Leng Chee Kang (Sweet Lotus Drink)
Leng Chee Kang is a dessert consisting of a variety of pre-cooked ingredients mixed in a syrup. Considered to have “cooling” properties, it may be served warm or cold with ice cubes. Hence, it’s popularity in Malaysia and Singapore where the climate is hot and humid throughout the year. While it is not exactly a Chinese New Year dish, it is a favorite dessert for the many festivals and celebrations observed there. Dried persimmons is one of the key ingredients and since it is in abundance around the Chinese New Year, it makes sense to prepare it now.
The ingredients for this dessert may vary from place to place but the main ones are lotus seeds, longans, lily bulbs, dried persimmons, and malva nuts. Malva nut a.k.a. “pong tai hai” (in Hokkien/Fujianese) is a thumb-sized shrivelled looking pod containing seeds that expand into jelly-like fibers when soaked. The Malays called it “kembang semangkuk” which literally means expand to the size of a bowl. Other creative ingredients in leng chee kang include ginkgo nuts, barley, quail eggs, jelly, and basil seeds.
Some months back, Lyndsey of The Tiny Skillet made a refreshing drink Nam Manglak with Lychees using basil seeds. I was really surprised that she could buy the seeds in Florida. I have never seen them here and so she kindly offered to send me some. She also sent me this adorable card where the artwork was created by the kids in the school she works at. Thank you so much Lyndsey for your thoughtfulness. It is much appreciated, my friend.
I was really excited when I received the basil seeds as it has been a while since I last tasted them. Leng chee kang immediately came to mind and I went about gathering the ingredients. I had no problems finding everything I needed except for two – dried persimmons and malva nuts. I figured that it would be unlikely for me to find malva nuts here in Minnesota and so I had to exclude them.
As for the dried persimmons, that shouldn’t be too difficult, right? I looked for them at several stores with no success. It had slipped my mind that persimmons are seasonal fruits and summer is not the right season. I had to temporarily shelve the “project”. Finally, the season has arrived! Dried persimmons are plentiful close to the Chinese New Year in Asia. They are not so readily available over here but after some searching, I found this 3-pounds box at the Korean market.
And so, with the basil seeds…
…and the rest of the ingredients,
I was ready to make this sweet and tasty drink.
- 1 can boiled lotus seeds, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup (20g) lily bulbs
- 1 packet (100g) peeled ginkgo nuts
- 1 tbsp basil seeds
- 1 dried persimmon, thinkly sliced
- 3 cups (720ml) water
- 3 medium (50g) pieces rock sugar
- ¼ cup (30g) dried longans, rinsed and drained
Rinse and drain lotus seed. Boil in a small saucepan for 2 minutes. Remove and drain.
Rinse and soak lily bulbs in water for 30 minutes. Boil in a small saucepan for 15 minutes. Remove, rinse in cold water, and drain.
Boil ginkgo nuts in small saucepan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove and drain.
Using a tea strainer to hold them, rinse the basil seeds under cold running water. Then soak in half cup of cold water until they swell. This should take about 10 minutes.
Place all ingredients in bowls separately.
Combine water, rock sugar, and dried longan in a medium sized saucepan. Boil over medium low heat for 15 minutes.
To serve, place a little of each ingredient in a small bowl. Pour longan syrup over. Serve warm or cold with ice cubes.
It was such a treat and well worth the wait! We had it warm.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)