KitchenTigress: Pear & Snow Fungus Sweet Soup

Pear & Snow Fungus Sweet Soup

Cantonese sweet soups (糖水) are usually served as a dessert, but they're not like desserts in any other culture.

Everyone regards desserts as an evil temptation that they should avoid as much as possible, except the Cantonese. To them, desserts aren't indulgent or sinful but a necessary health tonic for the body.
That's right, desserts are a health food! Isn't that an awesome idea?!

Forget the nasty stuff like wheatgrass and flax seeds. Heath food Cantonese style is what you want!

There're many restaurants in Hong Kong that serve only sweet soups. A lot of these specialty eateries are packed with people, even late at night.

Do the customers feel guilty when they're tucking into something sweet and yummy, sometimes just before going to bed?

Not at all!

Why would anyone feel bad about eating health food?

If they're feeling listless and tired, a bowl of red bean soup would give 'em an energy boost.

Having an acne breakout?

Red wouldn't be the right colour. Instead, go for green bean soup which is also good for eczema and lowering cholesterol.

Looking for smooth, milky white complexion? That calls for almond milk or steamed custard.

Been coughing lately?

Sea-coconuts and pears to the rescue.

Does black glutinous rice with coconut milk and mangoes sound good?

I hear it improves digestion.

Worried about hair turning grey?

Forget coconuts. Black sesame soup would do the trick . . . 

I haven't come across a sweet soup that cures cancer but there's something for just about everything else!

I had two bowls of pear and snow fungus sweet Soup (银耳雪梨糖水) after dinner. My throat, which had been quite dry for a few days, feels OK now. Worked like a charm, and it was a light and refreshing dessert to boot.

Who says you should avoid desserts? When it's a Cantonese sweet soup, you should have a second helping!

(Recipe for 4 persons)

1 piece dried snow fungus (雪耳/银耳), about ½ palm size or 10 g
2 big or 3 medium Chinese or Japanese pears (about 550 g)
1½ tbsp Chinese bitter almonds (北杏), rinsed
1½ tbsp Chinese sweet almonds (南杏), rinsed
10 Chinese dried red dates (红枣), rinsed and pits removed
rock sugar to taste, 70 g or so (or light brown sugar if not available)

1. Soak snow fungus in water till soft, about 20 minutes. Trim dirty, tough ends and discard. Rinse thoroughly and tear into bite size pieces.

2. Rinse, peel, core and quarter pears. Cut each quarter into 3-4 chunky pieces.

3. Put all ingredients except rock sugar in a pot with 6 cups water. Bring to a boil. Simmer gently, covered. Check after 45 minutes. There should be enough water for ingredients to just float freely. Top up if necessary. Or increase heat slightly if there's too much. Simmer another 15 minutes if you like snow fungus crunchy, or 30 minutes if you prefer it soft.

4. Season to taste with rock sugar. If you like, discard pears which would be quite tasteless after the long simmer. Serve hot, chilled or at room temperature, as dessert, afternoon tea or supper. It's up to you. May be stored in the fridge for 2 days.