Chinese dessert – Green Beans with large sago

Chinese Dessert - 001 Green Beans w Large Sago edited re-sized

There are countless types of Chinese tong sui 糖水 (literal English translation into Chinese is “Sweet Soups”) with the different Chinese dialect groups emphasizing on the use of different dried ingredients.

Tong sui 糖水 (Cantonese name) can be served hot or cold and it is most frequently made up of clear soups which has obtained flavour and nutrition from many kinds of dried ingredients. The soup and its ingredients would most likely have been stewed. I notice that the current trend for cold tong sui 糖水 is a move towards fusion cuisine with the addition of a combination of custards and fruits.  For instance, Hui Lau Shan 許留山 in Hong Kong, is such a dessert shop known for their predominant use of  mangoes in their dessert selection.

Tong sui 糖水 need not be served only after a meal, they can be served as elevenses or at tea time too. Hmm…us Chinese ARE always eating, are we not?

For convenience, I have categorised this dish under Chinese dessert. This particular tong sui 糖水 uses simple, easily available ingredients, even if you live outside Asia. Its appeal lies in its health giving properties (winter melon, green beans or mung beans are believed to promote the yin in our bodies. They cool internal heat and clear toxins). How comforting to know that this dessert is not just empty calories filled with fats to keep our sweet tooth happy.

Depending on the manufacturer of these sago pearls, this tong sui 糖水 may or may not be totally gluten free.

I have noticed that this dessert very much appeals to the older generation and it serves to give them added nutrition especially when their appetite wanes on some days.

Some Comments about the Ingredients

  • Gula Malacca. A South East Asian sugar which adds depth to taste.
  • Candied Winter Melon. Available from Asian groceries. Detox and cooling qualities.
  • Large Sago Pearls. Do not wash them. These require different cooking method from the small sago pearls. They are added for their chewy texture. Like the black sago pearls in Gong Cha.
  • Dark Brown Sugar. Some believe it acts as an additional detox ingredient.
  • Dry Green Beans or Mung Beans. Run through the green beans and remove little bits of stone. Soak them for about 2 hours with hot water to fully re-hydrate beans and drain before cooking.
  • Pandan leaves. Nothing like fresh leaves but half a teaspoon of Pandan essence as a substitute. Frozen pandan leaves may be found at some Asian groceries.

Hints. These different kinds of sugar can be substituted with white sugar but the taste and nutritional value will be different. Large sago pearls can be substituted with small ones but you will have to cook them in a slightly different manner.

Preparing the large Sago balls

Cooking these large sago pearls is different than cooking the small sago pearls in a dessert called Sago Pudding (click here). I find that a thermal pot is particularly useful. If you don’t possess one, use a heavy duty pot.

STEP 1. Fill the internal thermal pot half full of water and bring water to a rolling boil. Add in the large sago balls. Boil them over medium heat for about 15 mins. Cover the thermal pot and place it into the host pot. Leave it for 2 to 3 hours. Check to ensure the sago balls are fully cooked and transparent.

STEP 2. Pour contents into a large basin or pot. Run tap water into the basin, stir to loosen the sago balls from the starchy liquid. You may need to run more tap water to remove the starchy liquid. Drain. It is now ready for use.

Hint. If you are not intending to use cooked sago balls intermediately, soak them in half a cup of fresh water and refrigerate. Drain again before use.

COOKING this Tong Sui

STEP 1. Prepare and hydrate green beans.

STEP 2. In internal thermal pot, bring 3 cups of water to rolling boil. Add in the drained and hydrated green beans. Cook over medium high heat for about 10 to 12 mins. Cover pot and place into the host thermal pot for about 1 hour. Beans should have softened and “blossomed”. Do not drain.

STEP 3. Since my thermal pot is small, I used a stock pot to boil 1 litre of water with the brown sugar, gula malacca, candied melon and pandan leaves. Boil contents over high heat for till sugar melts. Add cooked green beans and sago balls. Bring to boil. Taste for sweetness and adjust to suit your taste. Serve.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 75 grams large small sago balls
  • 200 grams green beans, prepare and rehydrate
  • 2 pandan leaves, washed
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 30 gm gula malacca
  • 50 gm candied winter melon, chopped
  • 50 gm dark brown sugar

Method:

Cooking the Large Sago Balls

1. Fill the internal thermal pot half full of water and bring water to a rolling boil. Add in the large sago balls. Boil them over medium heat for about 15 mins. Cover the thermal pot and place it into the host pot. Leave it for 2 to 3 hours. Check to ensure the sago balls are fully cooked and transparent.

2. Pour contents into a large basin or pot. Run tap water into the basin, stir to loosen the sago balls from the starchy liquid. You may need to run more tap water to remove the starchy liquid. Drain. It is now ready for use.

Cooking the Green Bean Tong Sui

1. Prepare and hydrate green beans. Since my thermal pot is small in size, I cooked this dessert in 2 stages. If you have a large thermal pot, then cook all these ingredients (except for the large sago balls) all together.

2. In internal thermal pot, bring 3 cups of water to rolling boil. Add in the drained and hydrated green beans. Cook over medium high heat for about 10 to 12 mins. Cover pot and place into the host thermal pot for about 1 hour. Beans should have softened and “blossomed”. Do not drain.

3. In large stock pot, to boil 1 litre of water with the brown sugar, gula malacca, candied melon and pandan leaves. Boil contents over high heat for till sugar melts. Add cooked green beans and sago balls. Bring to boil. Taste for sweetness and adjust to suit your taste. Serve.

Other desserts on this blog

I have posted several other desserts which are popular, nutritious and use easily purchased ingredients. Most helpers are familiar with a number of these desserts so they are able to cook them without much continued supervision. Another advantage…ovens are also not required to make them.

1. Almond Jelly + Longans. Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

3. Sago Pudding. Click here.

4. Orange Agar Agar. Click here.

5. Sweet Potato Dessert Soup. Click here.

6. Apple Crepes. Click here.

 

 

 

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