January 18, 2015

Homemade Rice Vinegar Health Drink

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By Published: 2015-01-18
The absolutely lovely (and rare) weather that we've been having in Hong Kong lately has managed to tempt us out and about more often than usual.  And we have been rewarded in some unlikely and very foody ways indeed!  

We had taken our little girl to her Christmas dance performance and soon after her dance we wandered off into the nearby neighborhood of Kowloon City to enjoy the sunshine.  We discovered the wonderful Kowloon Walled City Park 九龍寨城公園 (more on that later) and had a leisurely, lovely stroll to our heart's content.  

Just as we were almost ready to leave we discovered a little Mom and Pop shop selling water, snacks, ice pops, sodas...you know, the usual 士多 kind of stuff.  But, wow, wow, wow, imagine what we discovered, this humble little shop was also selling little bottles of homemade rice vinegar...with the mother!

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Okay, right now some of you are probably like...THE MOTHER???  While others of you are like...THE MOTHER!!!  So allow me to explain for those that need to know.  The mother of the vinegar (or 醋母) is something I found out about a couple of years ago when I was searching desperately researching about ways to help my poor eczema wracked skin. 

 The mother is a natural by product of the process of the fermentation of the vinegar and contains powerful enzymes and probiotics, is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  It can help you fight off toxins and bad bacteria and help your body to maintain a good acid-alkaline balance and boost your immune system.  

So if you're struggling with nagging health issues (my little girl and I both struggle with eczema) or if you just want to build up your immune system, a soothing little Homemade Rice Vinegar Health Drink 健康米醋飲品 twice a day is an easy, effective thing that will help.  (If you want to find out more about the different ways real vinegar with the mother can help you the Earth Clinic is a good place to start.)

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The mother is the spider webby scummy stuff at the bottom of the bottle

By the by, pretty much all the vinegar you find on store shelves these days does not have the mother.  Store vinegar is steamed distilled to make it all clear and pretty and guess what, they kill off all the good stuff as well!  

In other words, the mother is found in vinegar that hasn't been processed to death and therefore still contains the natural goodness that the fermentation process gives it. Previously the only real vinegar with the mother (a very legendary one!) that I had managed to find in Hong Kong was Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar , which is a really fabulous quality product!

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As far as I knew, vinegar with the mother wasn't exactly something that people (especially here in Hong Kong) knew about in a general sense so imagine my surprise to find the homemade rice vinegar with the mother at this tiny little shop 士多in Kowloon Walled City Park.  

The very nice lady running the shop makes the vinegar herself (super cool!) and we had a lovely conversation about the wonders and benefits of vinegar with the mother.  We left with happy smiles on our faces and big jars of homemade vinegar and homemade pickled garlic (check out our recipe!)  What a wonderful way to end our lovely stroll through the park!

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Last but not least I wanted to share a bit about this lovely park where we discovered our homemade rice vinegar.  I'm usually so-so on Hong Kong Parks.  I don't know, too modern for my taste, too structured, and just not pretty in a proper park sort of way, I guess.  But the park we went to that day, the Kowloon Walled City Park, is such a lovely park!  

It's beautifully laid out in the traditional Chinese garden landscaping style.  You can just wander about easily for the whole day (bring a picnic!), enjoying the many nuanced and layered views, the exquisite Chinese pavilions, the really wonderful trees and flowers they have planted.  

Oh! And the birds!  There are so many kinds of birds there flittering about the trees!  There was a whole army of bird watchers there that day in camouflage with camera lenses the length of my arm!  (Umm...what were they camouflaging themselves from?!)

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However, the most interesting thing about this park is its past.  The plot of land where the park exists today used to be the site of the famous Kowloon Walled City.  Some governmental oversight led to this area not being under the jurisdiction of the British/Hong Kong Government.  

So it became a lawless enclave where people did whatever they wanted and the triads, naturally, took over soon enough.  The structure that arose was a topsy turvy anything goes kinda of building, people building where and when they wanted, famous and iconic for its absolute lack of regulation of anything.  

I wandered in once long ago (when I was much younger and much braver) and it was basically just tunnels of darkness and sudden stairs, water dripping everywhere, cables and pipes hung overhead by thin wires or strings.  Dark, really dark.  Pretty nerve wracking.  When the Hong Kong government managed to finally demolish the Kowloon Walled City, this lovely park was created in its stead. 

Wonderfully ironic to compare the two, I think, so if you have some time you should 1) visit the Kowloon Walled City Park (and pick up some homemade vinegar with the mother!) and 2) check out this excellent documentary on the Kowloon Walled City by WSJ:

Note:  You can find the homemade rice vinegar in the little store inside the Almshouse (also known as the Yamen 俗稱衙門) near the South Gate of the Kowloon Walled City Park 九龍寨城公園.
Homemade Rice Vinegar Health Drink
(1 glassful)  (Prep time: 1 mins  Cook time: 0 mins)



Fill your cup with cold or warm water according to your drinking preference.  Add the vinegar and honey (to taste) and stir until mixed.  Check that it's not too sour or else it may trouble the tummy.  Just add more water and honey until just right.  Drink one glass in the morning and one glass at night.  Simple, isn't it?

Tip:  For children I would start with 1 tsp of vinegar and add honey to taste.  

Tip:  For a wonderful local Hong Kong honey to add to your drink, check out our post Hong Kong Honey - Wing Wo Bee Farm.

Deliciously Healthful at The Hong Kong Cookery:

chinese, garlic, Pickled Garlic, pickles, recipe, sweet, 醃蒜頭Chinese Pickled Garlic 醃蒜頭

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asian pear, chinese, health, Herbal, Pear, recipe, Snow Fungus, snow pear, Soup, sweet, Tonic, 北杏, 湯 apricot kernel, 雪梨, 雪耳Pear & Snow Fungus Tonic Soup 雪梨雪耳湯



  1. Oh! I want to ask you you about a "winter" soup that is made for this time of year with beef. Several people have mentioned it here in Xi'an, including the Russian teacher at our university who has been here for almost twenty years.

    1. Hi morningside girl - can you give me a few more clues about the winter soup you're thinking of? Any other major ingredients? ~ellen