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Hasma is an unusual food ingredient primarily made from the uterine tubes of frogs, particularly the species Rana temporaria chensinensis, or the Asiatic grass frog. This ingredient is used in some Chinese soups because the uterine or fallopian tubes can thicken the soup. Sometimes, the tubes would also contain in it some eggs that have yet to mature. Hasma is also known by other terms like “hashima” and “harsmar.”
Many translations inaccurately translate “hasma” as “frog fat,” probably because the female grass frogs would be caught just before their hibernation period, when their bodies are fatter than usual to supply the frogs' nutrition throughout their hibernation. Other people also mistake the ingredients as toad or frog oil. Once the frogs are killed and dried up, the butcher would slice them open and scrape off their tubes, along with the fats clinging to the tubes. The tubes are then usually dried up to preserve and keep them from rotting. When freshly acquired, the hashima feels slimy and has the color of amber.
In China, the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang are the major suppliers of hasma, with all three of them sitting beside each other at the north-easternmost region of the country. The three provinces have among them several mountains and forests where grass frogs are probably plentiful. Frogs have long before been a delicacy among the Chinese, and the hashima were once exclusively served to the Chinese emperors. Since then, it has become accessible to the public through various restaurants, supermarkets, and specialty stores that sell dried or frozen hashima in boxes.
Before cooking, the hasma are prepared by being soaked overnight in cold water, then steamed for rehydration. For a faster process, some cooks immerse them in warm water over a small fire. When the tubes have expanded considerably, they now can be cooked and boiled in some water, along with some herbs and sugar to taste, as the hashima is generally tasteless and only contributes as a thickener because of its gelatinous consistency. The broth is best served cold as a desert, topped with some nuts, dates, and other cooked fruits such as papaya. Some restaurants also serve the dish with some coconut milk and tapioca pearls or “sago.”
Aside from being a desert ingredient, hasma is also used as an herbal medicine. Many believe the hashima to have a lot of nutrients given the fact that the frogs from where it came consumed a lot of food to prepare for their hibernation. Some health benefits include improved kidney and lung function, a stronger immune system, and enhanced memory. Hasma is also believed to stabilize hormonal levels during menopausal periods and is also said to improve one’s complexion.
Hasma is believed to have many health benefits from treating a cough to helping with night sweats due to tuberculosis. It is interesting to note that it is not recommended for young children. The high hormone content is believed to be a danger to cause puberty to start early.