Autumn Tong-sui, snow fungus, pear and sea coconut Cantonese sweet soup
Ingredients – served 4
Big Asian pear, 2. It has to be Asian pear;
Snow fungus, 1. This is a very common Chinese soup ingredient, and can be obtained easily in any Asian grocery store;
Fresh sea coconut, 3. Shelled sea coconut can be easily found in most Asian grocery store. Most of them are from Thailand. The flesh is firm and turns softer after cooking. However, the sea coconut in this recipe, or in most soup recipes, are not the true sea coconut. True sea coconut is also called Lodoicea, which is a protected species in Africa and a luxury ingredient in traditional Cantonese medicine. These two look very similar when dry and sliced, both with white and thin flesh and dark edges. But the prices are as far apart as sky and sea;
Dry jujube date, 5;
Rock sugar, about 40g.
Tong-sui, in English translation ‘sugar water’, is the sibling of Cantonese soup, also known as ‘Cantonese sweet soup’. Similar to Cantonese soup, tong-sui is light and sweet soup of the combination of nutritious ingredients, such as seasonal fruit, herbal medicine, but never with meat. Like any Cantonese soup, Chinese, particularly Cantonese, believe tong-sui can balance your body condition, sometimes can even cure small diseases, such as coughing.
Basic knowledge of tong-sui –
1. Tong-sui is considered ‘Cantonese dessert’, so there shouldn’t be any oil and meat;
2. Tong-sui doesn’t require long-period simmering, usually less than 1 hour;
3. Rock sugar is the best choice of sweetener, but tong-sui shouldn’t be very sweet;
4. It’s up to your preference to have tong-sui warm or cold. In hot summertime, I always keep a big container of tong-sui in fridge.
There are various tong-sui recipes. Many of them can be had all year round, such as red bean soup, sweet potato soup, black sesame paste, etc. There are some that tend to be seasonal or to be consumed according to body condition, such as green bean soup is more like a summer soup. And the one below is better to have in autumn and winter.
Due to a dryer and windier weather in autumn, your body need something nourishing but not too heavy. According to traditional Chinese medicine, pear, snow fungus and sea coconut, these three can help to purify the lung. Though pear can be obtained easily all year round, it’s particularly seasonal in autumn and winter. It’s sweeter, juicier and crispy.
How to do –
1. Snow fungus soaked in water till soft enough to be torn apart. It may take about half an hour. Tear into big pieces and cut off the brown root with scissor;
2. Sea coconut sliced thinly;
3. Asian pear peeled and cored, quartered;
4. In a big soup pot, put in snow fungus, sea coconut, dates and half portion of pear. Add in plenty of water till all ingredients covered and about 1 inch above. Bring to boil and simmer in medium-low heat till snow fungus turns half translucent. Check in half an hour, it may take half to one hour simmering. Here’s a small tip – Cooked pear is soft and tasteless, so I’d like to leave half portion at the end to keep the sweetness and crispiness;
5. Seasoned with rock sugar and put in the other half of pear, cook for 5 more minutes then it’s good to serve, no matter hot or after being chilled in fridge.