A nourishing and warming soup suitable for eating after childbirth, inspired by my recent stay at the luxurious Wenhua-Garden Postpartum Nursing Home. But you don’t need to have a baby to enjoy this.
I was surprised, in a good way, when I sampled the evening meal at Wenhua-Garden Postpartum Nursing Home to find that the multiple Chinese postpartum confinement (zuo yuezi) friendly dishes were light and healthy. And delicious. Mr Taiwanxifu and I liked a special pork and dried longan (also called guiyuan) soup so much that I decided to recreate it when we came home. It is not quite the same and I do not claim that it is as good as the version Wenhua-Garden’s chef makes. But I love the way the longan imparts a natural sweetness to this soup. It is so easy to make, especially if you have a slow cooker, that it is the perfect antidote to a cold, dreary day.
600g of pork spareribs (we buy short spareribs)
12 dried longans
A handful of dried shiitake mushrooms
1. Wash the mushrooms and place them into a bowl of warm water to soak.
2. Shell the longans and put the dried flesh into a separate bowl of warm water to soak for around ten minutes. Drain and, using a small paring knife, gently remove the kernels. Put the flesh aside.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil. Add the pork spareribs and cook for a few minutes. Drain and reserve the pork. (This step will help to remove soup scum and ensure a clearer end result.)
4. Bring around three liters of water to the boil. Add all ingredients and simmer for approximately two hours or until the meat is tender.
Note: like most zuo yuezi recipes, this does not contain salt. If you are not serving this to someone who has just given birth, add salt to taste. This soup can also be made in a slow cooker.