with the fish afterwards.  [The catnip might be necessary as a preservative.  The fish is obviously put in the scale stock—the scales have a jelling agent in them—and then the dish cooled.]

[43] 蛤蜊科的双壳类软体动物。壳形卵圆,长寸余,壳色淡褐,稍有轮纹,内白色,缘边淡紫色,栖浅海沙中,肉可吃

[44] 鲱科鱼,体侧扁,长70厘米,银白色,分布于中国、朝鲜、菲律宾沿海,是一种名贵食用鱼

[45] When lotus seeds are withered in the autumn and become as hard as stone, they are called stone lotus seeds, or shilianzi.

[46] The text does not mention five qian of what. Since it does not mention salt at all, we suspect it means salt.

[47] Maihuang is a kind of cake made from Aspergillus fungus (qumei曲霉) and its substrate (usually wheat, bran, and soybean). It is used for brewing liquor or making sauce. In Bencao gangmu, Li Shizhen explains that huangyi is also called maihuang, which is made by blending rice and wheat flour and steaming them till they turn yellowish. That is how it gets its name.

麥黄, 用曲霉和它的培养基(多为麦子、麸皮、大豆的混合物)制成的块状物,用来酿酒或制酱。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·穀四·黄蒸》:“黄衣,麥黄。此乃以米、麥粉和罨,待其薰蒸成黄,故有諸名。”

[48] Moxiang means ground eaglewood, sandalwood, and so on.

末香, 指捣成细末状的沉香、檀香等。 明  沈榜 《宛署杂记·经费下》:“末香一斤,價二分五厘。”

[49] Sentence raised in our edition.

[50] This is a couplet.

[51] Sheri is a festival to make sacrifices for the earth gods. Usually, it is the fifth day (using the ten heavenly branches to count days) after the days Spring Begins or Autumn Begins.

[52] We cannot find what sanhecai means here. Cai means vegetables or food. Sanhe has three meanings. But none of them seems to explain our case. First it means tuning a stringed instrument three times. Second, it means three kinds of offerings. Third, it was a word used in the Yuan and Ming: Feeding domestic animals was called sanhe. Sanhe means feeding three times.  Literally, the word means “three harmony vegetables,” and one suspects from the recipe that the name here simply refers to harmonizing the three liquids used.

三和1.三次调弦演奏。 北周  庾信 《周祀圜丘歌》之三:“六變鼓鐘,三和琴瑟。”2.指三种祭品。 北周  庾信 《周祀五帝歌》之六:“三和實俎,百味浮蘭。”3. 元  明 俗语,喂牲口谓之撒和,三和谓喂料三次。 明  朱有燉 《香囊怨》第二折:“便驢騾也與他槽頭細草添三和。”

[53] It is unclear what this recipe refers to.

[54] Since no garlic was mentioned in this recipe at all, I suspect that garlic/suan was a typo for sour/suan酸.

[55] I.e., unboiled water

[56] Made from baked bran (chaofupi炒麩皮) and soybeans [as in above recipe].

[57] According to the Chinese editor’s note, shixiang is a mixture of aniseeds, fennels, ginger, and vinegar.

[58] She,社. People made sacrifices for the Earth God twice a year, in spring and autumn respectively.

[59] According to the editor’s note, shixiang is a mixture of aniseeds, fennels, ginger, and vinegar.

[60] 芎藭, 植物名。多年生草本,叶似芹,秋开白花,有香气。或谓嫩苗未结根时名曰蘼芜,既结根后乃名芎藭。根茎皆可入药。以产于 四川 者为佳,故又名川芎。

[61] It is made from baked bran (chaofupi炒麩皮) and soybeans; see above.

[62] The date or when the vegetables are contained?

[63] According to the editor’s note, shixiang is a mixture of aniseeds, fennels, ginger, and vinegar.

[64] Wang Pan王磐, zi Xilou, a Gaoyou native in the Ming.

[65] Perennial aquatic herb. The leaves are round and float on water. There is sticky liquid on the stalks and the back of the leaves. The flower is dark red. The tender leaves can be used to cook soup.


[66] Geng means a kind of food that has thick juice or is pasty, usually being boiled or steamed.

[67] Ji means one sort of food that is composed of minced vegetables or meat and blended with vinegar and soybean sauce. 用醋、酱拌和,切成碎末的菜或肉。

[68] 桑菌,即桑耳。木耳的一种。 宋  黄庭坚 《上萧家峡》诗:“趁虚人集春蔬好,桑菌竹萌煙蕨芽。”一说为桑椹。[A Song poet wrote about the mulberry ear-fungus.]

柳菌,木耳的一种, 生于柳树上的木耳。 唐  韩愈 《独钓》诗之二:“雨多添柳耳,水長減蒲芽。” 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·菜三·木耳》:“柳耳,主治補胃理氣。”


[69] 馬藍頭,亦作“ 馬藍 ”。亦作“ 馬蘭頭 ”。亦作“ 馬攔頭 ”。

野菜名。即马兰。也称鸡儿肠。 清  顾张思 《土风录》卷四:“有馬藍頭可食。按《爾雅·釋草》:‘葴,馬藍。’ 郭璞 注:‘今大葉冬藍也。’俗以摘取莖葉故謂之頭。” 清  袁枚 《随园诗话补遗》卷四:“ 汪研香 司馬攝 上海縣 篆,臨去,同官餞别江滸。村童以馬攔頭獻。某守備賦詩云:‘欲識村童攀戀意,村童争獻馬攔頭。’馬攔頭者,野菜名。京师所謂‘十家香’也。用之贈行篇,便爾有情。” 章炳麟 《新方言·释植物》:“﹝馬藍﹞今人摘食其芽,謂之馬藍頭。”

[70] 3.指菜花。 晋  张翰 《杂诗》之一:“青條若總翠,黄華如散金。” 唐  司空图 《独望》诗:“緑樹連村暗,黄花入麥稀。” 清  袁枚 《随园诗话》卷十五:“ 張翰 詩:‘黄花若散金’,菜花也。通首皆言春景。 宋真宗 出此題,舉子誤以爲菊,乃被放黜。”4.指金针菜。 老舍 《四世同堂》十五:“又关了城?我还忘了买黄花和木耳,非买去不可呢。”

[71] Qiu means baked wheat or rice flour, which is used as dry provisions.

[72] Chinese editor’s note: it is the fruit growing from the wildrice or “barbarian rice” stem before the black-powder fungus influences it.  [I.e., apparently, the mushroom-like beginning of a fungal infection is what is used here.  That would make this Zizania, still eaten when fungus infection makes the stem thick and succulent.]

[73] the ash-juice is made as below: burn plants into ashes, soak the ashes in water, let the ashes settle down, and the clear liquid is ash-juice.

[74] Pulu has two meanings: one is Typha angustifolia (cattail, pucao 蒲草) and bulrush (luwei芦苇); the other is puqie蒲且,which we cannot identify at present.  Presumably the cattail is meant, being common and edible.

[75] The text uses zaohe枣核, jujube kernel shape.

[76] It is very confusing here. The author assumes the audience knows what he omits.  And he may not have known the process well himself.

[77] 导气引体。古医家、道家的养生术。实为呼吸和躯体运动相结合的体育疗法。近年出土的 西汉 帛画有治疾的《导引图》。《素问·异法方宜论》:“其民食雜而不勞,故其病多痿厥寒熱,其治宜導引按蹻。” 唐  慧琳 《一切经音义》卷十八:“凡人自摩自揑,申縮手足,除勞去煩,名爲導引。若使别人握搦身體,或摩或揑,即名按摩也。”

[78] The liquid should be made to flow in a small stream, like one coming out from the mouth of a tea pot, and with strength.

[79] Should it be saqima? 薩齊瑪,糕点名。满语。今写作“萨其马”。 清  富察敦崇 《燕京岁时记·萨齐玛》:“薩齊瑪乃 滿洲 餑餑,以冰糖、奶油合白麪爲之。” Saqima is a Manchu word, and this Manchu—ultimately Near Eastern—sweet was and is popular in the north.  In a later variant, it is made into puffy noodle-like strands, pressed and cut into cubes.  Charles Perry informs ENA that it is made by cutting dough into tiny bits, frying these, and binding them with honey or syrup.  He sees no relationship between “shanshima” and “saqima”—the latter is a noun from the verb “sachimbi,” “to chop.”  Charles Perry, email of Feb. 4, 2015.

[80] White maltose is a kind of sugar made by cooking rice or other grainswith wheat sprouts or rice sprouts with slow fire.白餳,用米或杂粮加麦芽或谷芽熬成的一种糖。 北魏  贾思勰 《齐民要术·饧餔》:“煮白餳法:用白芽散糵佳;其成餅者,則不中用。用不渝釜,渝則餳黑。”

[81] 大酒1.醇酒。常与“肥肉”并举,谓酒席丰盛。 2. 宋 代称冬腊酿蒸,候夏而出者为“大酒”。

[82] It should be 芋艿.

[83] A kind of tool used to weed in the field.

[84] When persimmon is dried, there is white sugary material like frost congealed on its surface. This is called shishuang, or persimmon frost.

[85] Baiyaojian is a kind of medicine. It is a grey and bitter liquid. It is also called xianyao, or Immortal’s medicine.

百藥煎,中药物。褐色味苦的液体,作收敛剂用。又名仙药。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·虫一·五倍子附百药煎》:“百藥煎,功與五倍子不異,但經釀造,其體輕虚,其性浮收,且味帶餘甘。治上焦心肺、咳嗽、痰飲、熱渴諸病,含噙尤爲相宜。”

[86] Chicken is not mentioned or used in this recipe.  However, Sumei Yi remembers a pastry like this in Guangjou that does have chicken in it.

[87] Or blend it with sweet rice powder, whose amount is one third of the chestnuts?

[88] Fazhi means law and regulations, or formulations.

[89]Jiangfan is one kind of alum. It is made from the greenish alum (qingfan). It is reddish and is a lucid crystal. It is found in Shanxi and Anhui.

【絳礬】明矾之一种。由靑矾煅成,呈赤色,为透明结晶体。产于 山西 、 安徽 等地。可用于粉刷涂料及油漆。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·石三·绿矾》:“緑礬、 晉 地、 河 内、 西安 、 沙州 皆出之,狀如焰消。其中揀出深青瑩浄者,即爲青礬。煅過變赤,則爲絳礬。入圬墁及漆匠家多用之。”

[90] Jinzhou is in Shanxi.

[91] Zhengjia is one kind of illness that the patient has a hard tumor in the stomach. If the hard tumor does not move and the aching place is fixed, it is called zheng. If the hard tumor forms and disappears and the aching place is not fixed, it is called jia.

【癥瘕】腹中结块的病。坚硬不移动,痛有定处为“癥”;聚散无常,痛无定处为“瘕”。 晋  葛洪 《抱朴子·用刑》:“夫癥瘕不除,而不修 越人 之術者,難圖 老  彭 之壽也。” 明  刘基 《听蛙》诗:“烏鳶逐響蛇聽音,寧顧入腹生癥瘕。” 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·果二·山楂》:“﹝實﹞,化飲食,消肉積癥瘕。”《医宗金鉴·妇科心法要诀·症瘕积聚痞瘀血血蛊总括》:“癥積不動有定處,瘕聚推移無定形。”注:“癥者,徵也,言有形可徵也;瘕者,假也,言假物成形也。”

Xuan  has three meanings. 1. Xuan is one kind of illness. The patient has a hard tumor in the stomach.

  1. xuan means one kind of illness, in which the lymph gland in the groin is swollen.
  2. Xuan is also written as眩, which means dizziness in head.

痃1.中医学病症名。指腹中癖块。《医宗金鉴·妇科心法要诀·带下门》:“臍旁左右一筋疼,突起如弦痃證名。”注:“妇人臍之兩旁,有筋突起疼痛,大者如臂,小者如指,狀類弓弦者,名曰痃。”2.横痃。腹股沟淋巴结肿大的一种病,也叫便毒。3.用同“ 眩 ”。头晕。《太平广记》卷四八引 唐  李复言 《续玄怪录·李绅》:“﹝ 李紳 ﹞少時與二友同止 華陰 西山舍。一夕,林叟有賽神者來邀,適有頭痃之疾,不往。”

Pi is one kind of illness, the hard tumor in the area confined by the ribs.

癖.中医指两胁间的积块。《灵枢经·水胀》:“寒氣客于腸外,與衛氣相搏,氣不得榮,因有所繫,癖而内著,惡氣乃起。” 隋  巢元方 《诸病源候论·癖病诸候·癖食不消》:“此由飲水積聚,聚於膀胱,遇冷熱相搏,因而作癖。” 唐  王焘 《外台秘要·疗癖方》:“三焦痞隔,則腸胃不能宣行,因飲水漿,便令停止不散,聚而成癖。癖者,謂僻側於兩脅之間,有時而痛是也。”

[92] Poxiao is a kind of medicine. In Bencao gangmu, Li Shizhen explains that, since it dissolves in water and it can dissolve many things, it is called “disappear” (xiao). It is found in alkaline land and its shape is like powdered salt. Skins such as cow skins and horse skins should be tanned with it. So it is commonly called salt xiao or skin xiao. Boil it and contain it in a basin. Then it will be congealed under the liquid. The rough and plain is called plain xiao. Those having awns are called awn xiao. Those in shape of teeth are called horse-teeth xiao.

【朴消】亦作“ 朴硝 ”。药名。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·金石五·朴消》:“此物(皮消)見水即消,又能消化諸物,故謂之消。生於鹽鹵之地,狀似末鹽,凡牛馬諸皮須此治熟,故今俗有鹽消、皮消之稱。煎煉入盆,凝結在下,粗朴者爲朴消,在上有芒者爲芒消,有牙者爲馬牙消。”消,今多作“硝”。此物用于硝皮革,医药上用作泻药或利尿药。通称“皮硝”。

[93] This is weird. This explanation for fuju 㕮咀 is provided by the Chinese editor.  We cannot find the term  in dictionaries.

[94]Gaoben, a kind of fragrant grass. It is a perennial herb. It has pinnate leaves. it blossoms in the summer and the flowers are white. The fruits has sharp edges. The root is purple and can be used for medical purposes.

Gaoben is similar to ligusticum; or it is also called chuanxiong when it is found in Sichuan).

In Huainanzi, it is said that, the root is like liguisticum or conioselinum “compared to gaoben, …they are similar.” [In other words, it is some sort of Apiaceous root.]


The editor explains that gaoben is also called xixiong西芎or fuxiong抚芎. But I can find neither of them in the dictionaries.

[95] gejie蛤蚧 is also rendered as蛤解. It is a kind of reptile. It is like wall lizard (bihu壁虎) but larger. It has purple and grey spots on its back. Its stomach is grey and white with pink spots. It lives in rocks, tree holes, or on the wall. It captures insects and small birds. When it is dried, it can be used as a medicine. It has the function of strengthening. It cures weakness and tiredness /phthisis (xulao虚劳), coughing, asthma. It is also called larger wall lizard (dabihu大壁虎).

【蛤蚧】亦作“ 蛤解 ”。爬行动物。形似壁虎而大。背部紫灰色,有红色斑点;尾部暗灰色,有七条环带斑纹;腹部灰白色,散有粉红色斑点。栖于山岩间、树洞内或墙壁上,捕食昆虫、小鸟等。干燥体入药,有强壮作用,主治虚劳咳嗽、气喘等症。也称大壁虎。《方言》第八:“ 桂林 之中守宫大者而能鳴,謂之蛤解。” 郭璞 注:“似蛇醫而短身,有鱗采, 江 東人呼爲蛤蚧。” 唐  刘恂 《岭表录异》卷下:“蛤蚧,首如蝦蟇,背有細鱗如蠶子,土黄色,身短尾長,多巢於樹中。 端州 古牆内有巢于廳署城樓間者,暮則鳴,自呼蛤蚧……里人採之,鬻于市爲藥,能治肺疾。醫人云:藥力在尾,不具者無功。” 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·鳞一·蛤蚧》﹝集解﹞引 李珣 曰:“生 廣南 水中,夜即居於榕樹上,雌雄相隨,投一獲二。” 清  吴炽昌 《客窗闲话初集·双缢庙》:“遽爾雙璧同組,立絞鴛鴦之頸;循環合體,牢牽蛤蚧之身。”

[96] Should qingpijiu be a typo? Should it be qingyanjiu?

[97]Hai’rcha is a kind of medicine tea. It is also called wudieni乌爹泥 or wuleini乌垒泥. It can reduce the fever in the upper midriff (qing shangge re清上膈热). It dissolves the phlegm and promote the production of saliva. It terminates bleeding and removes rheumatism/wind-damp (qushi去湿). It promotes the growth of muscles and kills pains. It cures all kinds of pyocutaneous diseases (chuangyang疮疡). An author from the Ming mentioned that hai’rcha is one kind of medicine commonly used by doctors. Because it is commonly used to cure children’s sores and tumefaction (chuang疮), it is called children’s tea.

【孩兒茶】药茶名。又名乌爹泥、乌垒泥。能清上膈热,化痰生津,止血去湿,生肌定痛,疗一切疮疡。明  谢肇淛 《五杂俎·物部三》:“藥中有孩兒茶,醫者盡用之……俗因治小兒諸瘡,故名孩兒茶也。”

Sprout tea (yacha芽茶) means the most tender tea leaves or sprouts.

[98] Although I cannot find any definition for piannao片腦, I suspect that it is borneol camphor (bingpian冰片), which is also called bingnao冰腦. Besides, there is longnao龙脑 (also called瑞腦) , which is similar to bingpian.

【冰腦】中药名,即冰片。 宋  周密 《齐东野语·经验方》:“以之(熊膽)治目幛翳,極驗。每以少許浄水略調開,盡去筋膜塵土,入冰臘一二片,或淚癢,則加生薑粉些少,時以銀筯點之,絶奇。”


[99] Hezi is also called helile诃梨勒. It grows in India, Burma, South China. Its fruits can be used as a medicine.

【訶子】即诃梨勒。植物名。常绿乔木。产 印度 、 缅甸 以及我国的南部,果实可入药。

[100] Qiushi, or Prepared Salt, is a kind of cinnabar. Li Shizhen mentioned that, according to Huainanzi, Prepared Salt is white and hard. At Li Shizhen’s time, people used philtrum (renzhongbai人中白) to make a kind of cinnabar, which was also white and called qiushi because it came from what was left from the qi of essence. When it is refined, it was called Autumn Ice (qiubing秋冰), because it looked like salt obtained from sea water. Some alchemists also made fake qiushi by baking in an oven. People should be careful about this.

【秋石】丹药名。 唐  白居易 《思旧》诗:“ 微之 鍊秋石,未老身溘然。” 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·人·秋石》:“ 淮南子 丹成,號曰秋石,言其色白質堅也。近人以人中白煉成,白質,亦名秋石,言其亦出于精氣之餘也。再加升打,其精致者謂之秋冰,此蓋倣海水煎鹽之義,方士亦以鹽入爐火煅成。僞者宜辨之。”

renzhongbai人中白 is kind of medicine. It is also called renliaobai 人尿白or liaobaijian尿白碱. It is a solid stuff obtained after human urine is naturally settled and congealed. It reduces fever and detoxicates. It reduces blood stasis and terminates bleeding. In the past, people usually used the grey and white deposit in a urinal to make it.

【人中白】中药名。又称人尿白、尿白碱。为人尿自然沉结的固体物。清热解毒,祛瘀止血。旧时多用尿具内的灰白色沉淀物。《唐本草》作“溺白垽”。 宋  洪迈 《夷坚志再补·人中白》:“人中白者,漩盆内積起白垢也,亦秋石之類。” 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·人部·溺白垽》:“人中白。滓淀爲垽,此乃人溺澄下白垽也。”

[101] bichengqie毕澄茄 is also called chengqie澄茄. It is a kind of Chinese medicine. Li Shizhen mentioned that, it grows in countries oversea. It is called “tender pepper” (nen hujiao嫩胡椒).

【澄茄】中药名。即毕澄茄。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·果四·毕澄茄》﹝集解﹞引 顾微 曰:“澄茄生諸海國,乃嫩胡椒也。”

[102] Area around Beijing.

[103] Wumei烏梅 is a kind of mei that has been smoked. It is blackish or brown. It can be used as a medicine. In Qimin yaoshu, Jia Sixie mentioned that pick the plums when they are green. Put them in a bamboo basket and smoke them on the stove or hearth till dried. Then they can be used. [Wu mei are still common but are now made by pickling.]

【烏梅】经过熏制的梅子,黑褐色,可入药。北魏  贾思勰 《齐民要术·种梅杏》:“作烏梅法:亦以梅子核初成時摘取,籠盛,於突上薰之令乾,即成矣。”参阅 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·果一·梅》。

[104] Naozi is also called longnao龍腦/龍瑙. It is a kind of spice. When it is oxygenated by nitric acid, it turns into camphor. It can be used for cardiac or freshener.

【龍腦】亦作“ 龍瑙 ”。即龙脑香。用硝酸氧化时,变化为樟脑。医药上用做强心剂和清凉剂。

[105] I think that this is a place name, though I do not know where it is.

[106]  I cannot find any definition for fencao粉草. Seen from this material, it is a kind of liquorice. Starchy liquorice?

[107] fushi服食 means taking cinnabars, particularly for Daoist practitioners.

[108] The author.

[109] 【雄黄】矿物名。也称鸡冠石。橘黄色,有光泽。可制造烟火、染料等。中医用作解毒杀虫药。

Xionghuang is a kind of mineral. It is also called jiguanshi鸡冠石. It is orange and shiny. It can be used to make fireworks and dyes. In Chinese medicine, it can be used to detoxify and repel snakes.

[110] The editor’s note: the root of tiankui can be used for medical purposes. It is also called tiankuizi天葵子. The root has alkaloid生物碱, coumarins香豆精类, hydroxybenzene ingredients酚性成分. It reduces fever, detoxifies, subside a swelling, and be diuretic. It is also called qiannianlaoshushi千年老鼠屎,jinhaozishi金耗子屎, tianquzi天去子, sanxuezhu散血珠.

[111] The editor’s note: didan is a kind of Meloidae芫青科insect. It should be caught in the summer or autumn. Boil it and dry it in the sun before using it for medical purposes. It can detoxify and has the function of bruise trimming. When external use, it also cures bad tumefactions, rhinopolypus鼻息肉. It can also be used as an internal medicine and it can cure scrofula (luoli瘰癧). It is also called yuanqing蚖青, qinghong青虹, qingmao青蟊, and dulong杜龙.

【瘰癧】病名。即淋巴腺结核。俗称疬子颈,多发生在颈部,有时也发生在腋窝部。《灵枢经·寒热》:“ 黄帝 問于 岐伯 曰:‘寒熱瘰癧在於頸腋者,皆何氣使生?’ 岐伯 曰:‘此皆鼠瘻寒熱之毒氣也,留於脈而不去者也。’”《医宗金鉴·外科心法要诀·瘰疬》“小瘰大癧三陽經,項前頸後側旁生,痰濕氣筋名雖異,總由恚忿鬱熱成”注:“此証小者爲瘰,大者爲癧……若連綿如貫珠者,即爲瘰癧。”

Lingshujing: the Yellow Emperor asked Qibo, “which qi causes the cold and scrofula on the neck and under the armpit?” Qibo answered, “these are poisonous qi of the Mouse Disease*. When they stay in the pulse and do not go away, [they will cause a scrofula.]”

*the Mouse Disease is scrofula. Contemporaries thought that it could be cured by eating raccoon dogs狸. Since raccoon dogs eat mice, the disease is called Mouse Disease. 汉  王充 《论衡·福虚》:“狸之性食鼠,人有鼠病,吞狸自愈。物類相勝,方藥相使也。”

Yizongjinjian: “small luo 瘰and large li癧 are caused from the Three Yang Pulses (sanyangjing三陽經)*. They grow in front of and behind the neck and on the side. It is caused by different reasons, such as phlegmatic hygrosis/phlegm-damp (tanshi痰濕) and qijin氣筋. No matter what the reason is, it is fundamentally caused by vexation, irritation, and heat accumulation/heat retention (huifen yure恚忿鬱熱).” Note by the author: “the small disease is called luo and the large disease is called li…if it is continuous and like a string of pearls, it is called luoli.”

*Sanyang is taiyang太阳, shaoyang少阳, and yangming阳明.

[112] Wuchang or the “impermanent” ghost is supposed to take a person’s soul to the nether world after he died.

[113] Liuzhu is also used to refer to producing cinnabar.

【流珠】炼出丹丸。 晋  葛洪 《神仙传·刘安》:“一人能煎泥成金,凝鉛爲銀,水鍊入石,飛騰流珠。” 北周  庾信 《谢赵王赉米启》:“非丹竈而流珠,異 荆臺 而炊玉。”


Baicaoshuang means the blackish ashes in the stove and chimney. Li Shizhen said, “[baicaoshuang] is the blackish ashes in the stove and chimney. Since it is light and thin, it is called ‘frost’.”

【百草霜】灶额及烟炉中的墨烟。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·土·百草霜》:“此乃竈額及煙爐中墨烟也。其質輕細,故謂之霜。”

[115] I cannot find any description of this Yangcheng pot. From what is said after it, it is a kind of container that can contain water above and set on fire below.

[116] Fengbi, numbness caused by the wind, or migratory arthralgia, is a kind of disease caused by the wind and coldness and damp. Its symptoms include aches and numbness in joints. Lingshujing: “if the symptom can be seen, it is called fengbing, or the wind disease. If the symptom cannot been seen, it is called bibing, or numb disease. If the patient has symptoms seen and unseen, the disease is called fengbibing, or wind-and-numbness disease.” The symptoms also include being unable to speak, unable to move legs or arms.

【風痹】亦作“ 風痺 ”。中医学指因风寒湿侵袭而引起的肢节疼痛或麻木的病症。《灵枢经·寿夭刚柔》:“病在陽者命曰風病,在陰者命曰痺病,陰陽俱病,命曰風痺病。”《宋书·隐逸传·周续之》:“ 續之 素患風痹,不復堪講,乃移病 鍾山 。” 宋  苏辙 《记病》诗:“侵尋作風痺,兩足幾蹣跚。” 清  赵翼 《将至台庄忽两臂顿患风痺》诗:“陸程正擬上征鞍,忽中風痺兩手攣。”

[117] Qingchengshan is the famous mountain associated with Daoism and located in Sichuan.

[118] I suspect that “day” is a typo and it should be rendered “month” here.

[119] Xixian is a kind of medical herb. It is an annual herb. The whole plant can be used. It cures the rheumatism (wind and damp风湿), strengthens tendons and bones. Li Shizhen mentioned that, “in Chu, people call pig as xi and call grasses smelling spicy as xian. This herb smells like a pig and tastes as stinging as a xian grass. Therefore ,it is called xixian.”

【豨薟】药草名。一年生草本植物。中医以全草入药,有祛风湿、强筋骨等作用。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·草四·豨薟》:“韻書: 楚 人呼豬爲豨,呼草之氣味辛毒爲薟。此草氣臭如豬而味薟螫,故謂之豨薟。”

[120] Fengqi is a kind of disease. It was mentioned in the Record of the Historian, the Northern History, and Yuandianzhang.

【風氣】病名。《史记·扁鹊仓公列传》:“所以知 齊王 太后病者,臣 意 診其脈,切其太陰之口,溼然風氣也。”《北史·阳元景传》:“﹝ 陽元景 ﹞後以風氣彌留,不堪近侍,出除 青州  高陽 内史,卒於郡。”《元典章·刑部十六·违枉》:“令人邀請 肥鄉縣 復檢官吏捏合屍狀,定驗作因風氣病身死。”

[121] I suspect that Chui is a typo for Guai. Zhang Guaiya张乖崖 is an official administrating Sichuan in the Northern Song.

[122] The best cinnabar is produced in Chenzhou (now Yuanling沅陵, Hunan). So it is also called Chensha.

[123] In Daoism, Sanshi are three gods residing in human body. They are also be called sanshishen三尸神. They would periodically report the errors and wrongs done by the person to the heavenly god. In the Tang biji Youyang zazu: “the three corpses have three audiences every day. The upper corpse is called qinggu, who attacks the eyes; the middle corpse is called baigu, who attacks the internal organs; the lower corpse is called xuegu, who attacks the stomach.”

【三尸】道家称在人体内作祟的神有三,叫“三尸”或“三尸神”,每于庚申日向天帝呈奏人的过恶。唐  段成式 《酉阳杂俎·玉格》:“三尸一日三朝:上尸 青姑 ,伐人眼;中尸 白姑 ,伐人五臟;下尸血姑,伐人胃命。”

[124] jiuchong is used to refer to every kind of corpse worms having bad impacts on human body. jiu, means nine internal organs. In the Jin, Ge Hong mentioned that the Three Corpses and Nine Worms make destroys. In the Song Daoist book, Yunji qiqian, it is said that: “a human being is born with the Three Corpses and Nine Worms. When a man is born, his body has lodged in his mother’s matrix and absorbed five grains and the essence qi. Therefore, he has corpses and worms in his stomach. they are the great harm towards human beings…in a human body, there are many kinds of Three corpses and Nine Worms.”

【九蟲】道教语。泛指在人身中作祟的种种尸虫。九,九脏。 晋  葛洪 《抱朴子·金丹》:“三尸九蟲,皆即消壞。”《云笈七籤》卷八三:“人身並有三尸九蟲。人之生也,皆寄形於父母胞胎五穀精氣,是以人腹中盡有尸蟲,爲人之大害……身中三尸九蟲種類群多。”

[125] Liujia is the name of a god, who is under the order of the heavenly god. Daoist priests can request them to repel ghosts or protect by sending talismans. In the Song History, it is mentioned that, “liujia is the emissary of heaven.  He makes wind and hail. He orders ghosts and spirits.”


[126] Cangshu is perennial herb. In the autumn it blossoms with white or pink flowers. The young sprouts are edible. The root is thick and can be used as a medicine. Li Shizhen mentioned that, “cangshu is also called shanji山薊, which can be found everywhere in the mountains…its root is like old ginger root, greenish and blackish. The pulp is white with cream.”

【蒼术】多年生草本植物,秋天开白色或淡红色的花,嫩苗可以吃,根肥大,可入药。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·草一·术》:“蒼术,山薊也,處處山中有之……根如老薑之狀,蒼黑色,肉白有油膏。”

[127] I do not know what it is. Probably river water that flows for one thousand li?

[128]Yuanzhi is perennial herb. The stalk is thin. It has alternate leaves in line shape. It has racemes of greenish and white flowers. It has egg-like capsule. The root can be used as a medicine. It can calm the nerves (lit. “calm the spirit [within]”; anshen安神) and remove the phlegm. It is also called xiaocao小草. Li Shizhen mentioned that, “taking this herb can enhance the wisdom and strengthen the mind (yizhi qiangzhi益智强志). So it is called yuanzhi, or make the mind go further.”

【遠志】多年生草本植物。茎细,叶子互生,线形,总状花序,花绿白色,蒴果卵圆形。根入药,有安神、化痰的功效。又名小草。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·草一·远志》:“此草服之能益智强志,故有遠志之稱。”

[129] Wulao has two meanings: one, when a person uses his eyes too much, or lies, sits, stands, or walks for too long, he will be overwhelmed and sick. The illnesses caused by these reasons are called wulao. In Suwen素问, it is said that, “using eyes too much harms the blood, lying for too long harms the qi, sitting for too long harms the flesh, standing for too long harms the bones, and walking for too long harms the tendons. These are harms done by five kinds of strains/laboriousness.” Two, wulao means the strain caused by the mind (zhilao志劳), by thinking (silao思劳), by the heart (xinlao心劳), by sorrow (youlao忧劳), and by tiredness (pilao疲勞). This explanation comes from Yunji qiqian云笈七籤.

【五勞】1.中医学名词。指久视、久卧、久坐、久立、久行五种过劳致病因素。《素问·宣明五气篇》:“久視傷血,久卧傷氣,久坐傷肉,久立傷骨,久行傷筋,是謂五勞所傷。” 2.中医学名词。指志劳、思劳、心劳、忧劳和疲劳。《云笈七籤》卷三二:“《明医论》云:疾之所起自生五勞……五勞者,一曰志勞,二曰思勞,三曰心勞,四曰憂勞,五曰疲勞。”

Qishang has three meanings. Two of them come from the same book, Zhubing Yuanhou lun诸病源候论, composed by Chao Yuanfang巢元方 in the Sui. One, being too full harms the spleen, being too angry harms the liver, lifting overly heavy objects and sitting on a wet floor harms the kidney, drinking when extremely cold harms the lung, worrying and missing people harms the heart, wind and rain and heat and cold harm the body (xing形), being too angry or scared without restraint harms the mind (zhi志). Two, qishang could also mean seven kinds of diseases related to the reproductive system: coldness in private parts (yinhan陰寒), impotence/withered yin (yinwei陰萎), strangury or urinary spasm (liji裏急), semen drizzling (jinglianlian精連連), semen sparse, and private parts wet (jingshao yinxiashi精少陰下濕), semen clear (jingqing精清), frequent urination and impotence ( xiaobian kushu小便苦數, linshi buji臨事不濟). Jinguiyaolue金匮要略provides a third explanation: “the harm caused by eating, by worries, by drinking, by residence, by hunger, by labor, and by the qi in pulses and blood.”

【七傷】中医学名词。 隋  巢元方 《诸病源候论》以大饱伤脾,大怒气逆伤肝,强力举重、久坐湿地伤肾,形寒饮冷伤肺,忧愁思虑伤心,风雨寒暑伤形,大怒恐惧不节伤志为七伤。同书又指生殖系的七种疾病:“七傷者,一曰陰寒,二曰陰萎,三曰裏急,四曰精連連,五曰精少陰下濕,六曰精清,七曰小便苦數、臨事不濟。” 喻嘉言 则以《金匮要略》之食伤、忧伤、饮伤、房屋伤、饥伤、劳伤、经络荣卫气伤为七伤。

[130] Fengji could be three kinds of diseases: one, paralysis (fengbi风痹); two, mental diseases (fengbing疯病); three, leprosy (mafengbing麻风病).

【風疾】1.指风痹、半身不遂等症。《後汉书·袁安传》:“ 封觀 者,有志節,當舉孝廉,以兄名位未顯,恥先受之,遂稱風疾,喑不能言。” 唐  韩愈 《顺宗实录一》:“上自二十年九月得風疾,因不能言,使四面求醫藥。” 元  关汉卿 《单刀会》第二折:“若有 關公 ,貧道風疾舉發,去不的!”

2.疯病。神经错乱、精神失常。 汉  应劭 《风俗通·过誉·司空颍川韩稜》:“位過招殃,靈督其舋,風疾恍忽,有加無瘳。” 明  冯梦龙 《古今谭概·儇弄·王中父》:“ 王介 ,字 中父 ,性輕率,每語言無倫,人謂其有風疾。”


[131] Previously it is rendered as 羊城礶. It can be a boiler and a stove at the same time.

[132] The Yellow Path is the path that the Sun goes in the sky when the observer is on the Earth. It is a hypothetic circle on the celestial sphere, which is the projection of the Earth’s orbit on the celestial sphere. The Yellow Path and the Red Path/equator (chidao赤道) intersect at the vernal equinox (chunfendian春分点) and the autumnal equinox (qiufendian秋分点) in the north hemisphere.

【黄道】地球一年绕太阳转一周,我们从地球上看成太阳一年在天空中移动一圈,太阳这样移动的路线叫做黄道。它是天球上假设的一个大圆圈,即地球轨道在天球上的投影。黄道和天球赤道相交于北半球的春分点和秋分点。《汉书·天文志》:“日有中道,月有九行。中道者,黄道,一曰光道。” 宋  沈括 《梦溪笔谈·象数二》:“日之所由,謂之黄道。”

The auspicious day of the Yellow Path relates to the gods. The gods of the Six Stars (liuchen六辰)—the Green Dragon (qinglong青龙), the Luminous Hall (mingtang明堂), the Golden Cabinet (jinkui金匮), the Heavenly Virtue, the Jade Hall (yutang玉堂), and the Controller of Destinies (siming司命)—are auspicious deities. When the six gods are on duty for the day, one can do anything on the day and does not have to worry about whether it is auspicious or not. This day is called the auspicious day of the Yellow Path.


[133] Qinjiao is a kind of herb. The root can be used as a medicine, which cures the rheumatism (fengshi风湿). Since the best ones grow in the area of the ancient Qin state (now Gansu and Shaanxi), it is called qinjiao. Li Shizhen mentioned that, “Qinjiao is found in Qin area. Since its roots are entangled (jiu or jiao), it is called qinjiao.”

秦艽,草名。其根可作中药,治风湿,以产于古 秦国 地区(今 甘肃省  泾川县 、 陕西省  鄜县 一带)为最佳,故名。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·草三·秦艽》:“秦艽出 秦中 ,以根作羅紋交糾者佳,故名秦艽、秦糺。”

[134] I do not know what jingxie means.

[135] Dushi means renouncing this world and becoming a transcendent.


[136] The Academica Sinica text does not have this phrase. It appears in the Sikuquanshu text.

[137] Chishizhi is a kind of Chinese medicine. It is a kind of sand and earth having silicic acid and iron. it is pinkish. Its nature is warm. It tastes sweet and bitter. Its functions include hemostasia and antidiarrhea.

【赤石脂】中药名。砂石中硅酸类的含铁陶土,多呈粉红色。性温,味甘涩,功能止血、止泻。参阅 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·石三·五色石脂》。

[138] See the attached picture of huangniu.

[139] I cannot find mingruxiang in the dictionaries. But ming probably means transparent or bright, as in mingsha, or bright cinnabar.

[140] Siqi has two meanings. First, it means the qi of the four seasons, or the warm qi, the hot qi, the cool qi, and the cold qi. Second, it means the glad qi, the angry qi, the happy qi, and the sorrowful qi, which are correspondent to the qi of the four seasons. The famous scholar proclaiming the Correspondence Theory in the Han dynasty, Dong Zhongshu, mentioned that, “the glad qi is warm and thus is correspondent to the spring. The angry qi is pure and thus is correspondent to the autumn. The happy qi is extreme yang and thus is correspondent to the summer. The sorrowful qi is extreme yin and thus is correspondent to the winter. Both heaven and human beings have the four qi.”

【四氣】1.指春、夏、秋、冬四时的温、热、冷、寒之气。《礼记·乐记》:“奮至德之光,動四氣之和,以著萬物之理。” 孔颖达 疏:“動四氣之和,謂感動四時之氣,序之和平,使陰陽順序也。” 2. 汉 儒附会天人相应之说,以喜怒乐哀应四时为四气。 汉  董仲舒 《春秋繁露·王道通三》:“喜氣爲暖而當春,怒氣爲清而當秋,樂氣爲太陽而當夏,哀氣爲太陰而當冬。四氣者,天與人所同有也。”

[141] Rong means flourishing, having a good color, or being nourished. It is particularly used to describe the circulation of blood in Chinese medical theories.

[142] I do not know what yuancang means. It has cang, or internal organ.

[143] I do not think this makes sense, but I have checked both the Sikuquanshu version and the Academic Sinica version, the texts are the same.

[144] The academic sinica version is rendered as 沐俗至心, which cannot be explained. Now I adopt the sikuquanshu text.

[145] Huodu has four meanings. 1. The grievous toxin in certain medicine. Particularly cinnabar that has been recently made and taken out of the stove are thought to have huodu. Sometimes, people place newly made cinnabar in well water to remove the huodu.

  1. hot toxin, which incurs inflammation. Possibly this is intended here, since none of the ingredients is poisonous and there is no danger of CO or hot weather in this case.
  2. carbon monoxide poisoning caused by incomplete burning.
  3. extremely hot weather.

【火毒】1.指药物酷烈的毒性。《宋书·刘亮传》:“ 亮 在 梁州 ,忽服食修道,欲致長生。迎 武當山 道士 孫道胤 ,令合仙藥;至 益州 , 泰豫 元年藥始成,而未出火毒……﹝ 亮 ﹞取井華水服,至食鼓後,中間便絶。”《旧唐书·宪宗纪下》:“上服方士 柳泌 金丹藥,起居舍人 裴潾 上表切諫,以‘金石含酷烈之性,加燒鍊則火毒難制。若金丹已成,且令方士自服一年,觀其效用,則進御可也。’”2.即热毒,中医指导致人体外科痈疡等病症的一种因素。《宋史·刘遇传》:“﹝ 遇 ﹞晨興方對客,足有炙瘡痛,其醫謂:‘火毒未去,故痛不止。’ 遇 即解衣,取刀割瘡至骨,曰:‘火毒去矣。’”3.指烈火燃烧中因氧气稀少而产生的一氧化碳的毒性。《东周列国志》第三九回:“ 僖負覊 率家人救火,觸烟而倒,比及救起,已中火毒,不省人事。”4.形容酷热。

[146] The Academic Sinica version is jinsuijian 金髓煎. The Sikuquanshu version is 金水煎.

[147] Jiju is a disease in which the patient has a tumor in the abdomen. In Nanjing难经, it is mentioned that, “ji (what cumulates) is the yin qi. During the first outbreak, it appears in a specific location and the ache do not separate from the location…ju (what gathers) is the yang qi. During its first outbreak, it does not have any root [specific origin point]; [the ache] does not stay at one location…” Ge Hong mentioned in Baopuzi that, “when one eats, jiju forms. When one drinks, the phlegm disease forms.”

【積聚】中医指腹内结块的病症。《难经·五十五难》:“積者陰氣也,其始發有常處,其痛不離其部,上下有所終始,左右有所窮處;聚者陽氣也,其始發無根本,上下無所留止,其痛無常處謂之聚,故以是别知積聚也。”晋  葛洪 《抱朴子·极言》:“凡食過則結積聚,飲過則成痰癖。”

[148] I cannot find the term in the dictionaries.

[149] Diyu is a kind of medical herb, a kind of burnet. The root can be used. It is mildly cold. Its functions include cool the blood (liangxue凉血) and hemostasia. It cures hematochezia (bianxue便血), bloody diarrhoea (xueli血痢), gynecological diseases (daixia带下) and endometrorrhagia (xuebeng血崩). Relatives are used in the western world for similar conditions.


Daixia has two meanings. Literally, it means what is below the waist. According to Chinese medical theories, the dai pulse (daimai带脉) is like a belt circling the waist. Whatever below the dai pulse is called “daixia”. Therefore gynecological conditions and diseases are called daixia.

  1. the disease in which the vagina of the affected woman has sticky liquid. Since the colors of the liquid differ, there are white dai/leucorrhea (baidai白带), red dai (chidai赤带), red and white dai, yellow dai, green dai, black dai and five color dai. They are usually caused by infections, cervical erosion, cervicitis, or pelvic inflammation.


[150] Fangcunbi is a kind of measuring vessel. It usually is used to measure medicines. Its head is a square, one cun by each side.

[151] The best baishu白術 grows in Yuqian, Zhejiang provine.

[152] Gan Shi is a magician (fangshi方士) during the Wei (220-265).

[153] Xinshui has two meanings: 1. Water newly taken from a river or a well; 2. Water in the spring.

[154] Shangsi is a festival. During the pre-Han period, it is the si day in the first ten days of the third month. After the Han Dynasty, it is the third day of the third month. On this day, people place liquor containers in sinuous streams and let then float with the flow. They also have banquets and spring outings.

【上巳】旧时节日名。 汉 以前以农历三月上旬巳日为“上巳”; 魏  晋 以后,定为三月三日,不必取巳日。《後汉书·礼仪志上》:“是月上巳,官民皆絜於東流水上,曰洗濯祓除去宿垢疢爲大絜。”《宋书·礼志二》引《韩诗》:“ 鄭國 之俗,三月上巳,之 溱洧 兩水之上,招魂續魄。秉蘭草,拂不祥。” 唐  席元明 《三月三日宴王明府山亭》诗:“日惟上巳,時亨 有巢 。” 宋  吴自牧 《梦粱录·三月》:“三月三日上巳之辰,曲水流觴故事,起於 晉 時。 唐 朝賜宴 曲江 ,傾都褉飲踏青,亦是此意。”但也有仍取巳日者。 元  白樸 《墙头马上》第一折:“今日乃三月初八日,上巳節令, 洛陽 王孫士女,傾城翫賞。”

[155] I suspect the character ru is corrupted. It should mean one will not feel hungry or thirsty.

[156] I do not know how the word dan彈 makes sense here. I suspect it is dan蛋.

[157] Jiuqiao means the nine holes of the ears, eyes, mouth, nose, urethra, and anal.


[158] Toufeng has two meanings: 1. Headache. 2. Tumefaction on the head or loss of hair.

【頭風】1.头痛。中医学病症名。《云笈七籤》卷三二:“勿以濕髻卧,使人患頭風、眩悶、髮秃、面腫、齒痛、耳聾。”《二十年目睹之怪现状》第二七回:“只見他頭上紥了一條黑帕,説是頭風痛得厲害。” 2.指头疮、发脱之类。 金  董解元 《西厢记诸宫调》卷七:“頭風即是有,頭巾兒蔚帖。” 凌景埏 校注:“這裏指頭瘡、秃頭之類。”

[159] Shanzhui should mean the symptoms of shanqi疝氣. Shanqi is a kind of hernia in the groin. It is caused by the small intestine falls into the scrotum through the weak spot in the abdomen muscles. The symptoms are: the groin rises up and the scrotum is enlarged. The patient has sharp aches sometimes. It is also called xiaochang chuanqi小肠串气.


[160] Xuehai has four meanings in Chinese medical theories. 1. It is one of the four seas and it is the place that all the blood flows to. In Lingshujing灵枢经, it is said that, “the human being has the marrow sea (suihai) 髓海, the blood sea, the qi sea (qihai氣海), and the water and grain sea (shuigu zhi hai水穀之海). The four things are correspondent to the four seas.”


  1. it means the chong pulse (chongmai). In Suwen素问, it is said that, “when the ren pulse任脈 is open and the taichong pulse太冲脈 is thriving, the menstrual blood arrives on time and thus she can be pregnant.” Wang Bing王冰in the Tang dynasty makes a note, “the chong pulse is the blood sea and the ren pulse is in charge of the embryo. When the two pulses help each other, the person can be pregnant.”

2.中医学名词。或谓奇经脉中的冲脉。《素问·上古天真论》“任脈通,太冲脈盛,月事以時下,故有子” 唐  王冰 注:“冲爲血海,任主胞胎,二者相資,故能有子。”

It means the liver. In Suwen素问, it is said that, “when a person lies down, his blood returns to the liver.” Wang Bing王冰in the Tang dynasty makes a note, “the liver contains the blood. The heart makes the blood move. When the person moves, the blood moves in the pulses. When the person stops moving, the blood returns to the liver. Why? The liver is in charge of the blood sea.”

3.中医学名词。或谓肝脏。《素问·五藏生成论》“故人卧血歸于肝” 唐  王冰 注:“肝藏血,心行之,人動則血運于諸經,人静則血歸于肝藏。何者?肝主血海故也。”

It means an aperture (jingxue经穴). It is located in the inner side of the thigh and one cun from the pit behind the patella. In Yizongjinjian医宗金鉴, it is said that “the blood sea is located in the inner side above the patella.”


[161] Yangqishi is one kind of mineral. It is one kind of hornblende. It is green, celadon, or white. It is radiant. It is also called yangqishi羊起石. It tastes salty, mildly warm, and nonpoisonous. It can be made into a medicine. It can be used as invigorator and astringent. Li Shizhen mentioned in Bencao gangmu that, “yangqishi is found in Mt. Qizhoushan , Langye, Mt. Yunshan, and Mt. Yangqishan.”

【陽起石】矿石名。角闪石的一种。柱状或纤维状结晶,绿色、灰绿色或白色,有光泽。亦称羊起石。味咸,微温,无毒。可入药,中医用做强壮剂和收敛剂。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·石四·阳起石》﹝集解﹞引《别录》:“陽起石生 齊州山 山谷及 琅琊 或 雲山 、 陽起山 。”

[162] Chaonao is the same as zhangnao樟脑.

[163] Anxi should mean anxixiang (Styrax spp.). The leaves are in the shape of an egg. The blossom is red. When the resin is dried, it is red-brown and half transparent. It can be made into a spice. The colophony can be made into a spice, anxixiang.

【安息香】落叶乔木,叶子卵形,开红花,产于 印度尼西亚 、 越南 等地。树脂干燥后呈红棕色半透明状,可制成香料。以其树脂为主要原料加工做成的香,也称安息香。

[164] Ii suspect that here the authors means the medicine can cause diarrhea and thus the phlegm associated with the fire factor is released.

[165] Here it means meat.

[166] Shierjingmai means the three yin pulses and three yang pulses in the hands and feet.


[167] I do not know whether shuiyunshenchu is a person or a shop.

[168] Bajiqian is a kind of evergreen shrub. It is also called sanmancao三蔓草 or budiaocao不凋草. It grows in the mountain. The leaves are like tea leaves. The root and stalk can be used as medicine. Its nature is mildly warm. It tastes spicy and sweet. Its effects include nourishing the yang of the kidney and strengthening the tendons and bones. It primarily cures the weakness in the kidney and the lassitude in loin and legs.


[169] Liugui is the tender branches of the cinnamon. See Bencaogangmu.

【柳桂】牡桂(肉桂)的嫩枝。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·木一·牡桂》:“其最薄者爲桂枝,枝之嫩小者爲柳桂。”

[170] Fupenzi is a shrub. It has alternate palm-shaped leaves. The flower is white and the fruit is polymeric drupelets in egg shape. When it is ripe, it is red. The fruit can be used as a medicine. It is also called fupenzi. It nourishes the liver and kidney and strengthens the essence.


[171] Chen is the fifth of the twelve earthly branches. The chen hours are between 7 and 9 o’clock. The heavenly branches and earthly branches are also used to calculate the date.

[172] Jinye has two meanings. 1. Any liquid inside of human body, including blood, slaver, tears, sweats, and so on. Normally it means slaver. 2. Water or liquid.


[173] Sangjisheng is a kind of evergreen small shrub. It usually parasitizes Theaceae山茶科 and cupuliferous山毛榉科 plants. The leaves are coriaceous and in egg shape. It blossoms in the summer and autumn. The flowers are amaranth. The berry is round. There is also Loranthus yadoriki (maoye sangjisheng毛叶桑寄生), which is also called sangshang jisheng桑上寄生. Its branches, leaves, and flowers have brown hairs. The stalks and leaves can be used as a medicine, which is called guangjisheng广寄生. They can cure rheumatism and aches in the waist and on back.


[174]Zhushi has two meanings. 1. The fruits that bamboo grows. It is also called zhumi竹米. In Bencaogangmu, Li Shizhen mentioned that, “zhushi is found in Lantian. In Jiangdong, [the bamboo] blossoms but does not have fruit. The bamboo can grow fruits like wheat and they can be eaten as staple food.”

【竹實】1.竹子所结的子实,形如小麦。也称竹米。明  李时珍 《本草纲目·木四·竹实》﹝发明﹞引 陶弘景 曰:“竹實出 藍田 。 江 東乃有花而無實,頃來斑斑有實,狀如小麥,可爲飯食。”

  1. it is a kind of fungus growing on the bamboo roots. It is also called zhurou竹肉 or zhugu竹菰. In the Tang biji Youyangzazu, Duan Chengshi mentioned that, “there is zhumi in Jianghuai area. It grows on the bamboo joints. It is like a small ball and tastes like white chicken (baiji白雞).” In Bencaogangmu, Li Shizhen mentioned that, “ in Bencao本草, Chen Cangqi mentioned that, ‘zhourou is also called zhushi, growing on the branches of bitter bamboo (kuzhu苦竹). It is as large as an egg and like meat. It has strong toxicity. It should be boiled with ash liquid for twice. After boiling it, it can be eaten as normal vegetables. If it has not been fully cooked, it will thrust the throat and make the person bleed and the nails break off.’ This is similar to what Chen Cheng said about zhushi. I am afraid that they are the same. But the one growing on bitter bamboo is poisonous and it is different from zhumi. Zhugu grows on rotten bamboo roots. It is like agaric and it is red.”

2.即竹肉。亦称“ 竹菰 ”。生在朽竹根节上的菌类。唐  段成式 《酉阳杂俎·草篇》:“ 江  淮 有竹肉,生竹節上,如彈丸,味如白雞。”  明  李时珍 《本草纲目·木四·竹实》:“ 陳藏器 《本草》云:‘竹肉,一名竹實,生苦竹枝上。大如雞子,似肉臠,有大毒,須以灰汁煮二度,煉訖乃依常菜茹食,煉不熟則戟人喉出血,手爪盡脱也。’此説與 陳承 所説竹實相似,恐即一物,但苦竹上者有毒爾,與竹米之竹實不同。……此即竹菰也。生朽竹根節上。狀如木耳,紅色。”

[175]Difu is also called saozhoucai掃帚菜. It is a kind of annual herb. The stalk ramifies into several branches. The leaves are linear and lanceolate. It has small yellowgreen flowers. The stalks can be used to make a broom. The fruit is called difuzi, which is oblate and has wings. It can be used as a medicine.


