Snow fungus soup is a simple Chinese dessert (tong shui) to make at home. It is often cooked during Chinese New Year and auspicious occasions (I remember having it at my friend’s house on the morning of her wedding) presumably because its sweetness symbolises sweet blessings (甜甜蜜蜜). This is also a simplified form of our local Cheng Tng dessert (usually Cheng Tng comes with more ingredients such as lily bulbs, sea coconut, sweet potato and barley). Snow fungus is highly nutritious and it has health benefits such as improving blood circulation, and strengthening respiratory system. Because I cheat (as usual) by using canned ginkgo nuts (where the nuts are already shelled and boiled), the steps and cooking time for this recipe are greatly simplified; it only took me 30 minutes to prepare this dessert.
Look out for good quality white fungus recognizable by its whole fungus shape - better ones are cleaner and more fragrant.
Prep Time:10 mins
Cook Time:40 mins
40 grams snow fungus (also known as white jelly fungus, silver ear, white wood ear, 雪儿)
2 litres water
5 pandan leaves tied to a knot
50g dried longan (龙眼干)
20 pitted red dates (红枣)
100g (about 30) ginkgo (gingko) nuts (白果) use either canned or vacuum-packed type
120g rock sugar (冰糖) to taste
Soak snow fungus in a bowl of hot water until it is puffed up and turn a whiter shade, then carefully drain soaking water. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, trim and discard the dark yellow hard part on the centre underside of the fungus. Cut the rest of the fungus to smaller pieces and set aside.
In a soup pot, add water, fungus, pandan leaves, longan and red dates. Bring to a boil and then simmer (with lid partially closed) for 20 minutes. Add gingko nuts and continue simmering for 10 minutes.
Add rock sugar to taste and stir through until the sugar is fully dissolved. Discard pandan leaves. Serve warm or chilled.
Noob Cook Tips
If you are using raw gingko nuts, gently crack open the shells with a mortar and pestle, insert a toothpick to flick out the dirt in the centre of the nut which is bitter tasting. You will need to increase the simmering time in step 2 (at least 1 hour instead of half an hour or until the nuts are soft). Add the white fungus at the last 30 minutes of simmering.
You can substitute gingko nuts with lotus nuts, or use a combination of both.
Instead of dried longans, you can substitute with fresh or canned longans which you add to the dessert when serving (no need to simmer).