First of all, apologies for abandoning the blog for such a long time! December has been a mad flurry of work, job applications, and more work. And it didn’t help that I managed to get the flu during this time – believe me when I say it is very hard to work when you’re all sniffly, have lost your voice, and have blocked ears. But I’m back now (still sniffly but much better), and that is what matters.
I’m not exactly sure why, but I always get homesick when I’m ill or stressed. And in the last few weeks, I’ve really wished I could just hop on a plane and go home. However it’s never as easy as that, so I have to find ways to “relieve” the homesick-ness.
One dish that always reminds me of home is red (adzuki) bean soup, which I grew up eating. One sip of this humble soup or “tong shui” is enough to transport me back to my childhood, and back to Malaysia. At any rate, it has remained one of my favourite comfort foods (alongside tang yuan), and I make it everytime I miss home, or when it’s cold. Which actually translates into me making it pretty regularly…..
The beauty about this dessert/tong shui is how simple it is to make. Like many traditional Chinese recipes, this is done by “feel” and estimation. I’ve personally never used a recipe for this, and have just thrown everything together – and it has always worked out. Always. I’ve included a simple recipe at the end of the post which can be used as a guide, but rest assured you do not need to stick to it religiously.
To be on the safe side and be certain that the beans will soften, you should soak your red beans overnight. Strangely enough, the red beans I buy from Chinatown don’t need to be soaked overnight, but the ones I buy from non-Asian grocery stores (e.g. Tesco, Waitrose) have to be soaked. So, I only buy them from Chinatown now, as I never plan that far ahead when it comes to this!
I also highly recommend using some sort of mandarin/orange peel in the soup. It adds a great citrus tang to the soup, and in my opinion elevates it to another level.
I do hope you try making this, it’s simple and makes for a delicious dessert – regardless if you serve it hot, warm, or cold!
Red bean soup
- 1 cup red (adzuki) beans
- 2 tablespoons dried longans (optional)
- 1 tablespoon dried mandarin peel – alternatively, use 3-4 pieces of fresh mandarin/orange peel
- 1 piece of rock sugar (approx 5x7cm) – alternatively, use 1/3 cup sugar
- 7 cups water
Add all the ingredients into a pot, slow cooker or rice cooker. Slow cook (over low heat if using a pot on the stove) for 2-3 hours, or until the beans turn deliciously soft and mushy. That’s it – told you it was easy.
* If you wish, you can add some tapioca pearls (sago) to this – simply cook 1 cup of tapioca pearls in hot boiling water (in a seperate pan). When they turn translucent, add them to the red bean soup, and you’re good to go!