February 4 is roughly the the southern hemisphere equivalent of 立秋 Li Qiu, Autumn Begins. It is the first term of autumn in the solar calendar but in China it is still hot, indeed the dog days of heat are ongoing. But it is an autumnal time as farmers need to prepare for harvest and an acknowledgement that cooler days are on their way.
White fungus soap is a traditional autumn food. Its main ingredients are white fungus* and lotus seed, that together moisten and nourish the body, and are thought to rejuvenate skin, improve immunity and digestion.
This moistening is important because Chinese autumns are dry. But while in Perth autumns we may expect some rain, our long summer is parching and needs to be remediated. And there’s gonna be plenty of hot dry days yet.
Soak 1/3 cup of lotus seeds in hot water for one hour.
Soak one flower of white fungus in room temperature water for 5 minutes, it will expand to three times its dry size. Rinse away any dirt or impurities and cut the dark yellow base of the fungus away with scissors, then shred the remaining part to smaller pieces.
Split the lotus seeds in half and remove any green sprouts as they are bitter.
You could add Chinese red dates or dried longan fruit for sweetness, half a dozen of each should do. Soak them before using. Gouji berries could also be used but add these towards the end of cooking as they can become bitter when cooked for more than a few minutes.
Simmer the ingredients in a covered pot for 45 minutes.
A bit of rock sugar may be used for sweetening if desired.
*White fungus 银耳 yin er is also known as snow fungus.You can find it and lotus seed 蓮子 lián zǐ at Chinese grocers.