Post in Progress!
Remember that old ZZ Top song? Do you even remember ZZ Top? It's ancient stuff, but there was one song that was both hilarious and sardonic, and video was very creepy claymation: "TV Dinners". As you read this post, keep that tune in mind--in fact, now it will be stuck in your head all day and possibly several days.
Fluffy tremella, sweet jujubes, red wolfberries, and crunchy lotus seeds form the basis of this fragrant, medicinal soup.
I had to try this sponge-like stuff called snow fungus! I kept seeing it in piles at the local markets, heaped in a pyramid for sale, and in fancy clear canisters at Japanese supermarket Ito-Yokado. At first, I thought it was a sea sponge, used as a loofah body scrub sponge. Then I learned it is classified as a fungus, and specifically, a parasitic yeast. It's been used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat lungs and cough, and is especially beneficial to women. My TCM told me to make this soup if I get a dry cough. The translated Chinese terms are snow ear or white wood ear or silver ear.
I looked up recipes and found several; turns out to be a soup on the sweeter side made with a choice of lotus seeds, goji berries, jujubes, wolfberries, and rock sugar. Well of course, I had to experiment and alter the recipe ... my version of snow fungus soup turned out delicious!!
It's off-white and brittle; easily breakable in its dried form. Within a half-hour of soaking, one piece had quadrupled in size and turned white. It needs to be soaked overnight, and then washed prior to cooking.
Gina's Snow Fungus Soup
Snow fungus - soak one overnight in at least 3x the amount of water, then rinse well. Put in a pot of water for soup and add your choice or all of:
Dried lotus seed
The traditional recipe provides a sweet soup finished with a bit of rock sugar. I prefer a savory soup made spicy with by simmering with nutritional yeast, salt ,and Korean gochujang for about 30 minutes. I topped my portion with a dollop of fermented Sichuan pepper/black bean sauce.
This makes enough for 4 or so servings, and I also serve it over rice, which is quite filling.