[176] Cheqian is a perennial herb. It has ovate-oblong leaves. it blossoms in the summer and the flowers are pea green. The fruits are fusiform. The leaves and the seeds can be used as medicine. It is diuretic, kills cough, and cures diarrhea.


[177] Wangxiang is a constellation terminology. The Five Elements (wuxing五行) is matched to the four seasons. For each season, the Five Elements are described as thriving (wang旺), supportive(xiang相), resting (xiu休), imprisoned (qiu囚), and dead (si死). For example, in the spring, the wood is thriving, the fire is supportive, the water is resting, the metal is imprisoned, and the earth is dead. For the Eight Characters (bazi八字, which are the year, month, day, and hour of the person’s birth, recorded by the heavenly and earthly branches) of a person, if the heavenly branch of the date is correspondent to the thriving or supportive earthly branch of the month, his birth is fortunate. If the heavenly branch of the date is correspondent to the imprisoned or dead earthly branch of the month, his birth is not fortunate. The Qing scholar Zhai Hao翟灏 explained in Tongsubian通俗编, “in Lunheng論衡, it is said that ‘the spring and the summer are resting and imprisoned, while the autumn and the winter are thriving and supportive. It is not that one can make it. It is because the way of heaven is natural.’ I think that, according to the Yin-Yang philosophers, the Five Elements are thriving vicissitudinarily in the four seasons. One should act when the qi is thriving and supportive. For example, in the third month in the spring, the wood is thriving, the fire is supportive, the earth is dead, the metal is imprisoned, and the water is resting. In the third month of the summer, the fire is thriving, the earth is supportive, the metal is dead, the water is imprisoned, and the wood is resting. Therefore, it is commonly said that it will be thriving and supportive if one acts at the right time. It will be resting and imprisoned if he acts at the wrong time.”

【旺相】命理术语。星命家以五行配四季,每季中五行之盛衰以旺、相、休、囚、死表示,如春季是木旺、火相、水休、金囚、土死。凡人之八字中的日干逢旺相的月支为得时,逢囚、死的月支为失时,如日干为木,逢春为旺,逢冬为相,皆属得时。清  翟灏 《通俗编·祝诵》:“旺相……《論衡·禄命篇》:‘春夏休囚,秋冬旺相,非能爲之也,天道自然。’按,陰陽家書,五行遞旺于四時,凡動作宜乘旺相之氣,如春三月則木旺、火相、土死、金囚、水休;夏三月則火旺、土相、金死、水囚、木休。故俗語以凡得時爲旺相,失時爲休囚也。”

[178] The author.

[179] See the attached photo.

[180] Shiyan has two meanings. 1. A kind of rock looking like a sparrow. In Bencaogangmu, Li Shizhen mentioned that, “there are two kinds of shiyan. One is this, which is a kind of rock. Its shape is like a sparrow and has patterns on it. The round and larger ones are male, while the long and smaller ones are female.”

【石燕】1.似燕之石。明  李时珍 《本草纲目·石三·石燕》:“石燕有二,一種是此,乃石類也。狀類燕而有文,圓大者爲雄,長小者爲雌。”

  1. shiyan is a kind of bird like a bat. It lives in stone caves and tree pits. In Bencaogangmu, Li Shizhen mentioned that, “shiyan is like a bat. Its mouth is square. It drinks the water on the stalactites.”

2.鸟名。似蝙蝠。产于石窟树穴中。 明  李时珍 《本草纲目·禽二·石燕》﹝集解﹞引 萧炳 曰:“石燕似蝙蝠,口方,食石乳汁。”

[181] Zhongwan has two meanings. 1. The middle part of the stomach. In Nanjing难经, it is said that, “the Middle Burner is located in the middle of the stomach. It is neither up nor down.”


  1. Zhongwan is also an acupuncture point. It belongs to the Ren pulse. It is located one cun below the shangwan and four cun above the navel. It is located between the Screening-the-Heart Bone an d the navel.


[182] Danzhong has two meanings. 1. The place in the middle of the thorax and where the arcula cordis is located. In Suwen素问, it is said that, “danzhong is the office of the officials, where the happiness come from.” Wang Bing makes a note that, “danzhong is located between the two nipples. It is the sea of the qi.”

【膻中】1.中医名词。指胸腔中央心包所在处。《素问·灵兰秘典论》:“膻中者,臣使之官,喜樂出焉。” 王冰 注:“膻中者,在胸下兩乳之間,爲氣之海。”

  1. Danzhong is also an acupuncture point.


[183] Niwan is a Daoist term. It is the name of the god of the brain. In Daoism, the human body is a small cosmos. Gods reside in every part of the body. The God of the brain is Jinggen, whose alias is Niwan.

道教语。脑神的别名。道教以人体为小天地,各部分皆赋以神名,称脑神为 精根 ,字 泥丸 。

[184] Xingqi is a Daoist term. It means one set of techniques of nourishing the life, including inhaling and exhaling.


  1. xingqi also means the transportation of the vital qi (jingqi精气).


[185] I suspect it is an acupuncture point.

[186] Guqi means the stomach qi. See Suwen and Yizongjinjian.


[187] Tiangen has three meanings. 1. It is a constellation, the third one among the seven constellations in the east. It includes four stars.


  1. it means the nature.

2.自然之禀赋、根性。 means the heel.


[188] Gushen is a Daoist term. Originally gu and shen is used separately, while later they are usually used together. It is said in Laozi that, “if one gets a spirit (shen神), he will be miraculous. If he gets a valley (spirit; gu谷), he will be full.” It is also said that, “the grain and spirit do not die.” There are three different interpretations about what gushen means in Laozi.  Cf. Arthur Waley’s translation, “the Valley Spirit never dies.”


  1. gu means valley and shen means a mysterious and shapeless thing. Gushen means the Dao, which is empty, shapeless, changing, and never dying.


  1. gu means grain and thus it also has the meaning of raising and nourishing. Gushen means the god of fertility, or the Dao. Gao Heng notes, “the Dao can raise everything in heaven and earth. It is called gushen. That Gushen never dies means that gushen will exist for ever.”

(2)谷,通“ 穀 ”,义为生养。谷神谓生养之神,亦即“道”。“道能生天地養萬物,故曰谷神。不死言其長在也。”说见 高亨 《老子正诂》卷上。

  1. gu means grain and thus it has the meaning of caring. Shen means the Gods of the Five Internal Organs. Heshanggong notes, “if one can take care of the gods, he will not die. The gods mean the Gods of the Five Internal Organs. ” therefore, gushen means the techniques of taking care of one’s body.

(3)谷,通“ 穀 ”,义为保养。神,指五脏神。《老子》“谷神不死” 河上公 注:“人能養神則不死,神謂五藏之神也。”引申指导引养生之术。

[189] Wuding is the five ancient ritual vessels containing ram, pork, carved meat, fish, and dried meat respectively. See Yili.


[190] Qiongsu is a kind of ancient liquor that the transcendents drink.

[191] Sun Simiao.

[192] Guzheng is a kind of sickness in Chinese medical history. It is a syndrome in which  yin is weak and the patient is tired. In Zhubing yuanhou lun诸病源候论, Chao Yuanfang巢元方said, “there are five kinds of zheng diseases. one of them is guzheng, whose root is located in the kidney. The patient feel the body cold in the morning and feel hot in the evening.”

【骨蒸】中医学病症名。为阴虚劳瘵的一种症状。 隋  巢元方 《诸病源候论·虚劳病诸候下》:“夫蒸病有五,一曰骨蒸,其根在腎,旦起體凉,日晚即熱。”

[193] Sanyan are three kinds of animals that Daoist practitioners should not eat. They are wild goose (yan雁), dog, and mullet (wuyu乌鱼). See the photo.


[194] Liuchu are horse, cow, sheep/goat, chicken, pig, and dog.


Yuan Mei and His Suiyuan Shidian Food Book

Suiyuan Shidan:


The Garden of Accord Food Book


Yuan Mei


Translated by Beilei Pu

Edited by E. N. Anderson

And Jerry Schmidt (intro only, so far)


Riverside, CA

Version of June 2015



Introductory Note


Yuan Mei (1716-1797) was known as a champion of women’s education, a versatile and brilliant poet and writer, and a foodie par excellence.  He earned a jinshi degree, roughly equivalent to a Ph.D. (though demanding much more memorization), at 23, a striking accomplishment.  He duly received high office.  In 1748, however, he retired, to live on family income and devote his life to writing, teaching, and eating.  Born and raised in the area of Hangzhou and living his life in the Yangzi delta, he had access to the most sophisticated food culture in China, and indeed in the world at the time.


Yuan participated in an intense, talented world.  The literary and artistic scene in the Yangzi delta was an open, tolerant, peaceful one.  Yuan’s adult life coincided with the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1636-1696), an era of peace and prosperity.  Trade and commerce flourished.  Unusual in Chinese history was the respect for women, at least among the intellectual and literary circles in which Yuan moved.  He may well have known Cao Xueqin, whose great novel Hong Lou Meng idealized the brilliant but fated girls with whom Cao grew up.  He was a friend of Zheng Xie, whose poems speak movingly of women of all ages and in all walks of life.  The wider context—footbinding, Neo-Confucian morality, and all—was terribly harsh on women, but Yuan and many others tried to give them the fairest chance possible.


Perhaps the best short insight into Yuan’s complex and fascinating character is one of his later poems:

Seventy, and still planting trees…

Don’t laugh at me, my friends.

Of course I know I’m going to die.

I also know I’m not dead yet.

(Tr. J. P. Seaton, 1997, p. 92).

One can easily imagine Yuan smiling happily and a bit ironically, as he watches his workmen plant a row of trees.  Perhaps he even took up a shovel himself (though at 70 he probably did not).  The combination of resigned realism, playful enjoyment of life and society, and deep probing into what life and death really mean, is pure Yuan Mei.


All of which merely sets the background for China’s most popular traditional food book.  Yuan’s birthday, March 25 in the western calendar, has been declared by the Chinese as International Chinese Food Day.


The title literally means “the Sui Garden Recipes.”  Shidan literally means “eating documents.”  Dan can also mean “single” or “simple,” and I strongly suspect it is a pun, since Yuan loved simple food.  Sui means “to follow, to be in accord.”  Jerry Schmidt, an expert on Yuan Mei, translates it “Harmony Garden” (Schmidt 2015).  Exactly what Yuan had in mind when he gave that name to his garden is somewhat unclear, but one can be sure he had all the meanings of the character in his thoughts somewhere.  He apparently worked on this food book till he died, with drafts circulating for many years (Waley 1956:195).


Yuan’s good humor and delight in writing about his friends and his good dinners rather steal the show in this book.  A true recipe book it is not.  The recipes herein are as vague and cursory as only traditional home recipes can be.  Often all pretense of a recipe is dropped, and Yuan simply reminisces about good food in good company.  It is beyond us to convert the recipes into usable form; they are simply too fragmentary.  The reader is thus turned loose to use his or her imagination.  It is hard to imagine, for example, that the stewed and red-cooked dishes were as completely spiceless as they are here; one assumes that Yuan would add star anise, white pepper, fennel, ginger and the like, according to taste and mood, as a modern Chinese cook would do.  We have silently added some necessary explanatory words, but any substantial explanation not in the text is marked by square brackets.



Translation notes


References to Yi Yin and Yi Ya are to legendary chefs of ancient China, who were supposed to be incomparable.  Yi Yin appears to be purely fictional. Yi Ya may have existed, but stories about him include some tall tales.


We have tried to provide scientific names for obscure itsems, checking against Shiu-ying Hu’s definitive encyclopedia, Food Plants of China (2005).


“Autumn oil” is a common term used herein for soy sauce.  It may indicate a special kind, though probably it just means the regular sauce made in the fall after the soybean harvest.  We leave it as “autumn oil” a few times for the effect, otherwise simply call it soy sauce.  However, there is probably more to Yuan’s soy sauces than we understand, and probably a soy sauce expert needs to look at this book (see Huang 2000—but, alas, H. T. Huang is no longer with us).


“Liquor” here translates jiu, actually meaning any alcoholic liquid. Unfortunately, an old literary tradition in English translates jiu as “wine,” causing endless confusion.  In Yuan Mei’s book, jiu normally refers to a still (noncarbonated) ale made from rice or millet, but in Qing times there were many other jiu, ranging from true wine (from grapes) to a very wide variety of distilled liquors.  Yuan does refer to these occasionally; unless otherwise noted, though, “liquor” was a still ale.  There were, and are, countless forms and local versions of this, and until recently people often brewed their own; older cookbooks all have recipes for doing this, and sometimes for distilling as well.  We cannot fight usage all the way.  For instance, we retain “winecup” for the small cups used for drinking jiu. 





A jin, “catty” in English, was historically 1 1/3 lb or about 600 gr.  A liang or “catty ounce” is 1/16 of this, about 38 gr.  A qian is a tenth of a liang.  A fen is a tenth of a qian.  A liquor cup is a very small amount; traditional Chinese liquor cups hold only one or two ounces.


The standard measure of time in the old Chinese kitchen was an incense stick.  It takes about a half hour for an ordinary incense stick to burn down.  Two sticks means an hour.





Giles, Herbert A.  1923.  Gems of Chinese Literature.  Vol. II, Prose.  Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh.


Hu Shiu-ying.  2005.  Food Plants of China.  Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.


Huang, H. T.  2000.  Science and Civilisation in China.  Vol. 6:  Biology and Biological Technology.  Part V:  Fermentations and Food Science.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.


Seaton, J. P.  1997.  I Don’t Bow to Buddhas: Selected Poems of Yuan Mei.  Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press


Waley, Arthur.  1956.  Yuan Mei: Eighteenth Century Chinese Poet.  New York: Grove Press.


Our edition of Yuan Mei was edited by Chen Weiming and published in Beijing in 2010 by Chinese Culture Publishing House, reprinted 2012.


Part 1: Introductory Basic Knowledge


In all things one needs to know the essentials.  Thus, in cooking we need to know basic skills.

All things in the world have their inherent characteristics, just as people have different natural qualities. If one is really stupid, even Confucius’ and  Mencius ‘ teachings can do him no good.  And if the food ingredients are intrinsically not good, even if Yi Ya cooked them, they would still not taste good.

Turning to the main points: pork with thin skin, not rancid or stinking, is the best.  For chicken, it is best to select a castrated rooster less than a year old, not an old or overly young one.  Crucian carp with flat bodies  and white bellies are the best; if they have black back ridges, they will have hard bones, which look bad in a dish, diminishing appetite.  The best eels are from lakes and flowing streams; eels from a river have harder bones, looking like cluttered branches.   Ducks fed with natural grains produce white and juicy meat.  Tender bamboo shoots are found in good loam, and are small, fresh and delicious.  Hams can differ as much as sea and sky. Similarly, dried fish from Taizhou in Zhejiang can differ as much as ice and hot coals.  The same goes for other kinds of ingredients. As a general rule, in a meal, 60% of the credit should go to the chef, 40% to the persons doing the shopping.



Information on Condiments


The chef’s seasoning is like women’s use of clothing and jewelry. A woman of heavenly beauty,  good at make-up, but dressed in rags, even if as lovely as Xishi will not seem attractive. A truly skilled cook choosing sauce will choose soy sauce made in summer, and will always taste first to check if it is sweet.  Sesame oil is the type of oil to pick, and one needs to identify the source.  Liquor should be real fermented brew, with the lees filtered out.  For vinegar, use rice vinegar, not muddy but clean and mellow. Clear or thick sauce, oil from animal or vegetable sources, sweet or sour liquor,  old or new vinegar, must be used without the slightest mistakes in choice. Other items, such as onions, brown pepper, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, and salt, even if you do not use much, always try to choose top quality. Suzhou autumn oil sauce sold in the store comes in three grades with different qualities. Zhenjiang vinegar whose color is good, but is not sour enough, loses the important function of vinegar. The best vinegar is made in Banpu; vinegar from Pukou follows.


(Zhenjiang vinegar is still a top-quality item, but some is better than others; users of it today will know from experience exactly what Yuan means.)



Knowledge about Cleaning


Rules for cleaning food and raw materials:  For birds’ nestss, remove any remaining feathers.  To clean sea cucumbers, rinse off the dirt.  For shark fin, brush off the sand.  For deer tendon, get rid of  anything rank-smelling. Meat has tendons and bones—take these out so it will be succulent.  Duck has rank-smelling kidneys; cut these out to make it clean. As to fish, once the gall bladder is broken, the whole dish tastes bitter.  The slime of eel, if not washed off, makes the whole bowl smell fishy.  Use only the white stems of chives (take off the leaves) and the heart of a cabbage.  The Rites says: “For fish, take out the cheek bones; for sea turtle, cut off the anus,” indicating the cleaning methods for these raw materials. A proverb says: “If you want to eat good fish, first take out the white tendons.”  This has the same meaning.


(The white tendons are on both sides of a fish’s back, inside the body cavity, right and left of the backbone; they have to be removed to avoid nasty smells.)



Seasoning Information


The rules for seasoning foods are determined by the type of cuisine. There are foods cooked in water, others cooked in liquor, others in both liquor and water. There are dishes that use salt, others that use soy sauce, others that use both. Some food are very greasy, and need to be fried first; some foods smell very fishy, and must first be moistened with vinegar.  Some foods need to be cooked with crystal sugar to bring out the original flavor.  Some foods are best dry-scorched, which can make the food flavor more concentrated, as in stir-frying.  Some cooking is best done as soup, to get the flavors outside the food item and into the broth.  This method is commonly used for those foods that are limpid and refreshing, and that easily float on the surface of the dish.



Information about Matching Foods


The saying goes: “A woman needs a good match for a husband.”  The Rites also said: “A qualified person needs a good match.” For cooking methods, isn’t it the same?  To cook anything,  one must have ingredients that match. Light dishes should go with light ingredients; strong dishes should blend heavy ingredients.  Soft dishes should have soft ingredients.  Hard dishes need hard ingredients.  In this way, one can make the best dishes. Some ingredients can be cooked with either meat or vegetables, such as mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and wax gourd. Some ingredients can be cooked with  meat only, like onion, leek, fennel, and fresh garlic. Some can be cooked only with vegetables, such as celery, lilies, and sword bean. Often one sees someone put crab meat into a birds’ nests soup, or put lily in a chicken or pork dish. This match is like Su Jun and Tang Yao sitting in front of each other—highly absurd.  However, if meat and vegetable products are used wisely, they can also give a good effect: for example, fried meat with vegetable oil, and stir-fried vegetables with lard.


(Su Jun was a Jin Dynasty general who rebelled and briefly occupied the capital, saying “I would rather be on a hill looking at a prison than in a prison looking at the hill”; Tang Yao was an emperor in mythic times, in the days of Shun.)



Information on Cooking Single Ingredients


If food tastes too strong, it can only be used alone; it cannot be combined with other foods.  As the famous statesmen Li Jiang and Zhang Juzheng had to stand alone, in order to give full play to their talents, so foods such as eel, turtle, crab, fish, beef, and mutton and lamb, should be separate dishes.  They do not mix well with other materials. Why?  Since they have strong flavors, they are quite enough for a dish.  However,  there are shortcomings: they need five-spice, and cooking by skilled chefs, to bring the fragrant flavor out without bad smells. Therefore, when I see people in Nanjing liking turtle cooked with sea cucumber, or shark fins with crab meat, I cannot help but frown. Turtle, crab meat, and sea cucumber’s flavors can not mix well with shark fin and sea cucumber. Instead the tastes of shark fin and sea cucumber can ruin turtle and crab meat.


(Five-spice is a nonstandardized spice mix that can have anything from four to seven spices.  Standard ingredients include black pepper, cumin seeds, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, and similar pungent warm flavorings.  It is still used with strong-flavored meats.  A modern diner would usually agree with Yuan Mei on the unlikely mixes noted in the last sentences.)



Cooking Temperature Information


Among cooking methods, the most important thing is to master the fire. Sometimes it must be a high fire, as in stir-frying, deep-frying, and similar things. Insufficient fire makes unpleasing dishes. Sometimes it must be slow, as in simmering, boiling, and the like. If the fire is too hot, these dishes look dry and dull. Some dishes need a military fire and then a civilian fire [a delightful metaphor for a fierce fire and then a gentle one], to keep the stock [from boiling away]. Impatience would make the dishes burnt on the outside but raw inside. For some dishes the longer you cook, the tenderer it will be, such as kidney, eggs, and the like. For some food, even with a short time of cooking, it would lose its tenderness, such as fresh fish, clams and the like. In cooking meat, if we fail to get it out of the pan in time, the color will change from red to black. In cooking fish, it is the same: fish meat will turn dry. While cooking, if you keep lifting the lid from the wok or pot, the dish will end up with less flavor but more foam. If you stop the fire and cook again, the oil and flavor will be lost. In Taoist alchemy, after nine rounds of cooking down, cinnabar becomes elixir. Confucians concentrate everything, avoiding excess and deficiency, and finding the center. When a chef knows fire and can correctly and carefully manage it, he has the Way of cooking. When the fish is put on the table, its color is as white as jade, and without dryness it keeps freshness and deliciousness.  If  the fish is white like powder, and its meat is loose, it  looks dead. A beautiful shining fresh fish, cooked till it seems long dead, is a really hateful thing for me.



Color and Odor Information


The eyes and nose are the mouth’s neighbors.  They are also the mouth’s mediators. When a dish is placed in front of the eyes and nose,  the color and smell can give different feelings. Sometimes the dish looks fresh like autumn clouds; sometimes brilliant like amber. The delicious odor greets you before chewing and tasting, and you notice something wonderful about the food. But to keep the color vivid, do not fry it with sugar; to keep the delicious freshness and fragrance, do not use flavorings. Using such complex methods destroys the food’s delicious taste.



Information on Timing


To invite guests to dinner, the host usually sends the invitation about three days ahead. That is a good amount of time to consider preparing a wide variety of dishes. However, if guests drop in suddenly, then it’s necessary to prepare a simple meal.  Or if the host is outside, away from home, the situation is similar.  Can you take the water of the Eastern Sea to put out a fire in the south? It is necessary to draw up an easy-to-cook list. Examples are frying chicken slices, frying tofu with dried shrimps, fish in wine lees, ham, and the like. To be a good cook, one must know how to make quick tasty dishes in such circumstances.



Various Cooking Information


Each food has its own unique flavor, and foods cannot be cooked all together. Sages teach students in accordance with their aptitude.  Gentlemen [junzi] cleave to human goodness.  Yet, now, I always see bad cooks put chicken, duck, pork and goose meat in one pot to cook. The result is that everyone gets the same tastes in dishes—no surprises or uniqueness. I think if the chickens, pigs, ducks, and geese had souls, in the city of the dead they would definitely complain of their grievances! A cook who is good at cooking must have extra pots, stoves, basins, and various pots and utensils, in order to highlight the unique flavor of the food. So each dish has its own characteristics.  If we can experience the uniqueness of each dish, our hearts will blossom.



Knowing Kitchen Utensils


The old saying has it:  Delicious foods need to be placed in beautiful utensils. This is quite right. However, Ming dynasty wares from the times of Xuande, Chenghua, Jiajing,and Wanli are extremely expensive, and people are worried about damaging them. Rather than taking the risk, people prefer Qing dynasty wares produced in  imperial kilns. These are also very delicate and beautiful. Whenever appropriate, use bowls with bowls, plates with plates, large with large, small with small, with appropriate colors. Varied furnishings for all kinds of food on the table make the food look attractive and striking. On the other hand, rigidly using ten bowls and eight plates [a dully conventional setting] on the table appears crude and stereotyped. Precious food should be placed in big utensils; ordinary food is suited to small utensils. Stir-fry dishes go in plates, and soups in bowls. Fry-cooking should be done in an iron pot, simmering and  stewing  food in sand pots.


(This last sentence has something to do with the presentation, but more with the actual technique of cooking, so it seems an odd fit with the previous sentences. “Sand pots” are coarse sand-tempered earthenware casserole pots, ideal for stewing because they distribute the heat well and develop a seasoned taste.  They could be seen in any old-time Chinese kitchen.)



Serving Order Information


Rules for serving order:  Salty dishes should be served first, then mild dishes. Rich cuisine should also be served first, then light dishes. Non-soupy dishes should go first, then the soup dishes. Under Heaven, cuisines have five flavors; one cannot generally use one region’s flavoring in another’s cuisine. Estimate when guests have eaten until they are almost full and feel tired and sleepy, then serve spicy dishes to stimulate their appetite. If the guests drink too much and their stomachs are tiring, serve with sweet and sour dishes to refresh them.


(The five regional flavors are classically defined as sour in the east, bitter in the south, sweet in the center, spicy in the west, and salty in the north.  The last two, at least, are quite accurate characterizations of food in those regions of China even today, and the east still produces the best vinegar.)



Information about the Seasons


In summer, days are long and hot.  If you slaughter livestock too soon, the meat will easily go bad. In winter, days are short and cold; if the cooking time is slightly shorter than normal, food will not be cooked thoroughly. It is best to eat beef and lamb in winter [they are hearty, high-calorie foods].  Summer is  not the right time. Dry cured food is fit  in summer; in winter it’s out of season. As to condiments, in summer use mustard and in winter use black or white pepper. [Pepper is hot; mustard feels cooler.] Marinated pickles are inexpensive food in winter, but eaten in summer they taste precious.  Bamboo shoots are also inexpensive food, but cook them in cool autumn days, and they will seem a first class dish. Some food eaten before its season will taste  more delicious, such as eating fresh shad in March [a bit before the main run starts]. Some food eaten after its season will taste better, such as eating  fresh taro in April. Some are better if eaten in season, such as radish, which goes hollow inside [if left too long], bamboo shoots which turn bitter [again if left too long], and saury fish, whose bones harden up after the season. So all things have their place in the four seasons.  Choose the best time to eat them to avoid losing the original tasty flavors.



Proportion Information


In a given dish, [if it is to feature an expensive ingredient,] the expensive material should take the main role, and inexpensive material should be used in less amount.  In frying and stir-frying, too much [in the pan] and too low fire result in tough meat. Therefore, to cook one dish, use no more than a half jin [about 300 grams] of pork, beef and lamb meat; for chicken or fish, no more than six liang. You may ask: Is this enough food?  I say: when you’re done, just cook more later. Some dishes need larger amount of material.  In cooking dishes like boiled streaky pork, if you cook less than 20 catties, it would be tasteless.  [There needs to be a huge amount to create a really concentrated, rich stock—but 20 jin is a bit much, and there may be some mistake here.]  Congee is the same; without a lot of rice [lit. a peck, but water quantity unspecified], the  porridge will not be thick and heavy. Also, water must be regulated: with too much water or too little rice, the porridge will taste weak.



Information on Cleanliness


A knife used to cut onions is not used to cut bamboo shoots. A pepper-stamping mortar cannot be used to stamp rice powder. When a dish smells like a rag, it is because the cloth is not clean. If dishes smell like a [dirty] cutting board, it is because the cutting board was not clean. “If a craftsman wants  to do a good job, he must first prepare his tools.” [Evidently a proverb.] A good cook should often sharpen his kitchen knives, change rags, scrape the cutting board, and wash his or her hands, and only then cook dishes. Smoking ashes, head sweat, flies and ants on the kitchen range, black coal in the pan, once they pollute the dishes, they ruin the carefully made goods.  If Xi Shi the beauty got dirty, everyone would cover his nose and quickly pass on by.  [Another more or less proverbial expression; Xi Shi was the traditional “beauty” of China, like Helen in ancient Greece.]



Information on Using Starch


Commonly people refer to bean starch as a binder, meaning something like the way ships are pulled by fiber ropes. From this name, we can understand the role of starch in cooking. In making meatballs, it is not easy to bind the meatball together; starch is needed to do this. In making soup, the soup cannot be too greasy. You need starch [in the meatball] to solve the problem. In sautéing meat, if the meat sticks to the pot, then it easily gets burnt. Starch [coating] protects the meat from getting burnt. This is the advantage of using bean starch in cooking.  For good cooks who understand how to use starch right, it is a great help. However, wrongly used starch only creates a mess, and leads to jokes [presumably unkind quips by diners].  The book Han Zhi Kao calls bran the mediator; the mediator should really refer to starch.



Information on How to Choose the Right Materials


Some rules for using materials: for a small stir-fry, use hindquarters meat.  To make meatballs, use “sandwich” meat. [“Sandwich” meat is meat has three lean layers and two fat layers evenly distributed; it is found just under the shoulder].  For simmering, use pork rib.  Make fried fish fillet with herring or Mandarin fish; make dried fish floss with grass carp and common carp. Make steamed chicken with chicken less than a year old, make stewed chicken with castrated rooster, and make chicken broth with old hen. Female chickens are fresh and juicy, male ducks are fat and meaty. With Brasenia schreberi [a succulent water plant], use tip parts with the young leaves; for celery and chives, use  the stems. These are some basic material selection methods which also apply [in general] to other selections.



Information about Uncertain Tastes


We want the dishes taste rich, but not greasy; or taste light, but not plain. It is really hard to fully understand and grasp the skill. Slight mistakes lead to poor cooking. When we say rich flavor, it means that the cook should extract the essence and reject the dross. If one pursues only richness and heaviness, why not just eat lard? To “taste fresh and light” refers to bringing out the prominent good flavor. If one seeks only weak and tasteless things, why  not just drink water?



Information on Fixing Mistakes


When master chefs cook dishes, they know how to use the right amount of seasonings, how to control fire intensity, and how to time the cooking. So the dishes come out perfect and no need more making up. However, I still have to talk about how to correct the mistakes when they happen. When seasoning, make it light rather than strong, because one may add salt but one cannot take it out [once it is in, and the same for other seasonings].. Cooking fish, it is better cook it too little rather than too long. If it needs more cooking time, one can still cook it longer; if it’s overdone, nothing can  make it tender again. The way to know the key points is observing carefully while cooking and cutting, watching the fire to understand it fully.


(Age-old advice, taught by every veteran cook to young learners. Always make your mistakes in the direction one can correct. One is reminded of the folktale of the ancient Greek sculptor’s advice “Make the nose too big and the eyes too small.”)



Knowing When to Keep Your Roots


Manchu cuisine focuses on simmering and stew cooking. Han cuisine focuses on soup and broth. Since childhood, they have learned to be good at their own styles of cuisine. Han dinners for Manchus and Manchu dinners for Han people are good ways to explore different styles of cuisine. Do not imitate Han Dan, who dropped his own walking style to copy all sorts of others. People nowadays forgot themselves often, tending to calculate how to please the visitors. Han invites Manchu, offers Manchu cuisine; Manchu invites Han, offers Han cuisine. The result is like “painting a gourd while looking at a gourd” [a Chinese saying, meaning to copy mechanically] or like “trying to draw a tiger but ending up with a dog” [another saying]. If a xiucai [roughly, an M.A.] goes to the examination [for the equivalent of a Ph.D.], and concentrates on  doing his own writing excellently, he will naturally get someone’s appreciation or career opportunity. If he just imitates a famous essay, or make an imitation of an examiner’s essay with only a little knowledge, it’s wasted effort.


(The Chinese second-highest and highest academic degrees required more memorization and cultural knowledge than their western equivalents, and were tested by formidably difficult written examinations; they did not require independent research but did require serious independent thought about real-world problems, contra some claims in western literature.)



Part 2  What Not to Do


As politicians, to get political gain, find it better to help people solve their problems than to get promotions through new projects regardless of existing problems, so with food:  one has understood half the art of cooking when one has gotten rid of the bad habits. This is why I write my “Not-to-do Lists.”



Don’t Add More Oil or Fat


Bad cooks like to prepare a pot of pork lard for adding a scoop on top of each dish before serving, thinking it’s the way to enhance the taste, even with a light dish like birds’ nestss. It totally ruins the original taste of the dish. If the diners don’t know, and swallow food without chewing, they may think that eating greasy food was good, but they will look like hungry ghosts reborn.


(“Hungry ghosts” are a Buddhist concept; greedy people and the like are apt to be reborn in the hell of hungry ghosts, where they will have vast appetites but vanishingly small mouthsHere, the greedy guests look like hungry ghosts reborn as humans and making up for lost time.)



Don’t Use the Same Cooking Tools All the Time


The disadvantages of this has been noted in the Cleanliness section of the “to-do lists” above.



Don’t Eat with Your Ears


What is an “Ear Banquet”?  It is a dinner provided in pursuit of fame. Wishing to serve something precious, so as to boast to the guests, is an ear banquet, not really [the serving of] a delicious dish. You should know that if tofu is done well, it’s better than  birds’ nests. And if you don’t cook sea cucumber [the text says “sea vegetable,” which Giles 1923:261 takes as an error for sea cucumber] right, it’s not as good as vegetables and bamboo shoots. I have said that fish, chicken, pork, and duck are the knights of the kitchen.  Each has its basic own flavor and cooking style. Sea cucumbers and  birds’ nests are like ordinary persons—no characteristics.  They can be cooked well only with the help of other food.  I have seen an official’s dinner, each bowl is as big as a big jar, containing four liang of water-cooked birds’ nest—no taste at all. The guests were trying to compliment him. I smiled and said: “we came here to eat birds’ nests, not to traffic in birds’ nests.” If the valuable item hasn’t been cooked well, although there’s large amount, it’s a waste. If he serves it only to boast how rich he is, why can’t he just put a hundred jewels in each bowl, or a quantity of gold? Then it doesn’t matter if it’s inedible.


(Birds’ nests, by themselves, are tasteless. Their virtues, other than the medicinal one of providing digestible protein and minerals, are that they provide a crunchy texture and are very good at absorbing other flavors.  They are good only if cooked in a very flavorful soup.  Sea cucumbers, also valued more for their medicinal protein and mineral value than for their flavor, are somewhat more flavorful, but do indeed need much supplementing to make them good.)



Don’t Eat with Your Eyes


What is an “eye meal”?  An eye meal is one in which there are too many dishes at a time. Now some people pursue the fame of the food; they cover the table with dishes and stacks of plates and bowls.  They eat with their eyes, not with their mouths. [Angl. “their eyes are bigger than their stomachs.”]  They don’t know that when famous writers and calligraphers write too much in a short time, there must be some failures; when famous poets write too many poems, there must be some bad lines. It is the same with a good chef. In one day, he can probably make four or five good dishes; that is about his limit. But to arrange a huge feast, even with others’ help, most likely will result in a mess. Because more people come to help, there are more different opinions. [“Too many cooks spoil the broth.”]  This can result in bad discipline during the cooking. I once went to a merchant’s house for dinner. They had three tables of dishes—desserts of sixteen types, total main course dishes of more than 40 types. The host felt proud of his treats, thinking it must have increased his face in front of the guests. However, after I got home, I needed to cook some congee to satisfy my hungry stomach. Due to my experience, I think this merchant’s dinner was less than successful—indeed, it was not very sophisticated! The Southern-dynasty writer Kong Linzhi (369-423) once said: “People nowadays have many dishes, but rather outside the mouth—it’s more for the eyes’ satisfaction.” In my words, too many dishes on one table create unsatisfying views as well as unsatisfying flavors.



Don’t Overcook the Food


Everything has its basic nature, and cannot be distorted to be something else. Let nature take its course. For a good thing like birds’ nests, why mash it down to make a ball?  A sea cucumber is a sea cucumber, why cook it down to a sauce? When watermelon is cut, it won’t stay fresh for long. Why make it into cakes?  When apples are too ripe, they are not crisp.  Why steam them to make dry fruit?  Other things like Autumn Vine cakes from Zun Sheng Ba Jian and Magnolia Cake made by Li Liweng are all pretentiously overcooked pieces. It’s like twisting osier branches to make cups—they lose their main features. It’s also like daily ethical behavior; one can benefit the household just by performing normal good virtue.  There is no need for strange practices.


Don’t Set Food Aside to Wait

When flavors are fresh, they should be taken out of the pot and tasted soon. If set it aside and eaten later, all the good flavor will be gone. It’s like clothes that have grown moldy—it doesn’t matter how expensive and shiny the fabric is, as long as the mold is on it, it smells bad and looks grey.  I know an impatient host; every time he invites friends for dinner, he always wants all the dishes to be served together. So his cook has to put all the dishes in steamers to keep it warm until the master rushes him to serve. With such a way of serving food, how can anyone keep the flavors in?  Good chefs cook every dish with hearts and thoughts, but those eaters who only know how to swallow without chewing, in a rush, don’t really appreciate the hard work of the chef. It’s like a person who has got the best fruit, such as a Mourning Pear.  They don’t eat it when fresh; instead they steam it to eat. When I was in the eastern part of Guangdong, I went to Governor Yang Lanpo’s house and had eel soup there.  It was so tasty that I asked how it was made. He answered: “I just killed the eel, cooked it and ate it right away without a pause.” Other kinds of dishes should be made and tasted the same way.



Don’t Waste, and Don’t Kill without Mercy


A violent person won’t appreciate others’ hard work, a wasteful person won’t make good use of materials. Chicken, fish, duck and goose, from head to tail, all have their special flavors. One should not take only a bit and then throw away the rest. I once saw a person cook a soft-shelled turtle; he only used the soft meaty edge of the shell and didn’t know the best part was the interior–the turtle meat. And there are people who eat only a fish belly, not knowing the best part is the fish’s back. In pickled eggs, the most delicious is the egg yolk, not the white. However, to toss all the egg whites, and eat only the yolks, would make the eater feel less interested in the eggs. I point it out not only because I treasure food in life, but also to bring up the point that we don’t need to over-trim in cooking food. If to do so would make a better dish, it may worth doing, but if to do so only results in wasting and poor taste, it’s better not to act this way. As for grilling live geese on charcoal for a goose web dish, or cutting live chickens open for livers, these are very cruel acts that should not be done by gentlemen (junzi). Why is this? If domestic animals are used for food, they have to be killed, but killing has to be kind, not merciless.



Don’t Abuse Alcohol


In judging a matter, only sober people can understand it.  Similarly, as to telling good food or bad food apart, only sober people can do it. Yi Yin [the legendary chef of ancient China] said: “The essence of flavor is hard to elaborate in words.” Even sober people can’t do it easily. How can noisy drinkers taste the flavor? I often see those who drink hard, eating while playing finger-guessing games.  Even if the food is very good, they cannot taste it; it’s like chewing on wood chips. They care only about the drink, not the food. In fact, if occasionally it’s necessary to drink, we should eat the food first, then drink and play. In this way, both drink and food are enjoyed.



No Hot Pot


In winter time, people like to eat hot pot with guests. During the hot pot season, however, loud talking and a noisy atmosphere really disgust me. Also, different food needs different cooking time and temperature and fire level.  These can’t be mixed up. Now all food is cooked in the hot pot. How can we get delicious flavors? Recently, people are using distilled alcohol as fuel instead of charcoal, thinking it’s a better way, but it’s still not the right way. As long as food has been cooked too long and too hot, it cannot maintain proper flavor. Someone might ask: “What about food that gets cold, is it still tasty?” I say: “Food that has been improperly cooked, with the cooking mistimed, can only taste awful when it’s cold.”


(The hot pot, firepot, huoguo, or—in Cantonese—tapinlou, is a pot with  a charcoal burner in the center, keeping the stock boiling.  In a proper hot pot, the diners hold thinly-sliced food in chopsticks and cook them in the stock to their taste.  Evidently Yuan Mei had to suffer hot pots in which all the food was thrown in at once and boiled to death—not the proper way.)



No Forcing Guests to Eat


To invite friends for dinner is a matter of good manners. It’s up to friends to decide which food they want to taste. Hosts should make their guests feel at home.  This is the polite way to treat the guests.  The host should not force guests to eat. I often notice the host taking all kinds of food with his chopsticks and piling it up in front of guests, making guests’ plates look ugly and greasy and disgusting. The host should know his guests have eyes and hands, and they are not children or hungry brides who are shy to take the food themselves. Why treat the guests in a vulgar-woman style that is extremely insulting? Lately, courtesans have come to love this ugly habit; they pick up food with chopsticks and stuff into customers’ mouths. The scene looks as terrible as a rape. In Chang’an, there’s a very hospitable person who can’t seem to manage to serve tasty food. One of his guests asked him:” Are you and I good friends?” He answered: “Of course!” Then the guest kneeled down, and  said: “If so, I have one request, and you must say yes before I get up.” The surprised host asked: “What can I do for you?” The guest said: “In future, if you want to invite friends for dinner, please don’t include me.” Everyone laughed.



Don’t Waste Good Fat


Fish, pork, chicken and duck all have lots of fat, but we wish to save the good fat in meat and turn it to good flavor, not waste it in cooking liquid.  In this way we can keep its natural essence. If the good fat was cooked into soup, it tastes less delicious than if it stays in the meat. For this [loss of fat], there are three reasons: first, if the fire is too high, the moisture leaks out and evaporates, and multiple times we must add water during the cooking  [leaching out still more fat]. Second, if the fire is shut down, later be turned on again, [the fat seeps out]. Third, if the cook is impatiently checking the food by opening the lid over and over during cooking, that will make the good fat leak out of the meat.



Don’t Fall into Stereotyping


Tang Dynasty poems are the best, so why don’t all masters choose Tang’s regulated-verse form?  [This form—eight-line poems with complex rhyme and tone systems—was the “signature style” of the great Tang poets.  Yuan himself was a master of it—but of many other forms too.]  Because it has become a cliché. If poetry is thus, so is cuisine. Nowadays, official cuisine forms include “sixteen plates”, “eight big bowls”, and  “four desserts” or “Man-Han [Manchu and Han Chinese] Banquets,” “eight snacks,” “ten main courses,” and so on. These cheap names are created by chefs and have become mere stereotypes that can be used for wedding ceremonies, welcoming superiors, and such reputation-related events. They are also coupled with chair covers, table cloths, fancy screens, and incense burner tables. But for casual dinners, as when one invites friends to drink and write poems, such things are unnecessary. All we need are different types of plates and bowls, and food displayed in order. This shows dignity. My household, when we celebrate birthday and wedding feasts, unfortunately has fallen into these stereotypes, because we hire chefs from outside. However, with my training, they will henceforth follow my directions and each feast will have its unique style.



Don’t Make Turbid Meals


Turbid and muddy doesn’t mean thick or thin. For soup, it means coming out not black or white, but like filthy water. For braising food, it means coming out not clear or rich, but like waste material poured out from a smelly dyevat.  In these cases, the color and taste are really hard to bear. The way to avoid this is to wash well the basic materials; know how to add seasonings; pay attention to control of the fire and the broth; control the sourness and saltiness so as not to make strange or dull sensations on the eaters’ tongues. Yuxin once mentioned in his work: “Flavorless, flavorless, like pure vapor;  muddled, muddled, vulgar at heart.” This is what “turbid” means.



Don’t Be Careless


Don’t be careless about anything, still less in cooking.  Cooks are persons from the lower classes. If for a day they are not duly rewarded or criticized, in that day they will be lazy and casual. Their cooking will be bad because of lack of timely attention.  If we eat that food anyway, then tomorrow they will cook even worse food. Continuing with this, the food becomes trash, their job not performed well.  I say that one needs to reward or criticize them strictly and at the time. A cook who has done well needs to be praised, with details of how his cooking is good.  A cook who has done a bad job needs to be told straightforwardly why it was a bad job and how he can correct it. When cooking, seasoning must be performed well, not too plain or too salty; cooking time must be enough but not overlong. Lazy cooks who don’t love their cooking, like eaters who don’t care about the food, are problems for one who is dining and does care. Studying thoroughly and thinking through details are the keys to success in a scholar. Similarly, guiding in culinary theory and learning from each other are the duties of teachers. For cooking and diet, shouldn’t it be the same?



Part 3. Seafood


In the original list of the “eight precious dishes,” there were no seafoods included. Nowadays, people like to add seafood to the precious foods, so I follow the trend and have written a section on seafood.



Birds’ nests

Birds’ nests make a very expensive food  material which is not used in a casual meal. When cooking it, use two liang in a bowl, soaked with boiled natural spring water , and then pick the dark foreign substances out. Cook with fresh chicken soup, best ham soup, or fresh mushroom soup together until it turns to a white-jade color; then it’s ready. Birds’ nests are mild and fresh food material that cannot be cooked with greasy food.  They are also very smooth and cannot be cooked with other food contains bones or any hard subjects. Nowadays, people cook birds’ nests with sliced pork and chicken. In my opinion, this is not an appropriate way to eat it because it’s more like eating pork and chicken instead of birds’ nests. Some people wants to have a taste of the birds’ nests. They cook a little of it with a bowl of noodles, so little that after a moment the eaters have only noodles left.  This is another inappropriate way. It seems to be like a beggar pretending he’s rich, but only appearing poor. If there’s not much birds’ nest material, it is all right to cook it with mushroom slices, bamboo slices or tender pheasant slices. Once, at the Yang Ming government house in eastern Guangdong, I had a top-quality winter melon and birds’ nests dish. It tasted mild and fresh, smooth and tender, cooked with enough chicken broth and mushroom broth only. Birds’ nests are the color of jade, not pure white. Those who smash it into balls or dough are bad cooks.


(Birds’ nests are the nests of swiftlets, Collocalia spp., the best being from Collocalia esculenta.  Long harvested sustainably, they are now becoming extinct, because modern economies have no place for sustainable management.  Yuan’s instructions are all perfect, and still the rules for proper presentation.)



The Three Ways of Cooking Sea Cucumber


Sea cucumber is actually free of taste.  It smells fishy and has lots of sand inside. Cooking it well is difficult. It’s best to cook it with strong-flavored food. Do not make it into a mild soup. The way to prepare it, first, pick out the small spines, then soak it to wash off sand and mud, and next boil with meat soup three times over.  Finally, stew it with chicken broth and meat soup till it’s tender. It also can be combined with black mushrooms and black fungus. Because they are all black, they match the color of the sea cucumber. Usually it should be made a day before the meal, so it will be tender, juicy and smooth enough. I once observed how the household of the investigating official of Qian make sea cucumber. In summer time, they drizzled chicken soup and mustard on cooked sea cucumber slices. It turned out a very good dish. Or they would cut the sea cucumber into small cubes, stew it with bamboo, black mushroom pieces, and chicken broth. At the Officer of Jiang’s house, they use tofu skin, chicken legs and mushroom to cook with sea cucumber. It’s also a very successful dish.


(Sea cucumber, eaten more for health than taste, actually has a slight seafood flavor.  It is still cooked as described here.)



Two Ways of Making Shark Fin


Shark fin is really hard to cook to tenderness.  It has to be cooked for two days; by then it will probably be tender. There are two ways to make it: One way is to use the best ham and chicken broth, add fresh bamboo shoots and a qian of crystal sugar, then slow-cook it on a small fire; or combine broken shark fins with thin sliced turnip slices and thick chicken broth and cook it slowly on a small fire. This way the eaters wouldn’t be able to tell turnips and shark fins apart. When using the ham option, one should make it with less soup; with the turnip option, make it with more soup. Melting the shark fins into other food materials is the best general way to cook it. If sea cucumber pokes one’s nose tip or if shark fin sticks out of the plate because it’s still hard, the whole dish then becomes a joke. In the Investigator Wu’s household, they only use the top part of the shark fins.  This is another option to make the dish well. Turnip slices must be boiled in hot water fast twice to get rid of the muddy flavor. Once I was at Guo Geng Li’s place eating a shark fin dish. It was the best I ever had, but sadly I didn’t get to find out how they cooked it.


(Shark fin is now fading away, because the sharks are overfished; many chefs now refuse to cook it, since the fishery is now unsustainable.  Like the previous two items, it was more a medicinal food than a good-tasting item in itself. The medicinal value was as a “supplementing” or “strengthening” food—a dietary supplement.  We now know this value is due to its easily digestible protein and high mineral content. This made it very valuable in China’s malnourished past, especially to older persons.)





The best way to make abalone is to stir-fry thin abalone slices. At Zhongcheng Yang’s  house, they slice the abalone, and cook it with chicken broth and tofu.  This dish, named “ Abalone Tofu,” was then dressed with special rice liquor flavored oil. At Governor Zhuang’s, big abalones are slowly cooked with a whole duck, a very special dish. Abalone is hard to make tender enough to chew easily. It has to be cooked for three days.


(The last figure refers to dried abalone, though even fresh abalone takes a good deal of cooking.  A zhongcheng is a vice-manager of important national security matters.)



Dried Clams


Clams are best for making meat soup and are famous for their fresh taste. Simply pick out the insides and cook with liquor.





Haiyan, a tiny fish from Lingbo, tastes like small shrimps. It is best used by cooking in steamed scrambled eggs. It makes a good snack.



Squid Meatballs


Squid meatballs are incredibly tasty but most difficult to make. The squid has to be boiled with river water to wash off the sand and get rid of the fishy smell. Then cook it with chicken broth and fresh mushrooms till tender. Military Officer Gong Yunrou’s squid meatballs are the best of all.

(These are traditionally made from the squid’s nidamental gland, a large glandular structure involved in producing eggs.  It is high in protein and has a mild smell—a very valuable sea food.)



Dried River Scallops


Dried river scallop are from Lingbo. The way of cooking is similar to cooking clams and mussels. The delicious part is the tiny meat part [the adductor muscle] attached to the shells. This being the case, when getting the scallops, people often throw away more than what they get.


(Scallops are not river animals, but for some reason are called jiang yao zhu, “river dried scallops.”)



Oyster Yellows [a standard term for oysters]


Oysters live on rocks. Their shells stick to the rocks, which makes it hard to pry the oysters off. Open the shells, take the meat, and make thick soup, the same way as for clams and mussels. Oysters have another name, “ghost eyes.” They can be found in Leqing and Fenghua in Zhejiang province.



Part 4.  River Fish


Guo Pu’s “River Discourses” mentioned numerous types of river fish. I choose the common kinds to talk about here, to make a River Fish section.



Two Ways of Making Saury


Saury can be pickled in honey liquor, soaked in light sauce and then placed on plate for steaming, as for herrings. For the best flavor, there is no need to add any water.  If  you want to take out the bones, just fillet the fish and pick [any remaining] bones out with tweezers. Cook it in ham soup, chicken broth or bamboo shoots soup; these are the tastiest. Nanjing people don’t like the bones, so they roast it with oil first, then fry.  [This would make the bones so carbonized that they would be edible along with the fish.]  There is an old saying: “Don’t flatten a humpbacked person’s back, or he will die.” The same is true of saury. Cut the back multiple times to smash the bones, then fry it to golden color, sprinkled with seasoning; this is the method from Tao Datai’s house in Wufu town. This way it’s hard to feel the saury bones when eating.


(The Chinese name literally means “knife fish,” a name which includes saury and some similarly thin-bodied sea fish.  Saury is a mackerel-like fish of particularly fine flavor.  Knife fish are bony, hence the advice. Presumably one wants to have the saury die, and get deboned too.)





You can stew shad with honey liquor, as with saury, and it is very good. Or it can be slightly fried, adding clear sauce and fermented rice liquor.  This is also a good method. But don’t cut it into pieces and cook it in chicken soup. And don’t take only the belly part and throw away the back, because the flavor of shad is in the [meat along the] backbone.


(Northwest Coast people in Canada sometimes have “feasts of salmon backbones,” which sounds awful until you learn that the salmon too has some of its finest meat in the backstrip.)





Yin Jishan said he knew how to cook the best sturgeon dish. But his sturgeon dish was overdone and tasted too strong. At Tang’s house in Suzhou, I had stir-fried sturgeon slices that were very delicious. His method is to oil-fry the sturgeon slices first, then boil the slices with a bit of liquor and soy sauce for 30 seconds.  Then, last, he adds some water to boil the whole dish with spices, pieces of black sauce pickled cucumber, ginger, and green onions. Another method is to boil the fish in water for 10 seconds, then cut out the big bones, cut the meat part into small cubes including the cartilage of the head. Boil some chicken broth, put in the fish head cartilage, and cook it till it’s almost done, then add liquor and soy sauce, and then the fish cubes. Cook it until the meat part is 80% done. Then add liquor and autumn oil [probably a type of soy sauce made in the fall]. Then take the fish meat, slowly stew it for the last 20% of cooking with green onion, brown pepper, chives and a big glass of ginger juice for the last step.


(Sturgeon is a rather tough, meaty fish that needs stronger flavoring than the preceding delicate fish.  It has a great deal of cartilage that is good but needs long cooking.)



