Friday, June 03, 2005

SwEEt SoUp

Tong sui (Chinese for sweet soup) is a popular Chinese dessert which can be taken hot or cold. Usually you drink it the day you make the tong sui as leftovers in the fridge is a no-no since the Chinese believe that you will get "wind" if you drink overnight tong sui. There are many varieties of tong sui but for me, the ultimate tong sui is leng chee kang.

I love leng chee kang as it is full of all those good things in life; leng chee (Chinese for lotus seeds), dried longans, crunchy snow fungus and dried lily bulbs. It's readily available at the local hawkers and in restaurants that specialise in tong sui so satisfying my craving for it is pretty easy. Each outlet have their "special blend" of ingredients and some have additional ingredients like dried agar-agar strips, dried winter melon, sago or dried persimmon.

There are many different ways to make leng chee kang and I have been experimenting with the various methods. Recently I tried a recipe I got from a local magazine that featured a famous tong sui shop in Cheras. Since the recipe was for vast quantities, I adapted it to fit the two of us. The recipe is not entirely perfect and you will probably need further tweaking to fit your own tastebuds. The original recipe called for soaking the lotus seeds in alkaline water which I skipped since I did not have any alkaline water. I also omitted the snow fungus since I had ran out of it. If using snow fungus, remember to soak them for a while to soften them and snip off their dried hard bits. They also use ingredients like lor hon kor (Chinese for Buddha's fruit) and kam choh (Chinese for licorice root). Lor hon kor is a dried hard round fruit found in Chinese medicine shops. I'm not sure how the reference of Buddha but it is supposed to be good to keep you from feeling heaty. Pandan leaves are also used to lightly flavour the dessert with their wonderful smell.

Leng Chee Kang
100g lotus seeds
4 pieces of pandan leaf
rock sugar
50g dried lily bulbs
50g dried longan
1 Buddha's fruit (Lor Hon Kor)
a handful of kam choh

Boil the lotus seeds, water (up to you to add but I used about three to four rice bowls), 2 pieces of pandan leaf knotted up and rock sugar (the amount is up to you to add depending on how sweet you want your dessert to be) until the lotus seeds are soft. Add the dried lily bulbs and dried longan and boil for another half and hour. Lily bulbs cook faster than lotus seeds so don't add them together or else they will be too soft. I usually like my longans to still be whole and not so soft so I don't boil them for too long.

In another pot, add the slightly cracked lor hon kor, 2 pieces of pandan leaf knotted up and the kam choh with water(I used about five rice bowls) to boil. Once the colours have deepen and the aromas released, scoop the lor hon kor and kam choh out or else the mixture will be too strong tasting. Add rock sugar to taste and boil it further. Once boiled, add in more water to dilute the solution further until the taste is just right for you. You may add extra sugar if you like to taste.

To serve your leng chee kang, scoop the leng chee, lily bulbs and longan into a bowl and add the above mixture. If you want it cold, you can add some ice cubes to the tong sui.

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Piegirl said...

i was searching for recipes that used dried longans and came across your blog. thanks for sharing. i'm actually from singapore but live in the US now. i'm always homesick for local flavors and foods. i'm going to try your tong sui recipe some time.

shaz said...

Thanks for the recipe, I was trying to figure out how to make the soup base and stumbled onto this post.

Cheers from Oz :)

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