Wash the spare ribs, then blanche it with the boiling water, then wash and drain.
Wash the mushrooms, then soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Don’t discard the mushroom water.
Wash, peel and chop the carrot and onion into small chunks. Cut the sweet corn into 3 or 4 pieces.
In a large pot, bring water to boil. Then add in pork ribs, mushroom and the mushroom water and boil for half an hour.
Next, add in the sweet corn, carrots, onions and continue to boil for another 1.5 hours at medium heat. Tip: Cover the pot with the lid, leaving a small gap so the water will not overflow.
Lastly, add in the red dates and wolf berries, then boil for another 15 minutes. Add salt to taste, and soup is ready to be served!
You can use pork bones as an alternative. Two good choices are bing bang ban (乒乓板) and suo shi gu (锁匙骨), which you can get at the wet market.The meat on these two cuts still taste good after boiling because there is just the right amount of fats to keep the meat tender, yet not make the soup oily.
Indonesian pork tends to be leaner and sweeter than Australian pork, so the soup will not be oily.
Try to buy red dates with seeds. They are sweeter, and pitted red dates, if stored too long at the shops, may have tiny insects and spider webs forming inside the centre hollow of the dates.
Add just enough waterto cover 1 inch above the mushrooms when soaking them. Otherwise, the mushrooms will end up tasteless. For tips on how to select shiitake mushrooms of good quality, check out my article How to Choose Shiitake Mushrooms here.
Blanch the pork ribs beforehand to remove blood and blood clots, so there will not be a strong pork smell after cooking.
Add chicken bones (2 carcasses) to the soup together with the pork ribs to enhance the soup's taste. You will need to blanche the chicken beforehand as well.
Don't soak the wolfberries. Rinse them just before adding them into the soup otherwise they will become mushy.
Do not boil the red dates and wolf berries for too long, or the soup will become sour. Add them in only during the last 15 minutes.