Yellow Fish


Yellow fish is cut into small cubes, pickled in sauce and liquor for about an hour, then hung to dry, then fried until golden. Add a teacup of Jin Hua salt black beans, a bowl of sweet liquor, and a small cup of autumn oil [see above] to cook on high heat. When the dish juice looks a bit dry and red, then add sugar , black-sauce-pickled cucumber, and ginger to cook for a minute. Then it is done. This dish smells and tastes really good. Another way to cook it is to get rid of the bones, mash the meat, then cook in a soup with chicken broth. One can also add a bit of sweet bean sauce and corn starch to thicken the texture. Yellow fish is best cooked in strong-flavored dishes, because of its rich and strong essence.


(“Yellow fish” is a term widely used for any yellowish fish, but it very possibly means yellowfin tuna here.  The cooking directions are right.  They are certainly wrong for yellow croaker, another fish often called “yellow fish.”)





Grouper is the tenderest fish of all. Peel off the skin, take out the intestines, and use only the liver and meat. Cook it with chicken broth over a low flame, adding three parts liquor, two parts water, and one part soy sauce. When it is about done, add a big bowl of ginger juice and a few green onions to remove the fishy smell.


(Grouper remains an extremely popular fish, often still cooked more or less as in this recipe.  There are literally countless species in the seas off China—no one has finalized a taxonomy of all of them.)



Imitation Crab


Boil two yellow fish [presumably still tuna] until done. Remove all the bones. Scramble four uncooked pickled eggs.  Then first fry the fish meat on high, then add chicken broth to boiling, and then stir in scrambled egg fluid slowly. Add black mushrooms, onion, and ginger juice and liquor to cook. When served, people can add vinegar to taste.


(Again, the recipe makes yellowfin tuna the logical candidate for the yellow fish here.)



Part 5 Ritual Livestock- Pigs


Pigs are used in so many circumstances that they can be called Majority Leaders. Since our ancestors used the whole pigs as gifts for courtesy [including sacrifice to gods and ancestors], I named this part Ritual Livestock.



Two Ways to Cook a Pig’s Head


Pick a five-jin pig’s head, and wash it thoroughly.  Prepare three jin of sweet liquor for cooking. For a seven or eight jin  head, then prepare five jin of sweet liquor. Then, first boil the head with the liquor, add in 30 roots of green onions and three qian star anise, and boil for about 10 minutes. Then add in a big cup of soy sauce (“autumn oil”) and a liang of sugar. Continue cooking the head till fully done. Check the flavor; if it is too mild, add more soy sauce. Then add boiling water.  Remember to cover the pig’s head one inch deep.  Press it down with a heavy object. Cook it for about an hour on high, then turn to a civilian fire [or literary fire, i.e. a gentle fire.  Recall from above: this is the opposite of a “military” fire].  Continue cooking till not much juice left and the head is soft and tender. Remove the lid when the head is cooked, or the juicy taste will dissipate in the oil. Another way to cook it is to use a bucket,  split across the middle by a copper filter. Wash well a pig’s head; marinate it with spices.  Fill the bucket to just below the copper filter.  Put the head on the filter and cook it on low till done. The greasy material will drop to the bottom.  The rest is the best dish.


(Pig’s head remains a popular delicacy.)



Four Ways to Cook Trotters [pigs’ feet]


Take a trotter without the nails. Boil it to tender in clear water, then discard the greasy liquid. Take one jin of good liquor, a half glass of flavored liquor, a qian of orange peel, and four or five jujubes [“Chinese dates”]. Cook them together with the tender trotter until it falls apart. Before serving, take out the orange peel and jujubes. Then add green onion, brown pepper and liquor. This is one way to cook it. Another way is stew the trotter in dried-shrimp stock with liquor and soy sauce. Another way is boil the trotter well first, the fry the skin in vegetable oil to a crackling, then add seasonings and brown sugar to slow-cook it. There are rural people who like to peel the skin before eating.  This is called “removing the blanket.”  Another way is to use two combined pots. Put the trotter, liquor and soy sauce in the inner pot, add water in the outer pot, steam the pots for two hours. This is called Immortal Spirits’ Meat [shen xian rou]. Official Observer Qian’s house makes very fine Immortal Spirits’ Meat.



Pig Foot and Pig Sinew


Use only pig foot, get rid of the larger bones, cook it in chicken broth. It can be paired with pig sinew.  They are a perfect match. If there is a good leg part [attached], it can be added in.



Two Ways to Cook Pig Stomach


Cooking the stomach is not difficult. The only concern in cooking it is to wash well the stomach to get rid of the smells. This requires some type of process. The normal way is to rinse off the dirty mucus, then boil it in hot water till the surface hardens, then put it in cold water, then shave off the hard surface (including dirty material) with a knife. When the outer part is cleaned, cut open the stomach, cut off the grease on the stomach wall, and rub it with vinegar and salt to rid of the smells, and then rinse the wall till smooth. Now it is finally cleaned and ready to cook in any way. The northern style is to deep-fry the stomach till crisp. The southern style is commonly to boil it till tender, then slice it and eat it with dipping sauce. When boiling the stomach, don’t add salt because the meat will shrink. But if you add in liquor, the meat’s shape will recover and become crisp and tender.



Two Ways to Cook Pig Lung


Washing the lungs is very difficult. First rinse and clean the lung tubes till there is no more blood, then cut off the coating. Hang it upside down and beat it, then pull off the veins. Considerable skill is necessary to complete the job. After cleaning, boil in water and liquor for one day and one night. The lung will shrink to the size of a white hibiscus. It will float on the surface. Add seasonings and eat. It tastes juicy and soft. Officer Tang Xiya once held a small dinner party. Each guest had four slices in his bowl. This required four lungs. Recently, people are lacking in cooking skills, and usually just cut lungs to small pieces and stew these with chicken broth. If using pheasant broth, this dish has a milder and fresher taste. Cooking lungs with good ham is also possible.


(The reader will get the correct idea that lungs—“lights” in old-time culinary English—are not the choicest part of the animal.  The Mongolian equivalent of “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is “today’s lungs are better than tomorrow’s fat.”)



Pig Kidneys


Pig kidney slices are hard to cook well. If overcooked, they taste dull and dry. If tender, eaters might think the slices are not well done. So it is better to stew it, then eat it with a salt and brown pepper dip or other spices. Use your hands to separate the kidney; do not use a knife to cut it. If cooked a whole day, it becomes soft as mud. It also should be cooked alone, not with other things, because its smells would ruin the whole flavor [of a mixed dish]. The kidney becomes hard after stewing for 45 minutes but gets tender after stewing for a day.


(Modern Chinese eaters tend to prefer pork kidney slices cooked for a very brief time. Long cooking as described by Yuan would be very rare now.)



Pork Loin


Pork loin is good quality and tender meat. Lots of people don’t know how to cook it. Once I had pork loin at Yangzhou Governor Xie Wenshan’s house; it tasted really good. They sliced the meat, coated it with starch-powder batter, then put it in shrimp broth and cooked it with black mushroom and seaweed, immediately removing it from the fire when cooked.



Boiled Pork Slices


For making boiled pork slices, it’s best to use one’s own home-raised pig. Kill and clean the pig, then boil  it in a big pan to cook till 80% done.  Then leave it in the pan with the stock for another two hours. Get it out and cut off the muscle meat, then thinly slice this. When serving it, it tastes best when it’s not too hot or too cold. This is a northern style. Southern styles seem always less good than northern. Also it won’t taste good if  you use purchased pork parts instead of the whole pig. That’s why when “cold knights” need to invite guests for dinner, they prefer to serve birds’ nests instead of boiled pork slices. To make boiled pork slices requires a lot of pork. The right way to slice it is to use a small sharp knife and to cut pieces which have fat and lean parts evenly mixed. The best pork-slice dish is the Manchu people’s “Tiao Shen Pork.”


(“Cold knights” is an expression from the Northern and Southern Dynasties, a cheerfully ironic way to refer to less-than-affluent students and such.  Compare the Spanish nickname “poor knights” for French bread—a dish that looks noble but costs almost nothing. The point here is that an entertainer with slender means will be more prone to serve very expensive foods that can be served in limited quantity rather than a food that demands investing in a whole pig. The Tiao Shen is a ritual dance used by people to get blessings from the gods, and the pork is the offering, made with the whole pig for ritual ceremonies.)



Red Braised Meat


To make Red Braised Meat, it needs sweet sauce or soy sauce. Some use neither. One can cook a jin of pork with three qian of salt and stew it in pure liquor or water till the liquid is boiled dry. All three methods can make the meat color look like red amber. This dish cannot use sugar to add color. In cooking Red Braised Meat, if you remove from the pan too early, the meat looks yellowish.  If you remove it just in time, it’s red.  If you remove it too late, it turns to purple and the lean part gets really dry. While cooking, if you frequently lift the lid, the fat [actually the aroma] will leak away, and it holds the flavor of the dish. We often cut the meat to 1 or 1.5 inches cubes, and cook them until there are no more sharp corners and the lean meat melts in mouth.  This is the best. The most important thing to cook this dish is timing. As the old saying goes: “high fire for cooking congee, low fire for cooking meat.”



White Braised Meat


For white braised meat, choose a jin of meat, boil it in water till 80% done, then set the soup aside.  To the meat, add a half jin of  liquor and two qian of salt, and stew for two hours on low. Then add half of the soup back in, and keep on stewing until all liquid is gone and meat is tender. At this time add in green onion, brown pepper, black fungus, chives and similar vegetables to cook on high for a minute.  Then turn the fire low and cook until done.  Another way: to a jin of meat, add one qian sugar, a half jin of liquor, a jin of water and half a tea cup of clear sauce. First cook the meat and the liquor on high for about two minutes, then add in a qian of dried fennel and enough water for cooking, then cook until meat gets tender. This is also a pretty good way.


(This is almost a usable recipe; Yuan must have cared a lot about this dish.)



Deep Fried Marbled Meat


Cut streaky meat into cubes, cut off the membranes, then marinate in liquor and soy sauce for preparation. Deep fry the pork cubes in vegetable oil to make it crisp outside and tender inside. When serving, add green onions, garlic and a bit of vinegar.



Dry Pot Steamed Meat


First, cut the meat into cubes, place it in a small ceramic container, sprinkle on sweet liquor and soy sauce [“autumn oil”]. Then put the container in a bigger ceramic container, sealed. Then place it in a wok on low fire, and cook it without any water for about two hours. The actual amounts of soy sauce and liquor depend on the meat. Usually one keeps the liquid just above the surface of the meat.



Steamed  Meat in Ceramic Covered Bowl on Stove


Instead of using a wok, just place the bowl on the stove.



Steamed Meat in Porcelain Jar


Same method as above.  The only difference: seal the jar well and use rice husk as fuel and cook it on low heat.



Skinless Ground Meat Pie


Take skinless pork and cut it up. Use three eggs, both whites and yellows, for each jin of meat. Scramble the eggs and mix well in meat, adding in half a liquor cup of soy sauce and green onion pieces. Mix well. Use one lard net [the mesentery, or the net-shaped fatty tissue wrapped around pig muscles] to wrap the meat mixture. Then fry the meat pie in about four liang of vegetable oil till the two sides turn golden. Then take it out and strain the oil. Next, use one teacup of good liquor and one half liquor cup of clear sauce and pour it over the meat pie, and cook it sealed in the wok. When done, slice the meat pie, and add chives, black mushrooms, and bamboo shoot pieces on top.



Sun-bathed Dry Meat


Slice lean meat thinly and sun it until dry. Stir-fry  it with salt-preserved turnips.



Ham and Fresh Pork Stew


Cut the ham into cubes, put it in cold water. Boil for 30 seconds, then strain the water. Cut the pork, put it in cold water, and boil for 20 seconds.  Strain the water. Place ham and pork in clean water, add in four liang of liquor, green onion, chili pepper, bamboo shoots and shiitake to stew on low heat.



Air-dried Fish and Pork Stew


The method is as same as the ham and fresh pork stew. One only needs to cook the pork first until 80% done, then add in air-dried fish. If one waits, it gets cold, and is then called “fish pork stew jelly.” This is a Shaoxing-style dish. If the fish is too old, don’t use it at all.



Steamed Rice Pork


Use pork slices that are half lean and half fat. Stir-fry broken rice grains to a yellow color. Then mix them with sweet flour paste and steam,  remembering to place Chinese cabbage underneath. When done, the cabbage is as tasty as the meat. Because there is no water added, the method of cooking saves all the flavors. This dish is Jiangxi style.



Smoky Stewed Pork


First stew the pork with soy sauce and liquor, then smoke the whole ingredients over a sawdust fire for a while—not too long. When the meat gets half dry, it tastes extremely tender and juicy. Officer Wu Xiaogu’s Smoky Stew Pork is acclaimed as one of the best.



Hibiscus Meat


Take a jin of lean pork slices.  Marinate in mild sauce, then air-dry the meat for about two hours. Use 40 big shrimps, and 2 liang of lard. Cut the shrimps to size of dice. Place one shrimp on one slice of meat, beat it flat, then boil the slices in water and screen them out [take them out with a wire-mesh ladle]. Heat a half jin of vegetable oil, set the meat in the wire-mesh ladle, then deep fry until done. Screen the fried meat. For making sauce, use a half liquor cup of soy sauce, a cup of liquor, a teacup of chicken broth, and boil it all. Then pour the sauce on the meat, adding steamed rice flour [presumably as starch powder to thicken the sauce so it coats the meat], green onion, and some brown pepper, mix it, then serve.



Litchi Pork


Cut the meat to the size of dominoes. Boil it in water for 20 to 30 seconds [lit. “turns,” gun, i.e. of boiling water rolling over], then strain. Using a half jin of vegetable oil, deep fry the meat until it is done. Screen it, then immediately cool it in cold water to make it shrink, then screen it out once again. Last, put the meat in the pan, add a half jin of liquor, a small cup of mild sauce, and a half jin of water.  Stew it until tender and soft.



Pork with Eight Treasures


Use one jin of pork, a piece that is half lean and half fat. Boil for 10 to 20 seconds [lit. “turns”], screen it, then slice it to the shape of willow leaves. Prepare two liang of small clams, two liang of eagle-claw tea sprouts [named from the shape], one liang of black mushrooms, two liang of jellyfish, four walnuts, four liang of bamboo shoots, two liang of good ham, one liang of sesame oil.  Put meat, soy sauce and the liquor in the pan to stew for five minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, except the jellyfish, which should be added last.



Daylily Pork Stew


Use young daylily buds, add salt to pickle, then air dry for future cooking.


(The stew recipe is obviously missing here. No doubt the buds were to be stewed in casserole with pork, as they still are.)



Stir-fried Pork Shreds


Prepare a piece of meat by getting rid of membranes, skin and bones, then slice it very finely. Marinate with mild sauce and liquor, while heating some vegetable oil in the wok. When the smoke turns from white to light gray, put in the meat and stir-fry it constantly, meanwhile add in pea starch, a bit of vinegar, a bit of sugar, white stems of green onion, chives, and similar spices. It is best to use one jin of meat and a high fire, adding no water. Another way to cook this dish is: after stir-frying the meat in oil, add sauce and liquor to stew until the color of meat changes to red, turn off the fire, add chives, and serve.


(The chives are presumably to be mixed in for very quick cooking, but perhaps they were chopped as garnish on top.)



Stir-fried  Pork Slices


Use half fat and half lean pork slices. Marinate in mild sauce. Stir-fry in a pan over a high fire.  When it makes a crackling sound, add in some sauce, a little water, green onion, cucumber slices, bamboo shoots, chives, and the like.


(Cooking by ear is common in Chinese kitchens; the change in sound when a piece of meat is properly stir-fried is hard to describe but useful to learn.)



Eight Treasure Meatballs


Mince half fat and half lean meat. Add pine nuts, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, gourds, ginger, and things of this sort. Mix them all with starch powder and shape to pingpong ball size. Put the meatballs on a plate, add some sweet liquor and soy sauce, then steam. When eaten, they taste juicy and crisp. Jia Zhihua once said: “To make meatballs, it is best to mince it by slicing, not to chop it with force.”  This is the right way to proceed.



Hollow Meatballs


Slice the meat to mince it. Marinate with seasonings. Use solid lard as filling to wrap in the meatballs. Steam the meatballs; the lard melts inside, making hollow meatballs. People of Zhenjiang are good at this cooking method.


(Evidently any seasoning will do, since the recipe is for a trick, not a particular taste.)



Braised Pork Steak


Boil the pork thoroughly, with the skin. Then broil it in sesame oil in the pan. Cut it into cubes and eat with salt or light sauce.



Soy Sauce Pork


Marinate the pork for a bit, then brush salty flour paste on it. Or just marinate it in soy sauce, then air dry.


(This and the following recipes are for preparing pork in various ways for cooking; they do not detail how to cook it.  They appear to be ways of readying the meat for a red-cooking recipe or something similar.)



Rice Dreg Pork


Marinate the pork with sauce first for a short time, then add in rice dregs to marinate longer.



Salt-marinated Pork


Use salt to scrub and rub the pork, salt it for three days; then it is ready to cook.

The three styles of preparing for the pork mentioned above are only suitable to eat in winter, not for summer.


(They are all rich and heating—ideal for a cold winter day, but overwhelming in summer.)



Mr. Yin Wenduan’s Air-dried Pork


Slaughter a pig; cut it in eight pieces. Saute the salt first in the pan. Rub four qianof salt on each piece.  Rub this in everywhere. Then hang the pieces in an airy and shady place. If maggots appear, use sesame oil to rub [on the meat—but it would not work well].  In summer, when cooking, the air dried pork should be soaked in water for a whole night, then boil it in water. The water amount is enough when it just covers the surface of the pork. When the pork is boiled, slice it with sharp knife, and do not follow the muscle lines; slicing it should cross the lines. Yin’s house makes the best air dried pork, suitable for tribute to the Emperor. Today, even Xuzhou’s air dried pork is not as good as Yin’s, though we are not sure why.



Household Style Pork


Hangzhou’s hometown pork has different levels of quality, divided into first class, second class, and third class. In general, when the pork tastes mild but very delicious, and the lean part is not tough, it is the first class pork. When cured for a long time, the hometown pork becomes good ham.



Bamboo Shoots and Ham Stew


Cut bamboo shoots and ham to cubes, then stew them together on low heat. After stewing out most of the ham’s salty flavor, add in crystal sugar to continue stewing till the ham collapses. Officer Assistant Xi Wushan said: After the ham is cooked, if it is saved for the next day, one must keep the original broth. The next day, rewarming the ham in the broth is the best way to keep the tasty flavor. If the broth is not saved, and the ham is rewarmed without the broth, the meat will turn dry and the flavor will be gone.



Roasted Piglet


Prepare a piglet of about six or seven jin. Take off the hair, and clean internally. Set it on a large fork, and roast it over a charcoal fire. It should be turned while roasting, till its color turns deep gold. While roasting, spread butter from cream on its skin several times till it is fully cooked. When serving, the meat tasting crumbly and flavorful is the best; crisp is moderate; hard is the lowest quality. Manchu people sometimes steam the piglet with liquor and soy sauce, and this method of cooking is one that my good friend Long Wen has mastered.


(The first method sounds rather like Cantonese cha siu—literally “fork-roasted,” because it used to be roasted hanging on forks in an oven—but Cantonese use oil and flavorings, not butter.)



Barbecue Pork Roast


It takes patience to barbecue pork. First roast the inside in order to cook the fat in the skin. This way makes sure the skin part gets roasted crumbly with a rich flavor. If one roasts the outside first, the fat will melt down in the fire and the skin taste rough and burned, with poor flavor. The same rules apply to barbecuing piglets.


(This recipe is evidently for a whole pig, of the sort found at large temple sacrifices.)





To make ribs, use half fat and half lean ribs. Take out the spinal cord, and replace the space with chopped leek. Brush vinegar and soy sauce on the ribs, then place in the oven. While they are in the oven, make sure the ribs are moist by brushing on vinegar and sauce multiple times.



Luo-Suo Pork


It is cooked the same way as chicken shreds. Save the whole sheet of skin, but chop the pork finely and then cook it with seasoning. Chef  Lie is good at making this dish.



Three Types of Meat Dishes Cooked in Duanzhou


One is Luo-Suo Pork. One is water-boiled plain pork mixed with sesame seeds and salt. The last one is stewed pork slices mixed with mild sauce. These three pork dishes are good on home-style food menus. In Duanzhou, Chef Nie and  Chef Li are good at cooking them. I sent Yang Er there specially, to learn them.



Yang’s Meatballs


Yang Ming Fu’s kitchen makes special meatballs which are as big as teacups, but taste very fine and delicate. The soup is especially delicious. I think they prepare the meat by getting rid of tendon and veins, then chopping it very fine, using half fat and half lean, and last mixing in starch powder.



Dried Day Lily and Ham Stew


Take a good ham, peel off the skin, cut off the fat and save the lean meat. First stew the skin with chicken broth until soft and tender, then add the lean ham and stew until soft and tender.  Take day lily buds, cut into pieces two inches long. Then add honey, fermented glutinous rice and water, to stew with ham and skin for another half day. The dish tastes sweet and juicy. The day lily and ham are both tender and soft, but the day lily still has its shape. The soup is delicious. The recipe is from a Daoist in Chaotian Palace.



Honey Ham


Choose the best ham, cut into big cubes with the skin, stew it in honey liquor until very soft and falling apart.  This is the best. As for grades of ham, there are various qualities.  Even though they are all from Jinhua, Lanxi and Yiwu, most of them are not very good. Some are really bad, so poor that they can’t be used for making salted meat. Only Wang San Fang’s ham store sells the best ham.  It costs four coins per jin. I had this kind of ham once at  Yin Wenduan’s house. It smelled good even when I was still outside the house. Since then I have never had such good ham again.



Part 6 Livestock-Cattle, Sheep and Deer


Cattle, sheep and deer: these three kinds of livestock are not common food in Southern families’ household menus. But it is important to know the way of cooking them. So I wrote this chapter.





The way to purchase good beef: first go to the butcher’s to pick out leg meat. This part is neither too fat nor too lean. When you get home, scrape off the skin, then cook the meat in 3/5 liquor and 2/5 water till soft. Then add in soy sauce to continue cook until the meat absorbs all the juice. Beef has a unique flavor, so it is best to cook it alone. Don’t combine it with other food.



Beef Tongue


Beef tongue is among the best of foods. Peel the skin and membrane, then slice it, then cook with beef. It can be salted, then air dried for a year. Thus prepared, the tongue tastes like first-grade ham.



Sheep Head


Sheep’s head has much hair. It must be cleaned well. If you can’t clean it off [by ordinary scraping], then burn the hair off. Then wash it well and cut it open. Cook it in water until the meat separates from the bones. If there is old skin around the mouth, make sure it also has been washed clean. For eyes, keep only the vitreous fraction, cut them to halves, take off the dark skin, then chop the rest finely. Use an old hen for making broth, add in black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, four liang sweet liquor, and a cup of soy sauce. If you prefer spicy flavors, add 12 white peppercorns and 12 one-inch-long pieces of green onion. If prefer sour flavor, then add in a cup of good rice vinegar to the cooking liquid.



Lamb Trotters


Stewing lamb trotters is done the same way as cooking pigs’ trotters, except that there are red and white methods. Normally, cook it in mild soy sauce—that is, red-cooking. Stewing it with salt is white-cooking. It’s best to combine with Chinese yams.


(The text has “sheep” instead of  “lamb,” but for this and the next recipe a young animal would be used.)



Lamb Soup


Slice the cooked lamb meat into the size of small dice. Stew it in chicken broth with bamboo shoots, black mushroom and Chinese yam.


Sheep Belly Soup

Clean the sheep belly, cook till quite soft, slice thinly. Stew the sliced belly in the original broth.  One can add pepper and vinegar. This is a northern-style method.  The southern style of cooking the soup is not as good as the northern.  The best lamb pot stew was made by officer Qian Yusha. I wanted to learn the recipe from him.


Red-Stewed Lamb

Same as red-stewed pork. Add  a pricked walnut [presumably green] to get rid of the smell.  This is a very traditional method.


Stir-Fried Lamb Shreds

Same as stir-fried pork shreds.  They can be coated it with starch powder. The thinner the lamb shreds, the better. Stir in green onion shreds when serving.


Lamb Roast

Use big lamb chunks, about five or seven jin. Set the lamb on big pitchforks and roast over the fire. It tastes so good that it even made the Song Emperor Renzong crave it at midnight [in a well-known story].


Whole Lamb Feast

There are 72 ways [i.e., “many”; a traditional figure] to make a whole lamb feast, but only 17 or 18 ways are good. It requires very high cooking skills. Ordinary cooks can never manage the skills. For this dish, the lamb parts need to be cooked in different ways, separately. Even though it is all lamb in bowls and plates, the flavors need to be different to have a successful feast.


Deer Meat

Deer meat is very rare. It tastes more tender and more flavorful than roebuck. It can be roasted or stewed.


Two Ways of Cooking  Deer Sinew

Deer sinew is hard to cook to the soft point. It must be prepared three days ahead by beating and boiling it repeatedly, in order to extract the smelly liquid. Until the sinew is swelled,  it is not ready to cook. Add meat broth first, then chicken broth for stewing, then add in soy sauce, wine and a bit of starch to make a thicker white soup. Serve in plates. If stew with ham, bamboo shoots and black mushrooms, the soup will be red.  There will then be no need to add starch.  Serve it in the bowl. For white soup, one can sprinkle a bit of Chinese brown pepper on it.

(More a medicinal item—a nutraceutical—than a gourmet dish.)


Roebuck Meat

Cook roebuck meat as in cooking beef and deer meat. It can be made into dry jerky. Roebuck meat is not as delicate as deer meat, but is finer and smoother.


Masked Palm Civet (Paguma Larvata)

It’s hard to find fresh civet meat. Cured meat can be steamed with honey wine, then sliced to serve. Or soak it in water that has been used for washing uncooked rice. The rice water can soak away the salty dirty residue on meat. When eating the meat, it tastes juicy and tender.

(Palm civet, a mongoose-like animal, is said to be excellent eating, but is, alas, too good for its own good, and is now almost extinct from overhunting.)


Imitation Milk

Scramble egg whites with honey and fermented rice, beat the mixture really well, then steam it. This imitation milk is smooth and delicate. If cooked on a high fire, it tastes overdone. Too much egg white also makes the fake milk taste too old.


Deer Tail

Yin Wen Duan Gong ranked deer tails as the first among dishes. For people living in the southern part of China, deer tails are rare [they come largely from China’s far north]. When shipped from Beijing, the tails do not stay fresh. I once got a very big tail. I wrapped it in vegetable leaves to steam.  It made an amazing dish. The best part of tail is the fattest part.


Part 7 Birds

Chicken is very much used in many dishes, and should get the highest credit. It is like the case of a person with a good heart who does good things without others’ knowledge: he should get the full credit. So I write chicken dishes ahead of other birds.  This chapter is called Bird Dishes.


White Chicken Slices

Fat chicken slices should be just as the flavor of Taigeng.  [This was an ancient ritual meat broth; it had no seasonings, only the original meat juice flavor.]  And also of Xuanjiu [an ancient ritual water, later referred to as a mild liquor]. It is best when in the countryside, staying in an inn and having no time for complicated dishes. White chicken slices are the easiest. When cooking, do not add too much water.


Dried Chicken Floss [i.e., finely cut meat]

Take one fat chicken, use the two legs, pick out the tendons and bones. Chop the meat part, but do not hurt the skin. Add egg white, cornstarch, and pine seeds, then chop the chicken leg meat into cubes. If there is not enough chicken leg meat, one can add chicken breast, cut similarly into cubes. Fry in aromatic oil (sesame oil) till it has golden color, take it out and place it in a bowl. Add a half jin of hundred flowers wine, a big cup of soy sauce, and one metal spoon of chicken fat. Then add winter bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, ginger, green onion, and similar flavorings to taste, and cover it with chicken bones and chicken skin.  Add a big bowl of water to steam in the bamboo steamer. When done, remove the bones and skin.


Bomb Chicken

Chop the small chick into cubes, soaked it in soy sauce and wine. When you feel like eating it, fry one chicken cube in hot oil for a very few seconds, pick it up, repeat the action three times, then put it on a dish, spray it with vinegar, wine, starch, and chopped green onion.

(Try this and you will understand the name!)


Chicken Congee

Take one fat hen; use the breast. Peel the skin and scrape the meat with a knife, or with a planing tool. Only scrape or shred, do not chop. If one chops the chicken breast, the flavor will be lost. Then use the rest of the hen to make broth.  Cook it with the shredded chicken breast. When almost done, take some fine ground rice, ham crumbles, and pine seeds.  Mash them together.  Then add in the congee. When serving, sprinkle some chopped green onion and ginger.  Pour some chicken fat on top. Screen the dregs, or not, [as desired]. This congee is best for the old people. Normally, if the chicken was chopped when preparing, then screen the dregs out; if it was scraped, then there is no need to screen the dregs.


Caramel-Colored Chicken

Wash one fat hen well.  Boil the whole chicken in a pot. Add four liang lard and four fennel seeds.  Cook till it is 80% done. Then fry it till golden color.  Cook it again in the original broth.  Add soy sauce, wine and unchopped green onions.  Cook till no more liquid remains in the pot, and pick the chicken out. When serving, slice it, and pour the original broth on top, or eat with dipping sauce. This is Yang Zhongchen’s cooking method.  Brother Fan Fu’s house has another good way to cook it.


Beaten Chicken

Beat the whole chicken, then cook it with soy sauce and wine. Nanjing Governor Gao Nanchang’s house cooks the best wrecked chicken.

(The whole raw chicken was beaten with a wooden stick to break the bones inside, but the chicken stays as a whole piece. This would allow the essence and flavor of the bones to get into the meat.  This can also be translated “wrecked chicken,” reminding one of the Spanish “wrecked dessert,” bread or sweet potato chunked and cooked in sugar syrup till it looks like a mess but tastes wonderful.)


Stir-fry Chicken Slices

Use chicken breast, peel the skin off, slice thin. Mix with bean powder, sesame oil and soy sauce, scramble with starch and egg white. When about to stir-fry, add some soy sauce, cucumber, ginger and green onion bits. It must be cooked on a big fire. Each serving can be no more than four liang, for cooking thoroughly in a short time.


Steamed Chicken

Use a whole young chicken [presumably something like the “game hen” of today].  Place it on a plate, add soy sauce, sweet wine, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots on top of the chicken, then steam it on rice cooker.


Braised Chicken with Soy Sauce

Take a whole raw chicken.  Marinate it in mild soy sauce for a whole night, then air-dry the chicken. It is a winter dish.


Diced  Chicken

Use chicken breast.  Cut into small cubes.  Fry these in hot oil. Add autumn oil and wine, then remove it from the frying pan.  Add some diced water chestnut, bamboo shoots and black mushrooms—for the juice, the black the best.


Chicken Meatballs

Chop the chicken breast into fine paste.  Shape it into chicken meatballs, each about the size of a Chinese liquor cup [an ounce or two].  They taste tender and juicy like shrimp meatballs. Yangzhou Grand Master Zang Ba’s house makes the best. Their method is to use pork lard, turnip and starch to knead the meatballs; no fillings.


Mushroom Simmered Chicken

Take four liang of mushrooms.  Soak off the sand and dirt in hot water.  Then rinse under cold water, brush with a toothbrush, then rinse with cold water four times. Fry the mushroom in two liang of vegetable oil.  Spray on some liquor . Chop the chicken, place it in the pot, boil it, get rid of froth, put in some sweet wine and mild soy sauce. Stew it until 80% done. Then put in the mushrooms. Keep stewing for the other 20% of the time.  Add in bamboo, green onion, and pepper to serve. No further water is needed.  Add in crystal sugar, three qian.


Pear Stir-Fried Chicken

Use young chicken breast.  Slice it, heat up 3 liang pork lard, put in the chicken slices.  Stir-fry 3 or 4 seconds .  Add in one tablespoon of sesame oil.  Then add in one teaspoon of each of the following: starch, salt, ginger juice, Chinese pepper powder. Then add in pear slices and black mushroom cubes. Stir-fry together 3 or 4 seconds.  Serve on a five-inch plate.


Imitation Wild Chicken [or pheasant] Wrap

Chop a chicken breast finely, crack one egg in.  Add mild soy sauce to marinate. Divide a lard net [caul, or equivalent] into parts, wrap the chicken meat in, then deep fry in the hot oil. Add mild soy sauce and wine for seasoning.  Stir in black mushroom and black fungus [i.e., black shiitake and black wood-ear].  To serve, add a little sugar.


Chinese Cabbage Stir-Fried with Chicken

Cut the chicken into cubes.  Stir-fry until half done.  Add wine and continue stirfrying 20 to 30 seconds, then add soy sauce to stir fry another 20 to 30 seconds, then add water to boil. Cut the cabbage into cubes. Put in when the chicken is almost 70% done. Cook the whole dish till done, add in sugar, green onions, fennel. The cabbage should be cooked first [before adding the other items] and each chicken needs about four liang of oil.


Chestnuts Fried with Chicken

Chop the chicken into cubes.  Fry in two liang of vegetable oil.  Add in a bowl of wine, a small cup of soy sauce, and a bowl of water.  Stew it on a small fire till 70% done. The chestnuts need to be fully cooked before being added to the dish.  Toss some bamboo shoots to cook. When the dish is done, sprinkle a little sugar to enhance the flavor.


Broiling Eight Pieces

Take one tender chicken.  Chop into eight pieces. Deep-fry these in hot oil.  Strain the oil.  Add a cup of  mild sauce and a half jin of wine.  Cook until done.  Serve immediately. Do not add water.  Use a high fire.


Pearl Meatballs

Cut fully cooked chicken breast into the size of yellow beans; mix with mild soy sauce and wine, then roll in dry flour. Stir-fry in oil in a pan. Use vegetable oil.


Astragalus-Steamed Chicken for Curing Tuberculosis

Prepare a  young chicken which has not laid eggs.  Do not get water on it. Clean out the inside and stuff in one liang of astragalus. Place the chicken on chopsticks in a steaming pot.  Seal the pot. When it is done, take out the chicken.  The soup is thick and delicious. It is good for people who has poor health.

[The chicken is held above the steaming water by the chopsticks.  The drippings of the chicken would mix with the water to make a very pure, concentrated broth.  This is considered especially digestible and medicinal, today as in the 18th century.  Astragalus is a medicinal herb of very dubious value for TB.]


Braised Chicken

Take one whole chicken.  Stuff with 30 spears of green onion.  Add two qian of fennel powder. Use one jin of wine and one and half cup of soy sauce.  Cook for an hour. Then add in one jin of water, and two liang lard.  Stew it together. When chicken is cooked, get rid of the lard. The water needs to be boiled before adding. When there is a bowlful of thick juice left, take out the chicken. The chicken can be torn apart by hand or thinly sliced by a knife, and served with the original juice.


Jiang Chicken

For one whole chicken, use four qian of salt, one tablespoon of soy sauce, a half teacup of old liquor, three big slices of ginger.  Put all the ingredients in a casserole. Steam the casserole until the chicken falls apart.  Pick the bones out.  Do not add water. This is Yushi Officer Jiang’s family cooking method.

(A characteristic part of the Tang Dynasty’s bureaucratic system, the Qing Dynasty’s renewed Yushi system was a typical aspect of Chinese imperial supervision institutions.)


Tang Chicken

Take one chicken, weighing two or three jin. If choosing a two-jin chicken, use one bowl of liquor, three bowls of water; if choosing a three-jin bird, allow additional liquor and water. First, cut the chicken into pieces.  Use two liang of vegetable oil to fry the chicken until well done. Add wine, cook for 20 seconds, then add water and cook for about 5 minutes. Add a winecup [1-2 oz.] of soy sauce.  When about to serve, add one qian of sugar. This is a recipe from Tang Jianhan.

(Possibly in the style of the Tang Dynasty?)


Chicken Liver

Quickly stir-fry chicken liver with liquor and vinegar.  This is the best to preserve the tenderness.


Chicken Blood

Solidify the chicken blood, cut it to long pieces, add some chicken broth, mild sauce, vinegar and starch to make soup.This is a superior dish for old people.

(“Solidify” with a coagulant, normally one of the ones used to make tofu.  The blood becomes a cake much like tofu and tasting rather similar.)


Shredded Chicken

Shred cooked chicken.  Add with some soy sauce, mustard-green tips, and vinegar to make a salad. This is a Hangzhou dish. One can add bamboo shoots and celery. To stir-fry the shredded chicken, use bamboo shoots slices, soy sauce and wine. This is also very good. For making chicken salad, use cooked meat; for stir-frying shredded chicken, use raw meat.


Rice-Dreg Chicken

The way to cook rice-dreg chicken is the same as the method for cooking rice-dreg pork.


Chicken Kidneys

Slightly boil 30 chicken kidneys in water.  Peel the coating, then add chicken broth and seasoning to stew. They taste extremely tender and juicy.

(This certainly shows the amount of labor a Chinese cook was willing to put in.  Chicken kidneys are about the size of split peas.)


Chicken Eggs

Crack eggs in a bowl, scramble with bamboo chopsticks for a thousand times [hyperbolic!].  Then steam till very tender. Eggs taste dull when cooked for a short time; cooked for a long time,they taste tenderer.  [An odd comment, at least by modern standards.]  When cooked with tea, control the cooking time around two sticks of incense.  [To burn one stick of incense takes about a half hour; here the text says two sticks of incense time, thus about one hour.  This was, even within living memory, a very common way of telling time, especially in the kitchen.]  To cook 100 eggs, use one liang of salt; to cook 50 eggs, use 5 qian of salt. Or use soy sauce to stew eggs. Other methods could be either frying or stir-frying. Steaming eggs with chopped Eurasian Siskin [a small bird] also tastes good.

(This is a rather chaotically mixed account.  The first part refers to Chinese omelet or frittata; then attention shifts to tea-cooked eggs, hardboiled for a very long time in tea and soy sauce; then attention shifts again to a whole set of suggestions.)


Wild Chicken [or pheasant] Cooked Five Ways

Slice off the breast part of a casseroled chicken.  Leave the skin on. Marinate in mild soy sauce, wrap it in a lard net [caul, mesentery, or equivalent], then place it to roast in an iron pan [tie lian, an ancient pot-like cooker.  A lian can be made of metal like iron or copper, porcelain or clay. Here the text specifies an iron lian.]. The chicken breast could be wrapped in a square shape or a roll shape. This is one way. One can also slice the chicken breast, stir-fry it with seasoning; this is another way. Or one can cut the chicken breast to small cubes to stir-fry, or stew the whole wild chicken the same way as a domestic chicken. Or pour hot oil over the chicken breast to cook it well done, then shred it, add in wine, soy sauce, vinegar and celery to make a salad. Or slice the chicken, put it in a hot-pot, eat immediately when it is done; however, this way of eating wild chicken has the disadvantage that if one wants to eat tender chicken, it lacks flavor, but if one wants the flavor, it tastes dull.

[“Wild chicken” can refer to any wild gallinaceous bird, including pheasants and the like as well as actual wild chickens.  All of these once were, but no longer are, common in China.]


Red-cooked Chicken

To make red pot-roasted chicken, wash the chicken well.  For every jin of chicken, marinate with twelve liang of good wine, two qian plus five fen of salt, four qian of crystal sugar, a few cinnamon bits, all put in a casserole.  Then stew on a mild charcoal fire. If the wine is almost gone, but the chicken is still not well cooked, then add one teacup of water per one jin of chicken.


Mushroom Chicken Stew

One jin of chicken, one jin of sweet wine, three qian of salt, four qian of crystal sugar.  Use fresh mushrooms without any mold on them. Use a mild fire.  Two sticks of incense cooking time is appropriate. Do not add water, stew the chicken to 80% done, then add mushrooms.



Stewing pigeons with good ham is the best. Stewing without the ham is also good.

(As this recipe, or lack of a recipe, implies, a well-raised Chinese pigeon is so good and so delicate that least is best.  Unlike the French, the Chinese use the adult bird, not the young squab.)


Pigeon Eggs

The way to cook pigeon eggs is the same as cooking chicken kidneys. Or one can fry the pigeon eggs, adding a bit of vinegar.


Wild Duck

Slice the wild duck into thick slices.  Marinate with soy sauce. Bind each slice of duck meat between two slices of snow peach and fry. Fu Daotai’s family cook  made the best wild duck dish, but the recipe has vanished. The duck can be made by the method for steaming domestic duck.

(Daotai was an official position, the highest in the Qing Dynasty city government hierarchy.)


Steamed Duck

Take one raw fat duck without bones. Stuff with one winecup of sticky rice, some ham cubes, kohlrabi cubes, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, and green onion.  Put these all in the duck.  Place it in a plate.  Soak in chicken broth, then steam the whole dish till done.This is the recipe from Taishou Wei in Zhengding. [Zhengding is a city in Hebei province.]


Duck All Confused

Use a fat duck.  Boil in water till 80% done. Pick out the bones after it cools down.  Cut into random, natural-looking pieces instead of  regular round or square shapes. Put the meat back into the original broth to continue stewing, add 3 qian of salt, half jin of wine, then mash some Chinese yam into the dish to make soup. When the soup is almost cooked, add in ginger crumbs, black mushrooms and green onion. If want to make thick soup, add some starch in it. One can use taro to replace Chinese yam; it tastes good as well.

[The name of this dish is truly odd.  Possibly hutu, “confused and foolish,” is used here in the etymologically original sense of “paste-daubed.”  More likely it means “duck all mixed up.”  Such is Chinese.  One dictionary happily suggested “schlemiel” as a translation for hutu.  Chinese yam is not a sweet potato; it is a rather firm root, medicinal, flavorful.  White potatoes will do for a substitute, or if you can find a West African market, West African yams are more like the Chinese ones.]


Braised Duck

Do not use water, use wine to cook the duck. Take out the bones. Serve with seasonings. This is the recipe from Officer Yang Gong’s house in Guangdong.


Duck Breast

Use fat duck, cut into big pieces, use a half jin of wine, one cup of soy sauce, bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, and green onion to braise, cook it until the juice is absorbed. It is then ready to serve.


Roast Duck

Use a young duck, place it on a big fork and roast it. The cook from Officer Feng’s family makes the best roast duck.

(About as minimal a recipe as Yuan ever gives us.  Presumably this is the modern fork-roasted duck, marinated in a variety of wonderful dips and then hung on a fork in an old-fashioned Chinese oven—or, more likely, today, over a barbecue fire.)


Deep Braised Duck

Stuff green onions inside the duck.  Close the cap [of the pot] neatly to braise. Xu’s duck store in Shui Xi Men makes the best deep braised ducks. Ordinary families can not manage the skills. The braised ducks have yellow and black colors [depending on the sauce]; the yellow ones are better.


Dry Steamed Ducks

Hangzhou merchant He Xing Ju’s house made dry steamed ducks with this recipe.  Use a fat duck, wash it well and cut into eight pieces.  Add sweet wine and soy sauce. Cover the duck.  Seal it in a porcelain jar. Then put the jar in a dry wok to cook. Use mild charcoal.  Do not use water. When served, the duck tastes soft as clay. The cooking time is best held to two sticks of incense [i.e. the time it takes to burn a stick and then another—about an hour].


Wild Duck Meatballs

Chop duck breasts finely, add some lard and starch to make meatballs, cook the meatballs in chicken broth. Or cook in the original duck broth; this is also very good. Kong Qin’s house in Taixin makes the best wild duck meatballs.


Xu Duck

Pick a very large fresh duck.  Use 12 liang of Hundred Flower jiu; one liang and two qian of raw salt; one bowl of boiled water.  Use the water to dissolve the raw salt, then get rid of the foreign substances [insoluble residue in the salt]. Then add seven bowls of water, and four chunky slices of fresh ginger weighing about one liang [each, apparently]. Put them all in a big ceramic pot, covered.  Seal the pot with strong paper. Then put the pot in a big bamboo basket brazier. Choose 15 big charcoal pieces which cost two wen each. Cover the basket brazier well with a bag to avoid the heat getting out. Start cooking in the early morning breakfast time and cook till evening. If not cooked long enough, the flavor is not good. When the charcoals are all burned out, do not replace the pot, and do not open it too early. After the duck is cut open, wash it well with water, then dry it with a clean cotton cloth.  Then place the duck in the pot.

(“Xu” remains unidentified.  This recipe seems confused; the last sentence may belong before the sentence starting with “Seal…”)


Sparrow Stew

Use 50 sparrows, stew with mild sauce and sweet wine. When cooked, pick out the feet, leave the chests and head meat.  Put in a plate with broth.  It is very fresh and delicious. This method can be used when cooking other kinds of birds. But fresh sparrows are hard to find. Xue Shengbai often suggests that others not eat pet birds, because he thinks the wild birds are more delicious and easy to digest.


Quail and Siskin Stew

Quails from Liuhe [a district in Jiangsu Province] are the best. They have some which cook down well.  For the siskins, stew with Suzhou seasoning sauce and honey wine till really tender, then add seasonings to cook, just as with sparrows. Suzhou Inspector Shen’s Quail and Siskin stew was made so well even the bones are soft as clay. I have no idea how they make the dish. The same household also makes delicious stir-fry fish fillets. Their cooking skill is so perfect that they could be ranked on top in Suzhou province.


Yunlin Goose

Ni Zan’s Yuan Dynasty cookbook Yunlin Collection recounted the method of cooking goose. Take one whole goose, clean it well, wash and rub it inside with three qian of salt, then stuff in a small bundle of green onions. To the outside of the goose, apply honey and wine. In a pot, place a big bowl of wine and a big bowl of water for steaming the goose, the goose can not touch the water. Hold it up by bamboo chopsticks. Two bundles of cogongrass as fuel in the stove.  Burn it all up slowly. Wait till the pot cools down, open the lid, turn the goose over, place back the lid fully to steam again, burn another bundle of cogongrass until burnt up. Let the grass burn naturally, do not prick or stir it. Seal the lid with cotton paper.  If the paper is too dry and gets cracks, wet it with water. When the cooking is done, the goose is tender as clay, the broth is very delicious as well. Use the same method to cook ducks will get the same taste. Every bundle of cogongrass weighs one jin and eight liang. When rubbing with salt, it could be mixed with onions, grind pepper and wine. The Yunlin Collection recorded many dishes. Only this method is very good.  After being tried, the rest just seemed so-so.

(Ni Zan, a.k.a. Yunlin (Cloud Forest, his studio’s name), was a famous artist of the Yuan Dynasty.  In his book, this recipe follows one for barbecued pork, and says to follow that recipe except as otherwise specified.  Yuan successfully and accurately fuses the two recipes here.)


Roast Goose

Hangzhou Roast goose always gets bad reviews, because it doesn’t get cooked long enough and looks half raw. It’s better to let the family cooks make this dish!

(One of Yuan’s non-recipes!)


Part 8  Aquatic Animals with Scales

Every fish should have scales, only herrings don’t. I think fish should be considered as a category with scales. So I write “aquatic animals with scales.”

(Herrings do have scales, but very small ones that can be ignored in eating.  Oddly, Yuan missed catfish, some of which truly lack scales.  Could he, just possibly, have meant “catfish” and miswritten “herring?”)


White Amur Bream

Take live white bream, add wine and soy sauce to steam. It’s best when steamed to the color of jade [white—not the green that English readers think of as “jade color”]. If the fish turns to a duller white color, the meat will taste overcooked and odd. When steaming, one must place the lid right. Do not let the steam water fall on the fish. When it’s about to serve, add some black mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Or it can be fried with liquor; use liquor, not water.  This is called Imitation White Bream.  [Presumably because the real thing is the steamed form.]



First, one needs to be good at choosing the best carp. Choose the ones that are somewhat flattened and have a white color. The meat is fresh, crisp and loose. When one picks out the bones after cooking [carp are extremely bony], the meat will naturally fall off of the bones. The ones with a black back and round body have meat that is stiff and rough and contains lots of bones. It’s a bad type carp.  Do not eat it. If steaming [the bettrer kind of carp], do it the same way as for steaming White Bream; this is the best.  Frying is also a good way.  Taking the meat to make soup is good too. Tong Zhou people are very good at stewing carp; the head and tail both are crisp.  This is called “ Crunchy Fish.”  It’s best for children to eat. However, it still is not as good-tasting as steamed carp. Long Chi in Liuhe produces this kind of fish; the bigger they are the tenderer they are, which is amazing. When steaming, use wine, not water, add a bit of sugar to bring out the essence of the dish. Consider the size of fish when adding soy sauce and wine.

(The white carp is evidently the true carp, Cyprinus carpio.  Possibly Yuan means to include other whiter species too.  The black-backed rounder one is clearly a different species, possibly the mud carp or noble carp, or perhaps both of these lumped together.)


White Fish

White fish has very fine meat. Steam it with pickled herrings; this is the best. Or lightly pickle it in winter, add liquor to marinate for two days; this is good also. I catch fresh white fish from the river, and steam it with liquor.  It tastes amazingly delicious. Marinating the fish is the best, but not too long or meat turns hard and flavorless.

(“White fish” could be anything.  Often it means the culter, Culter brevicauda, but locally it can apply to any fish that is whitish.  In Heilongjiang, for instance, the “Heilongzhang white fish” is the Ussuri cisco.  The ciscoes are a group within the English-language “whitefish” category.  In Guangzhou, it can mean the white croaker, Pseudosciaenia crocea.  In China, the term “white fish” is even used as a term for silverfish, a primitive insect.  We have no idea which bai yu Yuan was catching.)



Ji Fish (Mandarin Fish)


Mandarin fish does not have many bones.  It is best filleted and stir-fried. For stir-frying, the thinner the fillets, the better. Marinate in soy sauce first, then mix it with starch and egg white for batter, then add in seasonings. Use vegetable oil.


(The Mandarin fish or Chinese perch, Siniperca chuatsi, is a white-fleshed spiny fish.  Egg batter is considered an Iberian invention; the Portuguese must have brought it to China, if it is not an independent invention there.)



Dark Sleeper (Odontoburis obscura)


In Hangzhou, people rank dark sleeper one of the best fish, but in Jinglin, it is a low ranked form, and is considered a “tiger head snake,” really amusing.  [A “tiger headed snake” is a metaphor that refer something looks funny and amusing.] This type of fish has very tender meat.  It can be stir-fried, stewed, or steamed. Add pickled shepherd’s purse to make soup; this is extremely tasty.


(A highly regarded large goby.)



Fish Floss


Steam mackerels, or grass carp.  Take the meat when cooked, fry it in oil in a wok till it turns golden, add some salt, green onion, pepper, melon, ginger. Sealed in a bottle in winter time, it can stay fresh for a month.


(The vegetables would probably be slivered like the fish.)



Fish meatballs


Use white fish, or mackerel.  Cut into halves, nail to a board, and scrape off the meat with a knife, leave the bone on the board.  Chop the meat finely, mix it with bean powder and lard by hand.  Add in a little salt water, but not mild soy sauce.  Add some green onion, and ginger juice, to fishballs.  When the fishballs are made, place them in boiling water till they are fully cooked, then take them out and put in cold water to keep fresh. When serving, boil the fishballs with chicken broth and seaweed.


(This remains a common, simple soup in China.)



Fish Fillets


Use mackerels or Mandarin fish fillets.  Marinate with soy sauce.  Mix [i.e., cover] with some starch and egg white [batter].  Quickly fry in really hot oil.  Place it on a small plate and sprinkle green onion, pepper, melon and ginger. Fillets should not exceed six liang.  Too much is not good for cooking thoroughly [the outside would be overcooked before the inside finished cooking].



Asian Carp with Tofu


Fry a large Asian carp till fully cooked.  Add tofu, soy sauce, water, green onion and wine to boil it.  When the soup color turns somewhat red, it is ready for serving.  The fish head is the most delicious part. This is Hangzhou cuisine. Match the amount of soy sauce with the size of the fish.



Braised Mandarin Fish with Wine-based Sauce


Cut a large, fresh Mandarin fish into large pieces, and deep-fry.  Add soy sauce, vinegar, wine and other ingredients, and cook in broth—the more the better. When fish is done, quickly take it out. This dish was best cooked by Hangzhou Wu Liu Ju [a restaurant]. However, their dish is not as good as before, because of bad sauce. It truly is a shame. Song Sister-in-law’s Fish Congee is also not as good as its fame. Meng Liang Lu is not very trustworthy either.

The fish should not be too large, too large makes it hard to absorb the flavor. Not to small either, small fish has too many bones.


(Note by Beilei Pu: I am not sure why Yuanmei mentioned Meng Liang Lu here.  It is a Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1280) famous book “Meng Liang Lu” (1274) by Wu Zimu, which details social life in Lingan (now Hangzhou).  Apparently Yuan Mei is saying that even a famous book can be wrong about fish. The same appears to be the case for the Song Sister-in-Law’s fish congee.)





Whitebait, when freshly caught out of water, is called “icy fresh.” It can be slow-cooked with chicken broth or ham soup. Or fry it, which tastes even more tender. Dried Whitebait needs to soak in water to soften it, first.  Then fry it with sauce, which is also a good dish.



Taizhou Dried Fish  (Tai Xiang)


Tai Xiang can be of various qualities.  The best is from Taizhou Song Men [a small town]  It is tender, fresh and fat. Take the meat off when raw.  This is a snack dish; there is no need to cook it. When stewing with fresh meat, it must be added in after the meat is thoroughly cooked. Otherwise, Xiang will be overcooked, melt, and disappear. After the dish is cooked, it can be frozen, to become Xiang jelly; this is the method by Shaoxing residents.



Fermented Glutinous Rice with Xiang


In winter, use a big carp, marinated and air dried.  Put it in fermented glutinous rice in a pot, sealed.  Leave till summer time, then eat it.  For this, do not use soy sauce. It will produce too spicy a flavor.



Shrimp Eggs and Ilisha Herring


In summer, pick white and clean ilisha xiang [dried ilisha herring].  Soak it in water for a day, to get rid of the salty flavor. Dry it under the sun, then fry it in oil in a wok. When one side is fried to yellow color, take it out, add a layer of shrimp eggs on the other side, place it on a plate, add some sugar, and steam for one stick of incense. The dog days of summer are the best time to eat this dish.



Preserved Fish

Take a live black carp.  Discard the head and tail.  Cut it into small cubes, and marinate it with salt thoroughly.  Then let it air-dry. Fry it in oil in a wok, add some seasonings to absorb the juice, then add sesame seeds to stir and serve. This is a Suzhou method.



Homestyle Fried Fish


To make homestyle fried fish takes patience. Wash the fish well, cut into cubes and marinate in salt, press flat. Then put in oil to fry till both sides turn yellow. Add more wine and some soy sauce to slowly stew.  Then cook till all the juice is taken in, making the seasonings’ flavor absorbed in the fish. But this is a way to cook unfresh fish.  For fresh fish, just take it out of wok as soon as the fish is cooked.



Huang Gu Fish


Yuezhou [now Yueyang, in Hunan province] produces small fish, about two to three inches long.  Send for some that have been sun-dried. Peel the skin, add wine to season, put it on top of rice to steam.  It gives a most delicious flavor.  This is called Huang Gu Fish.



Part 9  Aquatic animals without scales


Fish without scales smell twice as bad as with scales.  They must be cooked in a special way. Use ginger, cinnamon to cover the fish smell.  Thus I have written this section “aquatic animals with scales.”



Eel Soup


Eels should not be cooked without bones. Eels smell quite fishy.  If you cook them in an easy way, the natural flavor of eels will be lost. As in cooking herring, one should not remove the scales. [Ordinary eels do not have scales; eel-like fish are evidently intended.]  To mildly stew river eel, choose one eel, wash off the slime, chop it into one-inch pieces, put in a sand pot, and stew it in wine till the meat softens down.  Before serving, add soy sauce.  For eel soup, stir in some winter pickled fresh shepherd’s purse, and lots of green onions, ginger, etc., to get rid of the fishy smell. In Changshu [a county-level city in Jiangsu] Bibu [an official government position in ancient China] Gu family dry-stew eel with starch powder and Chinese yam.  This is also a very good method.  Or one can add seasonings and steam the eel in a plate, without water. Fensi [an official government position in ancient China] Jia Zhihua family makes the best steamed eel, using four parts soy sauce to six parts wine mixture to cover the eel when steaming. When it is done, take it off the fire immediately; the skin will shrink if you are too late.



Stewed Eels in Brown Sauce

Stew the eels with wine and water till tender and soft.  Use sweet soybean sauce instead soy sauce.  Cook the dish till the juice is absorbed, then add fennel and spices to finish the dish. There are three problems to avoid: first, if the skin shrinks, it is not crisp; second. if the meat collapses [softens and shrinks too much], it is hard to eat with chopsticks; third, if one puts in fermented soy bean too early, the eel will not taste tender in the mouth.  TheZhu Fengsi family in Yangzhou makes the best. In general, stewed eels in brown sauce tastes best when the juice and flavor are absorbed by the eels.


Deep-Fried Eels


Choose big eels, chop off the heads and tails, then cut pieces one inch long. Fry thoroughly in sesame oil.  Take it out; then pick fresh tips of garland chrysanthemum, and fry them in the same oil till done. Layer the eel on top of the fried garland chrysanthemum, add seasoning, stew for the time it takes to burn one stick of incense. The amount of garland chrysanthemum should be half the amount of eel.



Fried Soft-shelled Turtle


Take the bones out of soft-shelled turtle, fry it in sesame oil on a big fire, add in a cup of soy sauce, and a cup of chicken broth. This is the recipe of Taishou Wei’s family in Zhengding [a county in southwestern Hebei].



Fried Soft-shelled Turtle with Soy Sauce


Boil the turtle until half done, get rid of the bones, fry it in oil on a big fire, add some soy sauce, water, green onion, and pepper to cook till all the juice is taken in by the turtle. Remove from the wok. This is Hangzhou style.



Soft-shell Turtle with Bones


Pick one about half a jin in size.  Chop it in four pieces.  Add three liang of lard.  Fry it in a wok till it turns a golden color.  Add some water, soy sauce, and wine to stew; first use a military fire [a strong, fierce fire], then a small fire.  When it is 80% done, add garlic. When serving, sprinkle some green onion, ginger and sugar. Small ones are better than big ones. The ones called “babyfoot soft-shell turtle” are the fresh tender type.



Soft-shell Turtle with Raw Salt


Chop in four pieces.  Deep-fry it in oil in a wok.  For every one jin of turtle use four liang of wine, three qian of fennel, one and a half qian of salt. Stew it till half done, then add in two liang of lard.  Then chop the turtle to the size of small tofu cubes. Add garlic, bamboo shoots. When done, add some green onion and black pepper.  If use soy sauce, then no salt. This is the recipe from Tang Hanjin’s family in Suzhou. A large soft-shell turtle tastes old, a small turtle tastes fishy, so you should choose middle size ones.



Soft-shell Turtle with Soup


Boil the turtle first, then pick out the bones to get the meat. Use two bowls of a mix of chicken broth, soy sauce and wine.  Stew the turtle in this until the juice reduces to the amount of one bowl.  Then remove from the wok.  Sprinkle some green onion, pepper, and ginger crumbs. Wu Zhuyu’s house makes the best. Use a little of starch can thicken the soup.



Whole Shell Soft Turtle


In Shandong, Chanjiang [a Ming military title] Yang’s house cooks turtle thus:  They cut off the head and tail, and use only body meat and a circle of soft meat from the shell. Stew it with seasonings till done, then cover by putting the whole shell back on. When hosting a banquet, in front of every guest, a whole shell soft turtle dish will be served. Guests first see it will feel a little surprised, worrying that the turtle may move! Sadly, the full recipe has not been recorded.



Ricefield Eel Soup


Boil eels till half done, pick out the bones and thinly slice the flesh. Add liquor and soy sauce to stew.  Use some starch, dried daylily buds, winter melon, and a few whole green onions to make the soup. Nanjing’s chefs often roast eels on dry charcoal; this is really hard to understand.


(Ricefield eels are common eels caught in ricefields—usually small.  They are delicate eating, and would be dried up and de-flavored by hot charcoal roasting.)



Stir-fried Ricefield Eels


Prepare thin-sliced eel to stir-fry. Let it get burnt a little.  It is just like the way to stir-fry chicken.  There is no need to add water.


(Presumably this just means thin fillets are simply stir-fried in oil.)



Inch-long Ricefield Eel


Cut the ricefield eel to one inch long pieces, stew it the same way as cooking sea eels. Or oil fry it first to make it hard, then cook with winter melon, fresh bamboo shoots and black mushrooms.  Use less soy sauce, but more ginger juice.



Shrimp Balls


To make shrimp balls is the same as making fish balls. Stew shrimp balls in chicken broth, or just fry and then add water. Be careful to mash the shrimps, but not too fine, otherwise they lose the original flavor. The same happens to fish balls too.

You can also simply shell the shrimps, then stir-fry with seaweed.  This is also good.



Shrimp Cake


Smash the shrimps, shape into rounds,  then fry.  This is called shrimp cake.


(Modern cooks would add chopped water chestnuts or similar vegetables, and one suspects this was done in Yuan Mei’s time too.  Another fragmentary recipe.)



Drunken Shrimps


Fry the shrimps with liquor till they turn yellow, then remove from pan. Add some mild sauce, and rice vinegar.  Stew till done, then place in a bowl, covered. When serving, put the shrimps on a plate.  Even the shells taste crisp.


(Modern recipes under this name generally marinate the shrimp in jiu.)



Stir-fried Shrimps


The way to stir-fry shrimps is the same as that for stir-frying fish.  One can add Chinese chives. Or add marinated shepherd’s purse from the winter [i.e., pickled in or for winter] to replace the chives. Some people beat the tails to flatten, then stir-fry; this is also a creative cooking way.




Crabs need to be eaten alone.  Don’t pair with other foods. The best is to boil in lightly salted water, till fully cooked.  Peel, then eat. Steaming can keep all the flavors but would taste very light.



Crab Congee


Shell the crabs.  To make congee, it is best to use the original broth to stew.  Don’t add chicken broth; it is better to cook the crabs alone. I have seen bad cooks add duck tongues or shark fins or sea cucumber, which not only covers the crab’s original delicious flavors but also add more fishy taste.  This is the worst ever!


(Amen.  Using expensive but incompatible items just to show off wealth is indeed fatal to crab dishes.)



Stir-fry Crab Powder


To make crab powder, it is best to use fresh shelled crabs and stir-fry them when fresh. After two hours, the crab will get dry and be flavorless.



Steamed Sshelled Crabs


Shell the crabs, detach the meat and ovaries, then put these back in the shell.  Put five or six eggs on top to steam. When serving, it looks like a whole crab but without legs. This is more creative than Stir-fry Crab Powder.

Yang Lan Po, mayor of Mingfu, has a method to cook crab with pumpkin, a very amazing dish.





Use clam meats.  Stir-frying them with chives is the best. Or one can make soup. Remove from the cooker in time, otherwise clams turn dry.


(True, but trust Yuan Mei to leave the exact time to your judgment—correct, since clams differ a lot in how long they take to cook, but not very helpful!)





There are three ways to eat cockles. One can use hot water to spray till the cockles are half done, then take off the shells, add liquor and soy sauce to marinate them; they are then “drunken cockles.”  Or one can boil in chicken broth and make soup, without the shells.  Or, take off the shells first, then use the meat to make congee. However, remove the dish from cooker in time.  If late, the meat will turn dry. Cockles are from Fenghua city [at least that’s where Yuan got them]. The quality is better than quahog and other clams.



Quahog (hard clam)


First, slice pork belly, stew it with spices till really tender. Wash quahogs well, stir-fry with sesame oil, then stew with the pork belly and the juice. The more soy sauce, the more flavor.

They can also be cooked with tofu. The quahogs are delivered from Yangzhou [quite far from where Yuan was living when he wrote], and can easily spoil, so one can shell them to get the meat part, then place it in pork lard to deliver it to faraway places. Or one can sun dry the quahog, which is also good.  If you cook the quahog in chicken broth, it tastes much better than razor clam. Or you can mash the quahog, and make it to pancake as in making shrimp pancake.  It tastes pretty good with seasonings.



Cheng Ze Gong ‘s Dried Razor Clam [Cheng Zegong was a merchant]

Cheng Zegong’s dried razor clam:  He soaked the clams in cold water for a day, then boiled them in hot water for two days, changing the water five times during the two days. One inch of dried razor clam will expand to two inches, looking like fresh razor clams.  He would then stew the clams in chicken broth. Yangzhou people tried to copy this recipe of the dried razor clams, but it was still not as good as Cheng’s.


(Those clams were evidently dried to truly rock-like hardness—as they often are today.)



Fresh Razor Clams


The ways to cook [fresh] razor clams is the same as cooking quahog. It’s also good to stir-fry them alone. He Chenchao’s family cooks very good tofu with razor clam soup, and no one can compare to it.



Water Chicken (Frogs)


Get rid of the frogs’ torso; keep only the legs. First fry the legs in oil, then add soy sauce, sweet wine, melon and ginger, then remove from the wok. Or get the frog meat to stir-fry.  The flavor is the same as chicken.


(“Tastes like chicken” is the classic line in English, but the Chinese use it too; frogs do indeed taste like chicken, and are universally called “field chickens” or “water chickens” in China.)



Smoked Eggs


Stew the eggs with spices till done, slightly smoke the eggs, then slice to put on plate.  This makes a good side dish.



Tea Eggs


For one hundred eggs, use one liang of salt, and unrefined tea.  Boil for about two sticks of incense time. For fifty eggs, then use five qian of salt, adjust the amount of salt by numbers of eggs.  This can be an appetizer.


(These two recipes are ancestral to the modern “tea eggs,” long boiled in the shell in tea with spices or in soy sauce with star anise and often other flavorings.)



Part 10  A Variety of Vegetable Dishes


Dishes are divided to meat dishes and vegetable dishes, as clothes are divided into outdoor and indoor wear.  Rich families prefer eating more vegetable dishes than meat, so I write the Variety of Vegetables dishes.


(An interesting observation about the rich; not true in China today!  However, even now, many gourmets would prefer a perfect dish of fresh, tender pea shoots, or fine mushrooms, to an ordinary meat dish.)



Jiang Shilang’s Tofu


Take 120 large dried shrimps.  If you do not have dried big shrimps, use three hundred small ones. First soak the dried shrimps in hot water for one hour, then add a small cup of soy sauce, boil one more time, add a small amount of sugar, boil again.

Then slice the tofu skin off on two sides.  Cut every piece of tofu to 16 small slices.  Air-dry these. Use pork lard in the wok.  Heat it till light smoke starts to rise.  Then place the tofu in it, sprinkling a bit of salt. Then turn the tofu slices over.  Use one glass of good sweet wine, and Use thin green onions, cut to half inch long, one hundred and twenty lengths.  Add to the dish, then slowly remove from the wok.


(Recipe rearranged for comprehensibility.  This tofu is obviously the kind sold in a cured form, with a hard skin to preserve it.)



Yang Zhongcheng’s Tofu


Use soft tofu.  Boil to get rid of the soybean smel.  Add chicken broth and cook with abalone slices till boiling.  Then add some rice wine dregs and black mushrooms.  Then remove from the wok.  The chicken broth should be thick and the abalone slices should be thin.



Zhang Kai’s Tofu

Crush dried shrimps, mix with tofu.  Put oil in the wok, stir-fry with spices without any liquid.



Qing Yuan’s Tofu


Soak one teacup of salted black beans in water, stir-fry with tofu, then remove from wok.



Lotus Bean Curd


Use uncongealed tofu, soak in three changes of well water to get rid of the bean smell, then boil the tofu in chicken broth.  After removing from the fire, add seaweed and shrimp.



Wang Taishou’s Eight Treasures Tofu


Use soft tofu, crush it, add some crumbs of  black mushroom, common mushrooms, pinenut kernel, sunflower seeds, chicken meat, and ham, into thick chicken broth.  Boil, then remove from wok. One can use uncongealed tofu as well. Use a spoon instead of chopsticks. Taishou Meng Ting said: this recipe is from Emperor Kangxi to Shangshu Xu Jiang An. When Shangshu got the recipe, the Royal Kitchen charged him one thousand liang Yinzi (silver).  Taishoul Meng Ting got the recipe because his grandfather was Teacher Lou Chun, a student of Shangshu.



Cheng Li Wang’s Tofu


In the 23rd year of Qian Long’s rule, I was with Jin the City Gate Keeper, visiting Cheng Liwan’s family fromYangzhou.  We ate fried tofu, and it was the best ever. The tofu’s two sides are yellow and dry, without any soy sauce.  They have a fresh flavor like quahog, but there was no quahog or other things. The next day, I told Cha (another City Gate Keeper), and he said: “I can make the same dish.  I invite you to taste.”  Soon, Hang Dongpu and I went to Cha’s for dinner. When it was time to eat, we found out the dish was made with chicken and sparrow’s brain, not real tofu.  It was very rich and greasy. The cost of the dish is also ten times more than Cheng’s tofu, but the taste is not comparable at all.  Unfortunately, I had to go home quickly to attend my little sister’s funeral, and didn’t have time to ask Cheng for recipe. And Mrs. Cheng died after a year.  I have been regretting it all since then. Now all I have is the name of the dish.  Whenever there is a chance, I will go look for that recipe.



Frozen Tofu


Freeze the tofu for a whole night, cut into cubes.  Boil them to get rid of the bean smell. Add chicken broth, ham broth and meat broth, and stew. When serving, pick out the chicken, ham and similar things, leaving only the black mushrooms and winter bamboo shoots. If you stew the tofu too long, it becomes limp, and the surface will look like a beehive, just as  in uncooked frozen tofu.   For stir-frying, use soft tofu; for stewing, use firm tofu.   Jia Zhihua the fensi (a government title) cooks tofu with “winter” mushrooms, even in summer, and they still use the frozen tofu recipe; it is really good. Do not add in meat broth, or the dish tastes greasy.



Shrimp Oil Tofu

Use old shrimp oil instead of mild sauce to stir-fry tofu. You must fry it till it turns yellow. The wok needs to be hot.  Add pork lard, green onion and pepper.



Chrysanthemum Greens


Use the tips of the greens.  Fry in oil, then add some chicken broth and boil.  Last, add a hundred matsutake [and cook briefly] before removing from the wok.


(Chrysanthemum coronarium, a relative of florists’ chrysanthemum, with spicy-flavored greens; a popular food.  Usually called tung hao cai, but an alternative name peng hao cai is used here.)





With bracken, do not try to save and get the most out of it. One must get rid of all the old leaves and stems.  Save only the tender leaves and the straight root [rhizome]. Wash well.  Stew till tender, then add chicken broth and stew [a bit] longer. Buy the short and soft bracken pieces, which are fat and tender.


(The old tough parts can be somewhat toxic.)



Hair vegetable (Nostoc flabelliforme or N. sphaeroides, an alga growing on rocks after summer rains in northwest China; excellent eating)


Carefully pick and wash.  Boil it until half way done, add chicken broth and ham broth, and stew. When serving, one should only see the hair vegetable, not the chicken and ham; then it’s best. For this dish, Tao Fangbo makes the best.





Morels are from Hubei province. The way of cooking it is same as for hair vegetable.



Rock Alga [green algae growing on rocks in rivers]

Cook rock alga in the same way as hair vegetable.  In summer time, use sesame oil, vinegar and soy sauce to mix, which is also good.



Pearl Vegetable


The way to cook moneywort is the same as cooking bracken. It comes from the upper river area of  the river Xinan.


(Swamp loosestrife, Lysimachia fortunei, or centella, Centella asiatica.  The term is more specific to the former, but the latter is a much commoner food and probably intended here.)



Vegan Roast Duck


Boil thoroughly Chinese yam, cut it to inch-long pieces, then wrap each piece with tofu skin.  Fry in oil in a pan, then add some soy sauce, wine, sugar, melon, ginger, and the like [other seasonings to taste].  Cook the dish till the pieces turn bright red.



Garlic Chive


Garlic Chive is a hun vegetable.  [Hun vegetables are the rank-scented ones: big garlic, small garlic, green onion, garlic chive and onion. In Buddhism, hun  means lust.  These five vegetables are thought to arouse sexual feeling of people, so Buddhists are not encouraged to eat these.] Only use the white part, stir-frying with dried little shrimps is the best.  Or cook with fresh shrimps, corbicula and meat.





Celery is a su vegetable (su is the opposite of hun, see above). The fatter the stalks, the better. Use the stem part to stir-fry with bamboo shoots till well done.  People these days fry it with meat, making it hard to distinguish fish or fowl.  If it is not cooked till well done, then it is crisp with no flavor. One can use raw celery to make a salad with wild chicken; this will be another dish.


(Celery evidently already had its use as an extender and crispness-provider in meat dishes.  It went through a period of enormous popularity for this, especially in “diaspora” Chinese restaurants, in the 1960s and 70s, but has waned considerably since then.)



Bean Sprouts


Bean sprouts are tender and crisp.  I love them very much. When stir-fried, they must be cooked till well done, so the flavors of the seasonings can be absorbed.  They can be cooked with birds’ nests: softness to softness, white to white.  However, people [often] think this match is ridiculous because it uses very cheap and expensive ingredients together.  They do not realize that only Cao Fu and Xu You could accompany emperors Yao and Shun.


(Cao and Xu were ordinary people promoted for superior talent.)



Water Bamboo Shoots


Water bamboo shoots can be fried with pork and chicken. Cut and use the whole shoots.  Roasting with sauce and vinegar is best.  Stewing with meat is also good.  One must cut them in pieces, each an inch long. The shoots which are too young and thin are not well flavored.



Green Vegetable [a clear-green form of Chinese cabbage]


Pick the young green vegetable, and fry it with bamboo shoots. In summer, it can be mixed with mustard and a bit of vinegar, making a good appetizer.  Or, with some ham slices, it can be made into soup. It must be freshly handpicked to ensure tenderness.



Tai Vegetable [a type of green leafy vegetable; Hu Shiuying’s Food Plants of China defines it as a seaweed, Enteromorpha compressa, but that does not fit Yuan Mei’s description; plant names are fairly loosely used in old culinary texts, and the name could refer to a quite different plant here]


Fry Tai vegetable’s heart [stem base].  It is very tender. Peel the skin and add mushrooms and fresh bamboo shoots to make soup.  Frying with shrimps is also good.



Chinese Cabbage


Frying Chinese cabbage or simmering with bamboo shoots are both good. Simmering with ham slices and chicken broth is also good.



Peking Cabbage [large, thick, mostly-white form of Chinese cabbage]


This vegetable is best from the northern area. It can be made to cabbage with sweet-sour sauce, or simmered with dried shrimps.  Eat right away once it is cooked.  Otherwise the flavor will go bad.


(Peking, or Beijing, cabbage is easily stored fresh or dried, or pickled, and thus was the winter mainstay in the old days in the north, where winters are long and hard.  It is still quite common.)



Bok Choy [Cantonese pak choi, “white vegetable”; a variety of Chinese cabbage with green leaf blades but white leaf stems]


To fry the heart part of Bok Choy, the best is to make a broth-less dish with dried seafood. The bok choy that has been covered by snow tastes more tender.  Taishou Wang Mengting’s household makes the best bok choy.  It is needless to add other things.  It is best fried with animal fat.





Fat and tender spinach is cooked with sauce and tofu.  Hangzhou people call this “gold inlaid with jade.”  This dish is thin but also rich.  There is no need to add bamboo shoots and black mushrooms.





Mushrooms not only can be cooked to soup, but also are good for frying. However, white mushrooms [probably meaning our common market mushrooms] are sandy and easily get moldy. They must be stored properly, and prepared and cooked right. Shaggy-mane mushrooms are easy to prepare and cook; they are made to good dishes as well.


(Shaggy-manes are Coprinus spp., very superior eating mushrooms if caught in time—they last only a couple of days.)





For frying, matsutakes and white mushrooms are the best. Or one can just marinate it in soy sauce to eat; this is also tasty. The only bad side is that they cannot be stored long. They can be combined with any dish to enhance the flavor. They also can be cooked and layered on the bottom of birds’ nests, because they are tender.


(Matsutake mushrooms abound in much of the forested area of China, and are very widely collected today, following the Japanese boom in matsutake consumption.)



Two Ways of Making Flour Gluten Dishes


One way is to oil-fry the gluten till dry, then add chicken broth and mushrooms, and simmer in mild-flavor style. The other involves no frying: soak in water, then cut into strips and simmer in thick chicken broth, adding winter bamboo shoots, heavenly flower vegetable, and similar things.  Observer Zhang Huaishu’s household makes the best flour gluten.  When serving, tear it with the hands, do  not cut with a knife.  One can also add some dried shrimps to make broth, then fry gluten with sweet sauce; this is also a good dish.


(Wheat gluten is made into imitation meat for vegetarian Buddhist eaters.  “Heavenly flower vegetable” is defined in our edition as a vegetable from western mountains.  The term is now used for cauliflower, but that was almost surely not yet known in Yuan’s China.)



Two Ways to  Cook Eggplants


In Wu Xiaogu and Guang Wen’s households, they peel the whole eggplant, then soak it in hot boiling water to get rid of the bitterness.  They then fry it with pork lard. Before frying, make sure drain the water off completely, then stew it in sweet sauce; this very good. Landlord Lu Ba’s household cuts the eggplant to small cubes without peeling, fries them in oil till the color turns to light yellow, then adds soy sauce to stir-fry on a high fire.  This is also a good way. I have learned both two ways, but still can’t manage the skill well.

After steaming eggplants, then slicing them open, you can make a salad with sesame seed oil and rice vinegar.  This is a good dish to eat in summer.  Or you can make them into heated and dried eggplants, and place them on the plate.



Amaranth [spinach-like greens of Amaranthus spp.]


Use the top tender tips; fry with nothing else. It is, however, better to cook with dried shrimps or fresh shrimps. Do not add water to make soup.



Taro Curd


Taro is soft and smooth.  It can be combined with either hun or su vegetables.  You can cut it up into small pieces to make duck or meat stew, or stew it with tofu in sauce.  At Mingfu Xu Zhaohuang’s household, they choose small taros, stew them with young chicken to make soup; it’s fantastic!  Unluckily, the recipe was lost.  I assume they only used seasoned broth to stew—no further water needed.


(Mingfu is a more respectful form of the title Tai Shou.)



Tofu Skin [the skin that forms on boiling soybean-in-water mash before making tofu from same]

Soak the tofu skin to softness, add soy sauce, vinegar and dried shrimps to mix together.  It is good for summer eating. Jiang Cilang’s household uses sea cucumber to cook with it  This is amazing. Add seaweed and shrimps to make soup is also a good dish. Or use mushrooms and bamboo shoots to make a mild soup  This is good as well.  Cook it till it turns very soft. In Wuhu, Monk Jinxiu rolls up the tofu skin, cuts it, lightly fries in oil, then adds mushrooms to stew till it is very tender.  This is an extremely good dish. Do not add chicken broth.



Hyacinth Bean


Use fresh-picked hyacinth beans.  Fry with meat and broth, then separate out the meat but save the beans.  If frying only the beans, it is better to use a lot of oil. Beans are good if they are fat and soft. They are bad if hairy, rough, thin, and flat.  These were cropped from weak soil.  They are not good to eat.



Hispid Bottle Gourd, Japanese Snake Gourd


Take snapper fish slices to fry first, then add the gourd.  Stew with soy sauce.  These two gourds are cooked the same way.



Black Ear Fungus and Black Mushroom


In Yangzhou, nuns from Ding Hui nunnery stew the black ear fungus till it is twice its original size, and the black mushroom to three times its original size. Before stewing, use mushroom to make soup base first.


(One of Yuan’s more minimalist recipes.)



Winter Melon


Winter melon is usually used with birds’ nests, fish, river eels, ocean eels and ham. Yangzhou’s Ding Hui Nunnery makes the best.  It is red as blood-red jade.  There is no need to add meat soup.



Fresh Water Caltrop Stew [the water caltrop is the nut of an aquatic plant, Trapa natans.  It is often confused with water chestnut, the rootstock of a totally different plant]


To stew water caltrops, boil in chicken broth. When serving, keep only half the soup. The fresh tender caltrops are the ones just picked from the pond, floating on the water surface. Add chestnuts and gingko nuts to stew till soft.  This is the best. Or use sugar for stewing.  This is also good.  The caltrops are good as a snack as well.



Cowpea [the green pods are intended here, not the dry beans]


To fry with meat, before serving, save the peas but separate the meat.  Use only the tender part, and peel the ribs [strings] of the pods.



Stewed Three Bamboo Shoots


Use Tianmu bamboo shoots, winter bamboo shoots and Wenzheng bamboo shoots in chicken soup, for “three bamboo shoots soup.”


(Tianmu is a mountain in Hangzhou, Wenzheng is one in Anhui.)



Taro and Cabbage stew

Cook the taro till extremely soft, add the cabbage hearts, then stir in sauce to serve.  This is among the best of homemade cuisine. The cabbage should be fat and tender.  Light yellow ones are best.  If you choose one with green coloration, it tastes old.  If you choose one that has been harvested too long, it will be dry.


Aromatic Beans (Young Soy Beans)


The soy beans harvested from August and September nights are the fattest and tenderest, and are called aromatic beans. Boil the beans and soak in soy sauce and wine. They can be eaten with or without shells.  They are aromatic, soft and delightful. Other ordinary beans can not be eaten this way.



Wild Aster [Kalimeris Indica, a wild-gathered medicinal food popular in the lower Yangzi area]


Use the tender leaves, mix with vinegar and bamboo shoots, and eat. Eaten after greasy food, it can be a refresher for the spleen.



Yanghua Cai [a vegetable found in southern China, e.g. around Nanjing.  It is not in Shiiu-ying Hu’s Food Plants of China.  Probably a local form of Chinese cabbage.]


In March, in Nanjing, there is yanghua cai, which is as tender and crisp as spinach.  The name of it is very elegant [probably means “it is considered very elegant”].



Wenzheng Shredded Bamboo Shoots


Wenzheng bamboo shoots are available in Hangzhou.  Huizhou people give friends bamboo shoots that are mildly salted and dried.  They need to soak in water.  Then they can be shredded and made into stew with chicken broth. Gong Sima uses soy sauce to cook with bamboo shoots till dry, then serves them.  Huizhou people, eating this dish, think it is the best exotic dish of all. I laugh and think they may finally wake up from their dreams.



Stir-fried Chicken Legs and Mushrooms


At Wu Hu ( a lake in An Hui), the Grand Temple monks wash chicken legs well, rinse off the sand from the mushrooms, add soy sauce, and stir-fry with wine till well done.  They place it on plates to serve the guests.  It is amazing.



Pig Lard with Turnips


Stir-fry turnip in pig lard, add some dried shrimps to stew till it gets extremely well done. When remove from the wok, add some green onions.  The color of the dish is like amber.



Part 11 Side dishes

Side dishes are for pairing with the main food.  They are like the lower-ranking officers who assist the six highest-ranking officers in government.  The side dishes can wake up the spleen and stomach and get rid of waste.  This is the function of side dishes.


Preserved Bamboo Shoots


There are many places producing preserved bamboo shoots.  The best ones are from the home garden, cooked barbecue style. Boil the fresh bamboo shoots with salt till done, then place them on a basketry rack to roast.  They must be watched carefully overnight. If the fire goes low, the bamboo shoots will taste soft and turn yellow.  If the bamboo shoots are roasted with mild sauce, the color becomes slightly dark. Winter bamboo shoots and spring bamboo shoots can both be used for preserving.



Tianmu Bamboo Shoots [as noted above, Tianmu Mountain is near Hangzhou]


Tianmu bamboo shoots are usually sold in quantity in Hangzhou. The ones placed above in the basket are the best quality; two inches below are the older shoots. You should buy the sets that are placed on top!  They can command a high price. The more baskets you buy from, the more fresh and tender shoots we get.


(I.e., the more you stick to the top ones—and therefore have to skim more baskets—the better you do.  Putting the best quality goods on top of the basket and the less good ones below is not a tactic confined to old China….  Check any modern supermarket’s strawberries, for example.)



Yulan Slice (Yulan means “magnolia”; here it refers to dry preserved winter bamboo shoots, the appearance and color of which resemble magnolia.  They smell really good.)


Yulan slices are made from winter bamboo shoots, roasted with a little honey.  In Suzhou, Sun Chunyang’s household preserves two kinds, one salty and the other sweet.  The salty ones are better.



Vegetarian Ham


Chu Zhou preserved bamboo shoots are called vegetarian ham.  This should be cooked in a short time.  The longer it is cooked, the drier it gets. One can just preserve some fresh bamboo shoots on their own.



Xuancheng Preserved Bamboo Shoots


Xuancheng (Xuanzhou, Anhui) bamboo shoots are black and fat, almost the same quality as Tianmu shoots, and very good.



Ginseng Bamboo Shoots


Preserve the thin bamboo shoots in ginseng shapes  Add a bit of honey water. Yangzhou people value this, so the price is pretty high.



Bamboo Shoot Oil [actually bamboo juice, not oil]

Take ten jin bamboo shoots, steamed about one day and one night.  Pierce the shoots and layer them on a flat board.  As in making tofu, press the shoots with boards on top, to make the juice come out.  Add one liang of fried salt in juice to make bamboo shoot oil.  After the bamboo shoots are sun-dried, they can be preserved.  Tian Tai monks like to make bamboo shoot oil as gifts for people.


Rice Wine Dregs


Rice Wine dregs is from Taicang Zhou.  The older they are, the better.



Shrimp Oil


Buy a few jin of shrimps, slowly cook with soy sauce.  Wen removing from the wok, strain the soy sauce with a piece of cloth and wrap the shrimps up.  Then marinate in a jar with soy sauce.



Spicy Tiger Sauce


Chilli, mashed, is steamed with sweet sauce.  Add some dried shrimps.


(This is an unusually early recipe for chilli in China.)



Smoked Caviar


The color of smoked caviar is like amber.  The more oil it has, the more expensive it is. In Suzhou, Sun Chunyang’s household makes the best.  The fresher it is, the better. After a long time, the flavor goes dull.


(Chinese smoked fish roes are as good as caviar, though not true caviar.  And they are much more sustainably produced.)



Preserved Chinese Cabbage

Less salt makes tastier flavor, too much salt makes a nasty flavor. However, to preserve it a long time, it needs a lot of salt. I tried to preserve one big jar, opened it in the dog days of summer; the upper half of the jar smelled bad and looked mushy, but the lower half smelled good and looked like jade.  It was amazing! So don’t judge by appearances [lit. “don’t just look at the skin and hair”].


(Here and in the next recipe, the maddening issue of exactly how much salt is left to the reader!  Chinese pickled vegetables are less salty than Korean kimchi but more salty than good sauerkraut.)



Celtuce [a variety of lettuce grown for its thick, succulent stem]


Two ways to eat celtuce: freshly made celtuce with mild sauce tastes crisp and tender. If it is pickled and preserved, slice it then eat;  it tastes fresh. But it must be slightly salted; too much salt ruins the flavor.



Preserved Dry Vegetables


Spring mustard greens can be air dried.  Use the stems, slightly salted, for sun-drying.  Add wine, sugar and soy sauce, mix well, then steam. Air-dry it, then seal in bottles.




Mizuna is also called red-in-snow. One way to preserve it is to preserve a whole jar.  Make sure it is mild; this is best.  Another way is to pick the hearts, air-dry, chop up, preserve in a bottle.  When this is ready, it can be cooked in fish congee, and tastes fine. Or one can slowly stew it with vinegar, or cook it with spicy dishes; these are also good.  It is best of all with eels or carp.


(A form of Chinese mustard greens, variously called pot-herb mustard, thousand-leaf mustard, red-in-snow, etc. in English.)


Spring Mustard Greens


Air-dry spring mustard greens, chop them up, preserve in a jar till ready.  This called “portable vegetable.”



Mustard Head


Mustard sliced, preserved with green mustard, tastes crisp.  Or one can preserve the whole head: sun-dry then preserve.  It will taste musch better.



Sesame Vegetable


Sun-dry preserved mustard greens, then chop up finely, steam, and eat.  This is called “sesame vegetable.”  It is best for the elders.


(The name is mysterious; probably the recipe requires sesame oil for preserving and/or sesame seeds for garnish.)



Shredded Dried Tofu


Thinly slice good dried tofu, mix it with shrimps and soy sauce.



Air-dried Vegetable


Use the hearts [leaf bases] of mustard greens, air-dried.  Preserve them, then squeeze out the juice. Seal in small bottles with clay. Then place the bottles bottom up on ashes. This side dish, when eaten in summer, appears yellow, and has a mild and fresh flavor and scent.



Rice Wine Dreg Vegetable


Use air-dried preserved vegetables; wrap them up separately with vegetable leaves.  For each leaf, layer some rice wine dregs and wrap.  Stack them up in a jar. When eating, open the wraps. The dreg will not mix with the vegetable, but the flavor is enhanced.



Pickled Vegetable


Air-dry mustard greens, then slightly pickle them. Add sugar, vinegar, and mustard to put in the jar with the juice.  One can add a little soy sauce.  When having a meal, this side dish can wake up the spleen and stomach after the guests feel full and drunk.



Tai Vegetable Hearts [again, this obviously refers to some Chinese cabbage relative, not seaweed]

Use the spring tai vegetable hearts. Pickle them, then squeeze out the juice, put it in small bottles, for summer eating. Air-dry the flowers of the tai vegetable, called tai flower head.  This can be cooked with meat.



Pickled Mustard Roots [tubers of the rape-turnip]


Pickled mustard roots from Nanjing Cheng En Temple are better as they get older. Cooking it with hun ingredients will bring out the best flavor.



Turnips [actually the large Chinese radishes]


Use the big and fat turnips to preserve with sauce for one or two days, then eat.  They taste sweet, crisp and lovely. Sometimes, the mashed turnip can be made into shapes of dried fish, and  the slices of turnip for frying can be shaped like butterflies.  Some [presumably the radishes, not the butterflies] are as long as one zhang [3.3 meters], which is quite a spectacle. Cheng En temple sells turnips which are pickled in vinegar, the older the better.



Fermented Bean Curd


The best frmented ban curd is sold at the front gate of General Wen Temple in Suzhou.  It is black in color, with a good flavor. There are dry and wet kinds. There is also a kind with shrimps in it.  I dislike this somewhat, because of its fishing smell. Guangxi produces the best white fermented bean curd.  Bank Overseer Wang’s household also makes tasty fermented bean curd.



Three Nuts Fried with Sauce


Peel walnuts and almonds; no need to peel the hazelnuts. First fry them in oil over a high fire till crisp, then add in sauce.  Don’t overcook the nuts.  Determine the amount of sauce according to the amount of the nuts.


(A typically unhelpful Yang suggestion.)



Agar with Sauce


Wash the agar well, then marinate it in sauce. Wash it only just before eating. It has another name, “kylin dish.”



Agar Cake


Boil the agar till really soft, then mash it to make a cake. Cut it with a knife.  The color looks like beeswax.



Little Matsutake


Use mild sauce to cook small matsutake till boiling and the juice is absorbed, then remove from the wok, add some sesame oil, and put it in a jar. It can last up to two days.  If kept too long, the flavor becomes bad.



Mud Snail


Mud snails are from Xinghua and Taixing. Use the newborn tender mud snails.  Soak them in fermented glutinous rice, add sugar.  The snails will automatically spit out the oil. Although called “mud snails,” but the best ones are not muddy.





Use tender jellyfish, marinate in sweet wine.  They are very delicious. The bell part is white, and called “white skin.”  Thinly slice it, mix with wine and vinegar, and eat.




Shrimpfish come from Suzhou. This little fish has roe when it’s born. Cook it when fresh.  It tastes better than dried fish.


(The comment about roe confuses us.  Either the fry still have some yolk not totally absorbed, or the fish breeds when very young.)



Young Ginger Preserved with Thick Soy Sauce


Use raw young ginger, slightly marinate, first in rough [thick, heavy-flavored] sauce, then in fine sauce. Repeat this three times.  Then it’s done.  There is an old trick of putting a cicada’s shed skin in the sauce; the gingers will remain tender for a long time.


(Probably magical thinking.  We are unaware of preservative value in a cicada skin, but cicadas live underground for years, and people might have naturally assumed the cicadas had a secret of preserving themselves for long periods.)



Cucumber Preserved  in Thick Soy Sauce

First pickle the cucumbers, then air-dry them, then put into soy sauce, the same way as with young gingers. It’s easier to preserve them sweet than crisp. In Hangzhou, Shi Luzhen’s household makes the best thick-soy-sauce-preserved cucumber. I heard that re-preserving the cucumber, after it’s been preserved once, will make the thin skin shrink.

It tastes crisp and delicious when eating.



New Broad Beans


The new broad beans are tender.  Fry with preserved sherpherd’s purse.  This is the best. The right way to eat broad beans is to pick them only when you plan to eat them [very soon].



Pickled Eggs


The best pickled eggs are from Gaoyou [a small town in Suzhou].  They are of  red color and preserved in plenty of oil. They are Gaowen Duangong’s favorite dish.  At dinner, he always serves the eggs to his guests first. The eggs are placed in plates, cut in halves, with the shells still on.  They are served with egg yolks and whites; one cannot only use yolks and throw away whites,  If so, the flavor would be gone, and the oil taken away too.


(Evidently the pickle softens the shells enough that they can be sliced.)



Mixed Match

Make a small hole in a raw egg, empty out the yolk and white.  Use only the white.  Mix it with thick chicken broth.  Then put the mixture back to the shells, seal with paper, and steam in a rice-cooker type of steamer. When done, peel the eggs.  They still look like whole eggs. This way of cooking gives the best flavor.



Preserved Water Bamboo Shoot Slices


Marinate the water bamboo shoots in sauce first, then pick them out to air-dry, slice to eat, as in making preserved bamboo shoots slices.



Niushou’s Dried Tofu


A monk at Niushou makes first-class dried tofu. However, there are seven places selling dried tofu.  The Xiaotang Monk’s is the best of the seven.



Pickled Japanese Snake Gourd


When Japanese snake gourds are still young, pick the thin ones to pickle in sauce.  They are crisp and fresh.



Part 12. Snacks


Liang Shao Ming (first son of the northern and southern dynasty emperor Liang Wu Di) ate snacks as small meals.  Zhen Cansao [another historic figure] also persuaded her uncle to do the same.  As we can see, snacks originated from long time ago.  Thus I write my section on “Snacks”.



Sea Eel Noodle


Take a big sea eel, steam till very soft, get rid of the bones, mix the meat in flour, add some chicken broth to make the dough, roll flat, cut into thin noodles. Add chicken broth, ham broth and mushroom broth to boil.



Warm Noodle


Boil thin noodles, then drain, then place in a bowl. Use chicken and black mushroom to make thick sauce. When eating, scoop the sauce and cover on top of the noodles.



River Eel Noodles


Slowly stew the eel in sauce, then add the noodles and boil. This is Hangzhou style.



“Skirt” Noodles

Use small knife to shred the dough to thin and wide pieces, called “skirt noodles.”  Normally, for noodles, more soup than noodles is better.  It is good not to see the noodles in the bowl; rather finish the noodles, then add more.  This way it will make people want to eat more. This is very popular in Yangzhou, which makes some sense.


Vegetarian Noodles


Stew mushrooms heads to broth one day ahead,.  Strain.  Next day, stew the bamboo shoots in broth, then add the noodles to boil. This method is best done by the monk at Yangzhou’s Dinghui Temple, but he wouldn’t teach it.  However, it certainly can be copied. The dish is pure black.  Some people said he added shrimp broth and mushrooms broth, only making sure the sand and dirt were cleaned well.  Do not change the water for washing the mushrooms.  Once it is changed, the flavor will be thinner.



Straw Rain Cape Cake


Use cold water to make the dough, not too much. Flatten the dough thinly, then roll up, flatten it again, scatter some pork lard and white sugar evenly on top, then roll it up, and flatten to a thin cake. Fry it with pork lard. If you choose salty-flavor style, then add pepper and salt.


(The lard, sugar and dough create a rough surface like that of a straw raincape.)



Shrimp Cake


Raw shrimps, green onion salt, Chinese brown pepper, and a bit of wine.  Add some water to make the shrimp cake.  Use sesame oil to fry thoroughly.



Flat Cake


In Shandong, Accountant Kong’s household makes flat cakes, thin as cicada’s wings, big as tea plates, and soft with a rich flavor.  Nothing can compare with them.  My household tried to copy, but ours were still not as good as his.  I cannot find the reason.

A tin can from Shanxi can hold thirty flat cakes. Each guest gets one can. The cake is the circumference of an orange.  The can has a lid for easy storage. The filling is shredded meat and green onion, thin as hair. It could be pork and lamb together, in which case it is called western cake. [Lamb is a western Chinese dish.]



Pine Cake [Shortcake]


In Nanjing, the best shortcake is made by Jiao Men Fang store.



Flour Mouse


Use hot water to make a dough.  When chicken broth is boiling, use chopsticks to put the pieces of dough in.  The size doesn’t matter.  Cook with fresh vegetable hearts.  The dumplings taste particularly flavorful.


(Simple dumplings, very possibly from sticky rice flour, more or less the size and shape of mice.)




Flatten dough pieces.  Fill with ground meat and steam. The key to good dumplings is the filling. Use fresh, tender meat, get rid of sinew, then season it. I was once in Guangdong, and had dumplings at Guang Zheng Tai.  These were the best. They used filling made from  pig skin paste.


Meat Wonton


To make wonton, make the same way as for dumplings.



Fried Leek Dumplings


Mince the leek finely, mix it with ground pork, add seasonings, then wrap it in dough wrappers. Fry in oil. It would be better to add some butter to the dough.


(A very unusual reference to butter.   Leek dumplings are a central Asian specialty; is there a Tibetan influence here?)



Fried Sugar Pancakes


Use sugar water to make the dough.  Heat oil in a pan.  Put the dough in the pan with chopsticks, and fry. Make the dough into pancake shapes.  It is called Soft Wok Cake.



Sesame Seed Cake


Crush pine nuts and walnuts, add sugar [for the stuffing].  Use pork lard in the dough [for wrapping].  Fry it till both sides turn golden color, then sprinkle sesame seeds on the dumplings. Kou Er (a girl’s name, apparently one of Yuan’s servants) is very good at making this. She sifts the flour four or five times.  The color will be as white as snow.  You must use a sizable pan, to fry them on both sides.  If there is butter [in the dough or perhaps in the filling], the cake tastes better.


(This is a thoroughly west-Asian recipe, up to and including the butter, and reminds us of western recipes in Yuan and Ming cookbooks.)



Thousand Layers Buns


Staff Advisor Yang’s household makes buns, as white as snow, with what seems like thousands of layers. Nanjing people don’t know how to do it. The method is half from Yangzhou, half from Changzhou and Wuxi.



Seasoned Millet Mush


Brew some tea, add in roasted flour [evidently meaning—or maybe replacing—the parched meal of Tibetan usage], fried sesame seed paste, and milk. Add a little salt. If there is no milk, use butter or milk skin.


(This is a central Asian recipe, an elite form of Tibetan tsampa or its Mongolian descendent zompa.  The milk skin reprises the qaymaq of central Asia.  Yuan did have eclectic tastes.)



Apricot Kernel Custard


Mash the aproicot kernels to paste, then get rid of the dregs. Add the rice powder to the juice, cook it with sugar.


(Another western Asian recipe; in China, apricot kernels normally replace the almonds of the western world.  This recipe, or various forms of it, remains common, as a dessert or for soothing a sore throat.)



Powder pancake


Made the same way as fried sugar pancakes. Add sugar or salt depending on which is wanted at the time.



Bamboo Leaf Rice Pudding

Use bamboo leaves to wrap the sweet rice and boil. It has a pointy point, like new water chestnuts.


(A totally inadequate recipe for the familiar zongzi.)



Turnip [i.e., radish] Dumplings


Shred the turnip.  Boil it to get rid of the smell. Dry it, add green onion and sauce, and mix. Use it as fillings to wrap in sweet rice dough. Then deep fry in sesame oil or cook it thoroughly in broth.  Kou Er learned how to make Chun Pufang’s household’s turnip dumplings.  She can make leek dumplings and pheasant dumplings with this method.



Sweet Rice Dumplings


Use sweet rice flour to make dumplings.  Make them very smooth. Fillings can be made with pine nuts, walnuts, pork lard and sugar. Or make the fillings from tender pork without any veins, ground, with  green onion mince and soy sauce. To make the sweet rice powder, soak the rice in water for a day and night, then ground the rice with water, using a cloth bag to strain the rice liquid.  Under the bag, layer some wood ash to help drain the liquid out faster.  Until the contents of the bag are thoroughly dry, use previously dried rice powder.



Pork Lard Cake


Mix sweet rice powder with pork lard,  place on a plate to steam, then add bits of  rock sugar in the powder, and keep steaming till done. Use knife to cut it open.



Snowflake Cake


Cooked sweet rice, mashed, is filled with sesame seeds and sugar, shaped into cake, then cut into squares.



Soft Fragrant Cake


The first-ranked soft fragrant cake is made at Suzhou’s Duling Bridge.  Second is Huchou cake made by Xishi House.  The third is from Nanjing, from Southern Gate Bao En Temple.



Hundred Nuts Cake


In Hangzhou, the best nut cakes can be found at the North Gate.  It is best with soft sweet rice, plenty of pine nuts and walnuts, and without orange bits. The cake’s sweetness is hard to define; one cannot tell whether it is honey or sugar.  It can be stored for a long time. My household has not been able to find the recipe.



Chestnut Cakes

Boil chestnuts to very soft, then mash.  Add sweet rice powder and sugar to steam. On top of the cake, add some sunflower seeds and pine nuts. This is a traditional food for the Chongyang festival.


Green Cake


Mash some green leaves to get the juice, mix it in rice powder to make balls. The color is as green as jade.



Happy Together Cake


Steam the rice paste as one would steam rice. Press the rice paste to make the shape of a gongbi  Roast it on an iron rack, adding a little oil to prevent it sticking on the rack.


(A gongbi is a jade piece for ritual ceremony; see (



Chickpea Cake


Grind chickpeas, add some sweet rice powder to make the cake, place it on a plate to steam till well done. When eating, cut it with a small blade.



Chickpea Congee


Grind chickpeas to make congee.  Fresh peas are the best, older ones are fine also. Add Chinese yam and Poria cocos [a medicinal fungus].  This will make the congee taste much better.



Gold Sweet Rice Balls


To make Hangzhou-style gold sweet rice balls, carve shapes of peaches, apricots and gold ingots on pieces of wood to make the molds.  Press the dough in to shape the gold sweet rice balls.

The fillings can be either meat or vegetable.



Lotus Powder and Lily Powder


If the lotus powder is not homemade, one cannot trust that it is really made from lotus. The same is true of lily powder.



Sesame Balls


Steam sweet rice till very soft, then make balls. Use sesame seed powder and sugar for fillings.


(If these are then fried, they are the familiar sesame balls of Chinese snack shops today.)



Taro Balls


Grind taro, then dry it, mix it with rice powder.  Chao Tian Temple’s Daoists make the best taro balls.  They use pheasant for fillings, which is very delicious.


(Apparently the “taro horns” of today’s snack shops—again, assuming they are fried.)



Lotus Roots [actually rhizomes—underwater stems—not roots]

To make lotus roots, one should make them at home.  Cook with sugar and rice. Eat with soup; this is the best. The lotus roots sold by vendors are cooked with filthy water, the flavor is bad, and they not edible. I love to eat baby lotus roots, because even if been cooked too long and overly soft, I still need to bite it with teeth, and the flavor is all there. But if the old roots have been cooked too long, they become mushy, with no flavor at all.


(Evidently the candied rhizomes found in snack shops then and now.)



New Chestnuts and New Water Chestnuts


Stew new chestnuts  till very soft.  They then have a pine nut flavor. Some cooks do not want to stew till soft, so some Nanjing people never have tasted the real flavor of chestnuts.  It is the same with new water chestnuts; some Nanjing people have to wait until the water chestnuts  become old to eat them.



Lotus Seeds


Fujian lotus seeds are expensive and not cooked as easily as Hunan lotus seeds. When cooking, by the time the seeds just begin to get cooked, separate kernels from skins, and put back to the soup to stew on slow fire. Cover with lid, do not open it to check and do not stop the fire. Cook like this for about two sticks of incense time.  The lotus seeds should be well done, and when eatent should not taste rough.





When it is sunny in October, sun-dry the taro until very dry.  Then store in dry grass.  Do not let it get frozen in winter.  Cooked next spring, it still tastes sweet and delicious. Not everyone knows about this method.



Xiao the Beauty’s Dim Sum


At Yizhen South gate, there is a store owned by Xiao the Beauty.  She is good at making desserts such as buns, cakes, dumplings and such things.  They are small and delicate, and snow white in color.


(Dianxin, Cantonese tim sam, corrupted to “dim sum,” is now a familiar word in the western world.  It literally means “dot the heart,” and is equivalent to “hit the spot” in English.  In religious art, dotting the eyes—painting the pupils in—is the last stage in painting an image; it brings the life and soul into it.)



