Lek Tau Suan or Tau Suan is a very popular South East Asian dessert. The main ingredient in this soup-like dessert is split green beans or mung beans, minus the green husks, hence the yellow colour instead of green.
In Kuching, where I grew up, there’s a huge following of this quite addictive dessert. One can order and eat the dessert, served warm in a Chinese bowl with a Chinese spoon or duck spoon al fresco at a stall or food court. Slices of yu char kueh (deep-fried Chinese crullers) is the icing on the cake. This combination is the classic version seen served in Malaysia and Singapore.
Mum used to buy the dessert home from her favourite stall. The dessert is popularly referred to as lek tau suan in Kuching. Although ‘tau‘ means beans or nuts, but Hokkien-speaking Kuchingites specifically differentiate one ‘tau‘ to another. For example ‘toh tau‘ is peanuts, ‘ang tau‘ is red beans, ‘oh tau‘ is black beans, therefore, ‘lek tau‘ is green beans (although the colour green in Hokkien is cheh. Confusing, eh?). In Singapore, this dessert is simply called ‘tau suan‘. Whatever and however way the pearly beans are called, this is one of my favourite desserts. My Mum and siblings know that. Every trip home to Kuching will see me indulging in this dessert without fail.
This is how a bowl of the sweet mung bean dessert is served. I love it warm, ie freshly scooped out of the pot or very cold when refrigerated. The sweet starchy soup with a hint of saltiness from the yu char kueh makes the dessert complete.
These deep-fried Chinese crullers, by the way, were taken at Gerrard Street in Chinatown during one of my recent trips to London. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any Asian stores in Belgium selling these crullers. I could make them myself, but seeing the amount of oil used to deep fry the crullers turned me off. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE yu char kueh anytime, anywhere if I can get hold of them ready-made, but the idea of making them in my kitchen is a BIG hassle. Reason being, I don’t own a fryolator and I never deep-fry my food in my own kitchen here in BE.
Would you spend EUR 5 (approx MYR 25) for a bowl of Lek Tau Suan?
Crazy but true, I did!
I was craving for a bowl of the dessert and there in the fridge of a mini Thai store, was the last portion. This Thai Supermarket is ‘notoriously’ known to charge all her desserts at EUR 5 flat! My girlfriends with whom I have occasional lunches with will know which supermarket I’m referring to *wink*
Interestingly, this dessert is called ‘tau suan’ in Thai, at least that’s what the Thai lady at the store told me. The stark difference, though, was the ‘icing on the cake’. Thai and Vietnamese lek tau suan are served with drizzles of lightly salted coconut cream. The last portion I brought home was the first time I had my lek tau suan served á laThai or Vietnamese.
No Crullers No Problem
Last weekend, I was craving for lek tau suan… again! To be honest, I have made this dessert a few times already – plain as wel as with sago pearls – but never had them garnished with fried crullers. As mentioned earlier, I could not get deep-fried Chinese crullers, hence, I resorted to adapting my lek tau suan, the Thai or Vietnamese way this time round.
And by the way, I was amazed with the long list of health benefits of this Ayuverdic beans, so folks, there is no reason to not indulging in these beans, sweet or savoury. And believe you me, it did not cost me anthing near to EUR 5 for serving up to 6 or more bowls of the sweet mung bean soup! I felt utterly cheated. Then again I knew, so serve me right…
The only alternative is D.I.Y. in the comfort of my own kitchen.
Note: The measurements and timing in this recipe are tried and tested based purely on personal preference, which may or may not agree with your tastebuds, so be warned.
- 1 cup split mung beans, washed and soaked for 6 hours
- Some Pandan leaves
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour + 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup coconut cream
- A pinch of fleur de sel
- Wash the mung beans in several changes of water until water is very clean and clear
- Soak the beans for 6 hours. Wash for the last time. Transfer the beans to a strainer to drain excess water
- Pleat a ‘mat’ form with a few strands of Pandan leaves. Place the ‘mat’ in a steamer and pour the dry soaked beans on the Pandan ‘mat’. Cover the beans with all ends of the Pandan leaves and fasten with toothpicks. Steam for 15 minutes or until al dente (how I like my beans)
- Boil 3 cups water. Throw in 2 knotted Pandan leaves.
- Add in sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove the knotted Pandan leaves
- Make the starch by binding 1/3 cup tapioca flour with 1/2 cup water.
- Pour the starch in the sugared water. Stir until the liquid turns translucent and gluey.
- When the mung beans are cooked at the stage of al dente, sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar and mix to coat the beans. Transfer beans to sugared starch water. Stir to mix the beans evenly.
- In a small clean bowl, add a pinch of salt into the coconut cream. Stir to dissolve. Set aside.
- Serve the sweet mung bean congee in dessert bowls and drizzle with a tablespoon of the coconut cream
The pre-soaking of the beans for 6 hours and steaming for 15 minutes resulted in a nice bite to the beans. I loved the chewy texture of the cooked beans rather than the distintegrated and mushy texture. By adding 1 Tbsp sugar to the steamed beans created that al dente texture as well as keeping each bean whole. Most recipes used sweet potato starch. I don’t have that flour. I have used corn flour before but the starchiness would not hold after a few hours or left cold. You will end up with a watery dessert. Tapioca flour is a better option. It’s gluten-free but high in carb. The liquid remained gluey even after leaving in the fridge overnight. Honestly, if I had the choice between coconut cream topping or slices of deep-fried Chinese crullers, I would go for the later. It’s THE best combination ever! The drizzle of coconut cream was good but the crullers were better. Again, a subjective choice 😉
I’m linking this post to the October blog-hop cooking event with the theme, “COCONUT” at Little Thumbs Up organized by Doreen of my favourite little DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and hosted by Jess of Bakericious at this post.
TGIF! Happy weekend all!