By Ellen L. Published: 2017-03-23
We previously wrote about the traditional Chinese way to way "YES!" to love, with food of course, specifically with a wonderfully yummilicious plate of Sticky Rice Balls with Sesame and Crushed Peanuts 糖不甩, so stickily delicious that no one can resist your love. This time we are going to flip it over and talk about how to say a gentle "NO" to love, with food again of course, this time with a bowl of Tofu Skin Gingko Nuts Sweet Soup 白果腐竹糖水, a delicate, warm and comforting way to let a lover down.
The gingko tree is an ancient tree, they say that the gingko tree has been around since the time of the dinosaurs! I don't know if that is true or not but the gingko definitely has a unique presence all its own. The Cantonese use the expression "to eat gingko nuts" or "食白果" as a metaphor for the expression: "白做、無任何收穫" or "all that work for nothing!" And that's how this gingko nut snuck into this sweet soup of rejection...a subtle yet clear hint that the lover's efforts is all for naught!
|Gingko nuts at the wet market|
Gingko nuts 銀杏果 or 白果 are key to this sweet soup. These golden yellow nuts are delicious once cooked, with a creamy chestnut like texture and a slightly sweet nutty flavor with just a hint of the requisite bitterness to make it interesting. If you can get them fresh, that is the best of course. I got mine at the wet market where they remove the shells for you leaving the golden nuts only clad in a thin brown skin. To crack yourself, use a nutcracker. Remove the inside brown skins easily by par boiling the nuts for 1 minute and then once the nuts are cool enough to touch, rubbing with a towel until the skins slip off. If you do not want that bit of bitterness (which I prefer actually) then you can can open the fruits and remove the tiny sprout you find in the middle.
Or you can buy them pre-peeled and packaged at the refrigerator section of your local asian grocery store.
The only other special ingredient for this sweet soup is the Dried Tofu Skin 腐竹, also known as Fuzhu. Dried tofu skin is simply a dehyration of the layer or film that forms on top of boiling soybean milk. It is very delicate and, when boiled, dissolves quickly into a creamy lusciousness that is the essence of this sweet soup dessert. I love this stuff, it is amazing!
Tip: We got our Dried Tofu Skins from Shu Kee Ming Lee 樹記明利腐竹, a HK shop that manufactures and sells tofu products in Sham Shui Po. They have the best Dried Tofu Skins 腐竹, period.
Do be warned that there are a confusing number of items named tofu skin, or beancurd skin, you will probably need to double check that you have the right one. Look for 'fuzhu' or check for the chinese name of 腐竹. If you get the wrong tofu skins you will end up with non meltable sheets of tofu floating in your soup, which is great for some things but not for this delicate soup.
See how the tofu skin is dissolved into the soup? You can still see bits of the skin, the rest is melted into lovely creaminess. Actually the delicate tofu skin dissolves quite fast, that is why the tofu skins are added last of all. Once the skins are in, be sure to keep a sharp eye on your pot and remove from heat once the tofu skins are melted to your preference. Some folks like the skins a bit more whole for the texture and some might even prefer the skins melted completely!
So there it is, a simple to make, wonderfully warming and soul fortifying bowl of Tofu Skin Gingko Nut Sweet Soup to soothe, warm and gently, oh so gently, send your pining lover away.
Tofu Skin Gingko Nuts Sweet Soup Recipe
(makes 4-6 bowls) Prep time: Cook time:
Ingredients:1/2 cup shelled gingko nuts 白果, 20 nos.
1 1/2 cup dried tofu skins 腐竹, 150g
1/3 to 1/2 cup rock sugar 冰糖, 125g
4 1/4 cups water, 1 liter
4-6 poached eggs (optional)
If you have shelled the gingko nuts yourself, there will still be a brown skin around the golden nut. Parboil for a minute, let cool and then use a towel to gently rub the brown skins off.
Add water to medium sized pot. When water is boiling, add the gingko nuts and cook for 20-30 mins or until the nuts are soft. Add sugar to taste and stir until melted. Add in tofu skins (break up so it fits in your pot) and cook for 3-5 mins more or until the tofu sheets are halfway melted into the soup. Ladle into individual serving bowls, add poached egg if desired and serve hot!
Tip: Use Chinese rock sugar if at all possible. It is traditional to use rock sugar in desserts for its depth of flavor and also for the gloss it gives to the sweet soups.
More Delicately Delicious Chinese Dessert Soups at The Hong Kong Cookery: