An Introduction to Chinese Dessert Soups with LTL Shanghai
Winter has officially arrived in Shanghai.
It announced its presence with a sudden temperature drop to as low as zero Celsius not long ago. With the cold weather outside, there is no better time to enjoy a bowl of warm Chinese dessert soup.
What exactly is Chinese dessert soup you ask?
Chinese dessert soup belongs to Chinese medicinal cuisine. It’s usually sweet with ingredients that help regulates the overall health of the body.
Not only is it a sweet treat, it’s also good for the body. You really get the best of both worlds.
In this article, I will introduce three most popular Chinese dessert soups and direct you to the best place to find them.
Gui Yuan and Chinese Red Dates Soup (桂圆红枣汤)
This is a common Chinese dessert soup to prepare at home.
It’s easy to make and requires only two key ingredients, dried Longan (龙眼) and Chinese red dates, plus some sugar.
If prepared well, the soup should be dark brown in color while remaining transparent.
Gui Yuan (桂圆) is the name for the meat inside the tropical fruit Longan after its been pitted and dried. In Chinese medicine, it’s known for its benefits to the heart and spleen as well as nourishment to Qi (气) and blood.
The second key ingredient, Chinese red dates (红枣) is high in vitamins. It’s nicknamed “nature’s vitamin pill”.
In addition, it’s also supposed to replenish the blood (补血). Although this is a widely accepted believe in China, take it with a grain of salt, as it’s also a common believe that every fruit or vegetable that is red in color help replenishes the blood.
Women in China are especially fond of Chinese red dates as it’s said to improve the color and complexion of the skin.
Where to get it?
While it is a simple dessert soup to prepare at home, you can still find it in many restaurants and dessert shops. The best place to get it, as voted by users of Dianping, is surprisingly a Baozi shop. Located at the basement floor of a shopping center, the shop is most famous for their Pork Baozi (猪肉包子).
ADDRESS – Fang Men Old Street Pork Baozi (坊门老街土猪肉包子); Sichuan North Road, Inside Li Tong Plaza
Black Sesame Paste (黑芝麻糊)
Another popular Chinese dessert soup is the Black sesame paste. Different from the watery soup of the last dessert soup, black sesame paste is more viscous.
Traditionally, it’s believed to give blackness and shine to hair.
The key ingredients to this Chinese dessert soup are black sesame, sugar, and nut flour such as almond flour.
Black sesame is rich in protein and fat. It’s also said to have a number of health benefits such as strengthening of the stomach, protecting the liver, promoting growth of red cells in the body, and many more according to Chinese medicine.
Where to get it?
You can find Black sesame paste, along with other dessert soup of the same paste-y consistency at a cute little shop on Dapu Road (打浦路) in Huangpu District (黄浦区). They claim to make all their dessert soups by hand and add no preservatives to their pastes.
ADDRESS – Fan Xin Hand-made Sesame Paste (凡心手作芝麻糊); 222 Dapu Road
Snow Fungus Soup (银耳羹)
Don’t be deterred by the name, these are edible fungi that grow on live or dead trees trunks.
It’s been a part of Chinese cuisine for centuries. There are two main types of fungus that are most commonly found in restaurants and Chinese households: black fungus and white fungus, also known as snow fungus. Black fungus is usually enjoyed sautéed while white fungus in soups.
Snow fungus has a gelatinous texture and its rich in collagen.
While it doesn’t really have a taste, its unique texture gives the soup a nice crunch. It’s prized mostly for its high collagen content, which helps the skin to stay firm and tight.
On top of this, snow fungus can also help clear the lung, protect the heart, nourishes and kidney and calm the nerves.
When snow fungus is made into soup, it’s usually prepared with other ingredients such as lotus seeds, grains, dates, and golgi berries. It’s also not uncommon to add flowers such as rose (玫瑰) and osmanthus (桂花) for added aroma.
Where to get it?
It’s easy to find snow fungus soup, but rare to find snow fungus soup with coconut milk and purple rice. This is definitely a more jazzed-up version of the snow fungus soup you would normally prepare at home. The result is a milky soup that not only looks appetizing, but also good for the body.
ADDRESS – Cong Qian Man Nourishing Desserts (从前慢滋补甜品); 88 South Shanxi Road
I hope you give these Chinese dessert soups a try and that they can make your winter in Shanghai just a little bit warmer.
The three dessert soups to look out for in China are all delicious in their own right!
- Gui Yuan and Chinese Red Dates Soup (桂圆红枣汤)
- Black Sesame Paste (黑芝麻糊)
- Snow Fungus Soup (银耳羹)
For more food related blogs we’ve got a few of treats for you:
Taiwan Social Media Craze : The Ice Cream Puppy – This is a great read, and despite the rather odd title of the blog, it’s worth your time.
Traditional Chinese Food : The Ultimate Guide – It’s simple, the 5 best Chinese dishes! You cannot come to China and NOT try these!
Shanghai Dumplings : Shanghai is lucky enough to have a huge range of dunplings and they are all so different. Which should you go for?
Shanghai Hairy Crabs : There is a fine art to eating these. Watch how it’s done!
Vegan or Veggie in China? We have something for everyone. You can survive here as a Vegan or vegetarian, there are still so many choices for you. We name our favourites…
Taiwanese Food NOT to miss – As above, there are some delights in here, this time for the island of Taiwan.
Comment down below if you want to learn more about Chinese medicine or want recipes for them so you can try making them at home. Enjoy!
Want more from LTL?
If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School, why not join our mailing list? We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!
We even offer online Chinese classes tailored exactly to you, all from the comfort of your own home. Check them out!