Friday, March 24, 2006

Buddha Fruit Sweet Soup


This is one of my favourite sweet soups! It is very much a dessert that can be taken hot or cold.

Clockwise from right: Buddha Fruit, dried lotus seeds, dried red dates and dried longan.

The Buddha Fruit or Lo Han Gua (actually I think it should be called Lo Han Fruit instead of Buddha Fruit) is a fruit from China that helps to reduce coughing. It supposedly aids longevity. You can read more about this amazing fruit by going to http://www.itmonline.org/arts/luohanguo.htm

It is usually dark brown and very light. Its sizes range from as small as a golf ball to as big as a tennis ball, any Chinese medicine hall or herbalist would have this available. It's not too expensive either, about RM1 per fruit.

To use it, just wash it and light crack it open. I use one medium size fruit for one pot of water (about 1.5 liters of water).

Besides the Buddha Fruit, I use a handful each of dried longan, dried red dates and dried lotus seeds.

The red dates are already pitted so it saves me time (yes, I am rather lazy!) in the kitchen. Just rinse the red dates and let them dry. Dried longan is also washed and left to dry.

Now for the dried lotus seeds. Soak them in some water. When they soften, use a sharp knife to split the seeds into two. Using the sharp edge of the knife, remove the green pith in the centre of the seed. This pith is bitter so I don't like accidentally biting into some bitter stuff when I am chewing the lotus seeds. What I do know is that the green pith is very cooling. You can discard the pith and just use the lotus seeds.

All you need to do now is put all these 4 ingredients into a pot of water and bring to boil. Once it has come to a boil, add some rock sugar and let it simmer for an hour or so. After that you can serve it warm. If you want it cold or chilled, do not add ice cubes! Just cool it in the fridge and you'll have a refreshing dessert.

Since taste is a personal preference, I often boil this dessert without rock sugar. I take it warm so just before serving, I mix it with honey. Honey is more nutritious anyway and is great for the complexion. And by doing it this way, I can please everyone in the family - some might want it sweeter, hence I just add more honey.

Of course, if you intend to chill it in the fridge, please add honey into the warm dessert before you do so.
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