Liu Fangbo’s Mooncakes


Use the best fine flour from Shandong to make buttery skins.  Fillings are made with pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sugar, and pork lard. When eating, they taste mild sweet, soft and fragrant—incredible!



Ten Types of Tao Fangbo’s Desserts


At the end of every year, Mrs. Tao makes ten desserts, all made of Shandong fine flour.  They are of strange shapes, colorful, sweet and fragrant.  One can’t praise them enough. Governor Sha said:  “After I ate Kong Fangbo’s flat cake, other flat cakes taste like nothing; after had Tao Fangbo’s ten desserts, other desserts from around the world taste like nothing.”  After Tao Fangbo died, the recipe of the desserts disappeared just like [the long-lost song] “Guang Ling San.”  How sad!



Yang Zhongcheng’s Western Pancake


Mix egg whites, water, and fine flour to make a batter.  Create a pancake maker: Use the tips of copper tongs to make pancake shapes of butterfly size, on both top and bottom. When you close the tips, the space left should be less than one centimeter. Over a high fire, heat the tongs, add the mixture, close it, then open it: the pancakes are made. White as snow, transparent as cotton paper. Add some crystal sugar and crushed pine nuts to eat with this.


(This recipe is particularly interesting since it is not only a European one but specifically identified as such [xiyang, lit. “western ocean”].  It is, not surprisingly, a rather confused account.  The tongs have wide, round, flat tips with a shallow depression, or mold shapes, on the inside.  The pancake batter is put in these when the tongs are hot.  The tongs are closed and the pancakes are almost instantly cooked.  The tongs are then opened and the pancakes taken out.  See Waley 1956:196-197; he was rather confused by this recipe too.  I have seen these made, and thus at least know what is involved.)



White Cloud Flakes


Make white rice crust, thin as cotton paper.  Fry it with oil, add a bit of sugar.  It tastes very crisp. Nanjing people know how to make it best.



Wind Xiao  (Glutinous Rice Crust)


Glutinous rice powder is mixed with water, made into small thin pieces, then fried in pork lard.  Before removing from the wok, add some sugar. Its color as white as frost. It melts right after being put in the mouth. Hangzhou people call it Wind Xiao.



Three-layerdc Jade Stripe Cake


Use pure glutinous rice powder for making this cake. Divide it into three layers: one layer of rice powder, one layer of pork lard and white sugar, and one layer of rice powder.  Bind them together, steam, then cut. This is the Suzhou method.



Yunsi Cake  [a Yunsi is an official in charge of water traffic]

When Lu Yayu was a Yunsi, he was really old.  A Yangzhou bakery made this cake for him.  He praised it highly, so the cake got its name.  This cake as white as snow, on top of it decorated with a little rouge, red as peach flowers. The filling is made with a small amount of sugar, mild but tasty. This kind of cake is best made by the store in front of the Yunsi department [presumably the one in Yangzhou]; other stores’ Yunsi cakes are rough and of poor color.



Sand Cake


Use glutinous rice powder.  Steam the cake.  The inside is filled with sesame seeds and sugar crumbs.


(Like “sandy cookies” in English and sandtorte in German, this name refers to the sandy, crunchy texture of the granulated sugar.)



Small Buns , Small Wonton


Make small buns the size of walnuts, steam, and eat. Chopsticks can pick up two at a time. This dish is from Yangzhou. Yangzhou makes the best fermented dough, pressed by hand.  They flatten it down to no higher than a half inch, release the dough, and it rises high again. Small wontons are as small as longan fruit, and are cooked with chicken broth.


Snowy Steaming Cakes


When grinding the rice, use a proportion of glutinous rice and normal rice of 2:8; that is the standard.  Mix the powder.  Place it on a plate.  Sprinkle some cold water on the powder until it can easily be formed into rice balls, and easily separated as well.  First sieve the rice powder.  The fraction that is sieved out should be ground again and re-sieved.  Then use the rice powder that has been sieved twice.  Mix it well with water, not too dry or too wet.  Cover it with a towel to avoid drying it up.  Save the dough for use. Add some sugar in the powder to enhance the flavor, mixing the powder as for Zhen Er cake’s sold in the markets. Wash a tin steamer and tin cake molds well.  Before using, spray with a layer of water and oil, then wipe with a piece of cloth. You must wash and wipe for every steaming time. In one tin steamer, place the molds.  Put in half the dough [in a flat layer], then layer on some fruity filling, then cover up with more dough.  Gently tap the surface flat.  Then cover the steamer, steam above a pot of boiling water till steam comes straight up.  Then it’s done. Place the steamer upside down, remove the steamer, then the molds.   Decorate the cakes with red food coloring.  One can use two steamers in turns. Wash the water pot well, fill it with water till reach the shoulder of the pot. The more steaming, the less water is left in the pot, so carefully watch and prepare for adding hot water when in need.



Crispy Cakes Recipe


Take one bowl of cooled butter, one bowl of hot water. Mix the butter and water first, add in a piece of raw dough, completely knead it till very soft.  As if rolling pieces of small dough, knead cooked steamed dough with the butter well.  Do not let it become hard. Then make pieces of small raw dough as big as walnuts. Make the cooked steaming dough into slightly smaller balls.  Then wrap the cooked steaming dough inside the raw dough.  Then roll it flat, to a length of eight inches, and width of two or three inches.  Then fold it like a bowl, filled in with fruits, and seal it.  [Then, evidently, cook it—presumably by steaming.]


(This confused recipe seems to suggest that you mix the butter and water and some dough till that dough is hot, or possibly use pre-steamed dough; then make balls with raw dough stuffed with steamed dough, as if for central European fruit bread.  The recipe resists clear interpretation.)



Original Cake


In Shanxi Jingyang, Ming Fuzhang’s household makes very good “original cakes.”  They choose first-class white flour, add some sugar and butter to make buttery dough, then knead it to cake shapes the size of bowls, either round or square, about two centimeters thick. Then they bake them on top of clean small heated cobblestones, regardless of the uneven levels.  The cakes can thus be either concave or convex. When the color turns slightly yellow, remove from the stones.  They have an amazing flavor. One can use salt instead of sugar.


(“Original” is literally “Heaven-generated” or “Heavenly spontaneity.”  The name mystifies us; possibly these have a religious significance.)



Flower-Petal Moon Cakes

Ming Fu’s household’s flower-laced moon cakes are as good as Liu Fangbo’s in Shandong. I often invite Ming’s lady chef to use my own sedan chair to come my place to make the cakes. She uses fine flour mixed with raw lard to knead with hundreds of strokes, then uses jujubes for filling. inside. Then she cuts the dough into the size of a bowl, making the four sides look like flower petals. Use two fire basins, she bakes the cakes on both sides. Using the jujubes with peel gives a delicious favor.  Using the raw lard gives a fresh flavor. Once it gets in the mouth, it melts right away. It’s sweet but not greasy, not dense but not falling apart. The secret is in the skill of kneading the dough.  The more you knead, the better the dough.


Chinese Steamed Bun Recipe


I happened to eat Xin Ming’s household’s steamed buns.  They are white as snow, glowing like silver on the surface. I thought it was because they used fine flour from the north.  Long Yun told me that there’s no difference from flour from south or north, as long as it has been finely sieved five times.  Then the flour will be naturally white and fine.  It is not necessary to use northern flour. The only difficulty is rising the dough.  I have invited their chef to teach us, but we still can’t manage getting the same result, with cakes as soft and well-risen as theirs.


(Many a baker will relate to that last confession.)



The Hong Household’s Zongzi

The Hong household in Yangzhou makes superior Zongzi.  They use the best glutinous rice. Choose long and white and no damaged ones.  Throw away half-damaged or crushed ones. Wash well, wrap in big bamboo leaves, fill in one big piece of good ham, seal and cook in a pot for one day and one night, keep adding firewood without stopping. When rice and ham are all well cooked till soft and melting, it tastes incredibly smooth and good.  Another option: use the ham fat, chop it up to mix in the



Part 13.  Rice


Congee and cooked rice are the basic foods, dishes should be on the side.  Once the basics are established, the [proper eating] Way is produced. Therefore, I write the Rice section./




Wang Mang [briefly Emperor, 9-23 AD]  said: Salt is the essential of hundreds of dishes. I said: Rice is the fundament of hundreds of flavors.  The Book of Songs says: “The sound of washing the rice is swish, The steam [of cooking rice] floating, floating.”  As we can see, ancient people also like to eat steamed rice, and dislike it if there’s no moisture in the rice. Whoever is good at steaming rice knows how to cook the rice separately with liquid locked in.  When chewing it, it tastes soft and fragrant. There are four keys: first, use good rice, such as fragrant rice, or winter frost rice [a.k.a red rice, which mentioned in A Dream of Red Mansions, a very expensive kind], or late rice, or Guanyin xian [a type of rice that is long and thin, a very good kind] or peach flower xian [reddish, short rice]. Rice needs to be washed well until it is really white.  In humid weather, you need to lay out the rice on the ground to dry.  Do not let the rice get moldy and stick together. Second, wash the rice really well.  Don’t feel that it is wasting time to wash the rice.  It must be rubbed to wash off foreign substances.  Keep washing until the water becomes transparent and clear, with no rice color. Third, know how to use the fire: high power first, then small fire.  Gradually turn down the fire till it is very low. Fourth, add the right amount of water according to the amount of rice, not too much or too little.  The cooked rice should be neither too hard nor too soft.  I often see rich families who care only about how fancy their dishes are, but tolerate poor cooking of the rice.  Such attending to trifles and neglecting the essentials is very funny.  I do not like to soak my rice in soup, because in this way I can’t taste the original flavor of rice. If there’s good soup, I prefer one spoon of soup, then one bite of rice.  Take them one after another to satisfy both appetites.  If I have to, I would soak the rice in tea or hot water! In this way, I would still taste some of the rice flavor.  The essential taste of rice is above hundreds of flavors; Those who know how to appreciate the rice like to eat just rice without any dishes.


(Good advice!  One need only add that the rice should be soaked for an hour between washing and cooking.  The horrible wallpaper paste that passes for “rice” in American kitchens and restaurants can be banished forever by using this simple advice—especially the part about really caring for and appreciating good rice.)




It is not congee if you can see only water, not rice, or if you can see only rice, not water.  You must combine and blend rice and water well.  Exquisiteness grows in silkiness! This is real congee. Yin Wen Duangong said: “ It’s better to wait to eat congee than to make the congee wait to be eaten!”  These are true words.  Avoid waiting a long time after the congee cooked.  Its flavor goes bad, and gets dry.  Recently, some people make duck congee, adding meat in congee; some people make eight treasures congee, adding fruits in it.  Both lose the true flavor of the congee. If you have to add some other items in congee, then it is better to use green beans in summer. In winter, use millet. You can add any of the “five grains” [i.e. any grains], it doesn’t ruin the congee. I once had dinner at an Inspector’s place, at which every dish was good enough except the cheap rice—I barely made myself eat it. After I went home, I got sick from eating it. I joked it with my friend: My five internal organs’ spirits suffered—indeed I couldn’t take it!



Part 14 Tea and Drinks


Drinking seven bowls of beverages feels like riding the wind.  Drinking even one cup helps one forget all worries. When talking about drinks, these must be the “six clear things” [water, milk, sweet liquor, rice juice and tea, unfiltered liquor and watery congee].  So I write my Tea and Drinks section.




To make good tea, you must use good water. Water is best from Zhong Leng and Hui Quan. Ordinary families can’t afford transporting this water, but natural spring water and snow water are easy to get and store.  Fresh water can have a bit of strong flavor, but the longer it is stored, the sweeter and milder it gets.  I have tasted all kinds of tea around the world.  The best is the white tea from the summits of the Wuyi Mountains. However, this tea is for the  royal court, and really rare. How can commoners easily get it?  Second, no other tea is better than Longjing.  The teas picked before Qingming time [the third day of the third lunar month, around April] called “lotus-heart” tea is really mild. The tea picked right before the rain is the best, with one leaf on the sprout tip, green like jade.

When storing tea, wrap it in small paper packets, four liang for one pack.  Put it in a pot of lime, and change the lime every ten days.  Seal the pot opening with paper and press it tight to avoid leaking scent and flavor and to prevent color change. When boiling the water, use a high flame. Once it’s boiling, pour in tea right away.  If the water is boiled too long, the water flavor changes. If the water is not boiling, the tea leaves will float on the surface. Once the tea is made, drink it right away.  Don’t cover with a lid, or the tea flavor goes bad.

The key to making tea is to be precise and make no mistakes. In Shanxi, Fei Zhongchen had said: “I passed by Shuiyuan yesterday, and finally had good tea.”  [Shuiyuan produces good tea.]   E ven Fei Zhongchen, a person from Shanxi, said such words. I have seen a Shidafu [a senior official] who grew up in Hangzhou drink boiled tea every time he attends court. The tea tastes bitter like Chinese medicine, red as blood. This is the vulgar way for those fat and cheesy people who like to eat areca.

Except the Longjing from my hometown, every other kind of tea is ranked below it.  [Unclear referent here, probably referring to the material on Wuyi.]


(Again, good tips on tea.  The water would be jut beginning to bubble, not boiling in our sense, when the tea is put in.  I would not recommend the lime, but it may have been necessary in Yuan’s time, to keep bugs and mold out.  Many a gourmet would still rank Wuyi white tea at the top.  The Wuyi mountains were so important in the tea trade that the English in the old days often referred to tea as Bohea [pron. “bohay”], from the way “Wuyi” is pronounced by the people in the mountain range itself.)



Wuyi Tea

I used to dislike Wuyi tea for its bitterness.  It is as bitter as Chinese medicine. However, in 1786, I was traveling in Wuyi and got to Tianyou temple on Manting summit. The Daoists there all rushed to serve me their tea. The cup is as small as a small walnut, the teapot is as small as a citrus fruit. Each cup has less than one liang of tea water. Every sip that I had I could slowly enjoy. First, I smell its aroma.  Then I took a small sip, tasting its flavor slowly and meditating on it. It’s absolutely fragrant and fresh.  The aroma swirled in my nose, leaving sweetness on my taste buds. After I finished the first cup, I had one and two more. It made me feel calm and refreshed. At this time, I realized that Longjing was refreshing but tasted really mild, and Yangxian tea was good but lacking in sweet tones. It’s like comparing jade with crystal: totally different styles. So Wuyi tea has its good reputation, as it should. The teapot could be refilled with boiling water three times, and the flavor still lasted.


(Many a traveler has had this experience, ENA included.  The use of tiny pots and cups is Fujian standard, and truly does make one appreciate the tea.)





Tea from Hangzhou is all fragrant. The best is still Longjing. Every time when it is Qing Ming time in my home town, the tomb keeper will serve us with a cup of tea.  Clear water, green tea—this is the tea that even rich families can’t get.


(Tombs were cleaned up and maintained on Qing Ming day.)



Changzhou Yangxian Tea


Yangxian tea, as green as jade, shaped like sparrows’ tongues, and appearing as very large grains. It tastes sronger than Longjing.



Dongting Jun Mountain tea


The tea from Dongting Jun Mountain tastes similar to Longjing. The leaf is wider, the color is greener. It is hard to get.  The official Fang Liuchuan once gave me two containers of this tea; they were extremely good.  Later someone else gave me some of the tea, but it was not the true original one.

In addition,  Lu’an, Silver Needles, Mao Jian, Borneolum, and Anhua Tea all rank after the first cut.



Alcohol (Jiu)


From birth I disliked alcohol, so I am really strict on picking it.  This helps me to better know how good or bad the alcohol is. Nowadays, Shaoxing jiu is very popular around the country, but Cang jiu’s mildness, Xun jiu’s coldness and Chuan jiu’s freshness are also as good as Shaoxing jiu. Generally speaking, Jiu is like a well educated scholar: the older, the better.  The best is froma jar that is just opened, as the saying “Head start for jiu, foot for tea” [i.e., freshly opened jiu, cured and aged—or possibly reinfused—tea] indicates. To warm the alcohol, inadequate warth makes the taste cold, too hot a warming makes it dull, and setting it too close to the fire makes the flavor bad [smoky]. It must be warmed in water [i.e. the closed bottle put into a pan of water and the water warmed slowly].  It cannot contact the fire directly.  It must be covered tightly to avoid the fragrance [and the alcohol] evaporating away.  That is best.

I have picked a few that are drinkable; descriptions follow.


(Jiu is usually translated “wine,” but it is almost always grain alcohol—technically beer or ale when brewed, vodka when distilled.  The word “wine” in English is correctly restricted to fruit wines, which do exist in China but were rare until modern times.  China now has a substantial grape wine industry with rapidly improving quality, and there is every reason to use words correctly in this context.  The jiu described below are noncarbonated ales or beers except for the shochu, which is distilled, and thus technically are vodka [unaged] or whiskey [aged]).


Yu’s Gold Jia Jiu

Yu Wen Xianggong’s household makes sweet and spicy two kinds of jiu. The spicy one is better.  It tastes spicy and lively, and reaches to our bones.  The color looks like crystal flowers. The flavor is similar to Shaoxing but spicier.



Dezhou Lu Jiu (Dezhou used to be part of old China; it is now part of Vietnam)


Lu Yayu’s household made Lu jiu at home.  The color is normal, like ordinary jiu, but it tastes richer.



Sichuan Pitong Jiu (Pi is a county in Sichuan Province; tong is a bamboo tube;

people in Pi supposedly made wine in bamboo tubes)


Pitong jiu is extremely cool and crystal clear.  It tastes like pear juice and sugar cane juice.  It’s hard to tell that it’s wine. But it is transported from thousands miles away, in Sichuan, and almost no Pitong jiu can stand so much travel without changing flavor. I have had Pitong jiu seven times.  The one jar carried by governor Yang Li Hu’s raft was the best.  [It was least disturbed by the travel.]



Shaoxing Jiu


Shaoxing Jiu is like an official who is free of corruption, authentic and honest.  The flavor is mellow and normal.  Also it is like famous old people, who have lived long and experienced more.  Its quality is thick and flavorful.  Shaoxing Jiu takes at least five years to make.  If aged less than that it’s not drinkable.  Fake Shaoxing Jiu, with added water, cannot be stored for five years. I often say Shaoxing Jiu is a celebrity, and Shochu is a hoodlum.


(Shochu is distilled jiu—basically, at least in Yuan’s day, raw vodka—and if it isn’t a hoodlum itself it has certainly made many people act so!)



Huzhou Nanxun Jiu  (Huzhou is a district in Zhejiang)


Huzhou Nanxun Jiu tastes like Shaoxing, but spicier. The best Nanxun Jiu is that which is more than three years old.


Changzhou Lanling Jiu

Tang poems has sentences such as: “Lanling Jiu is pretty as a tulip; a jade bowl holds it and it shines like amber.”  When I passed throiugh Changzhou, Prime Minister Liu Wending shared his eight-year-old Lanling Jiu.  Indeed it had amber color, but tasted too thick and strong, no longer containing a fresh lasting flavor. Yixing has a similar brew, Shushan Jiu.  Wuxi Jiu is made with second-rate spring water; it should have top quality, but the market businessmen make it roughly.  This leads to poor taste and watery jiu.  It’s such a pity. It is said hjat there is good Wuxi Jiu, but I have not had it so far.



Liyang Black Rice Jiu


I do not usually like drinking.  But in 1766, in Liyan, at Mr. Ye’s house, I drank sixteen cups of black rice jiu. People around me were shocked.  All tried to stop me.  But I couldn’t help drinking it.  I thought they were ruining my mood. This jiu is black, and it tastes sweet and lively.  I can’t find words to express my amazement.  It is said in Liyang: When a family has a newborn baby girl, they must make a jar of this jiu with fine-quality new rice. Wait till the day of the girl’s wedding day; then it can be opened. So the least time for making this jiu is 15 years. When the jar is opened, there is only half the volume left.  It is thick and sweet and is sticky on the lips. The fragrance swirls out from the house.


(Waley 1956:197 provides a freer translation.  He assumes fan—literally, cooked grain—means millet here, since millet was usually used for wine, but fan could just as well have its usual south-Chinese meaning of cooked rice.

Chinese wine cups hold only an ounce, but downing sixteen of them is still a truly impressive accomplishment.  Yuan’s claims to be unused to drinking must obviously be taken with, as Mark Twain put it, “a few tons of salt.”)



Suzhou Old Three-White Jiu (the “three whites” are white rice, white water, white flour)


In Qianlong’s thirteenth year, I was drinking at Zhou Mu’an’s house. His jiu tasted really delicious, and stuck to my lips.  When the cup was filled, it still won’t flow. When I was having the 14th cup, I still didn’t know the name of it, asked the owner, he said: “This is my three-white jiu, more than ten years old.”  Because I really liked it, he sent another jar to me the next day,  However, it tasted quite different. My lord!  The treasure of the earth can not be obtained more than once. Accoding to Zheng Kang Cheng’s  Zhou Guan definition of  “Ang Qi” [white jiu]: ”Jiu is really old and white.” I think it was talking about this jiu.



Jinhua Jiu (Jinhua is a place in Zhejiang)


Jinhua jiu has Shaoxing jiu’s clearness but no spiciness; it has women’s jiu’s sweetness, but is not cheesy. This jiu is also the older, the better. Perhaps it’s because the water along Jinhua is clear.



Shanxi Fen Jiu  

To drink Shochu, the best is to drink one with really high alcohol content. Fenjiu has the highest among shochu varieties.  Speaking of shochu, I refer to it as like a hoodlum among people, and cruel officer in government. To defeat the bandits, one needs cruel officers; to chase away chill and cold, one needs shochu. Fenjiu ranks on top, Shandong sorghum shochu follows next.  When it has been stored for ten years, the color changes to green, and it tastes sweeter—just as a hoodlum eventually ages out of it, has no more bad temper, and becomes easy to get along with.  I once saw Tong Ershu’s family making medicinal shochu, using ten jin of shochu to infuse herbal medicines.  They used four liang of Chinese wolfberry, two liang of atractylodes, one liang of Indian mulberry, to a jar of shochu.  They wrapped up and sealed the jar for a whole month.  When they opened it, it smelled fantastic. When eating pig’s head, lamb’s tail, Tiaosheng Meat, and such types of dishes, shochu is a proper match.  This is called eating the dishes with the right drinks.


(Chinese distilled shochu does indeed vary in strength, or used to, from about 20 to 40% alcohol or even more.  I have encountered shochu well over 50%.  Shochu of various kinds is still used very commonly to produce medicinal tinctures, including the ones mentioned.)


Just to mention a few more jiu:  There are Suzhou’s women’s jiu, Fuzhen jiu, Yuanzao jiu, Xuanzhou’s soybean jiu, Tongzhou’s red jujube jiu, but these are all bad types. The worst one is Yangzhou quince jiu.  It tastes bad as soon as it touches the lips.


(The jujubes and quinces are put in the jiu to infuse; it is not made from them.)









Sycamore Canyon Natural History

Sycamore Canyon Natural History


A Report to the Riverside Municipal Museum


  1. N. Anderson



All gratitude above all to Oscar Clarke and Andrew Sanders for teaching me local botany and identifying particular plants. Also to Jack Bryant, Michael Fugate, John Green, Tanya Huff and others for help and advice.


Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park preserves two major canyons and a high, rolling tableland around them.  Sycamore Canyon itself drains much of Moreno Valley, and thus is a large, deep canyon with a permanent stream.  The smaller canyon passes just under the Ameal Moore Nature Center and drops down to join the main canyon just outside the park.

Sycamore Canyon saves a wonderful, large sample of a seriously endangered habitat: the rolling hills and streams of interior southern California.  We Californians have done a good job saving our mountains, and a fair job with deserts and coasts, but the interior valleys and rolling hill have been open to developers, with consequent loss of natural habitat.

Sycamore Canyon Park is currently a lifeline for at least three birds and one lizard that used to be common but are now rare to very rare in southern California.  The birds are the Bell’s Vireo, Blue Grosbeak and Horned Lark, all common elsewhere but almost gone as breeding birds in southern California. The lizard is the orange-throated whiptail, confined to granite hills from Riverside south through Baja California.  Suburbanization has taken the homes of these animals, and the park is one of their last refuges.  The vireo and grosbeak depend on willow-cottonwood forest along streams, the lark on open grassland, the lizard on granite hill-and-canyon country.  Those habitats are not commonly preserved in California.

Another, less endangered, local and uncommon species is the smooth tarplant (Centromadia pungens var. laevis),a bushy plant with a yellow daisy-like flower. It is confined to central-western Riverside County (and a tiny overhang into San Bernardino Co.).  It is common along the middle part of the main stream.

The main canyon is well known for being far too large for its current small stream.  Part of the reason is that it once drained much more of Moreno Valley and the Box Springs Mountains than it does now; earthquakes diverted several feeder streams.  Another reason is that the broad valley that begins at the west edge of Sycamore Canyon Park is partly tectonic—caused by earthquakes.

The park is a notably rocky place.  Huge rocks stand everywhere, cropping out from canyonsides, grasslands, and brush.  The rocks are geologically fairly simple: they are granodiorite, a granitic rock that differs from granite in having more dark minerals.  Almost anywhere in the park, you will see the rocks all around you are speckled with gray, white and black, or pink, white and black.  The white can be either quartz (more clear) or feldspar (opaque, chalky-looking).  The pink comes from iron or other minerals. The dark colors come from hornblende (crystals, usually very small but up to an inch across) and, much less often, biotite mica (flat, shiny sheets).

The granodiorite slowly cooled from a pasty melt, deep underground, about 100 million years ago (give or take a few million).  Similar granitic “plutons” (huge masses of molten rock) were actively emplacing themselves all through interior southern California at the time, and on up through the Sierra Nevada and south through Baja California.

In our area, the granodiorite rose up under a thick covering of much older rock, a dark gray, somewhat layered rock known as schist.  You can see little bits and lumps of it in the granodiorite,, or sticking to the tops of granodiorite boulders.  The granodiorite, exceedingly hot and moving like toothpaste forced from a tube, pushed up, cracked the schist, flowed into the cracks, and slowly absorbed or partially absorbed the schist.  You can see in several parts of the park how the schist lumps (technically “xenoliths,” i.e. “strange rocks”) are surrounded, invaded, and partially dissolved into the granodiorite.

It might seem that the park would be pretty dull, with basically only one type of rock around, but nothing could be further from the truth.  As the rock cooled, it cracked.  Also, then and since, earthquakes have constantly smashed up the pluton.  Cooling cracks rapidly filled with still-molten material, or circulating water at far-above-boiling temperatures carried minerals into the cracks.  The result was the broad streaks of white and pink that you now see everywhere.  These are “pegmatite dykes,” pegmatite being the last stuff to cool from a granite mass—usually, sizable crystals of quartz and feldspar.  Iron and other minerals, carried by that hot water, often makes it bright pink.  The water often deposited gold too, so prospectors in the old days dug “coyote holes” wherever a big pegmatite vein looked promising.  A very substantial amount of gold came from the Gavilan Hills just south of the park.  No one found anything in the park, or even did much digging.  The nearby Box Springs Mountains are full of “coyote holes,” but no “color” turned up.  But what Sycamore Canyon did get is an amazing variety of rock patterns.  Newer dykes and veins cross old ones.  White veins cross pink, speckled, and dark gray ones.  Rainbow colors include almost everything except blue; there are even green rocks, where schist partially melted and the green olivine in it recrystallized in flat layers on newer rock.  A particularly scrambled and vivid rockscape makes up the sharp peak visible just southwest of the visitors’ center, and the cliffs that extend southwestward from it.  Try to figure out how all those mixed and varicolored rocks came out of one granodiorite mass.  Many other interesting rockscapes occur in the park.  Look carefully around you and think what could have formed the patterns you see.

Earthquakes continue to shape the park.  The canyons and cliffs are all basically the result of breaking and sliding along fault lines.  Left to itself, the park is fairly flat—a rolling plateau surface.  The canyons are dramatic, but also interesting is the lack of relief between the deep ones.  This is due to the tendency of the granodiorite to weather evenly.  Bushes grow in any little gully and stop erosion there, so erosion shifts to sheetwash on the broad surface of the land.  If a new gully develops, bushes colonize it and slow erosion down.  So the pattern continues.

The soil developed on granodiorite starts with “grus”—sandy, broken-down granite rock.  It weathers to a pinkish-tan sandy loam.  Erosion washes this away easily, so soil is usually shallow and very well drained.  This makes it good for avocados and olives, bad for many other garden items.  It is rich in mineral nutrients but very poor in nitrogen.  However, car exhaust and other fossil fuel smoke is rich in nitrates and nitrites, and fertilizes the land.  This has led to growth of grass and weeds over recent decades.



Fifty years ago, the Sycamore Canyon area was a beautiful, almost trackless expanse of coastal sage scrub.  This vegetation type consists of short bushes:  mostly sage, sagebrush, wild buckwheat, and shrubby sunflowers of several types.  Sage and sagebrush are quite different things; sages are in the mint family and have large, beautiful blue flowers in spring; sagebrush is in the daisy and dandelion family and has tiny, whitish flowers in fall.  They grow together, on the shadier sides of hills and rock outcrops.  The commonest of the sunflowers is brittlebush, which dominates the sunnier slopes.  It is two to four feet tall, with diamond-shaped fuzzy gray leaves and, in the first warm days of spring, beautiful yellow sunflowers.  It is notably drought-tolerant, and is surviving the current hot dry climate.  Buckwheat, covered with white or pinkish-white flowers for most of the summer, grows almost anywhere, especially on very rocky places and in newly cleared areas (including highway cuts).

In any slightly moist place, a tall, imposing green bush grows high above the sage scrub.  This is elderberry (specifically, blue or Mexican elderberry—very close to the familiar food plant of the old world).  Its berries, born in June, are a major wildlife food, and not bad eating even for humans.  Another localized plant, but this one found only in the hottest and driest places, is California cholla cactus.

There is a pronounced sunward slope / shady slope effect: sage and sagebrush grow on the shadier north and northeast slopes; brittlebush dominates the sun-facing south and southwest slopes.  Brittlebush is a desert plant reaching its northwest limit here, and it needs hot dry conditions.  Most flowers prefer one or the other slope; baby-blue-eyes and its relatives, for instance, is essentially confined to north-facing (shady) slopes, California evening primrose to southwest-facing ones that get the most sun.  California poppies and suncups prefer level land or gentle slopes in full sun.

Plants of the sage scrub usually have smallish, hard, nutritious seeds.  These fall to the ground not far from the parent plant, get buried in the soil, and germinate in the spring, with the nutritious seed material giving the young plant the nutrient it needs in our poor, sandy soil.  Often, seeds are found and collected by ants, who frequently drop and lose the seeds in the rich, soft soil that accumulates around anthills.  Buckwheat and filaree in particular are good at using this method to get around.  Native Americans quickly learned that the seeds of this vegetation formation, especially the annual flowers, were an amazing food resource.  Many of our cultivated crops (including wheat, barley, oats, rye, chickpeas and so on) come from similar habitats in the Old World and were similarly exploited—and eventually cultivated—there.

Sage scrub used to be an amazing sight in spring and summer: a mass of flowers, visited by millions of butterflies, bees, brilliant-colored beetles, and other insects, as well as countless hummingbirds, lizards, spiders, and dozens of other beings.  Unfortunately, the sage scrub has taken a terrible beating.  People start fires all the time.  The sage scrub is adapted to fire; in the old days, it burned regularly, and seeds promptly renewed it in a couple of years.  But now several things prevent this.  First, the nitrates and nitrites noted above fertilize nonnative grass, thistles, and mustards, which choke out the native plants.  The natives are not adapted to fertile soil, grow less rapidly, and thus get crowded out.  Second, this rampant grass and weed growth soon dies and dries out, providing fuel for much hotter and more frequent fires.  Third, our climate has gotten steadily hotter and drier for decades now—the result of natural warming plus warming caused by greenhouse gases released by humans.  Even in places where no fires have come and where grass is scarce, the bushes are dying from drought.

Thanks to this, most of the park is now grassland—nonnative grass, mostly brome species, and weeds.

There are two other vegetation types in the park.  Most conspicuous and important is the “riparian” vegetation.  The word comes from Latin ripa, riverbank, and refers to vegetation along the banks of streams.  Since Sycamore Canyon Park is the place where several major drainages join, it has a lot of this vegetation.  Dominant is the Pacific willow, easily recognized by its long, pointed leaves, bright green above, somewhat silvery below.  It grows everywhere that water is constantly available on or below the surface.  Also very common—to the point of giving its name to the whole area—is California sycamore.  This tree has mottled pale-gray bark and broad leaves with five points, rather like a human hand.  It grows in drier areas, where there is always some moisture at depth but no permanent surface water.  Third is the cottonwood, with heart-shaped brilliant green leaves and a gray trunk with strongly ridged bark.

You always see young willows and cottonwoods along the stream, but never a young sycamore.  Why not?  Because sycamore requires a flood that deposits silt and then goes away and leaves the area to dry up.  If it doesn’t dry up, the willows and cottonwoods crowd out the young sycamores.  Thanks (again) to global warming, we no longer have widespread flooding in the dry parts of the park.  Our sycamores are mostly very old, going back to cooler and wetter periods centuries ago.

An interesting addition to our riparian tree flora is the fan palm—a native plant to the general area, but not native here.  Most (maybe all) of ours are Baja California fan palms, Washingtonia robusta.  They are very tall, with very thin trunks.  They have sprouted from seeds of the street trees in the area.  The fruits of these palms are tiny dates.  They are perfectly good eating.  Birds and coyotes love them, and scatter the seeds everywhere—hence their invasion of the canyon.  They thrive on fire, and the frequent fires are helping them move in.

Under the trees, along the streams, there are many bushes: mulefat, mugwort, threeleaf sumac, and others.  The one you need to recognize is poison oak.  It has three very shiny leaflets that turn reddish when the plant is at all dry.  Just don’t get into any dense, tall, shiny-leaved stuff with reddish leaves at the edge of the patch.

In and beside the water are tules, cattails, sedges, rushes, cocklebur, spotted monkeyflower with beautiful red-spotted yellow blooms, and a range of other plants.

Riparian plants usually have tiny seeds attached to plumes that allow them to float in the air.  Thus they can drift everywhere and settle on newly opened wet areas.  The advantage of this is visible after wet winters, or when construction produces a new cleared-off wet place: little willow, cottonwood, mulefat, horseweed, cattail and other plants immediately spring up.  Most of the plants that do not use this trick produce berries or other edible fruits.  Thus they lure birds and mammals to eat the fruit, and excrete the seeds, conveniently packaged in fertilizer!  The animals wander around and thus spread the seeds widely.  Still other water plants multiply when floods tear them out, tear the clumps apart, and then replant them farther downstream; in the park, watercress and cattail use this strategy.  Contrast these strategies with those of the coastal sage scrub.  In the latter, only a couple of species that require rock outcrops use the long-range, plumed-seed dispersal method.

One interesting and distinctive riparian area of the park, to me the most interesting biologically, is the middle part of the main stream, just above the canyon.  Here salt and possibly alkali have accumulated over the years in the soil of the flat areas near the stream.  Thus a whole special community of salt-tolerant and salt-loving plants has developed: saltbush, saltgrass, alkali dropseed grass, smooth tarplant, and others.  Much larger saline areas exist along the San Jacinto River drainage to the southeast.  These interior saline pockets create a distinctive habitat, with at least one species—the smooth tarplant—confined to them.

The third vegetation type is rare, sparse, and confined to the south end of the park: juniper savannah.  This type is about gone, thanks again to fire and grass invasion.  You can see it flourishing down in Harford Springs Park in the Gavilan Hills, a few miles south of us.  Very old California junipers—dense, very dark green, evergreen shrubs about 10 feet tall—are surrounded by annual plants, originally wildflowers, now mostly nonnative grass.  This vegetation type exists on flat to rolling surfaces, where clay accumulates in the soil.  Since the sage scrub bushes prefer sandy, well-drained soil, these more clay-rich areas remained bare except in spring, when annual wildflowers covered them.  They thus did not burn well, and so the fire-sensitive junipers survived.  Today, with the universal weedy grasses, fire impacts the juniper savannah. Also, the flat surfaces attract suburbs and factories.  So almost none of this vegetation type, once widespread, survives today.


In addition to the grasses and weeds, several nonnative plants have become interesting additions to the flora.  One common one is South American tree tobacco, with wide gray leaves and tubular yellow flowers.  The leaves are deadly poison, but the nectar in the flowers is perfect hummingbird and butterfly food, so this is a very welcome plant from the hummingbirds’ viewpoint, making up for the food they lost from the death of the sage scrub.  Common along the park edge, and occasional within it, are large eucalyptus trees.  The “California pepper tree,” which is actually a Peruvian sumac tree, is widely seen. These “pepper” trees were probably all planted.

An interesting bit of landscape is an abandoned olive orchard in the central-east corner of the park.  Olives were once commonly grown commercially in southern California, but have been replaced by suburbs; however, abandoned oliv treees can live indefinitely, and this orchard may have been abandoned in the Depression of the 1930s (as many were).  Amazingly, a single commercial Persian walnut (Juglans regia) survives in this orchard.  Walnuts usually need major irrigation to survive in our area, but this one somehow hangs on.  Meanwhile, a sizable native southern California black walnut grows in the upper drainage, and is the presumed parent of saplings downstream.  Being much more drought-tolerant, this tree flourishes.

There were probably other orchards and agricultural efforts once, but no trace of them survives.  Otherwise, there are no evidences of human presence in the park except the trails, roads, power poles, recent litter and graffiti, and invasive nonnative vegetation.  Yet we know the area was much used by Native Californians.  One could, once, find smooth shallow depressions on flat rocks, where the Indian collectors had ground seeds for bread and seedcakes.  In recent decades, rain made more acid by aerial pollutants (carbon and nitrogen compounds) has eaten these away, and they are no longer detectable.  Fortunately, they were recorded before all was lost.  There was no doubt a good scatter of stone tools and pottery shards in the area in the old days, but these are gone now.


Fire is a constant feature of these dryland vegetation types.  In very ancient times, lightning and spontaneous combustion were common enough to provide it.

Unlike most chaparral bushes, which resprout, most sage scrub bushes are killed by burning, but rapidly grows back from seeds—or did until recently.  Riparian plants usually regrow from the rootstock or stem, though some (notably, here, cottonwood) are generally destroyed by fire and have to reseed.

For the last many thousand years, till recently, Native Americans burned brush to get annual seed plants to grow.  This would normally create a mosaic effect: small areas would be burned in a given year, while other areas regrew.  Usually, burns were not total, so that some bushes survived and provided seed.  Extensive fires were rare.   Today, with introduced weedy grass to carry the fire, and fire suppression in old-growth brush with much dead wood, fires are hotter and become more extensive.  Then the introduced weedy grasses invade rapidly, choking out the natives.  (Thanks to Richard Minnich for this information; see Minnich 2008.)

Native American Uses before the Spanish


The present Sycamore Canyon Park is rather rocky and barren—not prime country for foraging.  Even so, Native Californians used this area extensively for seed gathering, and doubtless for hunting, especially the rabbits that are so common here.  On flat rocks near the Barton St. trailhead, you can find shallow depressions that are very smooth to the touch.  These are “grinding slicks”: places where the Native Californians used flat stones to grind seeds into meal or flour.  The ground seeds were then baked into cakes in the ashes of the fire, or made into soup by stirring them with water in a basket, dropping hot stones into the basket until the soup was cooked.  The baskets were watertight and tough enough to withstand heat, but someone had to stir constantly to prevent the rocks from burning through the basket.  Major foods available included seeds of chia and other sages, fiddlenecks, redmaids, brittlebush, tarweed and other plants, and also corms of wild hyacinth, wild onion, and relatives.  Also used were fruit and nuts of brush cherry (assuming there were once more of them here—there is only one bush now).  All the mammals and the larger birds were available, and people were willing to eat reptiles and large insects; like St. John in the Bible, they ate locusts and wild honey.  They did avoid coyotes, rattlesnakes, skunks and similar marginally edible game.

There were once many more grinding slicks, and other evidences of human presence, but erosion and modern traffic have destroyed them.  Acid rain collects in the grinding slicks and dissolves away the smooth surface, leaving them indistinguishable from natural shallow depressions in the rock.

Woody plants were used for construction, especially the larger trees; also for firewood.  Arrows were light, and could be made of any straight tough plant, but the foreshafts and even points were often made of chamise wood, which is very hard, can be polished to a sharp point, and does not split easily.  Good bow material in the area seems limited to California walnut wood.  Some willows can provide bow material, but our two species have weak, easily broken wood.  One could also hope to trade for bows of serviceberry or other hard woods from the high mountains, or ash from the canyons.

Native Americans did not set up regular villages in the park area—it is too unproductive—but would have built shelters there occasionally, using a framework of poles or btranches covered with a thatch of grass, brush, long twigs, or anything that would provide good cover.  In the desert they favored palm fronds, but our palms here in the canyon are recent colonizers, unavailable in the old days.

Dramatic rock outcrops near canyons were often ceremonial sites, but information on this matter is not for public disclosure, since some of the sites are still used.  (Native Californian culture is far from extinct, even after 250 years of European colonization.)

Native Californians burned the landscape at intervals, to clear away overgrown brush and allow seed-rich annuals and young short-lived perennials to take over. Most of the park’s plant species are killed by fire, and had to re-seed and regrow.  Willows, sycamores, elderberries, and a few other large woody plants can take fire well; they simply regrow from rootstocks or trunks.  Many perennials would lose all above-ground tissue but would promptly regrow from the roots; coyote melon, Phacelia ramossisima, and several other spreading plants do this.  Fire kept the land in its most productive stage: rapidly regrowing, with many young, seed-bearing species.  Game animals also liked this flush of new growth.  Juan Crespí, an excellent observer who knew plants well, noted in 1769 that the Los Angeles area and inland valleys were burned to produce flushes of new growth (Crespí 2001).  Today, unfortunately, fire merely allows introduced weedy species to take over, crowding out the natives.

Riverside is near the meeting point of the Cahuilla, Serrano, Luiseno and Tongva (Gabrielino) peoples.  These names refer to four closely related languages, about as close as Spanish and Portuguese.  In historic times, the Cahuilla inhabited what is now Riverside, but the others all lived nearby, and there was much contact.  Perhaps some sort of intermediate dialect was once spoken.  Aboriginally, these entities did not exist as tribes; the tribes (or bands) were smaller, each one occupying a sizable winter village and holding a large territory around it.  They would often disperse into mountain areas in summer, for coolness as well as hunting and gathering acorns and similar foods.

Culture was complex and sophisticated, with exquisite baskets and other art and with an elaborate and rich oral literature.  European contact shattered these groups, with as much as 95% reduction in population from disease and violence.  They have survived, regained much of their population levels, and are doing well economically and educationally, but preserving the language and culture is a major challenge, currently being met by a number of initiatives.  Excellent descriptions of plant uses by Cahuilla have been provided by Lowell Bean and Katherine Siva Saubel (1972) and of uses by Serrano by Michael Lerch (1981).  For general California plant knowledge, see M. Kat Anderson’s Tending the Wild (2005), Maurice Zigmond’s Kawaiisu Ethnobotany (1981), and Jan Timbrook’s work on Chumash plant use (Timbrook 2007).


Later Uses

Since Euro-American settlement, the park area has not been particularly useful, hence its survival as a wild and reasonably natural area.  It was too rocky and steep for easy development.  An old olive orchard obviously did not succeed well enough to tempt imitators.  The park was long used for rough grazing, but does not seem to have been cultivated, at least not on any serious scale.  As water became valuable, the drainage came under increasing protection for its value as a water supply.





A useful guidebook that has all these critters is Bowers et al., Kaufman Fied Guide to Mammals of North America; see bibliography below.


Opossum.  This tough, adaptable introduced animal became commoner, as suburbs spread, but is now less common again, probably because there is less garbage available.


California mole.  Formerly common in damp soil in undisturbed canyons.  Now rare.


Desert shrew (Notiosorex crawfordi).  Formerly rare to uncommon.  I have not seen any recently and have no idea of current status.


Western pipistrelle.  The only bat I can certainly identify and still think is common (though much less so than formerly).


Larger bat:  A larger bat is sometimes seen and is probably a Myotis.  I am not sure if any other bat species persist.  Several once inhabited the area.


Raccoon.  Survives in fair numbers, but less common than it used to be.  There is less food; garbage is secured in bins, litter rarer, home gardening and home orchards a thing of the past in most of the area.


Long-tailed weasel.  Formerly rare, now probably locally extirpated, though surviving as close as Glen Helen Park in San Bernardino County.


Spotted skunk.  Formerly common, now gone.  Apparently displaced by the striped skunk.


Striped skunk.  Moved in with suburbanization, became common as suburbs expanded, then became rare again with stabilization; possibly fed on mice, garbage, etc. stirred up by expanding construction.  Has declined with securing of garbage in large bins, cleanup of litter, and decline of home gardening.  A few still occur.


Badger. Formerly resident in open grasslands.  Gone since late 1960s.


Gray fox.  Formerly common, now almost gone, due primarily to dog diseases, especially parvovirus and distemper.  A few survive but do not raise many young.


Coyote.  This notorious survivor survives.   They have one to three or four young a year.  There are no “coyote packs”; one never sees more than a pair with young of the year, or, very rarely, a three-generation pack.  Stories of coyotes luring dogs away to kill them are mere folklore, though if a dog takes on a coyote, of course he is taking his chances.  Coyotes take a few cats, but far, far fewer than folklore relates.  Worse cat-killers are great horned owls and loose dogs.


Bobcat.  Formerly rather rare, now very rare, but still observed.  A small female lives in Two Trees Canyon Park.  Sycamore Canyon, with similar habitat, probably has at least one resident bobcat.


Mountain lion.  A female lived on the Box Springs Mountains in 1991 and supposedly raised at least one cub.  Sightings have been claimed since (at least one person in Pigeon Pass claims he loses sheep to them).  View reports with suspicion; I have seen a friend’s Siamese cat identified as a “cougar,” and had the footprints of one of my dogs identified as mountain lion tracks!


California groundsquirrel.  Formerly extremely abundant.  Still common, but not in anything like former numbers (which were probably far inflated above pre-White-settler conditions, because of grain farming and predator removal).  Droughts and fires have greatly decreased the numbers; fires not only kill some, but, more seriously, expose the rest to predation.  It is actually surviving in the suburbs better than in the park.


Botta’s pocket gopher.  Rapidly declining in areas where native vegetation has been replaced by weedy grass, which it cannot use.  Common elsewhere.


Merriam’s kangaroo rat.  Still astonishingly common in Sycamore Canyon Park grasslands.


Western harvest mouse.  Formerly present; I have no idea of current status.


Desert deermouse.  Formerly extremely common; still present in undisturbed areas, but numbers are down well over 90%.


California vole.  Has always been fairly common in moist areas, and seems still to be so.


Pack rat (desert woodrat).  Formerly very common.  Now almost gone.  Has not dealt well with droughts, fires, and loss of habitat to suburbs and cheat grass.  Still, several probably survive in the park.


House mouse.  All too common in houses; strays into park.


Black rat.  Common in suburbs, must stray into park.


Norway rat.  Occasionally seen; stays in sewers and other hiding places.


Desert cottontail.  Common, though not as much as formerly; numbers fluctuate with fires and droughts.  These knock it back, but it breeds like, well….  And so it stays ahead.


Black-tailed jackrabbit.  Still fairly common.  Sycamore Canyon Park is its last stronghold in northeast Riverside.  An animal of extensive level grasslands, it has been banished by suburban development from most of Riverside, and does not live in the mountainous areas eastward.


Mule deer.  Presumably once common.  Now gone.  Tracks and occasional sightings show deer still visit the Box Springs Mountains, but do not live there; they range widely from the badlands farther east.  I have not seen tracks in Sycamore Canyon Park.



Reptiles and Amphibians (“Herps”)


A standard, thorough guide here is Robert Stebbins, A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians.

I have not seen most of the following in the park, but have seen them all nearby in Riverside (except for the night lizard and night snake).


Lungless salamander.  One species used to occur under logs on UCR campus, and presumably elsewhere.  I have no idea of species ID or current status.


California toad.  Formerly rare to uncommon; now rare.


Pacific treefrog.  This little frog, with its familiar “ribbit!” call, persists in the canyon. However, numbers are down 99%, presumably because of chytrid fungus and habitat problems.


Spadefoot toad.  Formerly common after rains, in pools in open country.  Now probably extirpated.


Pacific horned lizard.  Formerly uncommon, now extirpated, by cats, habitat loss, and change of ant species (the hostile and non-nourishing South American species have widely taken over).  Where cats come in, this species immediately disappears.  Cats seem unable to resist killing it, probably in play, since they do not seem to eat it.


Side-blotched lizard.  Reduction with suburbanization, but still common; abundant throughout the park.


Bluebelly lizard (western fence lizard).  This survivor is as common as ever, or nearly so, surviving even in suburbia.  2014 has been a banner year for reproduction, with small ones all over the park.


Granite spiny lizard.  This large dark lizard, with brilliant blue underparts, is common on rock outcrops, where it shelters in cracks in the boulders.  Watch it change color.  When cold, it is dark—black absorbs heat.  As it warms up, it gets lighter.  The melanin-containing spots on the skin shrink up.  Eventually it becomes pale gray.  It tends to move so that it blends in with the rock: when cold, it sits on a dark rock; when hot, on a pale one (and in the shade—of course!).  When it is excited, the colors really fire up: a broad purple streak develops on the back, and the sides develop brilliant blue spots.


Western skink.  Uncommon; this thin, swift-moving lizard with blue tail is hard to spot and quick to escape, but worth watching for.


Southern alligator lizard.  Formerly common, now uncommon, but survives, especially in suburbs, where it loves neglected piles of lumber, crawl spaces, etc.  Found in the park around logs and dead brush.


Night lizard.  Reported.  I have not seen it.


California legless lizard. Rare; I have not found it in the park area, but it is reported.


Western whiptail lizard.  Uncommon.  Commoner off the granite (the following species takes its place on the granitic landscape).


Orange-throated whiptail.  This small, thin, fast-moving lizard is something of a local specialty—at the very northwest limit of its range here.  It is confined to the dry granitic hills of southern California and Baja California.  It is brownish, with vague stripes, and of course an orange throat—but good luck seeing that!  If you see this lizard, it will probably be running away very fast, and hiding in litter.  Formerly very common, then very rare for many years.  Cats are at least a part of the problem.  Survives in rocky, brushy areas where cats do not go.  In these areas, however, a noticeable increase has taken place since 2010, and this lizard is now fairly common again, locally, including within the park.


Western blind snake (Worm snake).  Apparently rare but a regular resident of the canyons, in moist soil.  However, since it is tiny and lives underground, you will probably not see it.


Rosy boa.  Steadily rarer over time, but persists in wildest parts of the park and is even seen at the edge of the suburbs.


Striped racer.  Still around, though loss of habitat has reduced numbers.


Red racer.  This open-country snake has pretty much lost out to suburbs; a few survive.


California king snake.  Formerly quite uncommon, now really rare, but some seem to persist.  Status in Sycamore Canyon unclear.


Night snake.  I have never seen this snake, but my friend and neighbor John Green finds them now and then on his property (and elsewhere).


Black-headed snake.  I have seen it only once in Riverside, near the mouth of Two Trees Canyon.  This secretive burrower is probably not rare, but is very hard to find.


Ring-necked snake.  Probably uncommon but regular in fair populations, in the canyons, in damp or at least occasionally damp soil.  Hard to find.


Gopher snake.  Still common, and ones four feet long, or even longer, are still seen.


Red-diamond rattlesnake.  Another specialty of the pinkish granitic landscape from eastern Riverside south through Baja California; we are at the extreme northwest end of its range.  Killed on sight, usually, so much less common than formerly, but still around.  Do not bother it or even go near it if you see it!  (The Pacific or Pacific Green Rattlesnake takes over once one is off the granite landscape—basically from near the edge of the park on west.)



There are fish in Sycamore Canyon stream, including the native Arroyo Chub, which was exterminated but has been successfully reintroduced, and can be seen in clear pools.  Probably the ever-present South American mosquitofish (Gambusia spp.) is also there.  It has been introduced everywhere in Riverside, and in fact in most of the world, to eat mosquito larvae.





Our area has a rich bird life.  The best starter guide is Birds of Southern California by Kimball Garrett and Jon Dunn.  Both are veteran local birders; Kim Garrett is a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.  He’s amazingly good about answering phone calls and emails.  For more advanced birding, the best are Charles Sibley’s various guidebooks (basic is Sibley 2000, but there are now several specialized follow-up books).


White Pelican  uncommon migrant, but flocks regularly move northwest from the reservoirs and Salton Sea, flying over Moreno Valley and Pigeon Pass.


