Learning > Recipes

Tonics for beauty

Hedy Khoo on 14 Jul 2019

The Straits Times


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The dried unfried fish maw and snow fungus in the Nutritious Beauty Soup are high in collagen


What is longevity without good health and beauty?


In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), attention to food and nutrition and supplementing the diet with tonics are part of taking care of health and beauty inside and out.


The Nutritious Beauty Soup, called Zi Yin Yang Yan Tang in Chinese, aims to harmonise the body's internal heat.


Chinese physician Cheong Chin Siong, 44, says in Mandarin: "Those who do not get sufficient sleep and lead stressful lives can have excessive internal heat in their bodies."


In TCM, dried unfried fish maw and snow fungus, which are featured in this recipe, are prized as tonics for beauty.


Mr Cheong says these two ingredients are high in collagen. Fish maw is also rich in protein and beneficial to the lungs.


For this recipe, I have chosen to use the dried unfried fish maw of yellow croaker fish. When cooked, the fish maw has a gummy texture.


Snow fungus, Mr Cheong says, helps reduce internal heat and moisten both lungs and skin.


Here is a tip. To rehydrate the dried snow fungus, soak it in room-temperature water for 30 minutes until it softens. If you are pressed for time, you can use boiling water to soak the snow fungus, but do it for no longer than five minutes.


For a long life, Mr Cheong says it is important to strengthen one's immune system to help counter the stress of daily life.


Chicken is believed to boost one's energy. Remove the skin to avoid excessive oiliness in the soup.


Yuzhu or Solomon's seal is regarded as a herb beneficial to the stomach and lungs, and is also believed to moisturise the skin.


Japanese ginseng is sought after for its energy-boosting properties and its function of strengthening the lungs.


In TCM, cordycep flowers are believed to have anti-ageing properties and can help reduce fatigue.


Red dates, commonly used in Chinese herbal preparations, replenish and nourish the blood.


This particular soup mix calls for the use of black dates, which have the additional benefit of strengthening the stomach and boosting one's digestive health.


Wolfberries, which you should add in the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking, are beneficial to the liver, kidney and eyes.


This soup is fairly tasty. But if you want it to be even healthier, skip the salt.


To reap its long-term benefits, Mr Cheong suggests taking this soup once a week.


Preparation is straightforward and you can use the slow cooker if you do not wish to watch the stove.




Add the yuzhu, dong yang shen, cordycep flowers, chicken, snow fungus and fish maw to the pot of boiling water.



  • 4.8 litres water
  • 27g dried snow fungus
  • Half a chicken (488g), deskinned and halved
  • 32g yuzhu (Solomon’s seal)
  • 6g dong yang shen (Japanese ginseng)
  • 10g cordycep flowers
  • 6 pieces of dried unfried fish maw (28g)
  • 3 black dates (24g)
  • 4 red dates (16g)
  • 8g wolfberries
  • ¼ tsp salt



1. Boil 500ml water. Place snow fungus in a heat-resistant bowl and pour boiling water over it. Soak for five minutes. Once the snow fungus has softened, discard the hot water and rinse.

2. Use a pair of scissors to remove the tough stem endings.

3. Rinse the snow fungus and place it in a colander to drain excess water. Set aside.

4. Bring 1 litre of water to a boil in a pot. Blanch the chicken until there is no visible blood. Remove the chicken and rinse.

5. In a clean, sturdy pot, bring the remaining water to a boil.

6. Add the yuzhu, dong yang shen, cordycep flowers, chicken, snow fungus, fish maw, black dates and red dates.

7. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

8. Add the wolfberries and simmer covered for another 10 minutes.

9. Season with salt. Stir and turn off the heat.

10. Serve hot.


Makes three to four servings


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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