One of my family’s favourite soups, this delicious, naturally-sweet and nourishing soup can also be boiled with chicken. It combines the energy-giving red dates (Cantonese=hung tsao) and boxthorn fruit / lycium fruit / medlar (Cantonese=kei chi). Kei chi is also known to provide relief to tired eyes.
An easy to prepare soup, this recipe was given by my Chinese auntie when she cooked this during the week my father passed away to give everyone a boost of energy (and spirits!) Recommended for office workers, school-going children and those with anaemia (lack of blood).
2 strips of lean pork ribs (or substitute with 1/2 a free-range chicken)
1 ear of sweetcorn, cut into three chunks
1 carrot, cut into chunks or quarters, lengthwise
a small handful of kei chi (cooling)*
5-6 red dates (heating)*
salt to taste
1. Soak the red dates and kei chi in tap water and set aside.
2. Place the pork ribs in a soup pot with water about 2 cm above them and set to boil. Discard the water and replace with the same amount of fresh water (either boiled or tap is fine, depending on time available). This is said to remove impurities from the pork. If you’re using free-range, organically-raised chicken (kampung chicken), you don’t need this step
3. Lift out the softened red dates and kei chi and discard the water. Add the dried fruits, the sweetcorn and carrots into the soup pot containing the chicken. Set to boil on medium heat.
4. When the water boils and a pleasant fragrance emerges, switch to a low flame and simmer for 1-2 hours.
Then, enjoy the sweet soup with rice and a vegetable dish!
* As Chinese cooking is based on the yin/yang concept of balance, I’ve indicated “heating” and “cooling” properties where relevant. In this case, it’s a neutral soup.