Double-crested Cormorant  Erratic but sometimes common migrant; large flocks flying to and fro throughout Feb. 2010 was an unusual event.  As with the other waterbirds, this species is common and regular at Perris Reservoir and the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, and the very commonly used migration routes from these to the coast or over Cajon Pass takes these birds directly over the Box Springs Mountains area.  Flocks of water birds, and also migrant hawks, often avoid flying over mountains by flying over Pigeon Pass (on the east side of the Box Springs), or over Box Springs Pass and then over UCR.


Great Blue Heron   uncommon migrant and drop-in, usually at ponds, sometimes flying over or in fields


Canada Goose   common migrant overhead, mostly Nov.-Dec. and Feb.


Mallard    ponds and streams, migration, winter, also breeds


Turkey Vulture   Common migrant, but much less common than formerly.  Used to breed in Riverside area; declined with sanitation, disappearing as breeder with loss of garbage, etc.


White-tailed Kite:  Rare, but established in the Santa Ana river bottom.  Became steadily commoner, peaking in the early 1980s.  Steady decline since, and now rarer than ever.  The theory in the 1980s was that new suburb construction chased lots of mice out of their holes, and then final suburbanization eliminated open habitat without chasing any more mice.


Sharp-shinned Hawk    Fairly common, migration and winter; occasional summer


Cooper’s Hawk  Fairly common resident; several pairs breed in northeast Riverside and hunt in Sycamore Canyon.  May breed in the canyon.  This species was almost eliminated by DDT in the 1950s and 1960s, but with the ban on DDT it has slowly increased again.  The population of pigeons—its favorite food—has correspondingly declined, in lock-step with the Cooper’s increase.


Red-tailed Hawk:  Most birds of prey are declining, but the redtail seems to increase slowly but steadily.  Hunts for rats and groundsquirrels along freeways and seeks out burns to hunt mammals that cannot find much cover.


Red-shouldered Hawk:  Always (since 1950s at least) a substantial breeding population on and near UCR campus.  It never seems to change, but this species has become a commoner breeding bird around Riverside, evidently spreading from bases on UCR campus and in the Santa Ana river bottoms.


Swainson’s Hawk  very rare migrant


Ferruginous Hawk  formerly uncommon but regular migrant and rare winter; now about gone


Golden Eagle   Rare wanderer.  Before my time, regularly bred on Slover Mountain (which no longer exists) and elsewhere.  A pair bred on the Box Springs Mountains in 1979 (?) and raised one young, female.  It was fun to watch the young one following the male through the sky and begging constantly for food, even when she was almost half again as big as he was!  Until recently, a regular migrant and wintering bird in wide open areas especially near water, but wind farms have almost exterminated this bird in California.  It is now extremely rare.


Bald Eagle   Rare migrant, mostly in late winter.


Marsh Hawk (Hen Harrier)   rare migrant; formerly common migrant and fairly common winterer.  This bird has declined dramatically everywhere in the west.


Peregrine Falcon  Very rare.  A pair breeds in downtown Riverside, however, and hunting individuals occasionally appear in our area.


Prairie Falcon.  Presumably rare migrant; I have observed many migrants on the other side of the Box Springs and in the Pigeon Pass area, including the headwaters of Two Trees Canyon, but none in the Sycamore Canyon area.


Merlin:  Rare migrant and winterer in area.


Kestrel:  Steady decline, as in most of the US, but not so bad here as in many (or most) areas; remains fairly common resident.  Several pairs breed in northeast Riverside and the species regularly hunts in Sycamore Canyon Park.


Mountain Quail:  very rare wanderer to area.


California Quail:  Abundant till the droughts of 2001-2 and 2006-7; now much less so, but still common in riparian and chaparral areas.


Ring-necked Pheasant:  This introduced Asian bird was formerly fairly common in the orange groves of the area, but eliminating the groves has eliminated the bird.  I think some remain down in Hidden Valley (on the Santa Ana toward Corona).


Killdeer:  The killdeer gradually declined, becoming only casual migrants after about 1980.  In general, killdeer are down probably 99% in coastal southern California since my youth, because of loss of wetlands everywhere.  A few pairs still nest locally and occasionally fly through Sycamore Canyon Park.


California Gull:  as for Ringbilled, but much less common


Ringbilled Gull:  Abundant in the old days.  Steady rapid decline (even more dramatic in Los Angeles) after about 1990.  This tracks the rise of recycling and better sanitation and garbage pickup, and probably also the greater charms of Lake Perris luring them away from our (cleaner) area.


Caspian Tern  rare migrant; noted very rarely over Riverside.


Rock Dove (Rock Pigeon, “park pigeon”):  Always common, but less so now than formerly, because of environmental sanitation and the Cooper’s Hawk population rebound.  Since 2000, has been getting less common every year.


Band-tailed Pigeon:  An interesting story.  Uncommon winterer as of 1966.  The extreme wet year of 1968-69 drove huge flocks out of the mountains and kept them out—the snow was many feet deep—and many started breeding in oak areas all over southern California, including UCR campus and live-oak trees in yards all over Riverside city.  (The birds live to a great extent on acorns.)  They stayed, and are still here.  Populations rapidly climbed, and one could see flocks of 50 or more.  Then Cooper’s Hawk populations recovered, and the bandtails declined in lockstep with the Cooper’s increase.  In my experience, pigeons and doves are the favorite food of Cooper’s.  Bandtails are declining in much of their range, and I suppose the same phenomenon may be widespread.  The bandtails and Cooper’s have now apparently reached an accommodation, with bandtails still common in every part of Riverside that has many large live oak trees.  Combination of drought and very active Cooper’s hawk breeding in 2013 lowered numbers somewhat.


Mourning Dove:  Much commoner back when barley was farmed in Moreno Valley and north Riverside was mostly orange groves.  Declines well over 90%.  Part of the reason is probably the recovery of the Cooper’s Hawk population.  However, this hardy survivor has adjusted, and remains one of the commonest birds in the area.


Spotted Dove:  This is a great mystery.  Introduced from south China to Los Angeles around 1890-1900, it spread rapidly and steadily.  It got commoner, spreading with suburbs.  It suddenly began to decline in the early 1990s and totally disappeared by about 2000.  It then disappeared from Los Angeles too, though perhaps some still exist.  No one seems to have any idea what happened to it.  UCR’s ornithologist Mark Chappell suggests Cooper’s hawks, which is possible, given their role in the Band-tailed Pigeon story.  Disease (perhaps introduced from the bird’s China homeland) is possible.


Collared Dove:  Recent invader; reached the US from Europe 60-70 years ago and has spread slowly across the country.  Now uncommon and erratic in Riverside, but here.


Ground Dove:  Expanded from the deserts into the Riverside area with the expanding orange groves, and contracted as the groves did.  Formerly not uncommon anywhere in or near orange groves.  Gone from our area since the early 1990s.


Budgerigar:  Escaped cage birds show up now and then.  (Assorted other odd cage birds show up in the area—from canary-winged parakeet to Cordon Bleu finch.)


Roadrunner:  Formerly common in the area.  Still occurs in the hills, with about one pair per canyon; easily found in Sycamore Canyon Park in spring by listening for its song, five or six “coo” notes descending the scale.  It also gives a dry rattle by clacking its bill, fooling some people into thinking a rattlesnake is near.  (Could the bird be deliberately scaring people away?)


Barn Owl:  Still surprisingly common, hunting over the park.  Nests usually in the dead leaves of fan palms, so might nest in the parks’ fan palms.


Great Horned Owl:  This powerful predator maintains several nesting pairs in northeast Riverside.  It is probably the main reason for cat an chihuahua disappearances that get blamed on “coyotes.”  It also hunts rabbits, ground squirrels, and anything else warm-blooded and smaller than a medium-sized dog.


Western Screech-Owl:  Nests (uncommonly) in northeast Riverside and hunts widely, so no doubt occasional in Sycamore Canyon Park.


Burrowing Owl:  Formerly common throughout the grasslands, fields, and open areas of Riverside County, but now eliminated except in very local areas where extensive open, level areas exist.  Now only a rare migrant to our area.


Common (Booming) Nighthawk:  rare wanderer from San Bernardino Mountains, where it breeds (but much less commonly than formerly).


Lesser Nighthawk:  Formerly common in open flat areas throughout.  Disappearing even in my earliest days here; now almost gone from the Inland Empire.  Occasionally seen in migration.


Poorwill:  Rare migrant; slopes of the hills.


Chimney Swift:  Rare migrant (noted very rarely over Two Trees Canyon).  Tends to be a late migrant, or maybe earlier ones just get lost in the flocks of Vaux.


Vaux Swift:  Common spring migrant.  Formerly much more common.  Usually seen only when heavy cloud cover forces it to fly low.


White-throated Swift:  Much less common than formerly.  Fairly common migrant.  Uncommon but regular breeder in higher, rockier areas.


Calliope Hummingbird:  Very rare migrant.


Anna’s Hummingbird:  Always common resident.  Now commoner than before, spreading with suburbs and feeders.  Largest of hummers, it dominates these, and also dominates access to most flowers, but the blackchins and Allen’s are highly aggressive and hold their own vigorously.


Costa’s Hummingbird:  Considerably less common on the Box Springs Mountains amd Sycamore Canyon area now, because fire has turned the flowering brush areas into cheat grass, and because drought has reduced the native flowers even more since 2001.  Fortunately, Costa’s has taken to civilization, but Anna’s and blackchin beat it out from feeders.  It survives especially where humans have created desertlike habitat.  Its adaptation to suburbs has led to its meeting the Anna’s and hybridizing; hybrids were apparently extremely rare before 1970 but are not so rare now.


Black-chinned Hummingbird:  This aggressive hummingbird succeeds well.  Depends on sycamores for nesting.  Growth of planted and wild sycamores has led to an increase, especially where planted sycamores are near households with hummingbird feeders.


Rufous Hummingbird:  Far less common than formerly.  Was a very common spring migrant in the 1960s.  Now rare.  Still a common summer migrant (July-August) around red flowers in the hills.  (There is a massive decline rangewide, probably from pesticides and other pollution on the wintering grounds.)


Allen’s Hummingbird:  Dramatic invader.  Formerly in southern California (at least south and east of Ventura) it was confined to Channel Islands and Palos Verdes Peninsula.  Spread in recent years, reaching Riverside at some undetermined point possibly in the 1990s.  Now common resident of UCR campus and breeding here and there in the city, wherever there are many flowers.  Abundant breeder all over the Los Angeles area now.


Flicker:  Uncommon winter visitor.  Formerly common resident.  No change noted from 1966 to 2011, but in the spring of 2011 all the flickers in northeast Riverside mysteriously disappeared, apparently simultaneously.  They have stayed away.  This probably has something to do with the collapse of native ant populations.  15 years ago there was a colony of large harvester ants every few hundred yards along every open trail.  There are now very few.


Downy Woodpecker:  once or twice in Two Trees Canyon, formerly, in winter.  It became very rare in Inland Empire, but observations on campus in 2011 indicate possible comeback.  Should occur sooner or later in Sycamore Canyon.  A bird of willow forest.


Nuttall’s Woodpecker:  common resident; some increase with growth of suburban trees.


Acorn Woodpecker:  expanding as a suburban bird, as planted oaks grow and flourish.  I believe this bird did not occur in the area as a breeder when I came to UCR in 1966.  It certainly was not found in the area before modern planting of oaks; there were no oaks here in the old days.  It likes to drill nest holes in palm trees, so wherever planted palms are near planted live oaks, this bird now colonizes.  It prefers to live in large groups but pairs can manage by themselves.


Western Kingbird:  Formerly abundant in all open grassland and field areas around campus, especially Moreno Valley.  Nested on campus occasionally.  Now almost gone as a breeder, as it is from almost all of southern California.  Statewide it survives mostly in places with extensive not-very-disturbed grassland.  Survives as breeder in the wilder parts of Moreno Valley badlands, Box Springs Mountains, and elsewhere—ironically, occupying the newly created grasslands resulting from replacement of chaparral by cheat grass.  Still fairly common migrant.


Cassin’s Kingbird:  This is another interesting story.  A few years after the Westerns largely disappeared, the Cassin’s began to expand, presumably to fill the niche.  They often hunt from the very same trees the Westerns used to occupy.  The expansion has occurred since the late 1990s.


Ash-throated Flycatcher:  Unommon migrant, rare summer breeder in the hills.  Formerly common.  Replacement of chaparral and coastal sage scrub with cheat grass has cost it most of its breeding habitat here.  However, most of its habitat in the western US and in Mexico is intact, and yet this bird is far less common everywhere.  Pesticides somewhere along migration routes may be involved.


Black Phoebe:  Abundant resident.  Always near water, thus established in Sycamore Canyon.  Expanding steadily in the city, with suburbanization and sprinklers.


Say’s Phoebe:  Common, winter; breeds in higher dry areas nearby, including the Box Springs Mountains (now from top to bottom) and Sycamore Canyon Park, as well as UCR campus.  Has actually increased, with conversion of brush to grass over most of the Box Springs Mountains and Sycamore Canyon Park.


Pacific-slope Flycatcher:  common migrant; has bred in Two Trees Canyon.


Gray Flycatcher  Rare migrant.


Willow Flycatcher  Rare migrant.  Probably once nested, but the southwestern subspecies of the willow flycatcher proved the most vulnerable to cowbird parasitism of any species, and is now acutely endangered and almost gone.


Dusky Flycatcher  Rare migrant.


Hammond’s Flycatcher  Rare migrant.


Western Wood Pewee:  Common migrant, but much less common than formerly.


Olive-sided Flycatcher:  Formerly uncommon migrant.  Now very rare.  The decline of this bird from one of the commonest in North America 40 years ago to rarity now has been very striking.  Factors include changes in forest composition that make its nests more findable to predators, and destruction of forest on its very limited wintering grounds in South America. Also the tremendous decline of large insects everywhere, and the abundance of pesticides on the bird’s migration routes as well as its wintering area.  Possibly it is given to population fluctuations; it was not scientifically described until 1831, and Audubon considered it extremely rare.  Yet in the 20th century is was abundant in evergreen forests throughout North America.


Horned Lark:  Formerly common resident in wide open fields; now rare.  This bird used to occur in millions in southern California, but it requires extensive areas of either bare soil or very short grass, and cannot tolerate much disturbance (e.g. humans, dogs, bikes).  Migrant in grassfields of Sycamore Canyon Park.  Summer records in the park, including observation of small flocks in the southwest area, near the Barton Rd. entrance, raise the tantalizing probability that this increasingly rare bird breeds in the protected open areas of the water district property next door..


Barn Swallow:  Erratically common migrant.  Occasional in summer (a few breed in Riverside) .


Cliff Swallow:  Possibly the most dramatic and tragic decline of any bird here or in southern California in general, but fortunately there is some recent recovery.  Huge population as of 1966, nesting—among other places—under the cornices of the Citrus Experiment Station buildings (now the Business School) at UCR.  These birds have declined with habitat loss (especially loss of reliable mud supplies for nest-building) and with loss of aerial insects.  The swallows no longer come back to Capistrano.  The tens of thousands of pairs that nested on the old mission buildings there are almost entirely gone. Everywhere in southern California this bird has declined similarly.

However, there are local signs of a possible recovery—very modest, but hopeful.  Quite a few hunt in summer over the Sycamore Canyon area and elsewhere nearby, so evidently quite a few still breed in the area somewhere.  Some nest in the higher areas of Sycamore Canyon, where there are appropriate cliffs.  Others nest nearby, especially in UCR’s agricultural experiment fields.  As of 2014, the birds have established a flourishing colony under the freeway bridge over University Avenue, showing that no amount of traffic can discourage them.


Tree Swallow:  Common early migrant.  Occasionally seen in summer, probably foraging up from the Santa Ana river bottom.


Violet-green Swallow:  Common migrant.


Rough-winged Swallow:  Common but erratic migrant; some breed in area.


Purple Martin  Formerly very rare migrant.  Now virtually gone.  This bird was always rare in southern California.  It has declined steadily for the last 50 years.  Starlings out-competing martins for nesting holes have had at least something to do with this, but decline of large insects may be a more important factor.


Stellar Jay: Rare, erratic winter visitor.


Scrub Jay:  Some reduction from West Nile in 2010, but now about as common as ever.  Largely a suburban bird now; natural habitat is so degraded by fires and cheat grass that the birds have taken to the suburbs.


Northern Raven:  Common permanent resident.  There is almost always one, or more, soaring overhead.


American Crow:  This bird has taken a terrific beating from West Nile virus.  The population declined over 90% (by my count) in the first 2 years of the virus.  They were actually rare for a while.  However, they are rapidly recovering, and are common again.  There used to be many thousands breeding in the river bottom.  Many streamed over to feed at the now-closed garbage dump between Blue Mountain and Pigeon Pass.  There are not that many now, and the garbage is harder to find, but they are successfully breeding widely in Riverside.


White-breasted Nuthatch:  Occasional wanderer, winter.


Red-breasted Nuthatch:  Occasional wanderer, winter.


Mountain Chickadee:  Formerly casual, usually after winter storms with heavy snow in the mountains.  Now a fairly regular winter bird in Riverside, probably tracking the growth of planted conifers.  Not in Sycamore Canyon normally, but will occasionally occur.

Oak Titmouse:  Very susceptible to West Nile.  Probably gone or nearly so as a breeding bird in this immediate area.  Wanderers may turn up.


Bush-tit:  Still common everywhere that natural brush or extensive planted shrubbery occurs, but much less common after the extreme droughts of the 2000s.  These birds can fluctuate in numbers dramatically year to year, depending on conditions.


Wren-tit:  Still common, but drastically reduced by burning of hills and replacement of brush by introduced weedy grasses.  Survives only where dense brush exists, including the canyons of Sycamore Canyon Park.  It is always commonest in riparian brush.  It has lost almost all its habitat on the hills.


House Wren:  Common, summer.  In spite of its name, it is largely confined to wild riparian areas or extensive parks like the UCR Botanic Garden, and any wren seen around houses here is almost certain to be a Bewick’s.  The house wren is much more common as a migrant than as a breeder.


Bewick’s Wren:  Common, but gone from pure-grass areas of the hills.  Survives wherever some dense brush exists.  Formerly abundant in the chaparral and sage scrub, so replacement of these by grass has meant a population reduction of around 90%.  It has, however, successfully colonized suburbia, and remains one of the commonest birds in the area.


Canyon Wren:  Common in canyons of the Box Springs Mtns.  Very common in Sycamore Canyon.


Rock Wren:  Abundant on the Box Springs Mtns., Sycamore Canyon, and indeed anywhere with extensive rocky outcrops.


Mockingbird:  Commoner than ever.  This bird is now purely a human commensal in southern California, and increases with suburbia.


California Thrasher:  Still fairly common, but only where chaparral or riparian brush survives; fire and subsequent replacement of brush by weedy grasses has reduced the population about 90%.


Sage Thrasher:  formerly rare to fairly frequent migrant, mostly April; now almost gone, due to decline of overall numbers as sagebrush disappears from the Great Basin.


Robin:  Much less common in winter than it used to be.  Global warming is probably letting them stay farther north.  The local mountain population has declined with drought, so we have fewer of them coming down in winter.  Still erratically common throughout area.


Swainson’s Thrush:  Formerly common migrant, now rare.  Eliminated as breeding bird from ost of southern California by riparian habitat decline and by cowbird parasitization of nests.


Hermit Thrush:  Fairly common fall migrant and winterer.


Western Bluebird:  Common, winter.  Formerly, usually did not show up till snow closed off mountain feeding areas.  Now it appears early and stays late, and since about 2011 it nests (uncommonly) on and near UCR campus, including Sycamore Canyon park area.  A lovely addition to our fauna, and especially interesting given the starling situation.


Ruby-Crowned Kinglet:  Common, winter.


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher:  Formerly fairly common winterer and migrant, now much less common.  Probably bred locally in the old days.


California Gnatcatcher: one report, early 2014, near Sycamore Canyon Park; I did not see it in spite of long search.  The species was first described from “Riverside,” and occurred in our area; its nearest current breeding station is the Gavilan Hills, if it still survives there.


American Pipit:  Much less common than formerly.  Decline tracks loss of open fields on campus and in Riverside.  Still winters in numbers on UCR campus and occurs in winter and migration in the Sycamore Canyon park grasslands.


Cedar Waxwing:  Common winterer.  Very much less common than before; we used to have flocks of up to hundreds feeding on berries.  This bird appears to be declining all over the west.


Phainopepla:  Common migrant and uncommon but widespread summer breeder in canyons and washes with elderberries and/or other small-berried bushes.


Starling:  Not here in the 1950s.  Showed up mid-60s and common by late 60s.  Kept increasing till peak around 1980s, then slow decline.  Environmental sanitation seems to be the cause; the bird forages for insects but eats much human food wastes, and may depend on the latter.  It competed for nest holes with bluebirds, swallows, and other birds, and took over hanging nests from orioles, so its decline has benefited those species.


Loggerhead Shrike:  Formerly common resident, now rare migrant.  This bird is now almost gone from southern California, and indeed from most of its range.  One of the more mysterious events of the last 20-30 years has been the worldwide decline of shrikes.  Decline of large insects due to development and pesticides is certainly one cause.  Direct poisoning by insecticides may be involved.  Disease is a possibility.


Warbling Vireo:  Formerly abundant migrant, now uncommon.  This bird used to be an abundant breeding species of riparian forests in southern California.  Cowbirds and habitat loss have wiped it out.


Bell’s Vireo:  This attractive, sweet-singing bird was formerly very common in willow thickets everywhere.  It proved one of the most vulnerable of all birds to cowbird parasitism.  It was kept alive in Riverside by dedicated volunteers and Fish and Game employees actually searching methodically through the willow thickets of the Santa Ana River bottom and throwing cowbird eggs out of the vireos’ nests.  However, with the decline of cowbirds, Bell’s Vireo has established a beachhead in Sycamore Canyon and is flourishing and apparently spreading there.


Solitary Vireo:  Uncommon migrant.  Formerly much more numerous, though never really common.  This bird has suffered extreme declines in the mountains where it breeds, tracking the rapid rise of cowbird numbers there.


Tennessee Warbler:  Rare migrant.


Orange-crowned Warbler:  common migrant, rare winter.


Wilson’s Warbler:  Common migrant.


Yellow Warbler:  Formerly abundant migrant, breeding in riparian habitat.  Now much less so, but apparently recovering somewhat.  Like the Warbling Vireo, this bird was almost wiped out of southern California by cowbirds and riparian habitat loss.  It has returned to UCR campus, being an increasingly successful breeder from 2011 on.  An impressive population expansion led to its being downright common in summer 2014.  Now appears to be breeding again in Sycamore Canyon in willows and cottonwoods.


Yellow-rumped Warbler:  Extremely common migrant and winterer, but was even commoner before; decline from about 1990.  The Myrtle type was a regular winterer in past years, especially near the Life Sciences Bldg. at UCR.  Now rare, but still occurs.  To be expected in Sycamore Canyon.


Black-throated Gray Warbler:  Migrant.  Very much less common than formerly; well over 90% decline.


Townsend’s Warbler:  Regular migrant.  Very much less common than formerly; overall decline over 90%.  Formerly regular winterer.  The wintering population here is apparently all from the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia.

Townsend’s and Hermit seem to be second to the Yellow in extent of decline, since their habitat has been decimated by clearing and clearcut logging both on the breeding range and on their Mexican wintering grounds.


Hermit Warbler:  rare migrant, formerly much more numerous though never common.


Nashville Warbler:  Fairly common migrant.


MacGillivray’s Warbler:  Fairly common migrant.


Yellowthroat:  Fairly common migrant, rare winter.


Yellow-breasted Chat:  Rare migrant, but formerly at least was a common nester in the willows of the Santa Ana River bottoms.  To be expected in Sycamore Canyon, at least as migrant, possibly as breeder.


Warblers in general are all much less common than they used to be.  We used to have small but sometimes impressive migrant waves.  The Yellow-rumped is holding up best, being still very common; the Yellow has declined the most.


House Sparrow:  Not as common as it used to be.  Declining widely.  This scavenging human commensal has declined steadily with environmental sanitation.  Litter control and large plastic garbage bins are its doom.  However, it still succeeds by eating bird seed and what crumbs still fall.


Western Tanager:  Fairly common migrant.  Far less common migrant than formerly.  It is not clear why this bird has dramatically declined in the last two or three decades.  Most of its breeding range is not too badly degraded; possibly drought, or problems on the wintering grounds, are involved.


Purple Finch:  Formerly common in migration and winter, and common breeder in mountains.  Now mostly gone, largely because of cowbird parasitism.  Still occurs erratically in winter.


House Finch:  Became commoner in early and mid 20th century, due to orchards and suburbanization.  Sharp decline recently, especially since 2011 and especially in winter.  This is partly because of droughts and the decline of home and commercial fruit growing, but a seriouse eye disease first noted in 1994 has spread across the U.S. among house finches, causing a sadly high level of mortality.


Pine Siskin  Occasional, winter, often after storms in the mountains.  Sometimes common in riparian trees.


American Goldfinch:  Like other riparian birds, extreme decline in southern California.  Still fairly common wintering bird but nothing like former years.  With decline of cowbirds, this bird appeared to be dramatically recovering.


Lesser Goldfinch:  Remained abundant till recently; still common, but sharp decline since the droughts of the 2000s.


Lawrence Goldfinch:  A bird of dense trees surrounded by grasslands, so Sycamore Canyon is ideal habitat.  Thus usually fairly common, but Lawrence’s Goldfinch is notoriously erratic—abundant one year, gone the next.  The species suffered huge population declines due to urbanization and cowbird parasitism, but has recovered dramatically with the decline of cowbirds, and in spring 2015 was downright abundant.


Lazuli Bunting:  Common migrant; usually breeds in the higher Box Springs (not every year; largely after fires).


Blue Grosbeak:    This beautiful bird breeds commonly in Sycamore Canyon.  Blue grosbeaks nest only in dense willow thickets near open grasslands.  This habitat has been almost entirely suburbanized in southern California, leaving the Santa Ana River valley and Sycamore Canyon as a major, vital part of its surviving range.  The loud, sweet song is a characteristic summer morning sound.  Burning the hills has actually helped it in our area, converting brush to grasslands.  Otherwise, rare migrant in most of our area.  Has bred in Two Trees Canyon.


Spotted Towhee:  Eliminated from much of local range by replacement of native brush with Bromus and Brassica.  Remains common where there is brush, but decline is close to or quite 90%.  Flourishes in artificial habitats where there is sizable undisturbed shrubbery, such as the UCR Botanic Gardens and large private gardens.


California Towhee:  This indestructible bird is commoner than ever.  They survive by sheer toughness.  After fires, they reoccupy their territories before the ground is cool.  I have seen a pair drive a hungry cat away from their young one, not quite able to fly at the time; the difference in weight and armament makes this quite comparable to a human driving away a Tyrannosaurus rex.


Savannah Sparrow  Common migrant, frequent winter, in extensive grasslands and open areas, including grasslands of Sycamore Canyon Park.  Less common than formerly.


Grasshopper Sparrow  Formerly common breeder in Moreno Valley but erratic and hard to find; now gone from at least the west and central parts of Moreno Valley, because of urbanization.  Spring migrant (and presumably fall migrant, but impossible to find unless singing) in grasslands of Sycamore Canyon Park.


Chipping Sparrow:  Formerly common migrant and occaional winterer; now less common migrant.


Brewer’s Sparrow:  Formerly fairly common migrant, mostly in spring; now greatly diminished in numbers.


Black-chinned Sparrow:  Common migrant; breeds (or at least used to breed) in the higher parts of the Box Springs range; numbers reduced by brush decline and droughts.


Bell’s Sparrow:  Greatly reduced by replacement of sage scrub by Bromus, but they hang on wherever brush continues to exist in the Sycamore Canyon area.  Finally gave up in Two Trees Canyon by 2011, but still exists in other parts of the Box Springs range, e.g. at the end of Manfield St. just east of campus.


Rufous-crowned Sparrow:  Better able to accommodate to the vegetation change; still common on the hills.  Less so than formerly, but nothing like the declines of the Bewick Wren, Wrentit, etc.  One of the commonest birds in Sycamore Canyon Park.


Dark-eyed Junco:  Migration and winter.  Less common than formerly.  Birds tend to stay in the mountains now, and are less common even there, since the droughts of the last few years.


Lark Sparrow:  Fairly common migrant in Sycamore Canyon Park grasslands; rarer than in previous decades.  Summer record on UCR campus, June 30, 2010, singing bird.


Vesper Sparrow  Fairly common migrant.  Rare winter, at least formerly.  Reduced overall but still around.  Easiest found in Sycamore Canyon Park’s high grasslands.


White-crowned Sparrow:  Abundant migrant and winterer.


Golden-crowned Sparrow:  Common migrant and reasonably common winterer wherever there is dense brush.  Much more often heard than seen.


Lincoln’s Sparrow:  Uncommon but regular migrant and winterer wherever there is dense riparian brush.


Song Sparrow:  Abundant everywhere.  This cheerful singer of riparian and garden vegetation is as common as ever.


Fox Sparrow:  Rare migrant.  Some occasionally winter in the Botanic Gardens and elsewhere.


Nutmeg Manakin:  An odd thing to find here!  A colony is established in the area, showing up rather erratically in the Santa Ana River area and UCR campus.  No doubt strays to Sycamore Canyon Park.


Hooded Oriole:  Common breeding bird, always in fan palms.  Serious decline when starlings moved into the area and took over the palm trees, but it has survived, and now has rallied considerably, as starling population declines.  Hummingbird feeders help this oriole.


Bullock’s Oriole:  Always a fairly common migrant, but much less so than formerly due to loss of nesting habitat in California.  However, unlike the smaller riparian birds, it is still fairly common, due to its being rather large for cowbird parasitism (cowbirds prefer smaller birds) and because this oriole has adapted itself to suburbs.


Scott’s Oriole:  Very rare migrant.  Extreme droughts in the desert in the last 15 years have reduced the population of this species up to 90%.


Western Meadowlark:  Formerly extremely abundant winterer and frequent breeder, anywhere that was at all open.  Now almost completely gone as a breeder.  Conversion of Sycamore Canyon Park highlands and the higher Box Springs Mtns. to grass has brought a sizable wintering population.  A few stay around through the summer and may breed.  This bird has crashed all over the west, with population declines of over 99% in most areas.  This decline tracks suburbanization, fencerow-to-fencerow cultivation, heavy pesticide use, and heavy stocking rates of cattle.  Even “preservation” rarely helps, because grasslands grow to brush and/or burn unless they are grazed some.  The only places where meadowlarks nest now are the few places with extensive grassland subject to light grazing, or with burning (as in the Santa Rosa Plateau reserve), or in protected areas that are thoroughly open, such as the San Jacinto Wildlife Area.


Brewer’s Blackbird:  Far less common than formerly; in farming days, this bird occurred in flocks of hundreds in the area.  Now it is rather unusual to see more than one or a very few.  It has declined all over southern California.  Foot pox (a serious disease affecting not only the feet, but the whole bird) is one reason.  Cleaner farming is another, urban sanitation another, starling competition probably is another.  There are no doubt other problems.  The bird has been essentially a human commensal for decades; its natural habitat was probably damp areas near water, and in its heyday it was largely a farm and ranch bird associated with dairies and other farm environments with much water and food.


Great-tailed Grackle:  Moved into San Bernardino by 1980.  Notably common in the golf courses, parks, and ponds at the north end of that city.  Not recorded in or near Sycamore Canyon Park, but it is spreading slowly but surely, and will probably colonize this area eventually.


Red-winged Blackbird:  Rare migrant, but still common breeder not far away (Fisherman’s Retreat in San Timoteo Canyon, San Jacinto Wildlife Area, etc.).


Tricolored Blackbird:  formerly occasional migrant, now gone.  Eliminated from our area by elimination of marshes.  Survives in Fisherman’s Retreat (at last notice) and the San Jacinto Wildlife Area.


Yellow-headed Blackbird:  formerly occasional; now gone from this part of southern California.  Breeds in the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, and formerly in other marshy pond environments not far away.


Brown-headed Cowbird:  This bird lays its eggs in the nests of smaller birds, almost always in riparian habitat.  The baby cowbird pushes the rightful nestlings out of the nest, and takes over.  Thus, wherever cowbirds increase, the smaller riparian species disappear slowly but surely.  Mercifully, with the decline in cattle farming in this area, the cowbird is much less common than formerly. Its decline correlates with the rebound of breeding populations of Bell’s Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Lawrence’s and American Goldfinch, indicating that there is hope!

Sycamore Canyon Park has set up a cowbird trap near the Barton Road entrance, and this is helping to save the riparian songbirds.



Bird Life in General

Overall, the biggest change has been the loss of open country, and with it the open country birds, especially grassland species; this is part of a general western-America process.  Next most obvious is a dramatic decline in riparian species, including a total collapse of populations of some of them (especially russet-backed thrush, warbling vireo, Lawrence goldfinch) throughout southern California.  This is due to cowbirds and habitat destruction.

Next most obvious is the decline in brush-loving birds due to fire and drought and the consequent replacement of native sage scrub and chaparral by cheat grass.  Most of the hills in our area have now become grassfields.  This has led to near-disappearance as breeding birds of the lazuli bunting and black-chinned sparrow, ca. 90% decline in such species as Costa’s hummingbird, wrentit and California thrasher, and lesser declines in birds that can adjust to human-planted shrubbery such as Bewick’s wrens and spotted towhees.  On the other hand, the rufous-crowned sparrow, which actually prefers a brush-grass mix, has stayed as common as ever, and the Say’s phoebe has apparently increased along with the open hill grasslands.

Following that comes a general decline in long-distance migrants, especially warblers.  The reasons for this are multifarious and not always clear, and are due to forces outside our region.  General decline of insect life, as the world gets saturated with pesticides, is probably the major one; it is the insect-eating birds that have declined most.  Northerly species may simply be staying farther north (robin being a clear case), but the neotropical migrants are simply gone.  The declines in some species, such as Townsend’s warbler and olive-sided flycatcher, are horrific.  Clearcutting of breeding habitat and wintering habitat has been taking place and must be involved.  Insecticides on the wintering grounds are also probable.

The clearest change after this is a collapse of the large-insect-eating guild:  western kingbirds, ash-throated flycatchers, loggerhead shrikes, meadowlarks, etc.  This clearly accompanies a surprisingly rarely noted change:  the collapse of insect populations.  It is really rare to see a butterfly (especially anything other than the Cabbage White, Pieris rapae complex), where they used to swarm and occasionally go through migrations or outbreaks of thousands.  Grasshoppers are uncommon where they used to swarm.  Flies and mosquitoes are no longer the maddening, insufferable problem they were when I moved here.  One indication of the level of decline is the lack of need to clean one’s windshield; when I first moved here, one had to clean one’s windshield every time one filled the gas tank.  Now there are no “bug spots” any more.  Another indication is the lack of fauna at the porch light in the evening.  The amazing quantity and variety of insects attracted to lights 50 years ago was breathtaking—the weirdest forms would turn up.  Almost everything in a basic insect guidebook was there to see.  Now there is almost nothing.

Obviously, with no insects, insectivorous birds will die out.  Only the phoebes, with their almost supernatural ability to see, chase, and capture the tiniest gnats, flourish and thrive.

Among migrants, we have few shorebirds, but it is worth noting the even more horrific decline of these species.  Note the killdeer case above.  The long-range migrants like sanderling and golden plovers have declined well over 90% (I think more like 95%) in my lifetime.  The shorter the migration, the less the decline, which makes me think that toxins on the migration stopovers are the main cause.

A less sad reason for decline is environmental sanitation.  Cleanup of dead animals, closing of garbage dumps, and dramatic reduction in human littering has led to an extreme decline in turkey vulture numbers (they no longer breed at all anywhere near here) and a sharp decline in gulls, rock pigeon, starling, house sparrow, Brewer’s blackbird, and possibly other species in our area.  One can regret the disappearance of the birds, but can only rejoice at this particular reason for it.

Finally, the decline of large-scale stock farming has led to a reduction in Brewer’s blackbirds and cowbirds.

Conversely, suburban birds do well and many are increasing along with suburbs.


Major declines of breeding birds:


Turkey vulture

White-tailed kite (increased, then declined, now apparently completely gone)

American kestrel

Ring-necked pheasant

Rock dove

Mourning dove

Lesser nighthawk

White-throated swift

Costa’s hummingbird

Northern flicker

Ash-throated flycatcher

Cliff swallow

Scrub jay

American crow

Plain titmouse



Bewick’s wren


House sparrow

American goldfinch (but recent increase)

Lesser goldfinch (ditto)

Lawrence’s goldfinch (ditto)

Spotted towhee

Grasshopper sparrow

Sage sparrow

Black-chinned sparrow

Bullock’s oriole

Western meadowlark

Brewer’s blackbird

Brown-headed cowbird


Totally extirpated as breeder:


Ring-necked pheasant

Spotted dove

Ground dove

Burrowing owl

Loggerhead shrike


Significant increases:


Cooper’s hawk

Band-tailed pigeon (increased, then declined again, but still commoner than formerly)

Collared dove

Anna’s hummingbird

Black-chinned hummingbird

Allen’s hummingbird

Acorn woodpecker

Cassin’s kingbird

Black phoebe

Say’s phoebe


House finch (recently reversed or stabilized)




For plant identification in our area, see Flora of the Santa Ana River and Environs, by Oscar Clarke (2007).  This amazing book was the life work of Oscar Clarke (1919-2013), long curator of the herbarium at University of California, Riverside.  It began when some of us got together to produce brief, popular guides to Santa Ana River natural history back in the 1960s.  It grew and grew over the years, as Oscar set out to do a definitive study of the whole drainage basin from San Gorgonio Peak to the sea.  He had help from many people, some remembered in the coauthorship.  Also helping him and myself has been Andrew Sanders, Oscar’s student and successor as herbarium curator.  I owe my knowledge of local plants largely to these two phenomenal field biologists.  I also acknowledge Richard Minnich and Edith Allen of UCR for great help with my knowledge of vegetation.

Oscar’s book covers only the lowland part of the Santa Ana drainage.  The upper part, in the mountains, has been covered in a companion work by Naomi Fraga et al. (2011).  The combination is interesting because the Santa Ana drainage may well be the most floristically and vegetationally diverse area of its size in the entire United States.  Covering everything from sea beaches to at 11,500’ mountain, and from lush forests to deserts, the Santa Ana drainage has an incredible range of plants.

The plants of Sycamore Canyon were diligently sought out, identified, and listed by Patrick Temple in the local journal Crossosoma in 1999.  I have added several new species.  Most are recent invaders that were certainly or probably not in the park when he wrote, e.g. Oncosiphon, Tribulus.  He missed a very few established but rare items; he also omitted, clearly through accident, the two very common species of Chaenactis.  I have starred * items not in his list.  (Note that several items on his list are not in the list handed out at the Park gate.)   Conversely, I have failed to find a large number of plants he found.  Almost all of them are annuals (or rootstock-perennials) that simply aren’t germinating (or sprouting) in our current hot, dry years.  Some are shrubs that are very susceptible to drought and fire and seem to be genuinely extirpated, such as the white-flowers and chaparral currants.  A few are introduced weeds that appear to have died out, such as field bindweed and dimorphotheca.

Uses by Native Americans are taken largely from Lowell Bean and Katherine Siva Saubel’s book Temalpakh: Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants.  This book is another achievement.  Anthropologist Lowell Bean is only one of many who worked with the brilliant and dynamic Cahuilla Indian leader Katherine Siva Saubel over her long life (1920-2011).  A fully qualified independent scholar, she carried out research on Cahuilla language, plant knowledge, history, and aesthetic life.   Her scholarship earned her an honorary Ph.D. from La Sierra University and a Chancellor’s Medal (UC’s equivalent to an honorary degree) from the University of California.  She served many years on the California Native American Heritage Commission.  This book was published by Malki Museum, a Cahuilla Indian museum founded by Jane Penn and Katherine Saubel and directed by Saubel for most of its early years.  She wrote several books in Cahuilla and English.

A word about scientific names:  Scientific names have to be used here, because many of the plants have no English ones.  Scientific names are in Latin, but with a great deal of Greek and often bits of other languages borrowed in.  The first name gives the genus (group of very closely related species), the second name is the species name.  By convention, the genus is capitalized, the species is not unless it’s a proper name. Scientific names here follow the second edition of the Jepson manual (Baldwin et al. 2012), which is standard for California, but note that some classic, well-known names are changed in it.

Indeed, scientific names change often and confusingly.  This is because botanists keep finding out more about relationships, and have to reclassify plants—ideally with their real relatives, not with look-alikes that are quite different  underneath.  The coming of genetic analysis in the last 20 years has led to revolutionary changes in this branch of science.  For example, everyone knew the “lily family” (Liliaceae) was a mess—a sort of plant junkyard—but nobody could sort it out.  Some people tried, but without firm evidence.  Now, with genetic testing, we can do better, and we find that there are many quite distinct families that were all getting called “lilies” for lack of better evidence.  Another family with many species around here was the Scrophulariaceae.  It too has had to be broken up.  If the family that breaks up, the Latin names may stay the same, but often the genus and species get rearranged too.  So your old familiar plant guides will have some names that are now out of date.



Non-flowering plants


Selaginellaceae  Resurrection plant family


Selaginella bigelovii.  Resurrection plant.  Small fernlike plant that grows around and under rocks; dead and gray most of the time, but instantly revives and turns green after heavy rain, hence the name.



Pteridaceae  Rockbrake fern family


Cheilanthes newberryi.  Newberry’s lipfern.  Rare and local; found on a steep shady bank in center of park.




Family Cupressaceae  Cypress and juniper family


Juniperus californica.  California juniper.  Scattered large shrubs remain from formerly widespread juniper savannah formation that covered much of what is now southern Riverside, and on south through the Gavilan Hills.  Important wildlife cover and food (berries).  Native Americans also ate the berries in quantity (Bean and Saubel 1972:81), and used the shreddy bark for skirts (Lerch 1981:54, referring to the montane J. occidentalis, but probably true for this species also).



Flowering plants

Order follows the Jepson manual, second edition.  This manual separates dicots and monocots, and within those it alphabetizes the families, and within families the genera and then species.



Adoxaceae  Muskroot family


Sambucus nigra var. caerulea.  Blue elderberry, Mexican elderberry.  A large shrub or small tree, very abundant in rocky washes and the drier parts of the riparian strips, also at the foot of large rock outcrops—anywhere that there is some extra moisture.  However, no young plants occur, and the species is now basically a holdover from wetter times.  Some plants are very old.  The small berries are blue when young, turning blackish when ripe, and are quite good then but very seedy.  They are a vitally important wildlife food, sustaining everything from phainopeplas and band-tailed pigeons to raccoons and coyotes.  Native Americans ate the berries and made a medicinal tea for fever from the flowers; they also made whistles and flutes from the hollow young stems (Lerch 1981:67).  Cahuilla also made flutes, and used the berry juice to make a purplish or blackish dye; the stem could produce a yellow or orange dye (Bean and Saubel 1972:138).  Cahuilla even lived on them in season, and also used the flowers for medicinal tea for stomach, fever, cold, flu; said good for teeth; also, roots boiled for constipation (Bean and Saubel 1972:138).  This species is common in Europe as well as America, and in Europe the flowers are not only used for medicinal tea but are eaten, often in batter as a sort of pancake.  The European world also makes flutes from the stems.  One early Spanish report speaks of making “wine” from the berries, and the Kumeyaay of San Diego County and Baja California did indeed make elderberry wine, at least in historic times (Wilken 2012).  Elderberry wine is a common drink in England and parts of Europe.  Native Americans in northern Mexico and Arizona regularly made true wine from cactus fruit, so extension of the technology to California is not surprising.



Amaranthaceae  Amaranth family


Amaranthus albus.  Introduced weed, found around edges of the park in watered areas.  Amaranths have edible seeds and greens, much used by people worldwide; native relatives of this plant were important foods to Native Americans and are now important crops in Mexico.



Anacardiaceae  Sumac family


Rhus aromatica (Rhus trilobata).  Threeleaf sumac.  Common shrub of relatively moist but still pretty dry areas, especially among rocks on north-facing slopes.  Each leaf is divided into three smallish leaflets.  Berries important wildlife food.  Very important basketry plant to Native Americans of California; the twigs were debarked, split, and used as splints to wrap around a foundation of Muhlenbergia grass.  The splits could be dyed black with elderberry solution or iron-rich mud.  The plant naturally forms short, twisted branches, so Native American basket makers would carefully prune the plants to get long, straight shoots to grow up.  (See M. K. Anderson 2005; Bean and Saubel 1972:132; Lerch 1981:41.)


Schinus molle.  California pepper tree.  This tree is neither Californian nor pepper; it’s a Peruvian sumac.  Molle in the Quechua language, the language of the Incas, hence the scientific name.  Commonly planted in the old days because of its extreme drought tolerance; even in our climate, it survives and rapidly grows into a good shade tree.  Many examples all over the more level parts of the park.  They were probably all planted.  It does very rarely establish itself naturally in California, but usually only in its natural habitat, dry rocky gorges.  In the park it is not in such places, and appears to be confined to areas of former orchards and roads.  The berries are now important to wildlife.  Humans often use the berries as “pink peppercorns,” but given the notorious tendency of sumacs to cause allergic rashes, the law now frowns on this.  However, thousands of people have used these berries without ill effects, and the fruit is commercially sold in other countries.

Several other species of Schinus have become serious weeds (as bushes or trees) in this area and all too likely to show up in the park.


*Schinus terebinthifolius.  Brazilian pepper tree.  One individual of this species occurs in a small wash in the south-central part of the park.  It is a seedling from a cultivated plant; the species is not native here but very often seeds itself in semi-natural environments. It was a very commonly planted yard tree in the old days, before people found out how invasive its seedlings are.  Fruit used like previous species’ fruit, as seasoning.  No doubt more individuals will turn up.


Toxicodendron diversilobum.  Poison oak.  Very shiny leaves, divided into three lobed leaflets, notably bigger than Threeleaf Sumac’s leaflets.  Leaves brilliant yellowish-green in spring, but drier ones quickly turn red and then brown.  Learn this plant if it’s the only one you learn.  Contact with it gives a terrible, itching rash to most people, because of an oleoresin called urushiol.  Most people are violently allergic to it.  A few are immune (myself included).  Easterners will note resemblance to poison ivy, which is very closely related.  Of course these plants are not related to oak or ivy.



Apiaceae  Carrot family


*Apium graveolens.  Celery.  This garden plant has escaped into wet soil along canyon streams.



Apocynaceae  Milkweed family


*Apocynum cannabinum.  Indian hemp.  Sizable population in riparian strip at far southeast corner of park.  This plant has a really superior fibre, favored by Native Americans for making cordage, nets, and the like; it has been studied for commercial development in modern times; if nylon feedstock gets expensive, Indian hemp probably has a commercial future.  Bitter white sap poisonous, but considered medicinal by Cahuilla (Bean and Saubel 1972:40, quoting the early explorer Edward Palmer).  The name Apocynum means “away with dogs,” commemorating the use of plants of this family as poisons for unwanted animals in earlier times.  A number of beautiful but deadly ornamental flowers are in this family.  Milkweeds were formerly, but rather unaccountably, separated, though they seem so obviously related that it is hard to see why they were separate so long.


Asclepias fascicularis.  Narrow-leaved milkweed.  Some populations are established in the riparian strip in the extreme southeast corner of the park.  Gum prepared and used as chewing gum by Serrano and Cahuilla (Bean and Saubel 1972:44; Lerch 1981:58).


Funastrum cynanchoides.  Climbing milkweed.  Uncommon, growing over bushes in rocky areas, but also very visibly on the bushes at the nature center on Central Ave.  If you learned botany back in the day, you know this as Sarcostemma.



Asteraceae  Sunflower, daisy, dandelion family


Ambrosia acanthicarpa.  Annual bur-sage.  Local invader from outside the park, as at the eastern entrance and southeast edge.


*Ambrosia artemisifolia.  Ragweed.  Nonnative weed of sandy dry places; not common in the park, but in many nearby areas it is very common—far too common if you are one of the many who are allergic to its pollen.


Artemisia californica.  California sagebrush.  The common bush of north-facing slopes.  Very thin needle-like or threadlike leaves, powerfully aromatic.  Tiny grayish-white flowers.  Lush in wet springs, very dry and dead-looking most of the year.  Very important wildlife plant.  Used medicinally by Native Americans; stimulates menstruation, thus important in girls’ puberty ceremony among the Cahuilla, Serrano, and their neighbors.  Girls at first menstruation were given a tea of this plant and sweated in a sweatbath lined with it.  Presumably adults used it as needed.  It was so important that the Serrano of the lowlands were referred to as “sagebrush people” (Lerch 1981; he provides a long description of the puberty ceremony).  Used by Cahuilla “to relieve colds,” chewed or dried and smoked with other herbs (Bean and Saubel 1972:42).  Scent, and tea of related species, does alleviate respiratory annoyances, at least in my experience and many others’.


Artemisia douglasiana.  Closely related to the preceding, but its large, lush leaves give it a very different appearance.  It is a common understory plant in the riparian areas, growing under willow and cottonwood.   Used by Native Americans as a tea for killing intestinal worms and similar uses.  Serrano used it in a wash for sore limbs and would chop or mash leaves for a poultice for sore areas; also used in sweat ceremony for girls at puberty (Lerch 1981:34).  Used for making granaries, roofing, house walls (Bean and Saubel 1972, under A. ludoviciana but obviously including this sp.), and (under this name) for arrow shafts, among the Luiseno.  It has long straight stems but they are very weak; however, southern California Native people usually used weak but straight material for arrow mainshafts, using a hardwood foreshaft and a stone point for the business end of the arrrow.


Artemisia dracunculus (A. dracunculoides).  Wild tarragon.  Common bush of sandy, moist areas, as along seasonally wet washes or along the edges of the canyon riparian corridors.  This is the wild form of domestic tarragon, but the latter is a cool-weather variety that does not like our climate; the wild one usually tastes pretty bad, though some individuals are almost as good as domestic tarragon.  The cultivated variety is from a French form of this species, widespread in the northern hemisphere.


Baccharis salicifolia (=B. glutinosa; formerly B. viminea).  Mulefat.  Large bush with brittle straight shoots, growing in sandy, seasonally dry places at the edge of riparian vegetation.  Dominant plant in such areas.  Cahuilla used it for construction and thatch, for making hair grow, for eyewash (steeped leaves), and for “female hygeinic agent” (Bean and Saubel 1972:46).


Baccharis salicina (B. emoryi)Margins of riparian woodland in the upper (southeastern) part of the drainage.  Common there in moist sites.


Bebbia juncea. Rush bebbia.  Big green bush with tiny leaves, so that it looks all stem.  Yellow flowers that look like tiny upward-pointing brooms are followed by small dandelion-like seed heads.  The flowers smell sweet and attract moths, butterflies, and many other insects; an important insect plant.  Grows in moister sage scrub, for example along streamways but above and outside the actual riparian strip.  Young stems edible but bitter.


Brickellia desertorum.  The big, roundish, gray bush you see growing out of cracks in huge boulders—normally this is its only habitat.  Common, and important to at least some insect life.


Centaurea melitensis.  Malta star-thistle.  Very spiny plant with bright yellow flowers in spring; weedy non-native, growing with cheat grass and mustards in the weed-dominated habitats, mostly in drier, barer areas.


Centromadia pungens var. laevis.  Smooth tarplant.  This pretty yellow composite is a local endemic; it is confined to salty or alkaline soils from our park through the San Jacinto river and wildlife areas and over into San Timoteo Canyon.  It is common in the saline middle reach of Sycamore Canyon.


Cirsium occidentale var. californicum.  California thistle, western thistle.  Big thistle with grayish foliage and large purple flowers.  Uncommon, in rocky areas.


Cirsium vulgare. Bull thistle.  Weed; edges of park.


*Chaenactis fremontii.  Pincushion flower.  White-flowered annual; small flowers in small pincushion-shaped clumps.  This and the next have edible seeds, used by Native Californians (Bean and Saubel 1972:52).


*Chaenactis glabriuscula.  Yellow pincushion flower.  Like the foregoing, but flowers bright yellow.  Very characteristic flower of mid-spring on very hot, dry slopes.  Prefers sandy to sandy-clay soils.


Cirsium vulgare.  Bull thistle.  Uncommon; southeast part of park, locally elsewhere, at edges of riparian strip.


*Cnicus benedictus.  Blessed thistle.  Local, near riparian strip, southeast area.  The name comes from alleged medical value that, alas, does not check out with modern medicine.


Corethrogyne filaginifolia. Rock aster, California aster.  This plant, inflicted with one of the most unpronounceable scientific names in the state of California, is a stiff-twigged small bush that grows among rocks.  It is common in the park, wherever rock outcrops provide a suitably rough habitat.  Its flowers are typical aster flowers—like small sunflowers, but with purple rays and a yellow center.  They can be quite striking and beautiful in a good year.


Deinandra paniculata.  Formerly Hemizonia.  Paniculate tarplant (or tarweed).  Grows abundantly in the heat of summer, bringing floral relief in an otherwise dismal time of year.  Common everywhere, especially in open grassland environments, also in sage scrub.  Dozens of beautiful small sunflowers on very thin stalks. Seeds edible, important to Native Americans in the old days.  Whole plant eaten by Cahuilla, but not liked (Bean and Saubel 1972:77).


Encelia californica.  Brittlebush.  This big bush with very brittle stems and diamond-shaped gray fuzzy leaves dominates the sun-facing west and south slopes of the park, where it is often 100% of the sizable plant cover.  It tolerates levels of sun, heat, drought, and rocky thin soil that no other local plant can handle.  Its large yellow sunflowers lead to small but edible seeds, like miniature versions of commercial sunflower seeds, and were a food in the old days.  Gum used as medicine by Cahuilla, and plant boiled for tea for toothache (Bean and Saubel 1972:69).

In the far south of the park, just off Alessandro, there is a small population with brown disk flowers rather than the usual yellow ones.  These represent an East Mojave variety, escaped from cultivation (it is often planted as an ornamental; information from Andrew Sanders).  These have hybridized a bit with the locals, producing intermediate colors.


Ericameria linearifolia.  Goldenbush.  A bush with very thin, “linear” leaves and beautiful yellow flowers like small sunflowers; these can cover the bush in summer.  Rare now (thanks to the usual problem of fire and cheat grass), but individuals occur on hot, dry slopes.  Medical uses for related plants reported for many groups (e.g. Cahuilla; Bean and Saubel 1972:76).


Erigeron bonariensis.  Horseweed.  Formerly Conyza.  See following.


Erigeron (Conyza) canadensis. Horseweed.  Tall, single stalk bearing small white flowers late in summer.  Major nonnative weed of lawns and yards, but rare in the park, preferring wet disturbed habitats.


Eriophyllum confertiflorum.  Rare shrub of the sage scrub.  Formerly commoner, but major decline due to fires, to which it is exceptionally susceptible.


*Gazania longiscapa.  Dominant roadside flower planted around the park, so a few individuals show up as escapes within the park.  South African.


*Grindelia camporum.  Gum plant.  A population of this large, impressive, summer-flowering yellow composite is established in rich, slightly moist soil immediately south of the stream just above the start of the deep canyon.


Gutierrezia californica.  Matchweed.  Common shrub in the juniper savannah and nearby.  A straggly, thin plant that often looks as if it were on the verge of death.


Helianthus annuus.  Common sunflower.  Succeeds and flourishes anywhere that there is some moisture through the spring and some open soil.  This is the wild ancestor of the commercial sunflower, and as such produced good edible seeds, much used by Native Americans; the plant was domesticated thousands of years ago in Mexico and the United States.  The giant sunflower of commerce was developed in Russia in the 19th century and brought to the United States by immigrants.


Heterotheca grandiflora.  Telegraph weed.  A locally common weedy native plant, found on road cuts, recently bared areas, and bare hard ground.  Big felty graygreen leaves, small yellow daisy-like flowers, tarlike scent.


Hypochoeris glabra.  Smooth cat’s-ear.  Introduced weed, formerly fairly common, now about gone due to dry conditions.


Isocoma menziesii (Haplopappus venetus).  Yet another small green bush with yellow daisy-like (but bunchy) flowers.  Local, uncommon, near but not in the riparian areas.


Lactuca serriola.  Wild lettuce.  Tall, thick-stemmed annual; introduced weed.  Possible ancestor of domestic lettuce, and the tender young leaves in spring are excellent eating if you like the bitterness of Romaine lettuce.


Laphangium luteoalbum.  Jersey cudweed.  Small introduced plant of weedy situations, as along the park’s east border.


Lasthenia gracilis (L. californica).  Goldfields.  The tiny yellow sunflowers that cover the otherwise bare ground in early spring, especially in the juniper savannah area.  Seeds edible; gathered, ground, made into mush by Cahuilla (Bean and Saubel 1972:46) as by other California Native peoples.  This plant has done well with the recent droughts, since it tolerates them better than the introduced weedy grasses usually do, and so it has regained some of its former dominance, especially on very dry, sunny, sandy exposures.


Lasthenia gracilis.  Needle goldfields.  Larger, somewhat branched; less common than above.


Layia platyglossa.  Tidytips.  This beautiful annual failed to come up or flower in 2015, when even colonies a thousand feet higher up in the Box Springs Mountains barely flowered.


Lepidospartum squamatum.  Scalebroom.  A tall, straggly, almost leafless shrub with smallish yellow flowers in late spring and summer.  Rare in the park, but found in hot, dry, sandy areas; normal habitat is sand-filled dry washes.


Matricaria discoidea (=Matricaria matricarioides, Chamomilla suaveolens).  Pineapple weed.  Small non-native weed of trailsides.  Small button-like flower heads look like tiny pineapples and smell like pineapples too.


*Oncosiphon piluliferum.  A new invader from South Africa.  Looks like pineapple weed but small, round, button-like flowers are bright yellow, not dull.  Now common along the water district wall, by the road into the park from the south (Barton Rd.) entrance.


Pseudognaphalium (Gnaphalium) bicolor.   Rare large perennial herb of rocky places, growing at the foot of rocks where extra water comes from runoff.


Pseudognaphalium (Gnaphalium) californicum.  California everlasting.  Same notes as preceding species.


Sonchus asper.  Uncommon introduced weed; moist spots in upper drainage.


Sonchus oleraceus.  Very common introduced weed; can be everywhere but usually in bare or thinly vegetated but fairly good quality soil, thus usually in recently-disturbed areas.


Stephanomeria exigua.  Tall straggly plant with thin stems and small, purplish-pink, messy-looking summer flowers.  A weedy plant of disturbed open areas everywhere.


Stephanomeria virgata.  Similar to above but taller.


Tetradymia comosa.  Cotton-thorn.  Thorny bush with cottony seeds.  Uncommon, in sage scrub.


Uropappus lindleyi.  Silver puffs.  A small salsify-like plant. Uncommon in open places in sage scrub and grassland.


Xanthium strumarium.  Cocklebur.  Rare weed in wet areas, e.g. sandy stream banks.  Leaves edible.  Fruit—the bur—highly irritating, especially when stuck in dog fur.



Boraginaceae  Borage family

A large percentage of our common wildflowers are in this family.


Amsinckia intermedia.  Fiddlenecks.  The tall plant with ochre-yellow flowers that you see everywhere in early spring.  The whole plant smells rank and not very pleasant, but the flowers are beautiful and not much else is in season at the time.  Moreover, this is one of the few natives that can grow even in introduced weedy grassland, though not where the grass is really dense.  Very important for insects and wildlife.  Seeds edible but few, small, and bad-tasting, so a resource for Native Americans but not if they had much alternative.


Cryptantha intermedia.  White forget-me-not.  The little white flowers you see everywhere in spring; dominates open areas not taken over by introduced weedy vegetation.  Often makes a fairly substantial ground cover.  Seeds edible, used by Native Americans.


Emmenanthe penduliflora.  Whispering bells.  Leafy annual with pale yellow, hanging-down flowers in spring.  In openings in sage scrub.  Dry slopes, but prefers slightly moister conditions than other dry-slope flowers, so grows either in shade or in small drainage ways.  Commonest in old burns; once thought to depend on burning to germinate, but it is actually fairly common even in areas not burned for decades.


Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia.  Small ferny-leaved plant with white flowers.  Common on shady slopes in the recently burned area east of Darkwood Drive, and occasional elsewhere.


Heliotropium curassavicum.  White-flowered herb of wet, somewhat alkaline areas; rare in park but found e.g. in wet area west of the huge warehouse.


Nemophila menziesii.  Baby blue eyes.  Exquisitely beautiful small deep-blue flowers in mid-spring, usually in grass on north-facing slopes.  Another casualty of grass invasion, but can manage the grass to some extent, and grows among cheat grass plants.


Pectocarya linearis.  A tiny, briefly visible plant with extremely tiny white flowers; appears in early spring, flowers, dies, and disappears till next year.


Pectocarya penicillata.  Like above but more compact with longer leaves.


Phacelia distans.  Blue curls.  Probably the commonest wildflower in the park; a beautiful blue flower on a stalk that grows longer as spring advances.  Common largely in rocky areas with native brush.  Resists the current hot, dry weather better than other wildflowers.  Greens edible, used by Native Americans.


Phacelia minor.  Canterbury bells.  Purple-blue bell-shaped flower in spring; dries to total disappearance before spring ends.  Formerly common but now getting rarer.


Phacelia ramosissima.  Perennial phacelia.  Large sprawling or trailing bush with dirty-white flowers in spring, growing among or at the foot of rocks or at the edge of moist areas along streams.  Very common and successful.


Plagiobothrys canescens.  Popcorn flower.  Like a diminutive version of Cryptantha; found with it and told mainly by size.


Plagiobothrys collinus.  Like above but smaller.



Brassicaceae   Mustard and cabbage family


Brassica tournefortii.  Sahara mustard.  This large, coarse, thick-podded mustard has spread lik—and with—wildfire in inland southern California in the last 20 years.  It has become a major pest.  It is common but nowhere dominant in the park.  Of the three common mustards, this is the large one with long thick pods; B. geniculata is small and very bright green; Sisymbrium irio is finer-leaved with much smaller pods and stems.  Irio is usually short, but can be as tall as the others.


Guillenia (Caulanthus) lasiophylla.  Jewelflower.  Currently not coming up, because of drought, but formerly found in open areas.


 Hirschfeldia incana (Brassica geniculata).   Wild mustard.  Extremely common weedy introduced plant.  Very short seed pods and small clusters of bright yellow flowers distinguish it.  Common everywhere in disturbed, open ground, especially along trails and roads.  This, like almost all mustards, is edible, the tender young buds being much like cauliflower and broccoli (which are very closely related).  A great trailside nibble.  Illegal to pick in the park, but when outside of the park, feel free, unless the area has been sprayed with something.  This is a very serious weed, and eating it is the nicest way to get rid of it.  Native Americans soon learned its value, and ate the greens fresh or boiled, and the seeds ground as a spicy meal (Bean and Saubel 1972:47).


Lepidium nitidum.  Shiny peppergrass.  Tiny herb with shiny round pods.  Locally common in rocky, sandy, sun-facing grasslands where the invasive grasses have trouble growing.

All members of the genus are not only edible but very good when young and tender, and at least one species is a commercial garden crop in England under the names “cress” or “peppergrass.”  Native ones eaten by Native Californians.


Lepidium virginicum var. robinsonii.  Larger than the above but with smaller, non-shiny pods.  Local near west entrance.


Lobularia maritima.  Sweet alyssum. Introduced garden plant, sometimes invading the park from ornamental plantings at the edges.


Nasturtium officinale (a.k.a. Nasturtium aquaticum, Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum).  This wonderful-flavored herb may be native, but it probably a garden escape.  It grows actually in running water, but is amazingly successful at finding the tiniest bits of permanent flow.  Common in the canyon stream.  Like virtually everyone else in its range, Cahuilla used it as a salad plant (Bean and Saubel 1972:90).


Raphanus sativus.  Radish.  Wild radish, possibly originally escaped from cultivation but probably introduced from Spain as a weed in settler days, is much less common than formerly, but still occurs.  Whitish-pink to purplish-pink flowers.  Complex hybridization with the yellow-flowered relative R. raphanistrum is so common in Riverside that it has become a rather famous case study of plant hybridization.  The hybrid mixes used to dominate vacant lots, but the steady march of  weedy grasses and the like has largely eliminated them.  It appears to be extirpated from the park, and indeed almost gone from inland southern California.  It remains as common as ever in central California, apparently because of higher rainfall.


Sisymbrium irio.  Rocket.  A very similar, and confusing, group of wild mustards, with longer seed pods and more dissected leaves.  The name has nothing to do with space travel, more to do with the plant’s fondness for rocky areas.  Siymbrium irio, London rocket, is extremely common and grows to a large size (to 2’ tall).


Sisymbrium orientale.  Like above but longer seed pods.


Tropidocarpum gracile.  A slender native mustard, like a small version of Sisymbrium but with paler flowers (they bleach white in the sun) and a pod that splits differently.  Very common in more open grasslands and sage scrub.



Cactaceae  Cactus family


Opuntia californica (O. parryi).  California cholla.  This cactus is uncommon but conspicuous on relatively bare soil on southwest-facing slopes in grassland areas.  Buds and fruit somewhat edible, used by Native Americans.  Pickled cholla buds (not this species) are a delicacy in Mexico.


Opuntia littoralis.  Coast prickly-pear.  Very rare in the park; occurs in very dry sunny spots in the juniper savannah.  Fruit and pads edible, used by Native Californians.





Atriplex canescens.  Fourwing saltbush.  Fairly common in the southeast part of Sycamore Canyon, in the juniper savannah vegetation.  Some huge old bushes have trunks a foot thick, indicating considerable age.


Atriplex lentiformis.  Common in upper (southeast part of park) creek bank areas, growing near or in the edges of the riparian strip.  Seeds an important food of the Cahuilla, ground for meal.  Leaves contain salt, edible; also leaves and roots contain saponins (natural soap), so can be used to wash.  “Fresh leaves were chewed to relieve head colds” or dried and smoked for same (Bean and Saubel 1972:45).


Atriplex serenana.  Fish plant, fish saltbush.  This tall, bushy annual flowers in summer; the flowers smell like a long-dead rat or fish.  At the point where the road crosses the stream in the upper (south) drainage, you will be troubled by a disgusting smell in July and August.  It isn’t a dead cat; it’s this plant doing its best to get pollinated, presumably by carrion flies or carrion beetles.


Chenopodium album.  Pigweed, goosefoot.  Tall nonnative weed, annual. Grows in highly disturbed areas, mostly trails and areas dug up by burrowing animals.  Seeds and leaves edible; young greens actually very good.  Native relatives were used by Native Californians and were a major food source (Bean and Saubel 1972:53; they also report use of seeds to kill intestinal worms, but that probably refers to Dysphania).  This species was evidently used after it arrived.  Tender young leaves are rather like spinach (which is related) but older leaves too tough to eat.  Leaves and seeds very widely used in the old days for pig and chicken feed.  Not in the park, but in other parts of Riverside, this plant grows very tall and thick, and makes a good walking-stick; because of its cheapness and availability for that purpose, it became a symbol (even a cliché) of rustic simplicity in Chinese and Japanese poetry.


Chenopodium californicum.  California goosefoot.  This small, shrubby, perennial goosefoot is uncommon but widely distributed in the park.  Seeds and probably greens used by Indigenous peoples.


Chenopodium murale.  Nettle-leaved goosefoot.  Fairly common but local; introduced weed.


Dysphania ambrosioides (Chenopodium ambrosioides, Teloxys ambrosioides).  Epazote (Mexican Indigenous name), Mexican tea, Mexican wormseed.  (The whole idea of scientific names is that they are supposed to be stable and universal, while common names are not.  In this case, the common name epazote is stable and universal but practically nobody seems to agree on the scientific name.)  This Mexican flavoring herb has escaped from gardens, and appears rarely in the wet sandy banks of the canyon stream.  It is an excellent flavoring herb, especially for beans (the tarlike smell cooks out and the resulting taste is pleasant).  A tea of the plant, and especially the seeds, kill intestinal worms, and are very widely used for this in Mexico and elsewhere.


Salsola tragus.  Russian thistle.  This spiny, tough annual is a nonnative weed that is becoming rapidly commoner.  It thrives on heat and dryness, and is taking over rapidly as the climate changes.  It is particularly successful at taking over southwest-facing slopes where even the cheat grass can no longer hang on.  It loves disturbed soil, such as trails and areas dug up by burrowing animals.  (Formerly misidentified as S. kali.  It takes genetic analysis to be sure.  Some other Salsola spp. might be present; they are very difficult to tell apart.)



Convolvulaceae  Morning-glory family


Calystegia arida.  Desert bindweed.  A small morning-glory with white flowers, found twining round many shrubs in dry rocky areas.


Cuscuta californica.  California dodder.  Orange vine—parasitic, lacking green chlorophyll, unable to make its own food.  Attaches to buckwheat and sometimes other shrubs, and feeds from them.  Small white flowers occasionally appear.  Used by Cahuilla as scouring pads (Bean and Saubel 1972:59; Lerch 1981:32).





Crassula connata.  Pigmy-weed.  Tiny plant, grows about an inch high; green in early winter, turning red in late winter and dying back.


Dudleya lanceolata.  Live-forever.  Rare in the park; north-facing steep clay arroyo banks, e.g. near the west entrance.





Cucurbita foetidissima.  Coyote melon.  Mostly eliminated from our part of the world in recent years, by suburbanization and herbicides, but a large population survives along the upper (southwest) part of Sycamore Canyon, growing just outside the riparian strip.  This wild gourd is intensely bitter.  The name is a translation of a Native American term from Arizona, based on a story that the (mythic) Coyote urinated on a squash and offended it so much that it and its descendents turned bitter and inedible.  This was a cautionary tale for young children.  The seeds, however, are edible, and good, basically small versions of the familiar pepitas of grocery stores.  The fruit used as poultice for animals, and root and gourd for soap (Bean and Saubel 1972:58; Lerch 1981:61); they are rich in saponins, naturally occurring soaps, and make a good soap for trail use.


Marah macrocarpa.  Wild cucumber.  Common vine with spiny fruits.



Euphorbiaceae  Spurge family


Chamaesyce albomarginata (Euphorbia albomarginata) and C. polycarpa (Euphorbia polycarpa).  Prostrate spurge.  Tiny plants growing flat on the ground, with tiny bean-shaped leaves.  Former told by white edges of leaves.  In the heat of summer it rapidly grows to become quite large, if water is available.  One of the most annoying small weeds of lawns and gardens, it occurs in the park only where watering is done, as around the visitors’ center and the eastside factories.  Boiled for medicinal wash for fever, chicken pox, smallpox; infusion used in mouth for mouth sores; said (wrongly) to be effective for snakebites (Bean and Saubel 1972:73).


Croton californicus.  Uncommon, thin, small, gray bush of the coastal sage.  Poisonous; used by Native Americans to stun or choke fish, which could then be cleaned and safely eaten.


Croton setigerus.  Turkey mullein, dove weed.  Very common small gray herb of disturbed places; abundant along trails, animal-burrowed sites, bike paths; not uncommon in open grassland even where there is no disturbance.   One of the most pervasive plants of the park.  Grows in summer when few other plants can grow.


Ricinus communis.  Castor bean.  This short-lived tall shrub was introduced as a medicinal plant for its violent laxative action.  The plant went wild and has become one of the most damaging, dangerous and unpleasant weeds in California.  The large seeds germinate with the slightest rain (but not in very cold weather), and have enough nutrient to produce a long, thick root that quickly goes deep into the soil to find any moisture there.  Seeds deadly poisonous, from ricin, a toxin so deadly that an almost invisible amount can kill, and almost impossible to stop once ingested.  Fortunately, nobody chews the seeds up, but animals sometimes die from them.  The plant is fairly common among rocks and in dry washes, and getting rapidly commoner.  It thrives on dryness and heat, and thus prospers in the new climatic regime.  In the park there is a major infestation in two washes in the extreme northeast corner, and in 2014, with summer and fall rains, these led to a population explosion all along the bank and road cut bordering Central Ave.  The plant is spreading into the main canyon and has recently invaded the south end of the park also.


Stillingia linearifolia.  This small bush is rare among rocks in very dry places.  Formerly commoner, but very vulnerable to fire.



Fabaceae  Bean family


Acacia.  An unidentified Australian acacia has spread into the park from ornamental plantings at the northwest corner.


Acmispon argophyllus (until recently Lotus argophyllus).  Rock lotus.  Small, prostrate, silver-leved bush growing in cracks in rocks.  Prefers large, high, flat-topped rocks where it can sprawl over the top (as opposed to Brickellia, which takes over cracks on vertical faces).  Uncommon in the park.


Acmispon glaber.  Deerweed.  If you know native plants, you probably know this by its old name, Lotus scoparius. It is still under that name in Oscar Clarke’s guide to Santa Ana drainage plants—a familiar name lost to genetic advances.  Very common invader of dry open areas, such as road cuts and trailsides.  Short-lived perennial with green stems, tiny leaves, and reddish-yellow clusters of flowers that are small but clearly bean-like in shape.


Acmispon micranthus.  This tiny trefoil does not appear in very dry years.


Acmispon strigosus.  Small trefoil.  Tiny bean with small yellow flowers visibly similar to deerweed’s.


Astragalus pomonensis.  Common in the juniper savanna vegetation type, especially in very open areas (now largely cleared of junipers).


Lupinus bicolor.  Small lupine.  This tiny lupine is a fairly common early-spring flower in dry areas.


Medicago polymorpha.  Bur clover.  Introduced weed of wet areas.  Burs infuriatingly clingy and sharp.


Melilotus albus.  White sweetclover.  Wonderful-smelling white flowers in summer.  Common introduced weed; local in the park, in moist areas, mostly southern part of the park.  Greens and seeds edible, but high coumarin content makes them dangerous through preventing blood clotting.


Melilotus officinalis.  Yellow sweetclover.



Fagaceae  Beech and oak family


*Quercus californica.  California coast live oaks are planted around the parking lot and visitors’ center.  One has appeared, apparently without human help, at the west entrance; probably a squirrel or jay planted it.



Geraniaceae.  Geranium family


Erodium botrys.  Longpod filaree.  Uncommon weed.


Erodium cicutarium.  Filaree.  Tiny plant with pretty pink-purple flowers, growing in otherwise bare areas; seems unable to compete with much else, but loves utterly bare, waterless, rock-hard soil, where it is the commonest and often the only plant.  Nonnative.  “Geranium” means “crane plant” from the crane-bill seed pods, and when this genus was split from “geranium” the scientists punned by naming it “heron plant” (erodium).  Young leaves edible, used by Cahuilla as pot herb (Bean and Saubel 1972:72) and by many others also.


Erodium moschata. Large filaree.  Bigger and lusher than above.  Common especially near entrances and other weed-invasion points.  Like the above, native to Mediterranean area.




Ribes indecorum.  One large old plant in a natural firebreak near the east entrance.  There may be a few others.  Otherwise, this and the chaparral currant R. malvaceum seem to have been burned out of the park.


Ribes quercetorum.  Golden-flowered gooseberry.  A large, dense stand, among boulders, on the north-facing slope of the rocky canyon area at the southeast corner of the park.





Juglans californica.  California walnut.  A common tree in its very limited range (from Waterman Canyon in the San Bernardino Mountains west to Point Conception in Santa Barbara County, and from the San Gabriel and Santa Ynez foothills south through the Los Angeles area).  A large specimen, about 30’ high and 2’ thick, grows near Sycamore Canyon creek just after it enters the park from the southeast, and slightly smaller ones (burned but recovering) down or across the creek.  These are surely not native here; they may have been understock for commercial walnut trees (this was common in early days, and the scion would long ago have died, leaving the understock to grow up), or, perhaps more likely, they grew from walnuts produced by such understocks that grew up and died long ago.  Occasional seedling walnuts down-canyon presumably have these trees as their parents.  The nuts of this species of walnut are small and mostly shell, but similar in flavor and quality to commercial walnuts; they were thus heavily used by Native Americans but are now rarely harvested.  Wood one of the few bow sources in the lowlands (Lerch 1981:63).

Temple notes only one individual; apparently it has sired young ones, which have sprouted or at least reached visible size since he wrote.


*Juglans regia.  Domestic Persian walnut.  A tree survives (almost miraculously, given their need for water) in the old olive orchard in the east-central part of the park.



Lamiaceae  Mint, sage and herb family


Lamium amplexicaule.  Deadnettle.  Wet areas.


Marrubium vulgare.  Horehound.  Garden escape, uncommon in dry washes among other weedy nonnatives.  Can be boiled down to a tea.  If the tea is boiled down with sugar to hard-crack stage, horehound candy is produced—a common candy in my youth, but now replaced by better-tasting items!  It was believed to be medicinal, ever since ancient times.  It did seem to have a soothing effect on a sore throat, thanks to the bitter astringent chemicals in the plant.


Salvia apiana  White sage.  Big bush with whitish-gray leaves, tall flowering stalks with pale blue flowers in spring.  Wonderful, powerful sage scent; usable in cooking in place of domestic sage, which is closely related.  Very widely used in bundles to create sweet-scented smoke for “smudging” rooms, etc.—a Native American ceremonial use, now picked up by countless newer Californians.  One of the worst sufferers from fire and grass invasion; now sadly rare.  Seeds edible but sparse.  Young leaves edible, and make a perfectly good sage for cooking.  Peeled young flower stalks edible, tasting like sage-flavored celery; eaten by Serrano for sore throats; also, with leaves, in hot water for tea or medicinal steam for colds, sinus problems, congestion (Lerch 1981:62).  Cahuilla used seeds and sometimes the leaves for food, and ate, smoked, or sweated with the leaves for colds and the like.  Leaves used as poultice for armpits, for deodorant (effective).  Leaves used to remove bad luck, as when menstruating woman touched hunting equipment (Bean and Saubel 1972:136).  The plant is rich in menthol, still a major medicinal chemical, found in countless drug store remedies.


*Salvia clevelandii (and hybrids of it with other sages).  This San Diego County native is planted as an ornamental at the Visitor Center and other areas bordering the park.  Being beautiful, wonderfully fragrant, and easy to grow, this plant has become a favorite for droughtscaping and native plantings.


Salvia columbariae.  Chia.  This is a small annual relative of the big shrubby sages.  It was a staple food of Native Americans; the seeds are small but good in flavor and extremely nutritious.  You can buy seeds of the closely related S. chia in health food stores.  Today, wild chia is very rare, being one of the worst victims of grass and weed takeover, but tiny plants are still findable on bare, thin soil.  Formerly, when it could compete in better soil, it could grow over a metre high and produce over a thousand seeds per plant.  Probably the major resource of the park area before the white settlers came.  I once harvested a naturally-occurring plot of chia in Two Trees Canyon and found it yielded enough to produce only 100-300 pounds of seed per acre, but it was growing in a very poor spot.  The seeds are not only an exceptionally good food; they also clean the eyes.  They become quite sticky when wet, so a seed was put in the eye if dust or fuzz had gotten under the eyelid.  The dust would soon stick to the seed and be removable.  This was evidently a Native American trick, but settlers soon learned it and were using it within my memory.  White sage seeds can be used for this too (Bean and Saubel 1972:136) but are less sticky.  Mush used as poultice (Bean and Saubel, ibid.).


Salvia mellifera.  Black sage.  Dark green narrow leaves, powerful and wonderful sage fragrance due to many volatile oils.  Deep blue flowers in spring.  Still common, almost confined to north-facing (shadier) slopes.  Seeds edible, leaves usable as herb (see e.g. Bean and Saubel 1972:138).


Stachys ajugoides.  Common streamside plant in southern California; common along Sycamore Canyon stream.  Rank, not very pleasant smell.


Trichostema lanceolatum.  Vinegar weed.  This pungent-scented nonnative is uncommon in our area.  A population flourishes in and around the old olive orchard in the east-central part of the park.  It grows in the hottest part of summer, with lovely blue flowers on a gray, furry stalk.  The plant smells powerfully of vinegar and resin, and if you brush it you, too, will smell that way for hours.  I love the scent, which reminds me of happy summer trails, but I admit this is very much an acquired taste.



Malvaceae  Mallow family


Malacothamnus fasciculatus.  Chaparral bush mallow.  Fire-follower; disappears for decades, between fires, but stored seeds suddenly germinate widely, following a fire.  A large population has appeared following the major fire in the early 2000s in the middle canyon.


Malva parvifolia complex.  Small mallow.  This introduced weed is common anywhere that people have introduced a bit of moisture, but it prefers fertile soil.  Particularly common in old orchards.  The leaves are extremely nutritious and are a major food throughout Asia, especially in Arabia and (mostly in old days) China.  They cook up somewhat gooey and do not have much taste, but they are not bad, and certainly help nutrition.  The small fruits look like tiny cheeses and taste slightly cheeselike, and are thus called “cheeses” and similar names by Riverside children and many others worldwide.



Montiaceae  Miner’s lettuce family


Calandrinia ciliata.  Redmaids.  Tiny reddish annual plant with pink flowers in early spring.  Formerly exceedingly common, now rare, since it grows in the same areas as the weedy grasses and cannot compete with them.  Seeds and leaves were a major staple food of Native Americans, who burned to maximize its abundance by eliminating the competition (now, burning only makes things worse, since the brome grass loves fire).



Moraceae  Mulberry family


*Ficus carica.  Fig.  A fig tree has established itself at the east end of the parking lot on Central Ave.  This Mediterranean fruit tree is quite invasive, and more seedlings will surely turn up.



Myrtaceae  Myrtle family


Eucalyptus spp.  Various Australian Eucalyptus trees, planted, border the park on the northwest. Eucalyptus in general supplies oils widely used in medicine, e.g. leaves boiled for steaming (which the Cahuilla learned; Bean and Saubel 1972:73), and oils extracted for medicinal use in many drugstore preparations, though less now than in the old days.


Eucalyptus globulus. Blue gum.  This large tree was planted in the 19th and early 20th centuries for shade, windbreak, and timber.  It proved problematic, with highly invasive roots, almost worthless timber, and a tendency to blow over or shed huge branches in santana winds.  A few have seeded themselves in drainage ways in the central part of the park.



Oleaceae  Olive family


*Fraxinus velutina.  Arizona Ash.  A medium-aged ash tree and many seedlings from it form a small colony at the extreme south edge of the park, across Alessandro from the end of Vista Grande Drive.  It is the native species, so may be an actual natural occurrence, though usually the Arizona Ash occurs in the mountains or along larger rivers, so this one may be a seeding from a yard tree.  Ash trees are important timber trees, and this one was a source of bows and other wood products for Native Californians.


Olea europaea.  Olive.  An old orchard of olive trees survives and still bears fruit in the east-central part of the park.  A few individuals also survive in a far southwest corner.  The tenacity of life of olives in this climate zone is simply incredible.  Orchards abandoned in the Depression still bear fruit in odd corners of the Badlands.  Southern California was a major commercial olive producer in the old days, but climate change and suburbanization have ended the industry south of Santa Barbara County.



Onagraceae  Evening-primrose family


Camissoniopsis (Camissonia) bistorta.  Suncups.  Earth-hugging small plant with beautiful sun-yellow flowers.  Bare but relatively undisturbed areas in full sun.


Clarkia epiloboides.  Tiny whitish flower; not showy like many Clarkias.  Very rare; local in sheltered clay-banked canyons near west entrance; possibly elsewhere.


Epilobium canum.  Wild fuchsia.  This gray-leaved bush has large, brilliant red flowers that attract hummingbirds.  It is very rare in the park; a large bush grows near the head of the deep part of the main canyon, west of the stream, among rocks.  It was probably commoner before widespread fire.


Epilobium ciliatum.  Willow-herb.  A weed of wet places.  Rare here, but willow-herbs are all too well known to gardeners in wet, cool parts of the world.  They spread by underground runners, are impossible to get rid of, and tend to take over.


Eulobus californicus (Camissonia californica).  Tall, thin-stemmed plant, very drought-adapted, with beautiful four-petaled yellow flowers throughout spring and into summer.  Grows in bare areas but among bushes, on south-facing slopes, usually ones that burned many years ago (not recently but not in the distant past either).



Papaveraceae  Poppy family


Eschscholzia californica.  California poppy.  Our familiar state flower is native to the park; formerly extremely abundant, now almost totally displaced by introduced weedy grasses and mustards, and surviving only in places too rocky and barren for them.  Here it is usually small and sad-looking, nothing like the displays of former years.  Said to be sedative (Bean and Saubel 1972:73, also popular belief among Anglo-Americans), but perhaps only because of relationship with opium poppy.



Phrymaceae  Dropseed familiy


Mimulus aurantiacus (formerly Diplacus aurantiacus)Bush monkeyflower.  Green bush with yellow flowers, growing among rocks; flowers quite spectacular and beautiful in spring. Elsewhere in its range, the flowers are orange or red.

This and the following were long placed in the Scrophulariaceae, but that family proved (after genetic analysis) to be an assemblage of similar but not closely related flowers, so it has been broken up.


Mimulus cardinalis.  Scarlet monkeyflower.  Local along streams.


Mimulus guttatus.  Spotted monkeyflower.  Annual plant with bright yellow, red-spotted flowers.  With a very great deal of imagination, they look like monkey faces (if monkeys had yellow faces).  Grows in wet sand on stream banks.



Plantaginaceae  Plantain family


Antirrhinum nuttallianum.  Purple wild snapdragon.  Rare, growing among rocks.  Common among rocks at the easternmost crossing of the main stream.


Collinsia concolor.  Blue-eyed Mary.  Local, north-facing steep clay banks near west entrance.


Keckiella antirrhinoides (formerly Penstemon antirrhinoides).  Yellow bush penstemon.  Rather small bush with beautiful flowers, shaped like snapdragon flowers (“antirrhinoides” means “looking like snapdragons”).  Now very rare.  This plant used to be fairly common, though local, in the Inland Empire, usually on rocky north-facing slopes.  It does not tolerate fire and is outcompeted by grass when trying to seed back, so it is rapidly disappearing.

The penstemons, long placed in the Scrophulariaceae, are now in the plantain family, thanks to genetic analyses that found the “scrophs” were a wildly disparate assemblage of plants that looked somewhat alike but were actually not closely related.


Penstemon spectabilis.  Native, but I have not found it so far in natural habitat. Planted as ornamental around the parking lot on Central Ave.


*Plantago major.  Common plantain.  Grows along the main stream in wet soil.


Veronica anagallis-aquatica.  Water speedwell.  Common along streams.  Introduced weed.



Platanaceae  Sycamore family


Platanus racemosa  California sycamore.  The common tree of the canyon and the source of the name.  Establishes on recently flooded clear ground or around springs, but no young trees exist in the area now.  Many trees are very ancient.  When burned, it comes up again from the root, and many trees in the area show evidence of repeated renewal.  Black-chinned hummingbirds depend on this tree, nesting in it and using the fuzz on the leaves to line their nests.  The young leaves get a fungus in spring, and tend to wilt and die if the spring is wet (and thus good for fungal growth), but the tree grows a new crop and goes right on.  The sycamore is an old lineage; trees identical to ours today shaded the dinosaurs.  It is, however, not a living fossil—quite the reverse; it was very advanced for its time back then.  California sycamore makes a beautiful, drought-resistant shade tree, and is thus widely planted in Riverside.  Wood soft and weak but used in old days.  Native Americans of the area used it for bowls (Bean and Saubel 1972:105; they had to be greased to avoid splitting), mortars, and posts; Serrano used inner bark as medicinal tea (Lerch 1981:39-40).



Polemoniaceae  Phlox family


Eriastrum sapphirinum.  Sapphire woolstar.  Summer annual with beautiful blue flowers.  A small stickery plant.


Gilia angelensis.  Los Angeles gilia.  A very small, delicate, slender-stemmed flower, common in open areas in grasslands in late winter and very early spring.  One of the few natives to profit from recent droughts, since it tolerates them better than does the weedy grass that otherwise outcompetes it.


Navarretia atractyloides. This small plant has not been coming up much in recent dry years.



Polygonaceae  Dock family


Chorizanthe staticoides.  Turkish rugging. Tiny, bristly plant of open dry places.


Eriogonum elongatum.  Longstem buckwheat.  Small perennial with very long flowering stalks.  Dry rocky places.


Eriogonum fasciculatum.  Bush buckwheat.  The bush with tiny rice-grain-like graygreen leaves and spectacular heads of pinkish-white flowers that turn to rust-colored seed heads.  Very common everywhere that has escaped fire and subsequent takeover by weedy grasses.  Survives worst drought and flourishes in soil so poor that nothing else can survive, such as recently opened road cuts through solid rock or hard subsoil clay.  Extremely important to butterflies, bees, many beetles, and other nectar feeders; a major, if not the major, food resource for such insects.  As such, it deserves more attention and protection than it gets.  The seeds are bitter but edible (cultivated buckwheat is a close relative, from eastern Asia).  The plant is antiseptic and was boiled for a tea by Native Americans and early settlers, to use as eyewash and skin wash (Lerch 1981:46), and for stomach and intestinal complaints, and headaches; also a tea for mestruation problems; older plants preferred (Bean and Saubel 1972:72).


Eriogonum gracile.  Tiny annual, easily overlooked; locally common in open, disturbed soil such as trailsides.  The flowers are very small, but beautiful on close inspection, relieving the dull brown monotony of midsummer trailsides.


Polygonum arenastrum (sometimes included in P. aviculare).  Knotweed.  Common in wet places, usually with some sun.  P. aviculare has been used in folk medicine.  The rau ram of Vietnamese restaurants is a close relative, but I find no record of our sp. being eaten.


Rumex crispus.  Curly dock.  Weed; streambanks.  Told from the natives by wavy leaf-edges.


Rumex hymenosepalus.  Canaigre dock, wild rhubarb.  Local, wet places.  Tall reddish stems from cluster of big leaves with relatively straight edges.


Rumex salicifolius.  Willow Dock.  Rare in the park.  A plant of open, rich soil in wet places.  Leaves and stems edible when cooked, but sour.  Stems make good pickles.  Cahuilla ate the stems of a close relative (and probably this species too) and used the tannin-rich roots for tanning hides (Bean and Saubel 1972:135).



Portulacaceae  Portulaca family


Calandrinia ciliata.  Redmaids.  Common small flower of open grasslands; cannot compete well with the grass, so found in more open areas such as trail edges.


Claytonia perfoliata.  Miner’s lettuce.  This excellent salad plant has virtually died out because of drought and fire, but probably persists in a few protected wet areas.


Portulaca oleracea.  Purslane.  Common introduced weed in irrigated areas around edges of park. Edible; selected varieties are garden crops in other parts of the world.



Primulaceae  Primrose family


Anagallis arvensis.  Scarlet pimpernel.  Small prostrate plant with deep pink flowers like tiny roses.  Common introduced plant, in moister areas, especially as weed in gardens.  Considered by the Irish to be second only to the shamrock (seamar og, “young clover”) for good luck and protection.  Flowers close in bad weather, leading to British folk name “poor man’s weatherglass.”





*Rhamnus (Frangula) californica.  Coffeeberry.  Native to southern California but not to anywhere in Riverside; planted as a “native” ornamental around the parking lot on Central Ave.  Fruits laxative.





Heteromeles arbutifolia.  Toyon.  Planted locally along the side of the park, e.g. in far southeast by warehouses.

“Heteromeles” means “a different apple,” and indeed this is an apple relative whose fruits look like tiny apples and taste like very indifferent ones.  They are better when seeded, made into cakes and dried, and as such this plant was a major food resource for Native Americans, which explains why its name is one of the very few words English acquired from Southern Californian Native languages.  The plant also looks enough like holly to have inspired the transfer name Hollywood (based on several “Hollywoods” back east and in England).


Prunus ilicifolia.  Brush cherry, islay.  One huge old bush, possibly centuries old, has survived the fires of the last decades because it is protected on all sides by rocks.  It stands in the inner canyon near the main palm grove.  It was scorched in a large canyon fire recently, but survived.  A small grove of magnificent old brush cherries stands in a wash entering the main canyon stream just inside the Via Cervantes informal entrance.

This member of the laurel-cherry group bears cherries that range from small and sour to just as large and flavorful as commercial cherries.  The seed can be cracked to extract the large, very nutritious kernel; this releases poisonous prussic acid when chewed up raw, but grinding and cooking destroys this, and both the fruit and the seed (made into cakes) were staple foods of Native Americans (Bean and Saubel 1972; Lerch 1981:65).  Islay is another of those very few words English acquired from Southern Californian peoples.



Rubiaceae   Citrus family


Galium angustifolium.  Small, bristly-looking shrub.  Rare in sage scrub in protected areas; found in inner canyon.



Salicaceae  Willow family


Populus fremontii.  Fremont cottonwood.  The big tree with heart-shaped, shiny leaves growing in the wettest parts of the canyons.  Wood light and weak but very useful in the old days—before and after Columbus—for construction; gum medicinal.  Cahuilla used the wood for mortars (Bean and Saubel 1972:106), as rural Mexicans do today.  Leaves and bark used for poultice for swellings, and tea for cuts; headaches treated by handkerchief soaked in the tea being wound around head; also used on horses for sores (Bean and Saubel 1972:106).  There is enough natural aspirin (salicylic acid) in the plant to make these remedies work.


Salix exigua.  Sandbar willow, coyote willow.  Smaller, grayer leaves and smaller inflorescences, late in season, compared to other willows.  A few at the edge of the riparian strip along the main stream, well before the canyon.  Uses as for other willows, but never gets large enough to have much wood; liked for ramadas in old days, because easy to cut and very leafy.


Salix Gooddingii.  Goodding willow.  Told from the following by solidly green, non-furry underleaf surfaces.  Requires a permanently very wet place, so found only in the few places where water stands and is reliable year-round.  Wood used by Native Americans, and leaves for teas for sore places, etc.


Salix lasiolepis.  Pacific willow.  The common tree with long, lance-shaped leaves, light green above, silvery-green below, growing everywhere that there is water.  It dominates the permanently wet riparian parts of the canyons, and grows around all the small springs and even places where suburban watering drains into the park.  Tolerates dryness when established, and thus old trees survive now in channels where water is rare.  Like the cottonwood, it has tiny seeds with fluffy plumes, so any breath of air distributes its seeds all over the park; they germinate wherever they find wet ground.  Wood soft and weak but useful as with cottonwood.  Leaves and twigs rich in salicylic acid (in fact, the word “salicylic” comes from Salix), which is the basis of aspirin.  (But “aspirin” honors another plant, Spiraea, also rich in the chemical.)  You can relieve headache by nibbling willow leaves and twigs along the trail; don’t swallow too much though, and spit out the residue, because large doses of the acid damage stomach lining.  Willow-twig tea relieves pain, but the same warning applies.  (Coommercial aspirin is a salt of the acid, and this makes it less damaging, though you are still advised not to take many aspirin pills.)  This, and other willow family plants, were used by Native Americans for house construction—both beams or posts and temporary thatching or shade from fresh twigs and small leafy branches.


Salix lucida.  Golden willow.  Like above but yellower stems, longer leaves (usually).





Scrophularia californica var. floribunda.  California bee plant.  Normally rather inconspicuous plant, but in spring sends up tall flower spikes with brilliant red flowers that attract bees.  Grows only at the foot of large boulders, taking advantage of the extra water that runs off them.

All that remains—in our area—of the formerly huge family Scrophulariaceae!


*Verbascum virgatum.  Wand mullein.  This large, pretty weed occurs on the southeast edge of the park.  Unreported by Temple; obviously a recent invader.



Simaroubaciae  Tree-of-Heaven family


Ailanthus altissima.  Tree of Heaven.  Not noted in the park (yet), but has gone wild in seasonally moist spots all around it, including a population on Sycamore Canyon main stream just west of the 215 freeway, and one across Alessandro Blvd. just south of the park.  It is to be expected in the park.  Drought prevents it from becoming the horrific weed it has become in central California (making the name seem very ironic there).



Solanaceae  Tomato and potato family


Datura wrightii.  Large green bush with huge, erect, trumpet-shaped white flowers that attract sphinx moths.  All parts deadly poison; causes hallucinations; used by Native Americans to induce visions, especially in initiation rites and in curing.  Modern informal experimenters have died (in Riverside among other places) from trying it.  Common, and both endures drought and competes successfully with cheat grass, so one of the few natives that is actually doing well.  Bean and Saubel (1972:60-65) give an excellent and thorough review of its uses among Cahuilla.


Nicotiana glauca. Tree tobacco.  Tall, straggly bush with broad gray leaves and gray stems; long tubular yellow flowers.  An introduced weedy plant (brought in by the Spanish for ornament, from South America), but now an important part of the environment, since with native bushes mostly gone this is one of the few remaining sources of nectar.  Now probably essential for survival of Costa’s Hummingbird and many insects.  Does not normally invade areas with much vegetation; usually limited to bare soil, from new road cuts to trailsides.  All parts deadly poison to humans; not usable as tobacco; smoking it kills.  The native coyote tobacco, N. attenuata, occurs in wide sandy washes not far away and might turn up.  It is less dangerous and was smoked and used medicinally by Native Americans, as tobacco species were almost everywhere.  Groups that practiced no other agriculture did cultivate tobacco; e.g. in southern California the Kawaiisu (Zigmond 1981).


Nicotiana quadrivalvis (our form sometimes separated as N. bigelovii).  Coyote tobacco.  A small wild native annual tobacco, rare in the park.  Used widely by Native Americans for smoking and other typical tobacco uses.  The larger N. attenuata was usually preferred where available, and widely cultivated in aboriginal California; it does not occur in the park but occurs in sandy, seasonally-wet washes all around our area, and might turn up some day.


Solanum douglasii.  White-flowering nightshade.  Uncommon shrub.  Juice squeezed into eye for eye diseases and eye strain by Cahuilla (Bean and Saubel 1972:140).


Solanum xanti.  Purple nightshade.  Small bush, green in winter and spring, with purple flowers and small black berries.  Usually grows among or at the foot of large rocks.  Poisonous.



Tamaricaceae  Tamarisk family


Tamarix sp.  Tamarisk.  This worst of all weedy pests of riparian habitats is so far not established in the park, but individual seedlings appear, and should be eliminated when seen.  This tree accumulates salt and drops it on the ground as exudate or in twigs that fall, and the soil quickly becomes so saline that everything dies except the tamarisk.  Ones that appear are T. ramosissima or close relatives or hybrids e.g. with T. chinensis.  Identification work needed.





Urtica dioica  Nettle, bull nettle.  The huge, common, savagely stinging nettle you should learn to avoid.  Grows in very dense stands in wet areas, taking over a great deal of the understory below willows and cottonwoods.  Can endure dryness when established.  Serrano (Lerch 1981:43) and Cahuilla (Bean and Saubel 1972:143) shared a widespread custom of whipping their legs with nettles to take away pain; apparently the pain and inflammation of the nettles serves as counterirritant and may actually relieve pain from arthritis and the like.  Stems provided a valuable fibre for string, nets and rope for Native Americans; young leaves not only edible but actually extremely good—a major food all over the Northern Hemisphere, and a classic dish in French as well as Irish and Tibetan cuisine.  You pick them carefully, with gloves; fry them in butter; then add in milk or stock to make a fairly thick soup.  Most of our local plants are not gourmet fare, but this is.



Verbenaceae.  Verbena family


Verbena lasiostachys.  Western verbena.  Native relative of the common garden plant.  Uncommon in moist spots.



Vitaceae    Grape family


Vitis girdiana.  Arizona grape, wild grape.  A large tangle of grapevine, possibly only one plant, is established in the middle canyon.  The grapes of this species are small but excellent eating, and are very important to wildlife.  Even coyotes may live for days on end on wild grapes when they are in season.



Zygophyllaceae   Caltrop family


*Larrea divaricata.  Creosote bush.  This desert plant does not naturally grow any closer the San Gorgonio Pass, but one bush in natural surroundings and looking thoroughly “natural” grows by the side of the road in the southern part of the park.  It is near the giant old four-wing saltbushes.  It probably grew from a seed accidentally brought in by people or livestock from the Pass area.  This plant is so common and aromatic that people tend to conclude it must be “good for something,” and thus it is widespread as a medicinal tea among Native American and settler cultures.  Cahuilla used it for many complaints, such as colds, chest problems, digestive problems, and menstruation.  Decongestant (as tea or steaming plant) and soothing to throat.  A persistent belief that it “cures cancer” has not held up in spite of many trials.  Cahuilla mande poultices of the leaves for wounds and infections.  Powder from crushed dried leaves applied to sores and woiunds.  Liniment for limbs, including poor circulation.  For dandruff and other skin and hair problems (see Bean and Saubel 1972:83-84).  Any oldtimer in rural and desert Riverside County has heard much of the virtues of this plant.  Alas, except for symptomatic relief of mouth, throat, and congestion issues, it seems not effective.  Tests go on….  The bushes do not usually grow big enough to provide useful wood, but when they do the wood is extremely hard and close-grained, of a greenish color, useful for arrow shafts and fuel, and more recently for minor woodwork; it takes a beautiful polish.


*Tribulus terrestris.  Puncture vine, caltrop.  This introduced weed is noted for its sharp-spined fruits, which can easily destroy a bicycle tire.  Grows along roads; not observed quite in the park, but follows paved road side-strips all round.  It was an enormous pest 50 years ago, but weevils that eat its seeds were introduced to control it, and have maintained it as a relatively uncommon plant since.







Hesperoyucca whipplei.  Whipple yucca.  Almost completely burned out now.  A few individuals apparently persist.



Alliaceae  Onion family


Allium praecox, A. peninsulare.  Wild onion.  Praecox is fairly common on the rather recent burn east of Darkwood Drive. Uncommon elsewhere.  Unmistakable onion flavor.  Prefers dark rocks; they break down into a tough clay that is hard for grass to grow in, so the onions have less competition.  Bulbs and leaves edible, popular with Native Americans; onions seem to have a universal, worldwide appeal.  This is interesting since the flavorful compounds are there to protect the plant, and are deadly to many animals, including dogs and cats.  We have somehow not only evolved the ability to eat them, but a downright fondness for them.

Formerly in the Liliaceae, but like the Scrophulariaceae the Liliaceae has been a casualty of genetic analysis.  Formerly a vast and notoriously messy assemblage, it has now been broken into component parts.



Arecaceae  Palm family


Phoenix canariensis. Canary Island date palm.  Common introduced ornamental all over southern California.  One tree has established itself in the wild at the northeast corner of the park, in a small riparian grove.  The small but good dates of this tree are extremely popular with birds and wild mammals.  These animals distribute the seeds everywhere, hence its invasion of the park and many other places.


Washingtonia filifera, California fan palm, and Washingtonia robusta, Baja California fan palm.  Several tall trees in the central and upper parts of the main canyon have grown from small dates carried in by wildlife from beneath the many ornamental specimens lining Riverside streets.  Almost all are W. robusta, but the Southern California fan palm, W. filifera, occurs too.  It is native to the desert regions just east of us, and would no doubt have occurred in the canyon naturally if it could take competition better; young trees are easily shaded out.  Today, with habitat degradation, there is enough open space to allow them to flourish.  Fam palms are almost totally fire-resistant, and fire clears the area for them and lets them seed abundantly.  Young seedlings appear in wet ground.  These trees are extremely important to wildlife.  Many animals eat the small but nutritious and flavorful dates which these trees produce in incredible quantities.  Many birds, including orioles, owls, kestrels, and starlings, nest in the leaves.  Woodpeckers find the trunks easy to drill and thus tend to prefer them for nesting.  The dates are good eating and were important to Native Americans.  The fronds are such good thatch that they are still widely used, by Native Americans and others.  Closely related species are still a major resource for this purpose in Latin America, and are often managed as a sort of semi-domesticated crop.  Cahuilla uses of W. filifera fill four pages of Bean and Saubel’s book (1972:145-149).  Palms provided thatch for houses and ramadas (and are still widely used for the latter), and the leaves were also made into sandals.  The dates were an important food, and the stem pith and young leaf bases could be eaten in hard times.  The seeds were used in rattles.  Fire could be made by rubbing fruit-bunch stalks together, using one as a fire drill.  The dead leaves sheathing the palm were burned when they built up to a large thatch; this prevented or stopped damage by fungus and insects, and is still occasionally done.



Cyperaceae.  Sedge family


Sedges are grasslike, but identifiable by pronged flower head with small bunches of dull-colored flowers at the ends.  Wet areas, especially sand along canyon streams.  Many species could occur; all look fairly similar.


Cyperus eragrostis. Large sedge.  A big, thick, coarse sedge, up to 4’ tall, in very wet areas along the main streams.  Non-native.


Schoenoplectus acutus.  (Formerly Scirpus acutus.)  Tule, bulrush.  Tall, dark green stems with the typical three-pronged flowering top.  Grows in dense, large clumps in running or standing water (or in very wet sand).  Found in the streams and springs.  Displaced from nutrient-rich soil with standing water by cattails.  A notably useful plant.  Serrano used bundles of it for thatching houses, and ate the rhizomes (Lerch 1981:42).  Cahuilla sed it for bedding, mats, weaving, roofing, thatch, ceremonial bundles for rituals, basket wrapping, and similar uses.  Rhizomes eminently edible and used for flour.  Seeds used for mush, and cakes made from pollen (Bean and Saubel 1972:139).



