Four exceptionally nutritious ingredients form the core of this simple but delicious meal, perfect for warming up the last chilly days of winter. According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, these four foods have the ability to strengthen the "yang" energy of the body, which is created and nurtured in the area called the "Life Gate Fire", or Ming Men Huo.
Assembly is easy; simply measure the ingredients into a pot and cook for about one hour. It's best to use a heavy pot with a thick bottom and tightly fitting cover. A simple kitchen tool called a flame tamer or heat diffuser is useful for cooking legumes and grains; it helps heat to penetrate evenly without scorching the bottom of the pot. Slow, gentle cooking allows the grains and lentils to steam thoroughly and encourages the aromatic flavors to mingle.
Yield: Roughly five servings.
1 cup black beluga lentils
1 cup black "forbidden" rice
1/2 cup kasha (buckwheat groats)
2 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
5 cups fresh water
1/4 + teaspoon sea salt
6 whole dried black shiitake mushrooms
Measure lentils, rice, kasha, water and sea salt into the pot; add garlic and bay leaf.
Carefully place mushrooms, stem down, in one layer on top of the other ingredients.
Cover pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Place a flame diffuser under the pot to prevent scorching.
Continue cooking on a low to medium flame for about one hour.
Remove pot from heat and allow to rest without opening for fifteen or twenty minutes.
Open pot and remove mushrooms, garlic cloves and bay leaf.
Place mushrooms on a cutting board and slice into small pieces.
Peel garlic- it will be very soft- and return it and the mushrooms to the pot.
Toss all ingredients with a fork; add more sea salt to your taste if desired.
Serve with any lightly steamed dark leafy green.