Herbs and health bolstering or even "medicinal" ingredients are not uncommon additions. Fancy a little oviductus ranae in your dessert soup? How about a nice big bowl of turtle shell jelly? It sounds a little unsettling, but the outcome is frequently delicious and you may be pleasantly surprised to find yourself asking for seconds and even thirds. That's the official party line anyway ;) Personally, if I can't tell what it is, I'll pass, thank you very much! Great thing about sweet potatoes is, you can tell one, a mile away. Now you know why this is my favourite tong sui.
You don't need many ingredients for sweet potato soup, and the classic version features only sweet potato slices in a ginger scented syrup sweetened with rock sugar. This version is a local favourite, embellished with pandan, dried longans and rich, fudgy palm sugar, all of which add up to an intensely flavourful and headily perfumed bowl of healthy, delicious goodness.... without the funky amphibious or reptilian bits and bobs.
Ginger, a proven and trusted digestive aid, is a must as sweet potatoes are believed to be 'windy'. Eating more than a few slices, may cause a gassy tummy and extremely uncomfortable bloating. Trust me, you want ginger in this! Pandan leaves are a wonderful and frequent addition, but can be replaced with vanilla or simply omitted. If longans are not your thing, or difficult to find, dried Chinese dates are a great stand in. If you're working around a bare-bones pantry set up, do it the old fashioned way, with just sweet potatoes, ginger and whatever sugar you have, or like.
This is a very simple, undemanding dish to prepare, but, the touchstone for a well made bowl is the clarity of the syrup. The Chinese refer to this as "cheng", meaning clear. The sweet potatoes must be perfectly tender, without any hint of mushiness, so they don't disintegrate or crumble into the syrup, thus clouding it. The longans must be cooked until rehydrated to the core, but not simmered so long, that their essence is leached out into the syrup, thus rendering them tasteless. Above all, the syrup that carries both ingredients must be flavourful, fragrant, subtly sweet so as not to overpower the flavour of the sweet potatoes and longans, and crystal clear so as not to visually obscure them.
The best way to achieve this ideal, is to cook the sweet potatoes separately from the other ingredients. This may seem like a lot of hoo-ha for what amounts to tarted up boiled sweet potatoes, but once you have taken it in with your eyes, your nose and finally, your tastebuds, you will understand why sometimes, it pays to be just a little bit... persnickety. Cantonese cuisine, at its heart, is uncomplicated cooking, showcasing the best of a few good ingredients, but, technique is everything. And, it may be simple, but damn, if it ain't pretty!
what a perfect stuff for cold weather! it's almost like a natural flu medicine to me - to bad never seen drie longans here.ReplyDelete
Yes, it is perfect for cold weather - so comforting when I ate it in my maximum power air-conditioned bedroom hahahaha!!! But it also cools me down in my uncomfortably warm and humid living room (no aircon there *sigh*) This is very healthy and maybe the ginger is good for flu too. No longan, never mind. Try dried dates (the red skinned Chinese type) I think they are easier to find over there, then dried longan...Delete
This is just beautiful, Denise. And the golden hues are a designer's dream.ReplyDelete
You say the loveliest things, Usha :)Delete
Hi Denise! I love the combination of ginger and pandan leave. That's my favourite with sweet potato or glutinous rice balls.ReplyDelete
I usually make a big pot of the soup... just to drink on its own. :D
Will add dried longan next time...
Hi Alvin :) Me too! Very fragrant and so addictive. Seriously cannot stop - even when the sweet potatoes and longan all gone, still love drinking the syrup kosong LOL. I find it so refreshing, though my grandma and mum always told me that longan and ginger are actually both "heaty". If you don't add longan, you really should try some time. The longan adds amazing flavour. Don't know how else to describe it except, "damn shiok"!Delete
Hi Denise, this sweet potato and longan soup is a wonderful dessert for me. I have few packet of gula melaka haven't consume and this recipe is a great idea for it. Thanks for sharing!!!!ReplyDelete
Hi Esther, I think many Singaporeans and Malaysians like this soup very much. I feel very refreshed after having it so it must be good for our kind of uncomfortable weather. Yes, you must try this with gula Melaka, if you are used to making it with rock sugar. It's a different flavour, but really very delicious! Hope you enjoy it :)Delete
Hi Denise, I made your mee siam and sambal udang today. Got the thumbs up from my parents! Thanks! :) no luck with the unwaxed lemons. Maybe will give the place you've recommended a try during the holidays as I don't drive.ReplyDelete
I will give this sweet soup a try since I do have some leftover gula melaka from my kaya adventure. My family love anything with sweet potato :)ReplyDelete
Hi Rebecca :) Glad your parents enjoyed the mee siam and sambal - means a lot to me that they approve LOL Sorry to hear about the lemons - it really isn't that easy to find them here. Hope you enjoy exploring Farm Mart, even if you don't find what you're looking for there.Delete
It's ridiculous how much I LOVE sweet potato soup! The bonus is that it's so easy to prepare and really very healthy if you don't go overboard with the sugar. I bought more sweet potatoes two days ago, the orange type this time, as the Japanese ones were sold out. I will make it again this evening as I am already craving it again ! Gula Melaka gives it a very nice flavour and aroma which I hope you and your family will enjoy as much as I do :)
Stunning photography.. amazing job !!ReplyDelete
Thank you Hari, for your kind words. I look forward to your continuing visits and feedback :)Delete