Snow Fungus Soup with Pears (bīngtáng yín’ěr dùn xuělí, 冰糖银耳炖雪梨) is a Chinese dessert soup usually served on special occasions like Chinese New Year. Snow fungus is more expensive than the more common black wood ear fungus, making it a prized treat!
When you hear the word “soup,” your mind might first jump to something savory. But China has a rich repertoire of sweet soups served warm or cold, such as this red bean soup or our coconut tapioca dessert soup.
This particular soup, also known as White Fungus Soup, may not have the most attractive name. But it is a traditional, sweet dessert to serve after a big Lunar New Year meal, which is why we’re posting it this time of year! I add pears to my version, for some added sweetness and health!
What Is Snow Fungus?
Snow fungus (yín’ěr, 银耳), also known as white wood ear (báimù’ěr, 白木耳) is a natural tree fungus. It grows naturally in tropical areas (where it can be found on dead wood), and is also cultivated commercially for both culinary and traditional medicinal uses.
Similar to wood ears, which we use often on the blog in savory dishes, snow fungus does not have much flavor. Instead, it is valued for its texture, which is chewy and gelatinous after cooking.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), snow fungus is believed to strengthen the body, especially during recovery from an illness. It’s believed to be good for the kidneys, lungs, stomach, and heart, improving blood flow, and treating high blood pressure.
Chinese women especially value snow fungus, as it is believed to have beauty benefits, like rejuvenating the skin.
Before You Start Cooking
You can find dried snow fungus in Chinese grocery stores. It will have to be soaked overnight prior to cooking, so a little bit of advanced planning is required for this recipe.
The key to cooking this soup is to simmer until the snow fungus turns a light amber color, and the texture of the soup is syrupy and gelatinous, as shown.
This process takes some time (2-3 hours). To retain as much liquid as possible during cooking, use a thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven to make this soup.
While this soup is usually appreciated by elders and women for its strengthening and beauty-boosting properties, it’s a simple, traditional dessert for the whole family!
Snow Fungus Soup with Pears: Recipe Instructions
After soaking the dried snow fungus overnight to re-hydrate, trim away the tough yellow root portion. Tear the snow fungus into small pieces.
In a medium/large thick-bottomed pot, add the snow fungus and water. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Peel and cut the Asian pear into bite-sized pieces, discarding the core. Add it to the pot, cover, and cook for another 30 minutes over medium low heat.
Add the rock sugar, goji berries, and dates. Sweetness will come from all three, in addition to the pear. You may want to adjust the sugar levels according to your own preference.
Cover and simmer until the soup over low heat until it is syrupy. The the liquid/snow fungus should both turn a light amber color. This will take 1-2 hours.