Food and nutrition play a big role in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Supplementing the diet with tonics is part of taking care of one’s health and well-being.
The Nutritious Beauty Soup, called Zi Yin Yang Yan Tang in Chinese, aims to regulate the body’s internal heat.
Chinese physician Cheong Chin Siong, 45, says in Mandarin: “Those who do not get sufficient sleep and lead stressful lives can have excessive internal heat in their bodies.”
In TCM, dried unfried fish maw and snow fungus – which are featured in this recipe – are prized ingredients to improve skin.
Mr Cheong says these two ingredients are high in collagen. Fish maw is also rich in protein and beneficial to the lungs.
For this recipe, I have chosen to use the dried unfried maw of the yellow croaker fish. When cooked, the fish maw has a gummy texture.
Meanwhile, snow fungus, Mr Cheong says, helps reduce internal heat and moisten both lungs and skin.
To rehydrate the dried snow fungus, soak it in room temperature water for 30 minutes until it softens. If you are pressed for time, you can use boiling water but do it for no longer than five minutes.
Chicken is believed to boost one’s energy. Remove the skin to avoid excessive oiliness in the soup.
The other ingredients in this recipe are health boosters too.
Yuzhu or Solomon’s seal is good for the stomach, lungs and skin, Japanese ginseng is sought after for its energy-boosting properties, cordycep flowers are believed to have anti-ageing properties while red dates help to nourish the blood.
This soup is fairly tasty. If you want it even healthier, skip the sea salt.
To reap its long-term benefits, Mr Cheong suggests drinking it once a week. Preparation is straightforward and you can even use the slow cooker.
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NUTRITIOUS BEAUTY SOUP
4.8 litres water
27g dried snow fungus
Half a chicken (488g), deskinned and halved
32g yuzhu (Solomon’s seal)
6g dong yang shen (Japanese ginseng)
10g cordycep flowers
6 pieces of dried unfried fish maw (28g)
3 black dates (24g)
4 red dates (16g)
¼ tsp salt
1. Boil 500ml of water. Place snow fungus in a heat-resistant bowl and pour boiling water over it. Soak for 5 minutes.
Once the snow fungus is softened, discard the hot water and rinse.
2. Use a pair of scissors to remove the tough endings.
3. Rinse the snow fungus and place it in a colander to drain excess water. Set aside.
4. Bring 1 litre of water to a boil in a pot. Blanch the chicken until there is no visible blood. Remove the chicken and rinse.
5. In a clean, sturdy pot, bring the remaining water to a boil.
6. Add the yuzhu, dong yang shen, cordycep flowers, chicken, snow fungus, fish maw, black dates and red dates.
7. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
8. Add the wolfberries, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
9. Season with salt. Stir and turn off the heat.
10. Serve hot.
Makes three to four servings