Summer time . . . when the living is eeeassyy. What you need is a glass of Chè Sương Sa Hạt Lựu not only to sastify your thirst, hunger, but also to remind you that everything amid the sweltering heat can be as cool and relaxing; do you see the palms swaying and azure waves lightly splashing yet?!
Well, as soon as your taste buds are awaken by the myriad of lightly crunchy translucent colorful polygonal gelatin and the smooth refreshing coconut milk, you may just be able to see it.
The main ingredients of Chè Sương Sa Hạt Lựu are agar-agar (bột Sương Sa) and pomegranate seeds (Imitation Hạt Lựu).
Agar-agar is a vegetarian gelatin substitute produced from a variety of seaweed vegetation. According to Fitday, Agar is a good source of calcium and iron, and is very high in fiber. It contains no sugar, no fat and no carbohydrates. Some of its claims are the ability to aid in digestion and weight loss, reduce inflammation, calm the liver, and bring relief to the lungs. It is also considered a mild laxative and not recommended for those with weak digestion or loose stools.
Imitation Pomegranate Seeds which are made of water chestnut diced into small cubes about the size of the pomegranate seeds coated with a tapioca starch. It's quite fun to eat these imitation pomegranate seeds as the insides are so crunchy from the water chestnut and the chewy tapioca cover. It's best to enjoy Hạt Lựu (Imitation Pomegrante Seeds) right away. If not, they will absorb the water and the beautiful vivid red color will fade and the tapioca coating will expand, making them look unappetizing. If you any of you know the secret to keeping Imitation Pomegranate Seeds long and appetizing, do share.
Both agar-agar and imitation Pomegranate go well with the starchy, mildly sweet mung bean paste, the smooth richness of coconut milk and the tangy sweetness of the syrup. This chè is probably the least sweet and most refreshing of all of chè.
RECIPE: Chè Sương Sa Hạt Lựu
For Syrup - Nước Đường
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Water
2 Pandan Leaves, optional
For Mung Bean Paste - Đậu Xanh Đánh
1 cup Peeled and Split Mung Bean
1/4 cup Sugar, for mung bean
2 cups Water, for mung bean
1 Pandan Leave, tied together
For Jelly - Sương Sa
1 bag Agar-Agar Powder - 25 grams or .88oz
7 cups Water, for agar-agar
For Imitation Pomegranate - Hạt Lựu
1 can Chestnut - 20 oz
1-2 cups Tapioca Starch
Red Food Color
For Coconut Sauce
1 can of coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract or Pandan Leave, tied together
1 tablespoon Water + 1 teaspoon Tapioca Flour, mixed well
Combine sugar, water and pandan leaves (recommended) in a pot. Bring it to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer it until the syrup is thickened. Keep it in fridge to chill.
Combine agar-agar and water. Mix it well. Bring it to boil. Make sure to stir it constantly. Remove from heat. Pour it into a bowl. Let it cool down and place it in the fridge to keep it cold. Cut jelly into strips. Set it aside in the fridge to keep it cold.
Making Mung Bean Paste
Wash and rinse mung bean a few times until the water is clear. Bring water, pandan leave and mung bean to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook it with lid on for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add sugar. Use a wooden spatula to smash the mung bean into paste. Set it aside.
Making Imitation Pomegranate
Wash and rinse water chestnut. Dice the water chestnut into small cubes about the size of the pomegranate seeds. Add red food coloring and a tablespoon or two of water and mix until chestnut cubes cover with red.
Place a layer of tapioca starch into a large bowl with lid. Use a strainer to scoop one batch of water chestnut and place in the tapioca starch bowl. Add tapioca starch to the water chestnut then cover it with lid and shake it off. If needed, add more tapioca starch to the water chestnut until it is evenly coated. Pour it into a colander and shake excess off.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water on a side. Once the water boil add one batch at a time of tapioca-chestnut mixture to the pot. Use a pair of chopstick to separte the imitation pomegranate seeds to prevent them from sticking together if needed.
Once pomegranate seeds float to the top, scoop it up with a strainer, rinse with cold water. Place pomegranate seeds in the ice water bowl to cool. Remove pomegranate seeds from ice water once it has cooled. Repeat with remaining batch of water chestnut.
Making Coconut Sauce
If using pandan leave, tie it into a short string. Bring the sugar, salt, pandan leave and coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the tapioca flour mixture and stir it at the same time. Add vanilla extract if you don't use panda leave. Pour coconut sauce into a bowl and set aside.
In a glass or a glass bowl, assemble a layer of suong sa, mung bean and a layer of pomegranate seeds. Fill it with the syrup and coconut milk. Top with shaved ice or without if all the ingredients are cold enough. Stir to mix and enjoy!