Add this nutritious soup to your repertoire of recipes.
When I chanced upon this tuber at the wet market, covered in reddish earth, I mistook it for sweet potato. But the vegetable seller informed me that it is known in Chinese as “xue lian guo”. The direct English translation for this is snow lotus fruit.
As it turns out, the tuber is yacon. Native to the Andes, yacon has been the subject of research articles examining its health benefits. Yacon contains fructooligosaccharides, a form of carbohydrate that is low in calories, and its syrup has been used as a natural sweetener.
Yacon oxidises easily, so it is best to peel it just before use. Or you could squeeze a little lemon juice over it or place it in slightly salted water to prevent it from turning brown after you peel it. It is refreshingly crunchy and sweet when consumed raw. In texture and taste, I find raw yacon is similar to bang kuang (yam bean, or jicama). As a soup ingredient, it imparts an aromatic sweet flavour that reminds me of bird’s nest soup.
YACON PORK RIB SOUP
6.7 litres of water
½ tsp salt
2 yacon (500g)
500g spare ribs
4 dried scallops (20g)
20g codonopsis root (dang shen), cut into 3cm pieces
2 large red dates (15g)
1. In a bowl, pour 1.2 litres of water and add the salt. Stir and set aside.
2. Peel the yacon and slice into 2.5cm thick rounds.
3. Soak it in the bowl of salted water for two minutes. Discard the salted water.
4. Bring two litres of water to boil and add the spare ribs to blanch until there is no visible blood.
5. Discard the bloody water and rinse the spare ribs.
6. Bring the remaining 3.5 litres of water to boil. Add the yacon in the pot.
7. Add the blanched spare ribs.
8. Add the dried scallops, codonopsis root and large red dates.
9. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to medium-low and simmer for 11/2 hours.
10. Serve hot.
A version of this article first appeared on www.tnp.sg.