Sweet soup, Che, is a very popular Vietnamese dessert. In this version of Che, buttery lotus seeds are combined with longans, a tropical fruit similar to lychees, producing a slightly smoky vanilla flavor. Our elders believe this help sooth their sleep and clear their thoats. For me, when serving cold, it’s a great dessert cool your body temperature in a warm sunny day or a warm sweet soup for a cold winter; it’s always a great treat!
Dried lotus seeds are usually taking a long time to cook, but quickly cook when boiled with baking soda. When shopping for dried lotus, choose the ones with their bitter green centers removed. They are usually located in the same aisle where the dried beans are at Chinese or Vietnamese markets.
Yellow Rock Candy is the sugar that is purified and concentrated from the sugarcane. Using it instead of the granulated sugar to give the broth a better fragrant taste and it’s healthier than processed granulated sugar. You can buy a box of approximately around 1 pound for 1 dollar.
Recipe for Lotus Seed and Longan Sweet Soup
1 tsp baking soda
1 package (5 – 6 oz) dried white lotus, soaked overnight
5 cups water
3 oz (about 3/4 cup) dried longans, rinse and drained
1/2 cup yellow rock candy sugar
1 tsp pomelo/mali flower flavoring (Hoa Buoi flavoring)
Put the baking soda in a medium saucepan and add water to fill the pan halfway. Bring to boil over high heat and add the lotus seeds. When the water returns to boil and the foam rises to the top of the pan, remove it from heat for 20 seconds to subside the boiling and put it back to the stove. Do it 2-3 times, testing the lotus to make sure they are tender, but yet firm; then pour them out into a colander to drain. Rinse them and make sure to remove any lotus skin and bitter green centers.
Return the lotus seeds into the saucepan and add water, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the seeds are tender but not mushy. Discard any scum floating on the top. Add the longans and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until longans have expanded and softened.
Add the sugar and stir gently to dissolve. Remove from the heat and stir in pomelo/mali flower flavoring. Taste and adjust with more sugar if needed. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
To serve, ladle it into small soup bowls or glasses with ice. Serve hot or cold.
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