Cooking Shan Yao (Nagaimo)


In Summer we sweat. In that sweating qi is rising and exiting. We lose valuable minerals. To counter this we eat salty herbs such as shan yao (Radix discorae). Similarly in Winter we want to gravitate toward bitter plants to help us drain off water, increase heart rate, and warm up. Works really well for understanding herbal medicine too. That's straight up Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic right there.


This is garlic. Cut it up. I used two knives because I'm a ninja turtle. Leonardo in this case because he had two swords. Don't let the knives touch, it's bad for them.


This is some type of spring onion. Cut it into 1 cun chunks like this. Mind your fingers. This adds some yang to the yin of the shan yao. Shan yao sinks, so we lift with garlic and spring onion. This is about the relationship of yin and yang to spark that spleen qi up.


Shave this shan yao like you are an old school barber. Get the shan yao hot first to exfoliate, then shave. Underneath it's all slimy and hard to hold. Hold it hard, like it's a crocodile. Ever held a crocodile? Probably not. Me neither. I'm not sure why that came to mind.

Where do you find shan yao? Hit up an Asian grocery store. If you don't often go to one that's fine. These things will last over a week in your refrigerator so no rush. I'm looking for a store that will mail them fresh to you. Otherwise walk into the back of the kitchen at a Chinese restaurant and pay in advance for their next order of vegetables. What? You can do that? Yeah, I mean, the back door will be open so walk in. Head chef guy will be there so you can just talk to him. Yo..when you guys doing a veggie run? Can I pay in advance? (我想买山药,可以预付现金)They will hook you up..probably. I mean that's how we did it growing up and it worked. If not and they aren't amused then it's best to offer an apology by saying "Ngo Deng lei go fei" just remember they have cleavers so don't shut the door behind you when you enter.


Cut it into tubes this way. Why a tube? It's not really hollow. I should say cylinders. Chunks?


Cut it into fancy little pieces and put them on a square plate. This way it feels like you've got your life together. What's up Marie Kondo? I'm fancy people too.

No wok? no problem. You can use cast iron like a cowboy. Heat it up, add oil or coconut oil or whatever kind of grease is cool these days. Add the garlic and the spring onion. Mix it around every so often.

Add the shan yao. I'm adding it to the pan away from myself. Why? I took home economics in high school and I passed. That's why.

See how shiny and slimy it is? You can add salt or Bragg's soy sauce or one of those fancy salts you grind by hand. Voila! You have made a food. What about the carbs etc? Whatever, this is resistant starch that signals DHEA expression so you good. Plus it's good for paleo stuff and it tonifies the qi and yin of the spleen and stomach. It's used in such herbal formulas as jian pi wan, jin gui shen qi, liu wei di huang, shen ling bai zu, zuo gui, you gui etc. It's pretty rad and now you have the power to make it at home.

Lan MComment