To some of my non-Asian chow-friends, this might be one of the weirdest named Chinese dish you will come across. To some of my Asian chow-friends, they will recognize the inclusion of this dish in a dinner is usually an indicator that the feast waiting in the wings will be an A-1 dining affair!
Known for its rich taste and special manner of cooking, the dish’s name is an allusion to the dish’s ability to entice vegetarian monks from their temple to partake in the meat-based dish!
This pot of nutritious Chinese delicacies simmered long and slow until fall-apart tender has a history that dated back almost 4 centuries ago to the Qing dynasty. It does not have a fixed recipe and the choice of exotic ingredients used can have myriads of permutations and combinations. The extravagant nature of the ingredients used in this creation normally renders a commercial, restaurant version to be super-expensive. The Michelin star restaurant, ‘Kai’ in Mayfair, London dubbed this dish as the ‘ Most expensive soup on earth ‘ and charges a whopping $200 a bowl!
My home-made, slightly more humble and ‘environmentally friendly and humane ‘version eliminated the use of sharks fin! Chief ingredients that made up this ultra umami rich, delicious and hearty concoction comprised of the following: Silken black Chicken, chicken feet, Pork shank, Jin Hua Chinese Ham, Abalone, Fish Maw, Sea Cucumber, sun-dried Scallops, Sun dried Chinese Shitake ‘ flower’ mushroom, Winter Bamboo Shoot, fresh shucked crab meat…….etc.
Indeed, a great, hearty and exorbitant soup for a cold and snowy Winter evening.
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