Go to an Asian market (we just call them markets here) and chances are, you would find some very strange looking things.
When I was a kid, I would go to the wet market with my mom every week. Back then, markets were a lot more exciting. I remember seeing pigs’ heads being put up for sale. And pigs’ brains too. They were pretty creepy.
Perhaps the most interesting sections of the market have got to be the dry goods stalls. There, you can find really alien-like items and while I would never buy something like dried seahorses (what would I do with them??) there are some other ingredients that one can buy and turn into really yummy dishes.
Today I am going to cook with one of these.
For the Chinese, this would be a pretty familiar sight as most of us would have grown up eating various Chinese Tang Shui (糖水), literally translated as “sugar water”. Don’t be put off by this, as the taste of a Tang Shui is really more than a concoction of sugar + water.
Today I am sharing a recipe for this very common, and very popular dessert.
To make this dessert, you would need some snow fungus (雪儿). They are usually sold dehydrated, so you would need to soak the fungus in hot water to re-hydrate them.
And the snow fungus looks, well, like a coral. Or something you use to wash yourself with.
But do not be fooled by its unglamourous appearance. It has a great texture.
I turned the snow fungus upside down and removed the hard bit in the middle. This part is not palatable. Then I cut the snow fungus into smaller, bite-size pieces.
Into a pot, I added the snow fungus, dried longan, red dates (红枣), pandan leaves and rock sugar (冰糖). Most people add rock sugar at the end, but I simply added them together with the ingredients and make adjustments at the end. Either works.
I also added water, covered the pot with a lid and brought this to a boil. Then I lowered the heat and continued cooking for about 20 minutes.
Finally, I added gingko nuts (白果)and cooked for another 10 minutes.
Once cooked, I turned off the heat and allowed the soup to cool. Because we like our desserts cold, I removed the pandan leaves and placed the pot in the fridge for the dessert to chill.
This is a refreshing dessert with loads of contrasting and very interesting textures.
It is also super easy to prepare!
- 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 (drained) or the 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.