Today is a posting celebration day. (That's why this is typed in red.) I just realized that I have passed the 100th post mark. Actually, this is the 103rd post. (I must be half-asleep last week when I did the 100th post...) Wow! More than a hundred recipes. And I'm still learning! This is also the time to reflect... Have I stayed true to my purpose? Have I shared recipes which are healthy, and yummy? Are my recipes easy to prepare and made with easily available ingredients? Have I presented recipes that reflect this generation's Fil-Chi (Tsinoy) culture?
The recipe today features another popular Chinese dessert. I remember many years ago, when my Hubby (at that time, my Boyfriend) and I were still dating, I would visit his family. Believe me, it pays to know your Boyfriend's family before tying the knot. His mom, (now my Mother-in-Law) would prepare this snow jelly dessert for us. Us, meaning for my Third Sister and I. (I would never visit Boyfriend's house on my own! Tell me, was I a prude? :) Up to now, Third Sister, now a doctor practicing in America, would fondly reminisce about this dessert.
No problem, Sis, this dessert is so easy to do. It just consists of three main ingredients boiled together: the snow fungus, red dates, and red ginseng root.
The SnowFungus is also known as the white fungus or the silver tree-ear fungus. Of course when you hear "fungus," you would think it is something bad or inedible. But actually, it is just a type of jelly mushroom that is off-white in color and often transluscent. Our family calles it Bai Mu Er (or White Wood Ear.) Other Pinyin names are Xue Er (Snow Ear) or Yin Er (Silver Ear). This is how it looks like.
It looks dried because this product is often purchased dried and must be soaked before use. It is not expensive. It is available in most Chinese Delis and groceries. The Snow fungus is actually tasteless in itself, but it is enjoyed for its jelly-like texture as well as its supposed medicinal benefits. White fungus contains much iron, vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus. The fat and gum-like protein in it is especially nourishing to the body. It is considered a good supplement to the body. It lubricates the colon and stimulates peristalsis. White fungus is also said to be effective in nourishing the lungs, healing dry cough and clearing heat in the lungs. Those who have weak lungs catch cold easily. Eating stewed white fungus with rock sugar and red dates helps strengthen the respiratory system and thus, helps prevent cold.
Just soak some dried snow fungus in water. After an hour or two, it will bloom like this. It is now ready for cooking.
4 C soaked Snow fungus, water discarded
4 C clean water
2 pcs red ginseng
5 pcs dried red dates
a handful of rock sugar (according to your taste preference, or even use sugar substitute)
1. Combine all the ingredients in a pot.
2. Let boil and then simmer for 1 hour. Or alternately, you can just throw everything in the slow cooker and let it cook until you come back from work or shopping :)
Easy to do, isn't it? This can be served hot or cold. This recipe serves approximately four people. And this is of course the easy way, and I would call - the modern way. I remember my Mother-in-Law would steam each cup (each serving) for 2 hours or so. That's the traditional and authentic way. That is also how traditional Chinese Herbs should be properly cooked. But I find boiling all the ingredients together also serves the same purpose. :) I wonder if I will get a scolding from M-I-L?
Another major feature of this dessert is the Red Ginseng. Red Ginseng is believed to be a powerful herbal tonic that gives heat, thus disperses cold and calms the body. It is good to be paired with Snow fungus. I am not sure if Ginseng is considered a stimulant and aphrodisiac. I will have to do another post to feature the Red Ginseng next time.
Actually, if you do not have ginseng, you can omit it. The basic ingredients are just the white fungus and rock sugar. You can even substitute dried longans for the red dates. I added the red ginseng because that is how my Mother-in-law makes it.
This delicious dessert and the featured Snow Fungus is my entry this week to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food event launched by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen to celebrate unique herbs and plant foods and the dishes we create with them. This entry is submitted to this week's host Marija of Palachinka. To see last week's array of wonderful dishes, please check out Divya's Dil Se.