Originally posted on 10/7/2019
"Yum tong la." I thought it would be appropriate that my very first post be about soup, one of my favorite types of food. This was a huge part of my upbringing in a Cantonese family, so much that you would always hear me asking for soup or "tong" at home. I recall all the times my dad asked me to “watch the fire” when he stepped outside because these soups would brew for long, long hours. That's when you know you're brewing some "slow cooked" soup. Each type of soup includes a mix of meats or meat bones and vegetables, layered with many herbal ingredients that lends its unique flavors and health benefits. Some ingredients are supposed to provide "cooling" effects, some detoxifying while others nourish certain organs or help you age gracefully. The list goes on. Depending on if I was sick with a cold or maybe ate a bunch of unhealthy foods, my family would brew different soups to maintain a healthy balance.
Drinking soup is a huge part of Cantonese culture, certainly in my own home. Perhaps, I will dig up more history for a future post! It is the one thing my dad makes me when I come home, what I drink first before meals, what my relatives will bring over to the house. I am just now starting to learn more about how to make these soups, so I can hold on to this tradition.
This is coconut chicken soup with snow fungus and goji berries, which is one of my favorites! Cracking the coconut definitely was a tough feat. My dad used to crack it open with his cleaver so easily, and then save all the coconut water for me after. I soaked the snow fungus in water to rehydrate it - it was so lovely watching this beautiful fungus open up. I pretty much threw 3 bone-in chicken thighs, 2 snow fungi, 1/4c goji berries, half coconut's worth of meat, and salt into my cast-iron pot and let it brew for >1hr. For a more detailed recipe than this one, see here.
Nutrition tidbit: goji berries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C while snow fungus offers anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits.