Traditionally, Chinese people don't eat a lot of sweets ( or cold dishes).  However, some sweet dishes or special festive treats do exist though may take a bit of getting used to.  Chinese steam or sponge cakes are a healthier option to the traditional buttery pound cake and seem to be readily accepted or liked whenever I bring these into the staff room for sharing.  The Mooncake, a festive treat available annually during the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival can be a bit odd...I never thought about it before, but it was pointed out to me that a salted egg yolk tucked inside a dense mini-cake of sweet lotus or red bean paste seems a bit, well, unusual.  After thinking about it, I have to say, this colleague did have a point.  

Another commonly seen desert is the red-bean soup. This is often served for free at the end of meals at many of the Chinese restaurants.  Another colleague pointed out that beans are vegetables and it's odd to think of it as a dessert.  Another good point made.  I didn't tell him that there a is a wide variety of sweet bean bean, barley...Not to mention tofu, yams corn and taro.  I had the most delicious corn-flavoured pop-sickle while in Malaysia and numerous desserts featuring the ube (taro) in Japan.  An acquired taste?  Maybe, or maybe Asians are just genetically wired up to use beans and root vegetables in desserts.  

Regardless, with the lower sugar content or the use of the natural sugars from the ingredients, Asian desserts are a healthier option.  Often, nourishing ingredients are included to make it a health tonic as well. 

Here's a common homemade sweet soup.  If you use just four of the below ingredients, it's the Four Treasures Sweet Soup.  If you use 6, it's the Six Treasures Sweet Soup.  

I haven't figured out all the ingredients in English...It's a bit of a work-in-progress.  Also, mom is one of those who eyeball things...A lot; and so it's tough to get accurate measurements from her.  Thus, the combination of adjectives of handfuls, small bunch, cups and teaspoons.  One day, maybe I will be as good as her and can eyeball measurements too.

1/2 C lotus seeds
10 wai shan (sliced) 
1/4 C dried white lily pieces 
1/5 C dried raw almond
10 red dates (optional - nourishes blood)
1/5 C Sze Sut (nourishes kidneys)  optional

For Six Treasure Sweet Soup, add the following:

1/4 C sa sum 
small handful Yuk Chuk 

Rock sugar -quantity varies...The more you add, the sweeter it is.

1. Rinse ingredients to remove dust or dirt.  Soak overnight (this is mainly for lotus seeds which require a long soaking time.)
2. When soften, use a small paring knife and split the lotus seed in half.  Remove any of the green stems that may have sprouted within.  These are bitter.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add lotus seeds and bring to boil.  Lower heat and simmer until lotus seeds are soft.  About 10 minutes.
4. Add all ingredients except the white lily (this turns mushy if overcooked).  Bring to boil and reduce heat. About 20 minutes. 
5. Add white lily and rock sugar and slowly simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Serve hot.
3/27/2013 10:42:19 am

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