Poria Cocos, or Fu Ling (茯苓), is an incredibly dense mushroom used in countless Chinese herbal formulas for it’s pacifying and tonifying effects. It is said to be neutral in temperature with a sweet flavor. Some of it’s key actions are to strengthen the Spleen and Stomach, drain dampness, and calm the mind.
As a mushroom, it benefits the immune system, making it a good addition for elderly and those with a weak constitution or suffering from chronic illnesses or autoimmnune disorders.Poria Cocos features prominently in Chinese history and culture as well. According to the famous Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, China’s first herbal encyclopedia, Fu Ling:
Treats counterflow qi in the chest and rib-sides, worry and rage, fright evil, fear palpitations, binding and pain below the heart, cold and heat, vexation and fullness, cough with counterflow; stops parched mouth and dry tongue; and disinhibits urine. Consumed over a long time, it calms the hun and po souls, nurtures the spirit(s), staves off hunger, and extends the years.– Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing
The mushroom is referenced in one of the four great literary classics of China, A Dream of Red Mansions (红楼梦), as an effective beauty product for skin health. What’s more The famed Empress Dowager Ci Zi of the Qing Dynasty was said to have a weaker constitution and easily fall ill. To remedy this, she regularly consumed poria cakes filled with other nuts or dried fruits and honey.
The mushroom is found growing on the roots of trees at the base of the trunk. Once processed, you can find it powdered, cubed, sliced, and even rolled. For this recipe, we’ll be using the powdered form of the mushroom.
Poria Cakes – 茯苓糕
3/4 cup Rice Flour
1 1/4 cup Glutinous Rice Flour
1/4 cup Fu Ling Powder
1/4 cup granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Water
1 pack Red Bean Paste
1 tbsp Gui Hua
- Mix the sugar in the water and bring to a boil to make a syrup, then allow to cool.
- Sift the rice flour, glutinous rice flour and Fu Ling powder together.
- Slowly add the cooled syrup into the flour mixture, stirring until clumps have been broken up.
- Using half of the doughy mixture, fill a rectangular baking dish lined with parchment paper, spreading evenly. Next, spread the red bean paste over the first layer of cake dough. Lastly, repeat with the remaining rice and Fu Ling dough on top.
- In a soup pot, bring water to boil and place the baking dish on a stand above the water. Cover with lid and steam on medium heat for 25 minutes. Be sure to check water levels from time to time.
- After 25 minutes, remove from wok and let it cool down before slicing and serving with tea.