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Monday, July 6, 2015


This is a homely soup which my MIL used to cook. She buys the 'fresh cordyceps' [Tang Chang Cao]* from the wet market which is not too costly.  This is the name she got from the vegetable seller.  A hundred grams costs RM1.80 and is enough to cook a soup with 3-4 chicken wings.  It is crunchy after boiling.  We finished eating all of it. *Information received from reader, these are called Chong Cao Shen [虫草参 or 地蚕]  a kind of vegetable root. 
The soup is herbally and very tasty, not too bitter with the dong quai but aromatic. It’s a nice soup which does not require long time to brew. All in a matter of 30 minutes and the soup is ready to devour especially after a hard day’s work.
Notes: Cordyceps sinensis is a caterpillar fungus that grows on a type of caterpillar. These days, this parasite is cultivated using grain. 
Cordyceps is known as an anti-asthmatic and anti-cancer agent which helps smooth muscle relaxation. It is used to stimulate the endocrine system, as an antibacterial agent, and to aid patients suffering from chronic renal failure. 

According to this article, Today, cordyceps is used in China specifically for the treatment of fatigue, cough, impotence, and anemia. It is listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for asthma and “impotence and seminal emissions with aching of loins and knees.”
One of the newest on the long list of cordyceps benefits is that of an immune modulator. While certain compounds in cordyceps significantly boost immunity, there are others that appear to modulate the immune system so that the body doesn’t attack healthy tissue. This could be a huge breakthrough in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.  Cordyceps is truly a miracle fungus.


[serve 3-4]
3-4 chicken wings – discard the tip and cut into 2 pieces – blanched in hot water and rinsed
2 dried mushrooms – soaked, rinsed and quartered
4 red dates
3-4 slices of dong quai
100 gm Chong Cao shen [虫草参 or 地蚕] 
 900 ml water

  1. Bring water, mushrooms, roots, red dates and dong quai to boil for 10 minutes until aromatic.
  2. Add in the chicken wings, bring to boil then simmer over low heat for a further 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add salt to taste and a little chicken stock granules if preferred.
  4. Dish up to serve hot with rice.


Sokehah Cheah said...

This is indeed nutritious!

Ann Low said...

Hi Kimmy, This is a very healthy and nutritious soup that I'd like to cook for my family. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Karen Luvswesavory said...

Hi Kimmy,
I made herbal soup with dried cordyceps occasionally as sometimes we just have a meal of soup + steamed rice. Haven't used fresh cordyceps.

Kimmy said...

Hi Soke Hah, yes it is a good soup and I like it very much too. Moreover, it is easy to prepare. Double boiled or cook in a slow cooker would be perfect.

Kimmy said...

Hi Ann, sometimes I ran out of ideas on what soup to cook cos' I practically cook a soup almost everyday. My hubby loves to have hot soup for his dinner, good for me too. Less of last minute cooking. Occasionally I'll ask the vegetable seller on what vege is suitable for soup, too.

Kimmy said...

Hi Karen, I know dried cordyceps are rather costly. My late father in-law used to buy it but we don't use it to cook a pot of soup maybe because of the price. My MIL use fresh cordyceps [rather cheap] for soups and I believe the nutritional value maybe different from the dried ones [imported ones].

Phong Hong said...

Kimmy, the cordyceps look like worms, feel geli hee..hee... I know I'm being silly. I have seen the dried ones and my partner told me it is a type of worm! I think he must be joking since I learnt from you that it is actually a fungus that grows on caterpillars. And I happen to be scared of caterpillars hee..hee...

Kimmy said...

Hi Phong Hong, I had the same thoughts as you when I first saw this soup at my MIL's place. I dare not take a bite of it but now my family finished every piece of it. They are so crunchy even after boiling.

li said...

Cordyceps flower 虫草花 (cordyceps militari) are more affordable but you have to soak it in hot water and drain off the water to remove some of the coloring. A Chinese herbalist recommended cordyceps flower with other herbs as tonic for my sister's chronic cough.

Some info on cordyceps flower from the internet

Anonymous said...

Hi this is actually not cordyceps fungi that grows on caterpillar and neither is it similar. This is a sort of (fully vegetable) root called chong cao shen or 虫草参 or 地蚕 in Chinese.

Cordyceps fungi grown on grains are called chong cao hua. And of course, cordyceps grown via caterpillars from the wild plains of mongolia are dong chong xia cao - because the winter caterpillars go to sleep and in the summer the fungi parasite peeks out on the plains of mongolia.

Kimmy said...

Thanks Anonymous for your information on the actual name of these roots. I have updated the information in this post.

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