Recipe for Triple Beauty Booster Soup

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SINGAPORE - This is one soup that will make you feel good inside and out.

Triple Beauty Booster Soup is made with ingredients regarded as beauty tonics in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The three main ingredients are peach gum, snow fungus and xue yan.

Peach gum, available in dried form as amber-hued crystals, is the resin of the Chinese peach tree (prunus persica) and is rich in collagen.

Snow fungus, known scientifically as tremella fuciformis, is a mushroom rich in natural plant gum. Studies have shown that it is beneficial in retaining skin moisture, suppressing wrinkle formation and promoting wound healing.

According to a 2017 research paper published in Molecular Medicine Reports, an international journal dedicated to molecular medicine, researchers found snow fungus to be a potential therapeutic agent for oxidative stress-related skin diseases and skin ageing.

In TCM, snow fungus is believed to reduce internal heat and moisten the lungs and skin.

Xue yan (snow swallow in Chinese) is a gum derived from different varieties of sterculia trees. The product likely got its name from its white thread-like texture, which, when rehydrated, resembles that of the much prized and highly valued bird's nest.

While the cooking time for the soup is less than an hour, the peach gum and xue yan require about 12 hours of soaking, which you can do overnight. But using hot water can cut it down to two to three hours.

The combination of peach gum, snow fungus and xue yan makes for a delightfully gelatinous soup. Dried longans, red dates and wolfberries add to its sweet flavour.

I choose to use Chinese brown sugar for colour and flavour. It comes in packs of brown slabs. Some are labelled as "brown sugar in pieces", known as "pian tang" in Chinese and a popular choice for cooking sweet soups.

I suggest tasting the soup and adjusting the quantity of brown sugar to suit your preference.

The soup is more appetising when served chilled.

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TRIPLE BEAUTY BOOSTER SOUP

INGREDIENTS

40g peach gum

80g xue yan

30g dried snow fungus

3 litres of water (for soaking)

4 litres of water

9 pandan leaves, knotted

10 red dates (38g), halved and rinsed

70g dried longans, rinsed

400g brown sugar slabs

30g wolfberries, rinsed

METHOD

1. Place the peach gum in a large bowl and add 1 litre of water. Leave it to soak for 12 hours.

2. Place the xue yan in a large bowl and add 1 litre of water. Leave it to soak for 12 hours.

3. For both the peach gum and xue yan, discard the soaking liquid and rinse thoroughly.

4. Use a pair of tweezers to pick out impurities. Discard the impurities.

5. Rinse and strain the peach gum. Do the same with the xue yan. Set aside.

6. Bring 1 litre of water to a boil. Place the dried snow fungus in a heat-resistant bowl and add the boiling water. Soak for five minutes.

7. Discard the soaking liquid and wash the snow fungus thoroughly.

8. Use a pair of scissors to remove the tough stem endings. Tear the snow fungus into 5cm pieces. Set aside.

9. Bring 4 litres of water to a boil in a sturdy pot.

10. Add the pandan leaves, peach gum, snow fungus, red dates and dried longans. Cover and bring to a boil.

11. Simmer for 20 minutes over low heat. Stir occasionally.

12. Add the xue yan and brown slab sugar. Continue to simmer for another five minutes.

13. Stir and add the wolfberries. Simmer for another five minutes.

14. Serve hot or chilled.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

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