Eating what’s in season, when it’s in season, is not only cheaper, but it’s also far tastier than other alternatives. Autumn is time for herbal mutton casserole 羊肉爐 in Taiwan or 羊腩煲 in Hong Kong.
We are what we eat
In Chinese medicine, wind can drive external pathogens into the body but also can stir up internal blockages and emotional excesses. The emotions are largely regulated by the Liver and gallbladder systems, so we must not forget to support the other organs, not only the lungs in autumn.
The function of the digestive system often becomes deficient in autumn. Gastro-intestinal conditions are common at this time of year, and take extra care and eat well to prevent disease finding its way in through the mouth.
Why eat mutton
In the cool months, eating mutton often can nourish qi and boost deficiency, promote blood circulation, and strengthen the body’s resistance. Lamb meat can also increase digestive enzymes, protect the stomach wall and help digestion.
Traditional Chinese medicine believes that mutton has the effects of nourishing blood, replenishing spleen, warming the spleen, replenishing kidneys and yang, and nourishing the liver. It has good effects on diseases such as depletion and thinness, weak waist and knees, weak spleen and stomach, nausea, dizziness and eyesight, insufficient kidney yang, deficiency of qi and blood, impotence, cold hernia, postpartum deficiency and cold, and lack of milk. Especially suitable for the elderly, physically weak men and postpartum women.
Things to avoid when eating mutton
TCM believes that some food are contradicting to each other and could cause bodily harm if eaten together. Same with mutton. One should avoid drinking tea when eating mutton. Mutton contains a large amount of protein, and tea is rich in tannic acid. When these two foods meet in the human body, tannic acid protein will be produced, which will reduce the peristalsis of the stomach and the water content of stool, which will cause constipation when that happened.
Another item to avoid is watermelon. Because of the cooling property of watermelon, eating them together basically negates the warm property of mutton.
沙姜豬手 pig trotters in garlic galangal sauce
While we wait for our casserole to boil over, we ordered an appetiser – 沙姜豬手 pig trotters in garlic galangal sauce. The pig trotter was soft but not totally boiled to death, leaving still a bit of crunch which I like. The sauce of galangal and garlic with soy sauce and bird eyes’ chilli was the crowning glory.
每日燉湯 daily double boiled soup
Every Cantonese restaurant worths its salt will always have a beautiful daily double boiled soup. Tonight we were served 海底椰響螺肉燉湯 sea whelk and sea coconut soup.
Very rich in ingredients producing a very flavourful soup
羊肉爐 mutton casserole
Mei Garden only serves the 羊肉爐 mutton casserole during the autumn months. Using a herbal mix that are mainly aromatics rather than medicinal, the soup was not overpowering like a TCM concoction. The casserole was packed to a little pyramid of food with all parts of muttons – ribs, stomach, brisket, belly, etc – with beancurd skins, radish, vermicelli, etc.
Full of ingredients, there was enough food for four people. And it didn’t help that we kept putting the flavourful soup full of collagen in our rice. The soup was wonderfully sticky because the collagen in the soup from boiling all those tendons and fats.
Another way to enjoy that beautiful stock was to dip the Chinese lettuce into the boiling broth for a quick blanched vegetable. The lettuce has no taste and borrowed all the umami and satisfying stickiness from the mutton soup.
枸杞桂圓桃膠湯 wolf berry, dried longan and peach resin
When we asked for the bill, the waiter brought us some complimentary sweet soup 甜汤 to round up the meal. Hong Kong serves the world’s best sweet soup.
Where to eat it
Mei Garden makes a really good mutton casserole. This branch opened in 2017, but because we frequent this place, the service we got has been fantastic. It’s difficult to comment when everyone there knows you. Whether it’s dim sum, bento boxes, Cantonese siu mei (roast meat) or other Chinese dishes, Mei Garden has them all at affordable prices.
Mei Garden 味苑
Tel : +852 2880 0112
Date Visited : Nov 2019