Dried fruits are often used in both sweet, savory, and herbal soups. Many are considered to have medicinal value. Most common are red dates, goji berries, dried winter melon, and longan which lend sweetness to a dish.
Kei Chi, also known as goji or wolf berries are small red berries often added to tonics and herbal soups. They cook very quickly and impart a slightly sweetish flavor to the soup.
Longan means “dragon eyes” when literally translated. The fresh fruits are very succulent and sweet with round dark brown seeds. Dried longans are often added to sweet tonics and even savory soups.
Dried persimmons are known as chi or kaki. They are naturally sweet and are delicious in sweet soups. Remove stalk and slice before using.
Dried red dates, also known as jujubes come pitted or with pits. It is best to buy pitted ones as the pits have to be removed before using. Black dates are a different species. They are larger, sweeter, and less commonly available. Black dates are steamed, dried, and smoked, hence the slightly smoky fragrance and flavor.
Fresh winter melon has thick, white, translucent flesh often used in soups. They are cut into strips, candied, and commonly eaten during the Chinese New Year festival. Tong tung kwa (candied winter melon) are chopped and used in many Chinese cakes and desserts.
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