Get a boost of health – both inside and out – with this nutritious soup.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), attention to food and nutrition and supplementing the diet with tonics are part of taking care of health and beauty inside and out.
This beauty tonic soup, called Zi Yin Yang Yan Tang in Chinese, aims to harmonise the body’s internal heat. Chinese physician Cheong Chin Siong, 44, said: “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 as tonics for beauty. Mr Cheong said 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 fish maw of yellow croaker fish. When cooked, the fish maw has a gummy texture.
According to Mr Cheong, snow fungus helps reduce internal heat and moisten both lungs and skin.
Tip: 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 to soak the snow fungus, 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. Yuzhu or Solomon’s seal is regarded as a herb beneficial to the stomach and lungs, and is also believed to moisturise the skin. Japanese ginseng is sought after for its energy-boosting properties and its function of strengthening the lungs.
In TCM, cordycep flowers reportedly have anti-ageing properties and can help reduce fatigue. Red dates replenish and nourish the blood.
This particular soup mix calls for the use of black dates, which strengthen the stomach and boost digestive health. Wolfberries, which you should add in the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking, are beneficial to the liver, kidney and eyes.
(Makes three to four servings)
4.8 litres water
27g dried snow fungus
Half a chicken (488g), skin removed 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 the 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 stem 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 blood. Remove the chicken and rinse.
5. In a clean and 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.
A version of this story first appeared on www.tnp.sg.