Chinese New Year is a good time to try a dessert soup called Snow Fungus Soup with Pears. As a result of its rarity and high price, snow fungus is considered a delicacy.
Maybe the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “soup” is a delicious meal. This red bean soup or our coconut tapioca dessert soup is just two examples of the many sweet soups found in Chinese cuisine.
White Fungus Soup, as this soup is also known, is not exactly the most alluring moniker. However, we are posting it now because it is a traditional, sweet dessert to serve after a hearty Lunar New Year meal. In my variation, pears are added for flavor and nutrition.
Snow Fungi: What Is It?
A natural tree fungus, snow fungus is also known as the white wood ear. It is found naturally in tropical regions (on dead wood), but it is also commercially cultivated for use in cooking and traditional medicine.
Snow fungus, like the wood ears we frequently feature on the blog in savory recipes, does not have a particularly strong taste. Instead, its chewy and gelatinous after-cooking texture is highly prized.
TCM practitioners believe that taking snow fungus can help the body regain its strength after illness. It has been lauded for its purported benefits to health all over the body, including the lungs, stomach, heart, blood circulation, and hypertension.
Snow fungus has great cultural significance for Chinese women because of its reputation for promoting youthful skin and other beauty benefits.
Read This First Before Cooking:
Dried snow fungus is widely available in Asian markets, particularly those stocked by Chinese vendors. In order to prepare it, it must be soaked overnight in water before being cooked, so you’ll need to start planning ahead.
To achieve the syrupy, gelatinous texture shown, the soup must be simmered until the snow fungus turns a light amber color.
Timing is crucial for this procedure (2-3 hours). Use a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot to make this soup so that as much liquid can be retained as possible during cooking.
This soup is a simple, traditional dessert for the whole family, but it is especially loved by the elderly and women due to its strengthening and beauty-enhancing properties.
- 300-400g of Asian pear
- 40 g of rock sugar
- 20 g of dried Chinese red dates
- 25 g of dried (rehydrated overnight in water) snow fungus
- 15 g of dried goji berries
- 10 cups of water
- Dry snow fungus should be soaked in water for 12 hours to rehydrate it, after which the tough yellow root should be trimmed away. Shred the newly reconstituted snow fungus.
- The snow fungus and water should be put into a medium to large, thick-bottomed pot. Turn the heat up until it boils, then turn it down to medium-low. Keep the pot covered and at a low simmer for the next half an hour.
- Remove the core from the Asian pear and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Cook it for another 30 minutes, covered over low heat.
- Mix in the dates, goji berries, and rock sugar. In addition to the pear, all three will contribute sweetness, though you can adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste.
- Simmer the soup covered over low heat until the liquid and snow fungus have turned a light amber color, and the soup has thickened to the consistency of syrup. We’re looking at an hour to two for this.