Silver wood ear (银耳) is a type of fungus used in Chinese cuisine, especially in sweet dishes. It tastes pretty neutral so you have to add extra sugar to make it taste good. Many Chinese women believe that eating silver wood ear that has been cooked until it is gelatinous is beneficial for their skin as it improves the collagen matrix. It is also soothing to the lungs of those with a chronic dry cough, according to traditional Chinese medicine.
I am not a big fan of these purported benefits of silver wood ear. But it's still a nice sweet and nutritious soup to have from time to time.
Silver Wood Ear Sweet Soup
Recipe type: Chinese, Dessert, Gluten-Free, Soup
-1 head (25g) dried silver wood ear
-1L drinking water
-2 Tbsp goji berries
-rock sugar to taste (traditional Chinese method)
-agave nectar or other sweetener to taste
-fresh lychees (1 or 2 for each bowl)
Soak dried silver wood ear and goji berries in room-temperature water for 20 minutes. Rinse well. Break the silver wood ear into small pieces. Remove stems from goji berries and set aside.
Add drinking water to the pot, add the soaked wood ear and sugar. Bring to a boil.
Turn to lowest heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or if you are using a slow-cooker, you can simmer it for 2 to 3 hours if you want to achieve the gelatinous state (I seldom have the patience).
Turn off the heat, add goji berries, cover, and let it sit for 10 to 30 minutes.
Add ice cubes, agave nectar, fresh lychees, and enjoy!