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Fragrant snow pear with nourishing snow fungus to help get rid of excess heat in your body

The first 15 days of Chinese New Year have come and gone, yet it doesn’t feel quite like spring yet. In Malaysia, our tropical climate ensures summer all year round but further north, such as in South Korea and Japan, it’s winter still. 

So it’s snow that offers inspiration for this weekend’s kitchen escapade: a lovely tong sui that pairs snow pears with snow fungus.

Snow pears or ‘xuělí’

Snow pears or xuělí are more delicate in flavour than their green-skinned, juicy cousins. Their cultivation harks back to the Tang Dynasty; their use in traditional Chinese medicine is believed to help nourish the lungs and rid the body of any excess heat.

Which makes it a perfect match for snow fungus (xuě er), which is thought to help those with weakened immune systems as well as, again, nourishing the lungs and throat. Snow fungus is also considered a beauty tonic, thanks to its high collagen content.

Together, they offer one spoonful after spoonful of the most soothing tong sui in winter or in summer, or any season, really.

If “Double Happiness” in Chinese is Shuāng Xǐ, maybe we can consider this sweet soup Shuāng Xuě Xǐ or “Double Snow Happiness”? Just an idea, though if the name catches on, you know who thought of it first!

Besides the snow pear and snow fungus, the other ingredients required to make a pot of this soothing tong sui are relatively straightforward and easy to source.

Ginkgo nuts
Snow fungus

A must is the quintessential tong sui player – ginkgo nuts or báiguǒ in Chinese. Those with poor memory may benefit from the pale yellow orbs, which is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to combat cognitive decline.

More intriguing is the inclusion of lor hon gor tea rather than plain water as the base of the tong sui. Specifically, I have chosen to use golden lor hon gor which is a subtler, more pleasant tasting variety of the monkfruit we’re used to.

lor hon gor

The darker brown colour of the normal monkfruit results from roasting to dry it out and prevent it from spoiling. The golden lor hon gor gets its paler hue from low-temperature vacuum-drying. This method of dehydration retains more of its natural sweetness with none of the bitterness.

Red dates and Honey sea coconut

Another key ingredient are red dates (hóngzǎo), which have been used as an age-old remedy to elevate one’s energy levels while, in an interesting contrast, also alleviating insomnia. Rock sugar (bīngtáng), of course, for a more well-rounded sweetness.

Consider adding a spoonful of honey sea coconut – something decidedly less conventional – to each bowl for another note, both in terms of the sweetness as well as the slippery mouthfeel.


3 litres water

1 whole golden lor hon gor; broken into pieces

2 large pieces of dried snow fungus

1 large snow pear

3-4 large dried red dates, pitted

3 pandan leaves, tied to a knot

20 ginkgo nuts

Rock sugar, to taste

Honey sea coconut, a spoonful for each bowl (optional)


First prepare the golden lor hon gor . Fill a large pot with water. Add the broken pieces of golden lor hon gor. Make sure you include both the pulp and shell. Bring to a boil.

Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. When the simmering process is complete, you may now use the golden lor hon gor tea as the base for the next step or keep it chilled in the fridge overnight till you’re ready to make the tong sui.

To prepare the snow fungus, soak the pieces of dried snow fungus in a bowl of water until it has softened and plumped up. Depending on the size of the snow fungus, this will take anything from 10-30 minutes.

After the snow fungus has rehydrated, typically turning a paler shade in the process, drain it of the soaking water. Further rinse the fungus under the tap to remove any dirt particles that are still trapped in the folds.

Carefully trim away any tough parts – usually a darker, yellowish shade than the rest of the fungus – using a pair of kitchen scissors. Once the snow fungus has been cleaned, cut it into smaller florets.

Add the snow fungus to a large pot, together with the golden lor hon gor tea. Bring to a boil, before reducing the heat and simmering for 30 minutes.

While the snow fungus is cooking, peel and core the snow pear. Cut it into chunks, and add these to the pot, together with the red dates and knot of pandan leaves.

Keep the ginkgo nuts for later to prevent them from overcooking. Bring the pot to a boil.

Once the pot has come to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer. After 15 minutes, add the gingko nuts. Continue simmering for another 15 minutes.

Before serving, remove the knot of pandan leaves and discard. Add rock sugar to taste, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Serve hot in bowls, adding a spoonful of honey sea coconut to each bowl if desired.

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