Celebrate Singapore's sweet successes with red bean dessert soup
To celebrate our nation's birthday and sweet successes, here is a heritage dessert of hong dou sha (red bean dessert soup). Instead of the more commonly available red bean soup, the red bean in this version of the dessert soup is cooked until it achieves a thick paste-like consistency.
To shorten the cooking time, you can soak the red beans for three hours or even overnight prior to cooking. But I skipped that. It is possible to cook red beans without soaking them first.
I also took the easier way out by using a heatproof handheld blender to blitz the red beans into a smooth paste.
Depending on the pot and stove you are using, you should adjust the boiling time. As long as the beans are cooked until they are split and softened, you can blend them. Adjust the texture by adding a little more water if you prefer it less thick. I like my red bean soup more full-bodied.
To add more texture and nutrition, I opted to go with two traditional accompanying ingredients - bai he (lily bulbs) and lian zi (lotus seeds). Dried lily bulbs and dried lotus seeds can be bought at dry provision shops or Chinese medical halls.
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- 500g red beans
- 3.5 litres water (for cooking red beans)
- 1.6 litres water (for cooking lily bulbs and lotus seeds)
- 1 piece of dried Mandarin orange peel (2g)
- 8 pandan leaves
- 100g dried lily bulbs
- 100g dried lotus seeds
- 250g honey rock sugar
- 50g rock sugar
- 30g white sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- Equipment: Handheld blender
1. Wash and rinse the red beans.
2. In a sturdy pot, place the beans and 3.5 litres of water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Add the dried Mandarin orange peel and pandan leaves.
4. Cover and boil over high heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the red beans are cooked and softened. Turn off the heat.
5. Remove the pandan leaves and dried Mandarin orange peel. Discard.
6. Place the pot on a sturdy work top.
7. Use the handheld blender to blend the beans. Place pot back onto stove.
8. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Add the honey rock sugar and rock sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and set aside.
9. Bring 600ml of water to a boil.
10. Place dried lily bulbs in a heatproof bowl and the lotus seeds in another heatproof bowl.
11. Pour enough water to cover the lily bulbs and lotus seeds. Leave them to soak for 45 minutes.
12. Discard water and rinse.
13. Bring 1 litre of water to a boil over medium heat. Add in the lily bulbs and lotus seeds. Boil for 30 minutes. Remove from pot and discard water.
14. Bring red bean mixture to a simmering boil.
15. Add the lily bulbs and lotus seeds into the red bean mixture.
16. Add the white sugar.
17. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, stirring often.
18. Mix the 2 tablespoons of cornflour with water. Stir this into the red bean mixture. Let the mixture come to a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat.
19. Serve hot.