This delicious and aromatic cordyceps flower chicken soup is excellent for both children and adults. It replenishes energy, improves eyesight and helps to build up the immune system.
Sometimes we find the most interesting things when we are not looking for it. Like the time when I was at a Chinese medical shop searching for some dried ginseng when I came across some twirly dried herbs like those below.
Turned out, they were cordyceps flower (scientific name Cordyceps Militaris), also known as 虫草花 in Mandarin. Translated literally, it means ‘worm grass flower’. A peculiar name indeed but they’re neither a worm, flower nor grass.
I found out that they’re actually cultured mushrooms. Don’t they look a little like saffron? Apparently, they have been used by the Chinese for thousands of years for its medicinal effects.
Cordyceps flower have similar medicinal properties and chemical constituents (albeit with lesser potency) to the rare, precious and better known Cordyceps Sinensis (冬虫夏草). The best part is, they cost a fraction of the price of the very dear cordyceps (prices range from S$200-$700 for 10g depending on size and quality) as they’re much easier and cheaper to cultivate.
Cordyceps flower have a slight woody scent. They are suitable to be used in any Chinese soup. In this Cordyceps flower soup recipe I added some dried scallops, dried Chinese yam and goji berries.
How cordyceps flowers are used
- Add into any type of Chinese soup. (the variations are endless!)
- Steep in boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes to make a tea. (I tried this, the tea has a lovely mushroomy fragrance and taste)
- Steam with chicken or fish
- Grinded into powder and put into capsules (taken to fortify energy and endurance)
- Added into bak chang (!)
- In salads
- Added into congee
- Used in dim sum and dumplings
Indeed, it is a very versatile mushroom.
After about 2 hours of simmering in a soup pot, the cordycep flowers are rather tasteless. The nutrients have all been extracted into the soup. Their redeeming quality (apart from their health benefits) is the slightly chewy and crunchy texture which my kids adore. It’s like those of the golden needle mushroom (enokitake). You may notice that the color of the soup will have a orangey tint after cooking.
Health Benefits of Cordyceps Flower:
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, cordyceps flower have the following health benefits:
- Nourish lungs
- Reduce fatigue
- Enhance our immune system
- Improve sleep
- Tonify kidneys and liver
- Cough relief (it helps to moisten the throat)
(that’s a lot of good stuff there!)
So if you’re feeling under the weather, or just want to whip up a bowl of Chinese soup, do try this Cordyceps flower chicken soup recipe.
The soup is infused with a slight oceanic and sweet flavors of dried scallops. That, coupled with the tender chicken meat and slightly crunchy (and nutritious!) cordyceps flower, make this a simply satisfying and heartwarming soup. I love the softness of the cooked dried Chinese yam and how the flavors of the ingredients complement each other.
- ½ chicken (about 600 g) - cut into big pieces
- 10 g cordycep flowers
- 30 g Huai Shan (Dried Chinese yam)
- 6 dried scallops - soak for about 20 minutes or till soften (retain the water for the soup)
- 3 tbsp goji berries
- 6 cups water (or use just enough to immerse all ingredients)
- Blanch chicken in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse and set aside.
- Rinse all dried ingredients. Place all ingredients (except the goji berries) into a soup pot. (I used a claypot). Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Add goji berries in the last 10 minutes of cooking. If you like the goji berries to be very soft and broken, add them right at the beginning of cooking.
- Season with salt if necessary and serve. (I didn't add any salt into the soup as I found it adequately flavorful)