Summer came fast and furiously. The month of May is barely over, but today’s temperature already reached above 30 degrees celsius. I welcomed the sweltering heat by immediately putting on my summer clothes and my newly purchased sandals first thing this morning.
Today, after running some errands (in fact, I had taken my car to the mechanic’s to change my winter tires back to all-season ones. Don’t judge) and met up with some friends, I headed to an independent supermarket. This supermarket used to be located near my childhood home but had relocated to north of the city years ago. I only found it by chance several years ago when I drove past it.
The shelves were laden with fresh produce, newly harvested from the warm weather. I couldn’t help myself and bought asparagus (the most beautiful ones I’ve seen – so fresh!), blackberries, a cantaloupe, a honeydew, and a watermelon. I also picked up four tubs of Greek yogourt (my favourite brand was on sale!). Looks like I’m going to be having fruits topped with Greek yogourt for breakfast or dessert (or both) for the entire month. Not that I’m complaining.
As I walked out of the supermarket gleefully, I passed by the garden centre in the parking lot. I recalled that my coworker said that this garden centre sells a potted herb called rue (scientifically Ruta Graveolens), which I had been looking for for a very long time. The backyard of my childhood home used to have this herb, planted by the previous owner. For the longest time I only knew its Chinese name, 臭草, which deceivingly, is literally translated as “stinky grass” when it actually emits a subtle flowery like fragrance. As a child, my mom used to pick several sprigs of rue from the backyard in the summer to make a traditional Chinese dessert called green bean soup. After we moved away, I was unable to find this herb because I didn’t know its name, and my mom no longer made the dessert with it. Only recently did I found out its English name in talking with my coworker, who buys this herb every year.
After thoroughly searching through multiple pots of basil, rosemary, lemongrass, and other herbs, I finally found a small tray of rue in the back of the shelf. I will be making this green bean dessert with rue this weekend.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, green bean has a “cooling” nature, therefore, it is best eaten in the summer to help the body combat the heat and eliminate toxins. I like to eat this dessert chilled, making it the night before and then cooling it in the fridge overnight.
Green Bean (a.k.a. Mung Bean) Dessert Soup with Rue Herb 【臭草綠豆沙】(6-8 servings)
- 200 grams (1 cup) of green beans/mung beans
- 2 litres of water
- 1 piece of Chinese dried tangerine peel (optional), briefly soaked in hot water, the white residue off from the inner side to prepare for use
- 3 sprigs of rue
- 50 grams of rock sugar (about palm-size), or to taste
- Rinse the beans, then soak them in water for 1 hour. Then strain them.
- In a large pot, add the 2L of water, the strained green beans, 2 sprigs of rue (save 1 for later), and the tangerine peel. Bring to a boil on high heat, then turn the heat back to medium/high so that it is at a consistent (but not vigourous) rolling boil. Let it boil until the beans are broken down and the dessert becomes porridge like, about 45 to 50 minutes, or until it comes to your preferred consistency.
- Add the rock sugar and let the dessert boil for another 5 minutes or until the sugar melts. Finally, add the last sprig of rue, turn off the stove to let the residual heat cook the herb.
- This dessert could be served hot, or cold after chilling in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
This post/recipe is first published and seen on http://www.YuenShan.com