It helps to be nosey and poke around the wet market. Last week at the market, I saw some fresh cordyceps and asked the vegetable lady how to cook it. It ended up one of the more amazing discoveries - culminating in some soup of course!
She told me that fresh cordyceps can be simmered with Solomon's seal/yuk chuk and Chinese sage/ tong sum for a delightfully tasty and nourishing soup.
The best part about this Lip Sin wet market is that every stall is within walking distance. In no time I was at the Chinese herbalist - this youthful, ever-cheerful guy who sits in a tiny cubicle of herbs and stuff! He's practically hemmed in by his herbs. Anyway, I show him the fresh cordyceps I just bought and asked him what goes well with this herb. He gave me a packet of pre-packed herbs labeled "Jing Bu Tang" (Clearing and Nourishing Soup).
When I got home, I got right into action. And the end result was good. The soup was flavourful and clear, and best of all, it healed my coughing! Fantastic stuff.
So what's in the Jing Bu Tang? And how to make this anti-coughing soup? Here's the recipe.
1 packet fresh cordyceps (or Dong Chong Xia Cao)
1 packet Jing Bu Tang comprising Solomon's seal, medlar seeds, wai san, pak kei, tong sum and red dates (if your herbalist doesn't have this prepacked, just list the herbs and he'll probably be able to make up a pack for you on the spot)
As usual, bring water in a pot to boil. Add in blanched pork ribs, fresh cordyceps and Jing Bu Tang herbs. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Lower fire, cover pot and simmer for 2-3 hours on low fire. Add salt to season after 2.5 hours. (Use Himalaya rock salt if you can.)
When I was young, I often heard my aunts say that cordyceps were dried caterpillars. Now I know it isn't true - actually cordyceps sinensis is a caterpillar fungus that grows on a type of caterpillar. These days, this parasite is cultivated using grain. Strange or not, this herb works on the lung and kidney meridians to help nourish the lungs and strengthen the kidneys and enhances essence/jing. It also helps combat coughing by nourishing lung yin.
In olden day China, the emperor kept this herb exclusively for himself!