Saturday, 14 May 2011


Goji ( 枸杞) or wolfberries refer to the berries of Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense; woody perennials with thick, white, thorny stems and thin and spear like leaves.  Purple flowers appear around June to September, followed by berries in October.   Lycium chinense originates from south China and can grow between 1-3m high.  It is shorter than its relative that comes from Ning xia (宁夏), north west China.  In the UK, goji was imported into the country in the 1730s and was known as the Duke of Argyll's Tea Tree.  It can be found growing wild and in hedgerows, particularly in coastal regions.  We have several plants growing in the garden.  They are pretty hardy!

 Goji berries and goji leaves has long been used for food and traditional medicine in Asia.  Li Ching-Yuen (李清雲), who was supposedly born in 1677 and died in 1933 (and thus had the world's longest human lifespan of 256 years!) attributed his long life to various things, one being drinking tea brewed with goji berries.  Published studies have since shown that the berry and leaf components of the plant has antioxidant properties and potential medicinal benefits. These include preventing/improving cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases vision-related diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.  Goji is also cited to have a neuroprotective effect and may act as an anticancer and immunomodulatory agent.

However, there are safety issues associated with goji consumption.  It has been reported that for some people, particurlarly the elderly, the blood clotting process can be effected.  This is reportedly due to components of the goji (phytochemicals) interferring with warfarin metabolism.  As with any foods or medicines, one should take care and consult a specialist or a qualified doctor.

To make one bowl of goji soup you will need a piece of ginger, pigs liver chopped into small pieces and seasoned with salt, an egg, a good bunch of goji leaves and 5-10 goji berries (for people with heart or cholesterol problems, it would be better to leave out the liver or any other meats).  First, boil a bowl-and- a-half's worth of water and add the ginger and berries.  Allow these to boil for a few minutes before adding the washed goji leaves. Continue boiling for 5 minutes then simmer for 15 minutes or so to release the flavour.  Then to this add the pieces of liver - these don't take long to cook so probably give this 3-5 minutes.  While this is cooking, crack an egg, whisk and add to the soup.

Finally, season with salt to taste.  Enjoy!


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