Mushrooms, of all sorts, are an important ingredient in “yangsheng“ recipes to nourish life. One of the most commonly known in the west is the shiitake mushroom, because of the rich flavor it adds to soups, stews and stirfry dishes. However, it also has very powerful medicinal properties for the qi and, in modern times, is recognized for its anti-cancer properties.
This recipe uses a combination of whatever fresh mushrooms you can find, but is best to include shiitake. If fresh shiitake mushrooms are not available, I would suggest using one or two of the dried black shiitake mushrooms.
The special combination of pork, tofu, green onion, white pepper, goji berries and Chinese red dates is not only delicious, but has the medicinal action of tonifying the qi, blood and yin essence, clearing phlegm heat, strengthening the kidney qi, harmonizing the liver qi and motivating the lung qi.
It is, of course, possible to make this recipe without the pork, for those who are vegetarians. This will change the qi action of the recipe, mainly in that it is less nourishing for the blood, and does not harmonize the liver qi. However, this is still a very potent food medicine recipe to nourish life, with all the positive effects for the qi and essence!
The amounts are for two portions, as a whole meal.
For the tofu-pork meatballs:
130g lean minced pork
2 spring onions, green part only, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
For the soup:
1-2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 liter boiling water
½ teaspoon salt
8g goji berries
4 Chinese red dates
250g of mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped
*eg. 50g shiitake mushrooms, 50g white or brown button mushrooms, 50g Japanese enoki mushrooms, 50g oyster mushrooms, 50g Japanese matsutake mushrooms - the japanese mushrooms are commonly found in good organic shops or asian shops, but you could easily substitute any kind of mushroom you like...porcini, portobello, or whatever your store carries. If you cannot find fresh shiitake, try to get the dried variety, and soak about 2 or three of them for at least ten minutes before using.
Place the minced pork in a bowl. Crumble up the tofu with your hands and thoroughly mix with the pork, squeezing and pressing the pork and tofu to blend it. Add the chopped green parts of the spring onion and the rest of the seasonings (salt, white pepper soy sauce, sugar). Using your hand, with the fingers separated like a claw, stir the mixture in one direction only until it is sticky (this creates a special texture so that the meatball mixture stays together while cooking, and the texture is light and fluffy).
Press the mixture into a flat sphere in your mixing bowl, and then divide the sphere in half. Next, divide each half into three equal portions. Grabbing one portion of the meatball mixture in your hand, lightly press and roll it in the palm of your hand to form a ball. Repeat to make 6 meatballs.
Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan, gently add the meatballs to the pan and on a medium heat, brown the meatballs, gently turning them until the surface of the meatball is sealed and slightly brown. This only takes 2 or 3 minutes...the meatballs do not have to be fully cooked. This step ensures the meatballs will not fall apart as you cook the soup.
Add the boiling water to the pan, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Also add the Chinese red dates. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 / 15 minutes.
Uncover pan, and skim away any excess oil that has risen to the surface before adding the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms, and continue to cook, uncovered, until the mushrooms are done (around 5 / 10 minutes). In the end, add the goji berries.
Immediately serve and enjoy!