Growing up in Hong Kong, I was always aware of Chinese dessert soups. But aside from sweet tofu and black sesame tong yuen, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. I used to think, beans? FUNGUS? That’s not dessert. But cheesecake and chocolate cookies? Now those I can get down with.
Since moving back to Hong Kong this year, I’ve learned that there are a lot of little stores dedicated just to Chinese dessert soups. One in my neighborhood is particularly famous, so I mustered up the courage to try it out. And you know what? Red bean soup is delicious. Papaya and snow fungus, despite the name, is lovely. I must be getting old, or I’m starting to truly understand the crappy effects sugar has on the body, because I’ve started to enjoy these simpler and less sugary desserts.
But my absolute favorite discovery is Sweet Potato and Ginger Dessert Soup, which my friend Rach’s auntie introduced me to. You can serve this hot or cold, but even if it’s still 80 degrees everyday in Hong Kong in October, I love having this soup hot. With a hint of sweetness and strong ginger kick, it’s like a warm hug in a bowl! It’s traditionally made with a slab of raw brown sugar, or in Rach’s auntie’s case, Red Sugar. She was disgusted to hear that I used regular brown sugar in mine and handed me a bag of Chinese “Red Sugar”, saying the soup would taste bad with gwailo sugar. Seeing as red sugar is basically brown sugar with food coloring, I’d say we’re all OK using brown sugar, hehe. Feel free to adjust the amount of ginger depending on how much you like. I personally like to add more than the below recipe, but not everyone does!
Chinese Sweet Potato and Ginger Dessert Soup
Makes 2 servings (can be easily doubled)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 inch piece of ginger, skinned and sliced
1 3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
Pour the water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and ginger, and lower the heat. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes have softened. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Take off heat, remove the ginger if you wish, and serve! Dassit.