Juncaceae  Rush family


Juncus arcticus, J. bufonis, J. dubius,J. xiphioides.  Rushes.  Tough, dark-green, wire-like leaves in wet areas.  Various species occur and are hard to identify; three are found widely along the streams+, but bufonis seems to be rare or absent in the current drought.  Used by Native Americans as basket material (M. K. Anderson 2005; Bean and Saubel 1972:80; James 1901; Lerch 1981:45).  The leaves naturally vary from a deep warm brown to a pale tan, and can produce extremely beautiful shadings when used as decorative wrapping around the grass cores of coiled baskets.  These had much to do with making southern Californian Native baskets among the most highly regarded aesthetically of any in the world.  The baskets were also technically superior, often being used to hold water and even for cooking—hot stones were dropped into gruel or porridge in the baskets.  The baskets were so well made that they would neither leak nor burn.



Liliaceae  Lily family


Calochortus splendens.  Mariposa lily.  A pink-flowered species, fairly common in sage scrub in late spring.  One of the few lilies that is left in the lily family!  Bulbs edible.  Cooked by Cahuilla in pit barbecue (earth oven; Bean and Saubel 1972:48).  The long-continued, high, moist heat converts indigestible carbohydrates to digestible ones.



Poaceae.  Grass family


Agrostis viridis (A. semiverticillata, Polypogon viridis).  Medium-sized grass of wet places, usually growing in sandbanks of the main streams.


Arundo donax.  Giant reed.  A huge grass, locally called “bamboo” but not actually a bamboo.  It is an Old World plant, invasive here, and terribly destructive to riparian habitats, crowding out natives and thus ruining the area for wildlife.  A small population is established in the far southern part of the park, but fortunately it is mostly dead (someone may be actively suppressing it).


Avena barbata.  Slender oat.  Tall, with loose clusters of small oats.  These are perfectly edible and would be good for oatmeal, but are too small and few to be worth gathering.  An introduced plant closely related to domestic oats.  Grows in the better-watered dry areas, mostly in disturbed places such as the edges of trails and roads.  A wildlife food, but invasive, and a small but real part of the invasive-grass problem.  Native Americans almost immediately discovered its value, after the Spanish introduced it, and came to use it heavily all over the state.  (For Cahuilla, see Bean and Saubel 1972:46.)   Domestic oats, a close relative, are the highest commonly-eaten grain in protein and are rich in minerals and soluble fibre, thus notably healthy.


Avena fatua. Wild oat.  Shorter and stouter than preceding; less common; in lush grasslands.


Bromus diandrus.  Ripgut grass, ripgut cheat.  Almost as common as red cheat; grows on north-facing slopes and moister places.  Its “seeds” (technically caryopses) are the hated “foxtails” that get in your socks and in your dogs’ fur, eyes, ears and noses.  They are the source of the name.


Bromus madritensis var. rubens (B. rubens).  Red cheat grass.  Unfortunately, the commonest plant in the park; a vicious, destructive weed that has replaced most of the native vegetation.  Now dominates level areas and south-facing slopes, except the very driest and rockiest, where native vegetation remains competitive.  Red cheat has virtually no value and nothing to recommend it (the name “cheat” was not applied for nothing).  Seeds are also “foxtails,” but less large, irritating and painful than those of ripgut.  Possible seed use, if all else failed (Bean and Saubel 1972:48).


*Cynodon dactylon.  Bermuda grass.  This commonly planted ornamental non-native sometimes invades from local lawns, especially in moist spots.


Distichlis spicata.  Saltgrass.  Occurs in the salty flats of the middle part of the creek, where saltbushes also grow.  Source of salt for Native Californians; salt could simply be licked, shaken, or beaten off the plant, or for more quantity it was burned and the ash used (Bean and Saubel 1972:66).  This had the advantage of balancing out the sodium in the salt with some potassium in the plant tissues, maintaining a better Na:K balance than ordinary salt does.  Stiff stems also used for brushing and rubbing.


Echinochloa crus-galli.  Barnyard millet.  A weedy introduced grass of fertile moist spots.  Not common in the park.  Domesticated and used as food or chicken feed in parts of Asia.


Elymus (Leymus) condensatus.  Giant wild-rye.  A huge, perennial, clumping grass.  Found in moist rocky spots near the creek, just above the beginning of the deep canyon.  Used for arrow shafts by Native Californians, supposedly fire-hardened (Bean and Saubel 1972:69) but this could not have been too diligently done or the stems would burn.  Weak, but used with hardwood foreshafts.


Hordeum murinum.  Mouse barley.  Good enough cover name for the wild weedy barley that occurs in the park.   Non-native and a pest, but much less common and annoying than cheat grasses.  (If you learned this as H. leporinum, know that that species was split from murinum but then lumped with it again.  The split just wasn’t valid.)


Lamarckia aurea.  Rather rare grass growing in rocks in the canyon.  Nonnative.


Paspalum dilatatum, Dallisgrass.  Rarely found invasive.


Pennisetum setaceum. Fountaingrass.  Planted as an ornamental in Sycamore Highlands Park and elsewhere, and has escaped across the border, producing a few stands on rocky, level surfaces.


Poa annua.  Bluegrass.  A lawn grass, locally escaped into park.


Polypogon monspeliensis.  Rabbitfoot grass.  A South European grass.  Very common in wet or damp places in the southeast part of the park.  (The name monspeliensis is a very common species name for south European plants, because of the enormous importance in the old days of the botanical garden at Montpelier, one of the oldest in the world.  It is associated with the medical school there and used to grow medicinal herbs.  It is still there, still beloved by the city folk, and still growing medicinal herbs.)


Schismus barbatus.  The tiny clumps of grass you see everywhere on otherwise bare soil or mixed in with filaree.  Nonnative and somewhat of a problem, out-competing small native flowers.


*Setaria parviflora (S. geniculata in older books).  A grass with a very thin, long, starved-looking inflorescence.  Related to foxtail millet, the ordinary millet used for human food and for bird food, a very nutritious and tasty seed.  This wild introduced weed, however, is too thin on seeds to be much use.


*Sorghum halapense.  Johnson grass.  This cordially hated nonnative weed occurs in watered areas around factories and will probably invade the park at some point.


Sporobolus airoides.  Alkali dropseed.  A pretty, airy-looking grass of the salty flats along the upper (non-canyon) part of Sycamore Canyon stream.  Forms a large meadow near the road crossing.  Seeds of this genus were widely collected by Native Americans; presumably this species was used in our area.


Stipa (Nasella) lepida.  Foothill needlegrass.  This plant should be common, but fire and drought has virtually eliminated it.  I have found ONE plant, in a remote part of the southwest corner of the park.


Vulpia (Festuca) myuros.  Rattail fescue.  Local on sheltered north-facing banks.  European invasive.

Themidaceae  Brodiaea family


Bloomeria crocea.  Golden stars.  The beautiful spring flowers look like a fireworks burst: a big head, each stem tipped with a brilliant golden six-pointed star.  Fairly common in grasslands, but only where the introduced weeds are not too thick.  Corm edible, used by Cahuilla (Bean and Saubel 1972:47).


Dichelostemma capitatum (D. pulchella, Brodiaea pulchella).  Wild hyacinth.  Common spring flower; stalk 6” to 1’ tall tipped with small cluster of blue-violet flowers.  Common in less weed-invaded areas, but largely displaced by weeds from the areas where it was formerly most abundant.   Corms were a major food of Native Americans, who cultivated the plant by digging up the bulbs and leaving or even deliberately scattering the small new bulbs growing from the older ones (M. K. Anderson 2005; Bean and Saubel 1972:47).  The plant thus became exceedingly common, dominating areas of grassland and annual flower land.  It is now much rarer.


Muilla maritima.  Rare, local (formerly common but all too vulnerable to grass competition).  Looks like a wild onion but has no onion scent.



Typhaceae  Cattail family


Typha latifolia  Cattail.  Common in wet areas in upper southern parts of the park.  Can occur anywhere that water is permanent or nearly so.  Grows in open standing water with fertile muck.  This plant (and its relatives; there are other widespread cattail species) has been described as “the Indians’ supermarket.”  The leaves are ideal for mats (and still used), the stem is tough and straight and variously usable, the fluff on the seeds is ideal for stuffing into pillows or anything of the sort.  The seeds themselves are ground for flour and are nutritous.  The pollen is produced in enormous quantities and is a highly nutritious food, common enough to be gathered and made into cakes.  The tender young growing shoots in spring have the texture of asparagus and the taste of cucumber, and are a choice food even today (but watch for polluted water when you gather them!).  The rhizomes are less tasty but are produced in enormous quantities and are good nutritious food.  Add to this the enormous productivity of this plant, which produces a huge amout of biomass in a short time.  Moreover, it purifies water, crowds out mosquitoes, and provides a major habitat for wildlife.  All in all this remains one of the world’s most useful wild plants.



Plants Found by Temple but Not by Me

Sycamore Canyon Park’s flora has changed dramatically since P. Temple’s work in the middle 1990s.  Several new introduced plants have invaded, but the main change is due to drought and fire.  All species of fire-sensitive, drought-sensitive bushes are now gone.  Many annuals have not appeared in the last few years, because of extreme drought; they will probably reappear if normal rainfall ever comes again.

No doubt a few individuals of some of the perennial species will turn up, but many seem genuinely gone.

All the species listed here are still common at higher, cooler, moister elevations, most as close as the higher parts of the Box Springs Mountains or Gavilan Hills.

Shorthand:  A:  annual or rootstock perennial, not germinating because of drought but presumably still present (though some, as noted, seem genuinely dying out locally).  Fully 59 species are in this category!  Still more did not come up in 2015, for a total of about 65 spp. that should have been visible but were not.

B:  Bush, burned out; species apparently eliminated from park.  7-8 spp., possibly 13.

D:  Dying out:  introduced nonnatives that Temple found but that appear to have died out since.  Possibly 11 species, certainly 4.


Ferns  Most fern species are gone, clearly because of drought and fire; some may survive as rootstocks that will grow leaves again if moist conditions recur.  The only remaining fern (see above) is now extremely rare.  A or B; I suspect several species are burned out and gone forever.

Dryopteridaceae: Dryopteris arguta

Polypodiaceae:  Polypodium californicum

Pteridaceae:  Pellaea andromedifolia, P. mucronata, Pentagramma trangularis.



Alliaceae:  Allium peninsulare.  A.  Almost certainly still around as bulbs, which will revive if a wet year ever comes.

Asparagaceae:  Muilla maritima. A.  Same comment as above.

Cyperaceae:  Bulboschoenus robustus.  Uncommon plant that I may just not have noticed so far.

Poaceae:  Bromus hordeaceus, B. tectorum: A or D.  These two grasses are generally rare now, having been displaced by tougher bromes.

Eragrostis mexicana, A.

Hordeum vulgare, barley, D (drought-tolerant, unlikely to be missed, but no longer cultivated in the area, so has generally died out as a volunteer).

Leymus triticoides, A

Leptochloa fusca, A

Lolium perenne, A.  This common lawn and landscaping grass is all too common as an escape, and will surely turn up if conditions get moister.

Muhlenbergia microsperma, A

Muhlenbergia rigens, B.  I think I remember this large native bunchgrass growing in the park long ago, but it is burned out now, so far as I can find.

Poa secunda, bluegrass.  A.  This common lawn grass will surely reinvade occasionally in future.

Schedonorus (Festuca) pratensis, A.  Another lawn grass that occasionally invades and probably will reinvade.

Stipa speciosa, B

Vulpia octoflora, A

Apiaceae: Bowlesia incana, A; Daucus pusillus, A.  Both these wild carrots are small and modest, and do not appear in dry years.

Asteraceae:  Acourtia microcephala, B.  This uncommon shrub is gone from all the lower parts of our area, because of fire and drought.  It is a fire-follower but recent extremely hot fires were too much for it.

Bidens frondosa, A.  This common annual will surely reappear with moisture.

Cotula australis, D.  This introduced weed has evidently been outcompeted by its relatives, and by grasses.

Dimorphotheca sinuata, Cape marigold.  D.  This South African plant was formerly often planted as a roadside ornamental, occasionally escaping into the park.  It is hard to grow, and does not grow at all in current drought conditions.  It has thus been abandoned as an ornamental planting and has died out, in our areas, though a population established decades ago survives along Highway 60 in Moreno Valley.

Erigeron foliosus, leafy fleabane.  A

Filago californica and F. gallica A

Rafinesquia californica, A

Senecio flaccidus and S. vulgaris, A

Stylocline gnapaloides, A

Symphyotrichum subulatum, A

Venegasia carpesioides, B.  This perennial sunflower was a very unusual find; it prefers far moister conditions than our area, and occurs mostly on shady slopes of foggy coastal mountains.  It cannot possibly persist in current conditions of drought and fire.

Brassicaceae: Athysanus pusillus, A

Capsella bursa-pastoris, D.  Formerly common weed, now dying out all over Riverside due to drought.

Caryophyllaceae:  Loeflingia squarrosa, Silene gallica, Spergularia marina, A.  Small delicate plants that do not germinate in dry years.

Convolvulaceae: Convolvulus arvensis, A, D.  Weed that evidently invaded in wetter times from suburbs.

Fabaceae: Lupinus hirsutissimus, L. sparsifloruis, L. succulentus, L. truncatus, A.  Common flowers that do not come up in dry years.

Triolium gracilentum, A; T. willdenovii, probably b.

Frankeniaceae:  Frankenia salina, B

Geraniaceae: Erodium brachycarpum, A or D

Grossulariaceae: Ribes malvaceum, B

Onagraceae: Clarkia purpurea, A.  This will surely reappear if a wet year ever comes.

Orobanchaceae:  Castilleja exserta, A

Papaveraceae:  Eschscholzia caespitosa, Papever heterophyllu, Platystemon californicus, A

Phrymaceae:  Mimetanthe pilosa, A.

Mimulus brevipes, A.

Plantaginaceae:  Antirrhinum coulterianum, A; Collinsia heterophylla, A

Nuttallanthus canadensis (Linaria canadensis, Nuttallanthus texana).  A.  I think I remember seeing this plant in past years.

Plantago erecta, A, D.  This tiny native is dying out everywhere due to drought and competition with brome grasses.

Veronica peregrina, A

Polygonaceae:  Persicaria lapathifolia, Pterostegia drymarioides, A.  These two tiny plants will no doubt reappear if wet years return.

Portulacaceae:  Cistanthe monandra, A

Ranunculaceae:  Clematis pauciflora, B.  Almost certainly extirpated by fires.

Delphinium parryi, A

Rubiaceae:  Galium aparine, D.  This common plant has been largely eliminated from our area by fire and drought in recent years.

Saururaceae:  Anemopsis californica, B?  This common wetland plant should be found in the streamways, but careful search of almost all accessible streambanks has not disclosed it so far.  Probably eliminated by flooding followed by invasion by sedges and other fast-growing plants.

Solanaceae: Physalis crassifolia, A

Urticaceae: Hesperocnide tenella  and Parietaria hespera, A

Violaceae:  Viola pedunculata, A








Anderson, M. Kat.  2005.  Tending the Wild:  Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources.  Berkeley:  University of California Press.


Baldwin, Bruce G.; Douglas H. Goldman; David J. Keil; Robert Patterson; Thomas J. Rosattoi; Dieter H. Wilken, eds.  2012.  The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California.  Second edn.  Berkeley:  University of California Press.


Bean, Lowell J., and Katherine Siva Saubel.  1972.  Temalpakh:  Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants.  Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.


Bowers, Nora; Rick Bowers; Kenn Kaufman.  2004.  Kaufman Field Guide to Mammals of North America.  New York: Houghton Mifflin.


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Garrett, Kimball, and Jon Dunn.  2012.  Birds of Southern California.  Olympia, WA:  R. W. Morse Co.


James, George Wharton.  1901.  Indian Basketry.  New York:  Malkan.


Lerch, Michael.  1981. Chukiam (All Growing Things).  Redlands: author.


Minnich, Richard.  2008.  California’s Fading Wildflowers:  Lost Legacy and Biological Invasions.  Berkeley:  University of California Press.


Sibley, Charles.  2000.  The Sibley Guide to Birds.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Stebbins, Robert C.  2003.  A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Temple, Patrick J.  1999.  “Plants of Sycamore Canyon Park, Riverside, California.”  Crossosoma 25:45-70.


Timbrook, Jan.  2007.  Chumash Ethnobotany:  Plant Knowledge among the Chumash Peoples of Southern California.  Santa Barbara and Berkeley:  Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Heyday Books.


Wilken, Michael.  2012.  An Ethnobotany of Baja California’s Kumeyaay Indians.  MA thesis, Dept. of Anthropology, San Diego State University.


Zigmond, Maurice L.  1981.  Kawaiisu Ethnobotany.  Salt Lake City:  University of Utah Press.


Hatred and the Environment

Hatred and the Environment:

The 21st Century’s Defining Political Issue

E. N. Anderson



“Fascism includes supremacy of the military, the need for perpetual war and a disdain for pacifism, a  merging of corporate and state power, dismantling the unions, indirect control of the media, national security and patriotism as a motivational tool for the masses, government corruption, candidates appointed by the party command, and an erosion of voter rights.”  Benito Mussolini, quoted by Rainer Bussmann, 2015.


Society cannot exist unless a controlling power on will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.  Edmund Burke



PART I.   Hate and the Environment


The environment is now the most serious area of political problems for the world—the only area where bad choices will literally lead to the extinction of the human race and possibly of all life on earth.  Global warming, deforestation, fresh water overdraft, urbanization and desertification of farmland, and pollution all threaten survival of billions of people.

Yet, politically, environmental politics has been neutralized.  Since a flurry of measures in the 1960s and 1970s, environmental measures worldwide have been limited to a number of idealistic but toothless treaties.  A few countries have made strides, but most are small nations (Scandinavia…) or else the strides have been modest and erratic (Brazil…).  Most countries have suffered declines in environment that range from serious to catastrophic.  China, the world’s most populous country, is one of the catastrophes (Anderson 2015).

The reason for the stagnation is simple and straightforward: opposition by the giant primary-production firms that profit from destruction.  Big oil is the most politically active of these, but mining, agribusiness, coal, timber, and related industries are heavily involved.  So are the banks and other service firms that directly work for them.  Particularly opposed to environmental and health measures are the firms whose production directly damages health, especially big oil (Anderson 2010; Juhasz 2008; Klein 2014) and big tobacco (Hakim 2015, Mukherjee 2010).  These companies have not only succeeded in blocking all significant restrictions on environmental damage; they have actually increased their environmental damage while increasing their direct and indirect subsidies from governments (Anderson 2010; Johnston 2007; McAdam 2015).

Big oil alone now gets 5.2 trillion US dollars in subsidies, worldwide, according to the IMF’s rather minimal figures (McAdam 2015). A Sunlight Foundationn report, Nov. 2014 (on their website; see also Allison and Harkins 2014), reported that the 200 most politically active corporations in the United States spent 5.8 billion in campaigns and lobbying between 2007 and 2012, and got 4.4 trillion in subsidies, contracts (1/3 of all military contract dollars), tax breaks, bailouts, and giveaways—so they got a return of $760 for every dollar invested.  The effective corp tax rate was 17.7%, the nominal 35%.

Subsidies force big firms to lobby instead of profiting from investment, and put them into direct zero-sum game other recipients of government money, notably the poor and needy.  This explains the vitriolic hatred of the poor expressed in recent years by corporate-sponsored politicians. Making their money from taxpayers eliminates the incentive for these firms to produce good products or to be efficient, and creates the incentive to play zero-sum games for tax dollars.


The real question is how they get away with it.  The immediate and long-term self-interest of the 7,000,000,000 people in the world who are not directly employed by those firms should be enough to counterbalance them.  In democracies, the overwhelming majority of voters should vote against the giant firms, as indeed they did in the 1960s.  The firms all appeal to “jobs” and “economic growth,” but these claims are transparently false.  With tobacco killing 5,000,000 people a year worldwide (Munro 2015) and doing incalculable damage to health and the economy, the tiny benefits it confers on a few executives and tobacco farmers are hardly visible when compared to the costs.  The same goes for unregulated oil and chemical use.  If regulated to reduce public costs, those are necessary and highly beneficial industries.  The problem is that they successfully resist meaningful regulation, with resulting huge spills, fires, and other costs to the general public.  If economics mattered, the giant primary-production firms would be reined in, regulated, and denied government subsidies.

However, both politics and economics in the US and most other countries are now dominated or influenced by firms that increasingly rely on subsidies and tax breaks rather than on economic competitiveness (Galbraith 2008).  If they had to compete in a free market, economic theory suggests that they would not be able to afford racial segregation, religious domination of the public sector, and similar ills.  It would hurt their bottom line.  Indeed, many firms are still doing business the old way, and finding this to be the case.  The problem is that the US and many other countries do not have free markets.  The economy is dominated by the subsidized firms, especially oil, agribusiness (including tobacco), mining, chemicals, armaments and the like.  These firms find it in their self-interest to play politics rather than producing superior products (see above-cited sources).  They do better through subsidies than through legitimate business.  Estimates run as high as 700-to-1 return on lobbying expenses.  And they do best in politics by whipping up hate.

The ways they operate include bribery, corruption, and—especially in poorer nations—intimidation, and through spreading disinformation (Michaels 2008) as the tobacco companies do.  Certain oil firms, in particular Koch Industries (see Dickinson 2014) but not only them, have actually hired the same public-relations firms that fight so hard and successfully for big tobacco (Goldenberg 2013a; Klein 2014; Oreskes and Conway 2010; Robbins and Seifter 2015).  Since 90 firms, mostly big oil corporations including Norway’s and Saudi Arabia’s, cause 2/3 of greenhouse gas release (Goldenberg 2013b), one or two firms in denial can have a huge effect (on big oil in general, see Ross 2012).

But by far the most important and significant is through cultivating fear, hate, and negative emotionality in general.  The details of hatred in the service of environmental destruction, and the rise of hatred in the US, will be detailed below.

Many giant firms, though apparently always those in the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy, recognize the dangers, and are doing what they can to move in the other direction.  Even so simple a message as the need to maintain well-paid, secure consumers in order to have a functioning economy has been abandoned by the far right, but many of the secondary and tertiary sector firms see this with crystal clarity.  Perhaps business will save us from business.  However, the prognosis is not good: fascism in 1930s Europe still serves as the prime case of business firms whipping up hatred only to see it rampage out of control and destroy all of society (on fascism, still definitive are Neumann 1943, 1957, on which sources I draw heavily below).

If business does save the modern world, it will have to de-fang hate-based politics first of all.  The only hope for human survival now lies in understanding and stopping hatred.


The Failure of Rational Politics

I now take a longer view, grounding the whole problem of hate in social theory.

Like most of my generation, I was raised in the belief that humans are creatures of rational individual choice.  We rationally decide to maximize material interest, money, or “utility” on the basis of carefully collected and assessed information, processed in the most cool and thorough manner possible.  Even rats act according to conditioning, i.e. learning what brings food pellets and what brings electric shocks.  Intangible rewards were not part of the mix.

Not only all economic theory, but all social science theory of any note, was based on this idea.  Karl Marx had recognized humans as “impassioned,” but in obscure works that few noticed (like the Grundrisse,1973).  Ordinary Marxism of the 1960s and 1970s and since was “vulgar materialist.”  The rich conspired to maximize profits; the working class would soon see their real interests lay in uniting against the rich.  This left Marxists wondering why workers usually had “false consciousness,” i.e. seeing their interests as lying with bosses, or with fascist rabble-rousers, or with simply turning to alcohol, rather than joining the Revolution.

Even the findings of Herbert Simon (1957) on “bounded rationality” seemed only to prove the rationalist case.  Simon found that humans “satisfice,” accommodating to lack of time and lack of perfect information by approximating, and by putting up with less than ideal solutions.  Similarly, James Olds’ findings that rats would do anything just to stimulate certain parts of the brain did not damage the model.  He reasoned, correctly, that those were the reward centers that normally would be stimulated by getting a food pellet.

As a voracious reader of world literature, I knew that essentially all writers from the author of Gilgamesh to William Faulkner disagreed with this simple, mechanical view.  They saw humans as creatures of passion.  But I compartmentalized that and considered it “literature,” not “science.”

Like many social scientists, I was first confronted with scientific evidence for the literary view in Robert Zajonc’s classic paper “Feeling and Thinking: Preferences Need No Inferences,” in American Psychologist (1980).  Zajonc showed that humans and other animals process perceptions emotionally before they identify them cognitively, and decide emotional responses before they decide cognitively.  (Zajonc’s name rhymes with “science” and is Polish for “squirrel,” which somehow fits.)

At the same time, Simon’s work had spawned a vast amount of research on limitations to human rationality—on the “heuristics and biases” that allow us to operate in the real world, where the “perfect information” and “perfect rationality” of economic theory do not exist.  The work was done largely by the Israeli researchers Paul Tversky and Daniel Kahneman (see Kahneman 2011).   It came to the world’s attention in the late 1970s through a flurry of articles.  Richard Nisbett’s and Lee Ross’s book Human Inference (1980) brought it to wide attention.  Gerd Gigerenzer has shown at length that the “heuristics and biases” found by Tversky and Kahnemann actually make sense, like Simon’s satisficing, in a world where perfect information is impossible to find; we have to cut corners, approximate, make do, and guess, and Gigerenzer has shown that the heuristics are very good for doing that (Gigerenzer 1991, 2007).  But they aren’t “rational” and they make nonsense of the classic and neoclassic economic models.  Between Zajonc  and Nisbett and Ross, I had my explanation for “false consciousness.”

The “rational individual choice” model of behavior took a while to die.  Several books in the 1980s (especially Jon Elster 1983) and the early 1990s damaged it beyond repair, but the final devastating blow was given by Antonio Damasio, who basically extended Zajonc’s agenda, studying the role of emotional responses in humans and lab animals.  His book Descartes’ Error (1994) was widely read.  He laid out a clear, forthright, uncontrovertible case that emotions and deeper drives motivated behavior, with reason being merely one way of getting those drives satisfied.  David Hume’s observation in the 1740’s had been right all along:  “Reason is, and should ever be, the slave of the passions” (Hume 1969).

This all leaves us in a crisis of social theory.  We are now in the same situation that medicine in 1870, when 2000-year-old theories were suddenly challenged by new data showing that microorganisms, not humoral imbalance, caused infectious disease.  We are living with nineteenth-century theories adapted to a totally different world and wrong even for it: socialism, communism, neoclassical economics.  These are challenged by Damasio just as Galenic medicine was by Pasteur and Koch.


Bounded Rationality, Emotion, and Human Nature

This is not to say people are irrational.  They take reasonably direct routes to work.  They pay attention to “the main chance.”  Comparing two otherwise identical tubes of toothpaste, they will generally choose the cheaper one.  Even so, I am astonished to see at my local drugstore that the “brand name” items still sell, even though the identical products made by the same manufacturer are available next to them for considerably less—the only difference being that the latter are sold under the drug store’s own label.  Brand-name loyalty is one classic heuristic.

However, the farther we get into really important decision-making, the less individual material rationality matters.  People choose their spouses, vices, favorite restaurants, enemies, and political causes on the basis of love and hate, not individual maximization.  Gary Becker (1996) famously defended economic rationality by arguing that people become drunks and dope addicts because they prefer alcohol and drugs to money—apparently not realizing that by this defense he had totally given away the store.  If people prefer suicidal “fun” to rational saving of money, the view of people as creatures of rational self-interest is not maintained.  Calling self-destruction “rational” strips the word of all meaning.  If everything is “rational,” the term has no explanatory value.

Materialistic and financial considerations are not lacking in this world, and certainly are not to be ignored.  Often, they combine with emotional factors as reasons for decision.  There are, for instance, usually both emotional and economically rational reasons for war; the public hates the enemy, while the ruling class gets loot or at least the profits from making guns and bombs.  Similarly, true love laughs at wealth, but in reality most lovers do not marry people much poorer than they are.  This simple realization inspired a revolution in psychotherapy, with Albert Ellis’ rational-emotional therapy, Aaron Beck’s cognitive-behavioral therapy, and William Glasser’s control therapy.  Consideration of these is outside the scope of this paper, but suffice it to say that almost all psychotherapy today is based partly on getting the balance of reason and emotion better adjusted.  Albert Ellis’ rational-emotional model works.  People are creatures of reason and emotion, usually using the reason to achieve goals set by emotion.  Managing emotion and acting reasonably are both basic to mental health.

A finding of Ellis, Beck, and others is that the really difficult situations are those in which emotion distorts rational decision-making, such that people think they are being rational and maximizing their self-interets when in fact they are acting against it. This clearly emerges in environmental issues:  people go for the short-term and narrow benefits at the expense of long-term ones.  Among the Tversky and Kahnemann heuristics is a finding that people overvalue the near; in economic terms, they have overly steep discount slopes.  Another heuristic is optimism: people assume the best, and it is hard to get them to be realistic.  What looks good, emotionally, is very plausible.  Gigerenzer and his fellows have pointed out, correctly as usual, that this is a survival mechanism: if we weren’t a bit overhopeful we’d never do anything, given the chances of failure in this imperfect world.   Martin Seligman (1990) showed that people are happier and more successful when a bit overoptimistic.  Every successful restaurant is a monument to hope, since about 90% of new restaurants fail.  But when overoptimism takes over fisheries regulation or water allocation or reforestation planning, the results are bound to be catastrophic.


Thus, many of us who were involved in environmental and political movements realized that we were arguing wrongly by confining ourselves to arguing for rational self-interest alone.  Political scientsts have now admitted that voters are irrational, or “boundedly” rational (Caplan 2007; Marcus 2002; Westen 2007).

People’s emotions are innate, but they learn how to express or repress them, and they learn from experience and peers when to whip emotions up into overdrive, such that the emotions may get out of control and lead to violence or other troubles.  Politicians depend on their ability to stir their followers to action, as in the famous story: “When Democritus spoke, people said ‘What a good orator,’ but when Pericles spoke, they said ‘let us march.’  (This bit of folklore is told in several versions about several different people and has no known source—I heard it as a child and have found many versions on Google—but it certainly makes the point.)

In particular, conservation was often “irrational” in the short run.  Inspection of the classical success stories in traditional societies, and of the works of great conservationists from Thoreau to Aldo Leopold, made it clear that economic and ecological arguments were often important, but that love of nature was what mattered.  I had tended to dismiss such writers as Leopold for being too “touchy-feely,” and I learned the full error of my ways.

Thus in 1996 I produced a modest book, Ecologies of the Heart, arguing for love and care as the determinants of environmental protection, and showing how traditional societies marshall those emotions through mechanisms that social scientists usually call “religion.”  Significantly, the traditional societies themselves usually regard the beliefs in question as obvious fact, not religion.  The beliefs do, however, run heavily to dragons, protective spirits, rocks with souls, and other beings unknown to everyday science.  They also inspire moral rules, ceremonies, and ritual behaviors that serve the cause of conservation.  Emotion and reason serve each other.

Soon after, Kay Milton brought out a book called Loving Nature (2002) that argued the same in regard to modern environmental movements.  The idea has been accepted with astonishing rapidity since, and now seems established.  Rational self-interest appears necessary to sell environmental ideas widely, but emotion is also critical, especially in motivating activists and lifestyle-changers.

I produced more books about loving nature and the social construction thereof in traditional ecological wisdom.  Many others have done the same.  However, nature remains unsaved.   Neither love nor the now-obvious fact that we are committing planetary suicide has motivated change.

The reason became clear as I worked with my wife on studies of genocide (Anderson and Anderson 2012).  The other, and in the end stronger, major human emotion is hate.  It gets in the way.  It not only motivates, routinely, the cold-blooded mass murder of minority groups (over 100 million people in the 20th century), but it also motivates the rejection of ecological sanity.


Studying Hate

Hate is far less studied than love.  Look at any psychological journal and you will probably find an article or two about love.  You will not find any about hate. With some stunning exceptions, notably Roy Baumeister’s Evil (1997) and Erwin Staub’s The Roots of Evil (1989) and Overcoming Evil (Staub 2011); significantly, he too was a genocide scholar), hate has been ignored (though see also Sternberg and Sternberg, The Nature of Hate, 2008).  Yet it now is the strongest motive in American political life, and in much of the rest of world politics.  (What follows builds mostly on these four books.)

I must thus build from our genocide work, and from the findings of Baumeister, Staub, and a very few others.  Unlike my work on love of nature, this leaves me highly exposed—exploring new terrain in which I do not have a lifetime of research experience.  I am somewhat consoled by the fact that my wife’s and my model of the development of genocide was also developed, quite independently of our own efforts, by conflict student Barbara Harff.  Harff and we had no knowledge of each other and used quite different databases, but came out with the same model in the same year (Harff 2012; Anderson and Anderson 2015), showing that we have at least something to say.  (Depressingly, the genocide establishment, concerned with particularist history, has totally ignored all three of us, as well as Gregory Stanton, who has posted a similar model online.)  Harff made more than we did of what she called “exclusionary ideologies”—what my wife and I had been calling “hate ideologies.”  Staub and some others had also made much of hate, but an astonishing percentage of the genocide literature either ignores ultimate motives or follows the old rational paradigm and blames genocide on people wanting to take others’ property or at least being envious of it.  This is so clearly inadequate that it merely serves to discredit the rational-economistic paradigm further.

I thus plunge into the study of evil with more ambition than optimism.  But “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”  Someone has to make a start on this.  Lacking angels, I will try my best.


Weakness into Hate

Weakness and defensiveness are among the major causes of hate.  The other cause is actual harm, to oneself or one’s group.  Realtively weak people will respond with anger that easily gets out of control and turns into the long-running emotional scenario we usually imply by the word “hate.”

The worst fear, in any hypersocial animal, and certainly in humans, is of social ostracism or negative judgment, and the worst anger comes from being socially put down.  The worst hate is of social foldbreakers—individuals who seem to be defying the most basic social agreements, and groups who seem to be directly threatening one’s own group.  Social fear occasions extreme forms of the fight-flight-freeze response.  Fighting over social slights is obvious enough; flight from dealing with them often shades into depression and escapism, much more often than actual moving away.  The freeze response tends to take the form of being socially passive: being a mindless follower or an inactive layabout.  The abject conformism and adulation of pop culture’s worst trash that are typical of the modern world are, at least in part, responses to fear and rejection.

Fear is an animal’s basic survival response.  Darwinian evolution guarantees that real fear must always be prioritized, and is the strongest emotion.  It takes a great deal of good times and hopes to balance out even a slight social or physical fear.

Energy use, stress, and danger increase from freeze to flight to fight, so all organisms will naturally default in that order.  (Natural selection guarantees that organisms spare energy when they can.)  With people, thus, passivity and  conformity come first, then escapism, then fighting.  So as things get worse people are more and more prone to fight, unless scared into submission by superior force.  Fighting men get to the top; often psychopaths take over.  Thus, logically, we expect to find what we do find, both in history and in psychological studies of CEO’s:  the upper echelons of all societies are over-enriched by psychopaths.

Hatred is almost universal and is learned from almost any source.  We seem to be adapted to learn it, as we are adapted to learn language.

People are naturally social, and naturally hate and compete for social place above all, then power, then resourcesPeople will always, thus, plow resources into power competion and power into social-place competition.

Responses to social threat, harm, slights, and fear differ according to the self-efficacy of the responder.  The weakest collapse into passivity—they go limp.  Next weakest is sheer conformity.  Third is escapism, finding refuge in religion or fantasy.  Fourth is anger and hate.  Fifth is rational responding.  Sixth and highest is rational proactive coping.  At any point, hopelessness and depression can take over. The alternative is courage: not lack of fear, but carrying on even when frightened.  Some threats are real and some hurts are deadly serious; going on in spite of them is what makes human society possible.

It is impossible to surf the Internet, especially media like Facebook, without immediately encountering hateful attacks on the rich, the poor, the gay community, the whites, the minorities, men, women, immigrants, Democrats, Republicans, and every other highly visible group.  A dozen countries worldwide are torn by religious conflicts that have little to do with economic self-interest.  A dedicated economic theorist would no doubt point to the trivial financial gains of militants in ISIS, but any actual rational calculation of expected benefits vs. chance of death would lead any Muslim to avoid ISIS—as most in fact do.  As I wrote this, my wife found and recycled a raft of Facebook postings filled with rants about men, women, gays, straights, minorities, and so on—many of the rants serious enough to make one question the ranters’ sanity, and also to endanger them somewhat.  Yet, nothing can do less good than a Facebook rant.  People are expressing their hate for no reason except their own satisfaction (if such it can be called).

America is probably not going to collapse right away, but hatred gone out of control has now escalated into national meltdowns in Afghanistan, Congo (DR), Iraq. Israel, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and other countries.  Others are teetering on the brink, saved largely by international action: Central African Republic, Chad, Lebanon, Mali, Sudan.  These have ongoing killings and highly polarized politics.  Recent violence in the republics that once were Yugoslavia, in Ukraine, in Georgia, and elsewhere show that rich, developed nations are not immune.  Indeed, the Terror in Northern Ireland was as horrific a hate-based civil war as anything in Africa (though ultimately on a smaller scale), and it took place over decades in a stable, rich democracy (see Staub 2011).

Much less serious, but still destructive, and very much more widespread, is the use of hate to blind people to their self-interest and get them to vote against themselves.  This has notoriously been the Republican Party’s specialty in recent US history (Frank 2004), but it is hardly confined to them.  Political parties all over the world do it.  It was a time-honored trick before Hitler and Stalin made it into national movements.

Some idea of the dominance of irrational hate over common sense is seen in the US business community’s backing for the right-wing apotheosis of racism and religious bigotry.  Hitler’s Germany proves that such backing is suicidal for business.  The left, for balance, has poured hatred on “the rich” and “the 1%,” in spite of the fact that the rich have voted about 50-50 (with only slight Republican bias) in recent presidential elections.


Hatred blocks thinking through long-term and wide-flung benefits versus short-term, narrow ones.  Hatred makes people look to their own narrow group.  It keeps people from seeing that the general welfare not only matters, but is an imperative consideration.  If we do not stop global warming, global pollution, global fresh water waste, and similar behaviors, we will all suffer—a fact obvious to anyone who looks at even a tiny slice of data.  But, worldwide, most political activity remains mired in attempts to score off on immediate opponent groups.  This is in large part because the problems are far in the future, and of uncertain magnitude; recall the steep discount slope.

My particular cause is the environment, and environmental questions show this effect more clearly than other types, precisely because they can be addressed only by love for the environment coupled with rational action of wide-flung, long-term scales.  They are thus the most vulnerable to the politics of hate.

Of course, there are also simple economic reasons for resisting environmentalism.  Some environmentalists do go far into a realm of telling people to give up practically everything, live a spartan lifestyle, and forget about economic growth.  Any rational person would have trouble with this scenario.  There are also more legitimate issues of short-term/long-term tradeoffs.  These complicate the picture.  However, examination of resource politics reveals that polluting and overexploiting interests frequently whip up hatred to get the public to vote for pollution and against community interest.  Similar use of hate to sell anti-environmental and anti-worker cadidates have been successful from Brazil to Turkey and from Australia to Canada.  We will examine this, but for the moment I will look at the wider questions.


Needs and Motives

Needs are not motives.  Need for water isn’t a motive or motivation; thirst is.  The same applies to food vs hunger, health vs curing, social needs vs socializing.  Security and dealing with fear are needs, but give rise to several motives: fight, flight, freeze, anger, hate, or quick rational action.

Of course, hatred is not the only emotional driver of irrationally short-term, narrow behavior.  Laziness, sheer fear, irresponsiblity, hopelessness, meekness, and conformity to immobilizing social norms can all do it.  Even love can do it.  Psychopathy can make people evil and violent without particular hatred.  However, these other motives are inadequate to explain social and political outcomes.  It is usually actual opposition, based on intense negative emotions, that defeats leaders and causes.

By hatred I mean here the focal meaning of the word:  highly emotional rejection and dislike of individuals or groups.  This includes bias, prejudice, bigotry, bullying, overneg, displacement, cowardly lashing out, gratuitous meanness, etc.  Hating boiled cabbage, or romantic films, or rap music is not what I mean.  More significantly, I am not talking about hatred of ideas or theories.  Hating an idea—as opposed to hating the bearers of that idea—probably does no particular damage worldwide.  It is when hatred extends to actual living humans or other lives that hatred does damage.  One can hate racism or bigotry or bullying and be all the better for it.  But when one extends hatred to a whole group, even if the group is racists or bullies, one is on a slippery slope to irrational violence.  The old line “hate the sin but not the sinner” applies.

Even hatred of individuals as people may be excusable if they have done harm to one.  The hatred that is the subject of the present paper is hatred of whole groups where no adequate reason can be adduced.  Hatred of a personal enemy who has done one multiple wrongs is a different matter.  The problem is that there is no real boundary; the one grades into the other.  A bigot can always say that his whole opponent-group has done wrong to his or her own group.  This may sometimes be reasonable; more often it verges on paranoia; the issue has to be considered case by case.  I will stick closely to incontrovertibly unfair and bigoted hates in the present work.

Diminishing another’s humanity is a classic mark of hate, but can be done for other reasons, notably commercial ones; pop culture diminishes people for simple commercial reasons.  Corporations spend the least possible amount producing songs and films, and please the lowest common denominator.  This is deplorable, but should not be confused with the deliberate diminishing of humanity seen in hate campaigns, which almost invariably compare the hated group with rats, cockroaches, and other disliked animals (Kiernan 2007; Staub 1989, 2011).  On the other hand, hate campaigns can and do take fiendish advantage of the diminishment of humanity in popular culture, as anyone knows who has followed the controversies around gangsta rap.


Causes of Hatred

Hatred itself comes from several sources.  The clearest and most obvious is actual experience with harm and threat, especially if it is erratic and hard to predict.  However, many people are hurt and yet cope perfectly well.  For it to call up anger that turns to long-running hate, personal inadequacy is often required.  Weak, scared people who have some access to strength or force become bullies or hate-ideologues.  In particular, weak or fearful members of powerful majority groups often identify with the group and become extreme hatemongers.

However, Roy Baumeister, on the basis of much research, counseled against taking this view too far (Baumeister 1997).  He found plenty of hateful, bullying people with eminently fine records of bravery and high self-esteem.  In fact, the worst people often had the highest self-esteem, partly because high self-esteem is typical of psychopaths and sociopaths.  (He and others demolished the self-esteem movement by finding that self-esteem is not necessarily a good thing.)  There is, in fact, a range from cowardly haters to very brave and courageous ones.  We cannot accuse the soldiers of ISIS of outstanding fear.

That said, in general, behind antagonism is a need for “security” at all costs.  Dictators have always found that people will accept anything if you can convince them that “security” is at issue.  The only times and places anything else wins are when the country is secure and people have opportunity to do better.  Freedom is desired, but freedom means different things, and often “freedom from fear” is held to be the most important one.  To some, freedom means the right to bully, rape, exploit, and even kill anyone weaker.  As the Federalist Papers pointed out, such “freedom” is really anarchy or tyranny.

So life can become a security/opportunity tradeoff, with opportunity winning only when there are overwhelming chances of doing better.  Most self-risk is for security—fighting for country and peace, in particular.  Even sacrificing one’s life for one’s religion can be a security issue, if it is intended to bring security for one’s family or security for oneself in Heaven.  Similarly, most individual motivation (work, self-improvement…) has security as a real goal, not advancement.

Next most obvious is simple cultural tradition.  Hatred of Black people in the American South goes back to slavery days, and especially to the conflict between first enslaved and later free Blacks and poor whites vying for the same limited set of jobs.  The hatred persists, long after its economic roots have ceased to matter much.  In fact, hatred has become a point of pride and of cultural solidarity in the south today, and groups that were not particularly racist in older times are now heavily racist.  (This trend applies notably to my own ethnic group, southern Scots-Irish, and I have watched its progress with increasing dismay over my lifetime.)  In fact, most people worldwide get their hatred from their parents and peers, not from their own experience or psychodynamics.  Individual psychology, however, must explain why some individuals are so much more susceptible and extreme than others in the same cultural surroundings.

Economic rationality does have its role.  In a downwardly mobile time, like the early 1930s, people tend to become more competitive, group against group.  In an upbound time, people see more benefits from cooperation.

This can be modeled as negative-sum, zero-sum and positive-sum games.  Negative-sum games are predictable when everyone is getting worse off and the only hope lies in making other people even more rapidly worse off to slow one’s own decline.  Zero-sum games dominate in ordinary times, when my gain may be expected to be at your expense, but at least the pie is fairly constant.  Positive-sum games, in which everyone gets better off through cooperation, are expected only in strongly hopeful economic times.

Playing it all as a zero-sum or negative-sum game makes people look to short-term, narrow interests.   When people are getting worse off, they will naturally fight to go down more slowly, and one easy way to do that is to make everyone else go down faster.  The rich are not immune to this; they may even be especially prone to play that way, because they have the power to do it.  They will find scapegoat groups to set the crowds against.


The biggest hatred problem worldwide is hating those beneath one in the socioeconomic ladder, especially poorer minorities.  This is interesting because it almost has to come from fear and displacement. Usually, cowardice and defensive aggression are deployed, with the aggression being displaced downwards.   Hating those higher in the social scale is also common, but apparently less so than hating down.  Cowardly defensiveness may be the most important single motive of human action, not because it is the commonest or the most dominant, but because its consequences are so devastating.

Cowardly defensiveness in most people thus takes the forms of scapegoating, displacing, bigotry, and bullying the weak.  Many a tough guy is tough as a way of overcompensating; many a hyperfeminine woman is defending herself.  In the modern wolrd, attacking the poor is a standard deflection from real problems.  The corporations that exploit racism and religious hate also exploit scorn and contempt for the less fortunate;.


How Evil Wins

Hate wins because fear is both the strongest emotion and the one that must be prioritized, and then aggression and hate are the strongest way to deal.  Fear causes a fight-flight-freeze response in all animals. In humans, fighting is often verbal and ideological; flight is often into escapism, including Hollywood films, social media, games, and romantic novels; freezing often goes into depression and inanition.  The social construction of the fight response most often moves into right-wing politics, while more moderate and liberal souls often take to escapism and inanition, though there are plenty of intemperate fighters on the left too.

Bad things are always happening in this imperfect world, and have to be dealt with.  One accident—even a minor one—can ruin a world of good.  More to the point when we come to understand human hate, one insult or harsh word can destroy a marriage or a lifelong friendship.  We cannot ignore bads or hates.  We have to learn to deal coolly and reasonably with them, or else we tend to fall into chronic hatred or hopelessness.

As a large, predatory, hypersocial animal, the human is wired to defend by violence, and especially to defend the group.  Hatred, slighting, contempuous dismissal, toxic neglect, irresponsibility, are often directed against other groups simply because they exist and seem to compete for some types of goods or utilities..

Giving up control and making oneself abject is a huge part of the problem.  The popularity of the “fifty shades” books and similar literature seems to indicate that many women actually want to be beaten, insulted, dominated and abused.  The outpourings of racism and religious bigotry worldwide seem to be to be intimately related.  They are all part of one syndrome: giving in to weakness and mixing up coping with brutality.  These connections have not been explored much by psychologists; they need very serious attention.

Dealing by just cowering or by rational coping stands little chance against hate-based aggression in a straight physical fight, and often in political fights too.  So the worst win.  In a typical country, perhaps 20% of people are truly hateful; the other 80% may hate to varying degrees, but often simply go along out of passivity or irresponsiblity.  (These figures come from voting records; there are very consistent levels of voting for outright-fascist candidates, around the world; the fascists get about 20% of the vote in straight elections, sometimes up to 30-40% if the other choices are weak.  This has shown up recently in voting tolls in the United States, Britain, Canada, France and several other countries, and it showed up in Europe in the 1930s also.  Surveys confirm that about 20% of people are highly bigoted against whatever minority is salient, and another 20% will go along if the economy is in trouble or other stressors exist.)

Liberals in the United States today are typical of the other 80%: they mean well, but they are often disunited, apathetic, and not responsible enough to vote.  Passivity and ataraxia are escapist, and derive from the same irrational reponse to fear that drives hatred.  People range from close to 100% good to 100% bad, which makes it hard to predict how they will break, but simple need to fight back against threat means that at any given time there will be much hatred and violence in the world.

Individuals vary enormously in aggressiveness, hatefulness, reactive anger, psychopathy, sociopathy, and personal weakness and withdrawal.  Their complexities are not captured by “us”-“them” distinctions.  All individuals have cross-cutting loyalties and social identifications.  In modern society, this becomes complicated: a typical person is part of his or her family, work group, ethnic group, religious (or unreligious) congregation, political party, local eating group, and so on and on.  One may have cross-cutting loyalties to dozens of groups.  One person may be intensely identified with his or her religion, while another is identified with career and career-mates, another with family, another with political party.  Everyone has to balance the resulting loyalties and solidarities.  Everyone must choose, then, whom to love, hate, or disregard.  Can one ignore one’s religious group?  Work colleagues?  Local barfly scene?

No one gets away with a simple us-them or us-other distinction.  No one can avoid getting pulled in different directions.  No one can avoid being torn by pressures to like, dislike, accept, reject, love or hate the various people in one’s many different groups.  Moreover, almost everyone is an odd-person-out in one way or another: the only Jew in a right-wing Christian town, the only teacher in an anti-intellectual neighborhood, the only motorcycle nut on a dourly quiet street.

Thus, no one can avoid social hurts and social cross-pressures.  The resulting emotions almost inevitably include defensiveness and resistance. This starts with offense or stress, especially social (disrespect, “hurt feelings”), leading to irritation, exasperation, disapproval, and upset.  In so far as people feel entitled to respect, they become really angry.  If not consoled and comforted, they become even more so.


Bad Arguments

Some arguments by haters are so universal that they are diagnostic:

–Contrasting one’s own highest ideals with the worst practices of the opponents (we value freedom and democracy, whereas those other guys beat their wives).

–Lying outright, and claiming “I’m entitled to my opinion” when challenged.  Facts are not opinions.

–Referring to each side as if it was totally uniform (Israel vs the Arabs, rather than Netanyahu’s group vs Hamas).

–Emphasizing the evils of the other side while studiously ignoring one’s own (for Hitler, the Jews cheated people while the Aryans were strong and noble).

–If one has to acknowledge one’s own sins, claiming one was forced to do it by the outrageous actions of the other side (we had to rape their women because their boys threw rocks at us).

Each side takes the other’s bad actions as a spur to do even worse, to scare them into stopping or just to get rid of them.  “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” as Gandhi said, but this is worse: two eyes for an eye.


Today, reporting is almost a dead art, as newspapers shrink or close and the electronic media fail to take up the slack.  The result is a lack of facts, let alone in-depth investigation of issues.  That allows wildly counterfactual arguments to take over.  The arguers insist that they are “right” and their opponents “wrong,” when the facts show that both are wrong (with truth often lying in the middle).  The Wall Street Journal is particularly noteworthy for spinning blatant lies as truth, or, at worst, as OK in an “opinion piece.”  Racist untruths disproved 50 years ago share the pages with denials of global warming and claims for success of supply-side economics.  Fox News is, of course, much worse.  The business community is so seriously misinformed that they are cutting their own throats.  On the left, The Guardian and other leftish journals are not immune to the same “opinion piece” trick.

Rational discourse, rational assessment of facts, and rational arguing are very hard to drive against emotion, even at the best of times.  Today, with emotion dominating the social media and in-depth reporting virtually dead, reason is more or less out of the loop.  It is very difficult to stay reasonable in a Facebook argument.


These specious arguments can construct up into whole ideologies, Barbara Harff’s “exclusionary ideologies.”  Hitler’s Nazism, Stalinist Communism, the Tea Party, and Maoism in China are typical examples of the worst possible scenario: building hate into a whole ideology of life, with every aspect of governance, personal behavior, knowledge, and even aesthetics derived from the basic hate.



Much or all of the problem starts in childhood.  Children cannot rationally respond tohatred, attacks, and abuse; they do not know how, and would not have the power to act accordingly if they did know.  Many of us were raised with parents who were both disempowering and hypercritical—constantly making negative judgments but giving little opportunity to cope with the problems.  That sort of disempowering child-rearing leads to fearful, weak defensiveness.  This in turn can to malignancy as the child grows up, if the child is raised in the intolerant, bullying atmosphere that was the lot of many of us as schoolchildren.

This in turn leads to extreme touchiness—“taking offense”—and a resulting domestic economy of mutual slights and hurts.  It also leads to scapegoating and displacing defensive anger toward non-family members. Abusive and bull