Friday, March 30, 2007

Snow Fungus, Ginkgo and Barley - sweet or savory

Trying to hit the right notes here (THIS...is...American Idol, NOT). Sing "Doh Re Me...". Sing "Hot, Tart, Sweet...". Presenting Snow Fungus, Ginkgo and Barley Drink Dessert. I know lime juice is available following the Assam Prawns dish, but can I serve you this sweet dessert instead?

Dessert - Snow Fungus, Ginkgo and Barley Drink Dessert

Snow Fungus, Ginkgo and Barley Drink Dessert (serves 2-3)
Ingredients:
-About 2-3 pieces snow fungus, soaked in water before usage
-About 1 cup pearl barley, washed
-Few pieces of ginkgo nuts, fresh or canned, with inner seeds removed
-Honey dates and/or rock sugar (ratio adjusted accordingly to your ingredient availability or liking)
-Pandan leaves, knotted (option)
-Water, quantity based on ingredients

Method:
1. Place all the ingredients in slow-cooker, and pour in water till ingredients are submerged
2. On high heat ~45mins-1hr till barley and fungus are cooked, then turn to low heat 1-2hrs to allow ingredients and textures to soften and flavors to infuse. If not sweet, add in more rock sugar, to taste
3. Can be served warm or cold

More about the ingredients
:
All three ingredients (snow fungus, ginkgo and barley) can be used in sweet and savory cuisines.


Snow fungus :Practically tasteless, but prized for its jelly-like and crunchy texture. You can see them in sweet soups and desserts such as doubled boiled papaya and snow fungus (木瓜炖雪耳 ); and savory dishes such as doubled-boiled chicken soups. The wood ear/black fungus is another fungus species that can be used in stir-frys.

Barley: Pearl barley(above) or pearled barley is hulled barley which has been processed further to remove the bran. It may be polished, a process known as "pearling". Barley can be used in savory stews and soups, such as chicken stew and minestrone soup. But more common is the sweet barley drink/water- a good diuretic which is known to quench the thirst and expel toxins from the body.

Ginkgo : Expensive ingredient (due to labor intensiveness to crack the hard shell of each nut, removing the thin skin, and removing the young shoot that is usually bitter. So, usually what you eat is just the sweet flesh of ginkgo nuts. There are claims that ginkgo improves memory (it remains to be proven), and there are side-effects too. Usually used in sweet desserts - a popular dessert is barley, soya beancurd sheets(a.k.a foo chuk, in Cantonese) and ginkgo nut drink (can be almond-milky-based, or clear soup-like base). Due to their hint of sweetness, it complements well in a savory dish like this too. And it can be real yummy refreshing!

Related savory dishes:
Stir fry scallops and asparagus with ginkgo
Stir fry vegetables medley

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