Poria fungus has always been regarded as a nourishing food by the Chinese. This article covered some of its medicinal uses, interesting stories and 10 poria fungus recipes.
According to legend, the infamous Empress Dowager 慈禧 (Ci Xi) of the Qing Dynasty used to suffer from weak health and a poor appetite. The imperial chefs made it a point to use medicinal herbs that could invigorate the spleen and promote appetite in their cooking. They discovered poria and made thin crepes or filled pancakes with finely ground poria powder, adding other ingredients like fine flour, pine nuts, peach kernels, sweet osmanthus flowers and honey. The Empress Dowager loved these poria pastry so much that she used them as a form of reward for court officials.
Sweet poria cakes. Recipe below
For those unfamiliar with modern Chinese history, Empress Dowager 慈禧 (Ci Xi) ruled China for a better half of the 19th century because her son, Emperor 同治 (Tong Zhi) and the subsequent Emperor 光绪 (Guang Xu) ascended the throne when they were very young. This period was commonly referred to as 垂帘听政 (chui lian ting zheng). Translated literally as Ruling behind the curtains. She was resistant to reforms and did not hesitate to squash and kill the opposition. No wonder she had weak nerves.
On a more poetic and literary note, poria is mentioned in one of the most well-known classical literary works in China, A Dream of Red Mansions, 红楼梦 (hong lou meng) as a health and beauty product. Poria cream, mentioned in chapter 60 is mixed with milk or boiled water and drank every morning to promote good health. The cream is also used as a facial mask by the female characters in the story to achieve beautiful white and smooth complexion.
茯苓 (fu ling) or poria is derived from poria cocos which is a type of fungus that thrives on the roots of the masson pine tree or the Japanese red pine. It is shaped like a sweet potato with a brownish-black skin and white or pink flesh.
Poria is usually sold as dried white or pink slices and in this form it is known as 茯苓 (fu ling) in Chinese.
Poria fungus is also mentioned in traditional chinese medicine. It is considered neutral in nature with both a sweet and light flavour. It invigorates the spleen, promote diuresis and tranquilises the mind.
Poria fungus contains a large amount of polysaccharide substances which helps to regulate the functions of the immune system. It is good for the elderly and patients with a weak constitution or suffering from chronic illnesses.
10 Poria Fungus Recipes
I have 10 recipes here featuring poria as a key ingredient. Try them and let me know how you like them.
1. Cream of poria
This can be included as a dessert in the diet of a patient weakened by chronic illnesses.
100g poria fungus
50g fresh milk
Honey to taste
Steep the white poria in cold water for 2 hours
Steam for 30 minutes
Slice the steamed poria and place in a blender with the milk
Blend until the poria is completely dissolved and the mixture has no grainy texture
Place the blended poria in a pot and bring to a boil
Add honey and stir well
2. Herbal remedy for good skin
This is an infusion of fu ling and chrysanthemum flowers. More like a tea.
5g dried chrysanthemum flowers
Rinse the chrysanthemum flowers and fu ling
Place the fu ling in a pot and add the 500cc water
Bring the water to a boil and lower the heat to simmer for 45 minutes
Add the chrysanthemum flowers
Cover the pot and let stand for 5 minutes
Directions using a thermal flask
Place the fu ling and chrysanthemun flowers in a thermal flask
Add boiling water and cover the flask
Let stand for 1 hour
3. Fuling tonic soup
This is a tonic soup suitable for everyone, especially during the winter months.
15g poria fungus
15g chinese yam
15g dried longan
15g solomon seal
10g lotus seeds
10g euryale seeds
200-300g lean pork
salt to taste
1 litre water
Wash the lean meat and chop into pieces and parboil
Wash the medicinal herbs, put them in a earthern pot and soak in cold water for 30-60 minutes
Add the water and bring to a boil
Next, add the lean meat and simmer over low heat for 1 hour
When the porridge is cooked, add rock sugar to enhance the taste and serve
8. Chicken congee with fu ling and goji berries
I like chicken congee over chicken soup as a comfort food when I am not feeling well. Somehow the rice porridge tastes better than soup. I would use a slow cooker or a good rice cooker to make this congee.
1 chicken breast
1 cup white rice
1 litre soup stock
2.5g goji berries
1 stalk spring onion
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)
Clean the chicken breast and parboil for 2 minutes
Let it cool down before shredding it
Wash the spring onion and chop finely
Wash the rice and place in a big pot together with soup stock, fuling and goji berries
When the congee is cooked, add the shredded chicken breast and seasonings
Garnish with chopped spring onion before serving
These last 2 are sweet cake recipes. One is a delicately pressed and steamed. The other one is more like a steamed sponge cake.
9. Sweet poria cakes
Because a visitor asked, I went to look for the recipe for the steamed Fuling cake. It isn't too difficult. It is a fairly delicate snack and you can adjust the amount of fuling powder and sugar when you are making it yourself.
1 cup rice flour
1 cup glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup fuling powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup red bean paste
Dissolve the sugar in the hot water well to make a thin syrup. Leave it to cool
Sift the rice flour, glutinous rice flour and fuling powder together
When the syrup has cooled, add it slowly into the rice mixture
Sift the entire mixture twice, breaking up any lumps that may have formed
Divide the mixture into 2 portions
Line a rectangular loaf tin with parchment paper
Place one portion of the mixture into the tin, spread evenly, and press lightly
Add the red bean paste and spread them evenly over the rice mixture
Add the second portion of rice mixture, spread it out evenly and press lightly
Bring a pot or wok of water to the boil and place the loaf tin above the water
Lower to a medium heat and steam it for 20 to 25 minutes.
When the cake is done, remove from wok and let it cool down before slicing them