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Aug 12, 2000 01:04 PM

Tong Shui/ "snow jello"

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Help! Last night after an incredible dinner at Sun Lok Kee (which we found through chowhound - thanks guys), we went to the newest incarnation of Sweet & Tart for dessert.

We all got tong shui (dessert soups) and were intrigued by a number of them that were described as being made with "snow jello." Intrigued,we asked our waiter what it was, and he said something along the lines of "frog spit". He also explained that it was considered medicinal in traditional Chinese medicine and that it was very good for the skin. "Chinese people love this", he said. So one of the tong shui we ordered was with almond milk, "snow jello" and lotus seeds. The "snow jello" had a mucousy consistency, was clearish white and vaguely sweet. It was very good - but after much laughter with our waiter, we still didn't really know how they got the "spit" from the frog, or what it really was.

I know someone here must know - please share!!

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  1. The closest ingredient that I can think of to match the name "snow jello" would be snow fungus (syut yee), a very common ingredient in Chinese sweet soups and regular soups as well.
    Snow fungus could have a somewhat slimy texture if overcooked, although it should be a leaf-like, transparent, off-white substance with a gelatinous crunch something like very delicate cartilage - a texture very much appreciated by the Chinese.
    To complicate this, however, is the Waiter's reference to frog, in which case it might be something I think is translated to English as "hasima" (which I have always thought to be frog's ovaries, although I am not precisely sure). It can be used in similar dishes, although not as frequently as snow fungus (in the US at least).
    I have seen both items on offer in the restaurant you spoke of.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Maria Eng

      Is "snow jello" the same as "cloud ears"?

      1. re: Kit

        "Cloud Ears" and "Wood Ears" are also a fungus, but are chocolate brown and not used in sweet dishes even though they have the same general texture and taste. In NY area they can be found dried or fresh. Dried ones need reconstituting in warmish water(they swell to about 5 times their dry volume)and careful washing, picking out the grit and bits if growing medium before use. Fresh ones are rubbed with salt and blanched before use. Snow fungus seems to be used exclusively in sweets and soups and is available dry, to be reconstituted just as you would the cloud ears before use. I've never seen or heard of fresh snow fungus.

        1. re: Maria Eng

          The cloud ears I have used (a Chinese grocer many years ago gave me a recipe for mu shu pork in which cloud ears were included) were not the dark brown of wood ear but more of a light beige color. Don't laugh..the first time I used them I didn't know they were to be soaked in water first! Needless to say, they were very crisp and popped around in the wok like popcorn!

          1. re: Kit

            Sounds fun! Too bad they didn't puff up from the heat like puffed rice, you could have had a new dish. It's strange yours were all beige, I've only seen that as one-offs in the bags I get. PS, when you buy snow fungus, the old-timers' rule of thumb is they should be a lovely golden-beige as this denotes superior quality. Strangely, the trend lately even in many herbalists is to sell boxes of pristine ivory ones which I suspect to have been bleached in some way.

      2. re: Maria Eng

        Dear Maria,

        Thanks for the info. Based on what you have described, I would guess that it was something like the frog ovaries that you described. It was not crunchy at all.

        The waiter kept gesturing to his mouth and saying "frog spit".... Which seemed like a hard ingredient to collect - frog ovaries, however, make more sense.