February 15, 2016
Coming soon to a restaurant near you and once only available to Chinese Emperors, “Snow Jelly”, could it be the next big thing for those with a discerning palate and not afraid to try new things?
Before you rush off and order a dish containing Snow Jelly you may be interested to know that the same ingredient is known for centuries as Hasma, the name may not immediately ring any alarm bells but what you may not realize is that Hasma (Harsmar, Hashima) is a Chinese and widely Central Asian dessert and soup ingredient made from the dried fatty tissue found near the fallopian tubes of true frogs. If it makes you feel less apprehensive Hasma is sometimes mistakenly referred to to as ‘Snow Frog Fat’ due to its whitish, gelatinous appearance
Interestingly the Western pharmaceutical term for Hasma is Oviductus Ranae and in traditional Chinese Medicine it is classed as one of the top five most valued Chinese ingredients also known as Ha Ma You, 蛤蟆油, 雪蛤 (xueha) and Forest Frog’s Oviduct. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that Hasma once soaked in water for stewing or made into pills can nourish yin, moisten lungs and replenish the kidney essence. It is also said to help as anti-aging, anti-lipemic, anti-oxidation and anti-fatigue. If that was not enough it is also suggested by the Atlas of the Chinese Materia Medica Pharmacopoeia of 1995, that it can be used as a cure for listlessness cardiac papitation, insomnia and night sweating in debility or in convalescence; hemoptysis in phthisis, all in all one hell of a wonder frog
Texture, Taste and Smell
Hasma is sold dried as irregular flat pieces and flakes ranging from 1–2 cm in length and 1–5 mm in thickness. Individual pieces are yellowish-white in colour with a matte luster, whose surface may be covered with off-white pellicles, when rehydrated, dried Hasma can expand up to 10-15 times in size.
Dried Hasma is rehydrated and double-boiled with rock sugar to create a glutinous texture and opaque color. Dried or rehydrated Hasma has a slight fishy smell. In its unflavored form it is sweet and slightly savory in taste with a texture that is glutinous, chewy, and light, very similar to that of tapioca in a dessert. you will also find Hasma included in more exotic versions of shark fin soup.
More on the unfortunate Frogs
Luckily for Hashima lovers (and less so for the frogs) ‘True Frogs’ have the widest distribution of any frog family. They are abundant throughout most of the world, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. Typically, true frogs are smooth and moist-skinned, with large, powerful legs and extensively webbed feet. The true frogs vary greatly in size, ranging from small—such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica)—to the largest frog in the world, the goliath frog (Conraua goliath). This may explain why more countries in Asia are farming these amphibians especially in light of the fact that a few table spoons can cost more than 18 USD.
Hasma while produced primarily in the Northeastern Provinces of China, dishes made with Hasma are available in North American cities with large Chinese populations and in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and ‘Now in Thailand’
An easy recipe to try at home (That’s as long as you have the necessary frog fallopian tubes)
“Snow Jelly and Longon Soup”
Experience the luscious taste of Longon and snow jelly combined in a sweet soup that creates this classic Chinese dessert.
1.5 tbsp Snow frog
1.5 tbsp Dried longon
10 pcs Chinese dates
1 tbsp Crushed rock sugar
2 cup Water
- Prepare the snow frog by soaking it in cold water for several hours or overnight. Rinse well. Go over the snow frog and pick out any dirt. Again rinse well and squeeze dry.
- Wash the Chinese dates, drain and set aside. Place the snow frog in the pot and add Chinese dates, longons, and water. Bring a pot of water to boil and steam them for about 15 minutes.
- Add the rock sugar, stirring to dissolve. Serve the soup hot.