Sweet Soup with Longan, Seaweed and Lotus-Che Pho Tai, Nhan nhuc va Hot sen

Vietnamese food

Make 4 servings
1/2 cup packed(100 gr) dried longan, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup ( 125 gr) dried lotus seeds with the bitter green center removed.
1/2 -2/3cup packed(15-20 gr)dried, shredded seaweed
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Soak lotus seeds and longan each in one cup cold water separately over night or in a hot boiling water about 20-30 minutes.  Soak seaweed in more water.
2.  In a medium sauce pan, cover the lotus seeds with cold water at least 1/2 inch above.  Recheck and remove any tiny green at the center of the seeds with a tweezers or break the seed opened to remove the center.  Bring it to a boil then low the heat down to gently simmer about 15-20 minutes until the seeds are very soft and tender but still keep the shape.
2.  Rinse the seaweed very well several times and drain.  It will be slimy at first due to seaweed’s characteristic of gelatin like.
3.  Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat until sugar dissolve.
4.  If serve warm, add vanilla extract, lotus seeds, longan, (with soaking water) and seaweed to the sugar mixture. Add more water to the taste if serve warm.  Remove from heat.  Ladle to individual bowls if serve warm.
4.  If serve cold, add everything in layers separately and add shaved or crushed ice right before serve.

   Dried lotus seeds is sold in packages or strings at Asian store.  The good new harvested seeds will need a short time to cook just like mung bean but the old and not so good quality seeds will need longer cooking time to get soft and Mrs. Nguyen, Andrea in her book uses baking soda to speeding up the cooking time.  She said, add a tsp baking soda with cold water about 1/2 way of a medium sauce pan.  Bring it to a boil, add lotus seeds.  Bring it back to a rolling boil again.  Then remove the pot from heat when the rolling boil water raises almost overfilled out of the pot.  Wait until the water settles down, repeating the boiling two more times.  Rinse and drain well; then start to cook the lotus seeds like above instruction.
   When add soaking water of longan to the soup, keep an eye close near the end.  Stop when you see any sediment like tiny sands and discard them.   No need to add lotus cooking water to the soup which makes the soup cloudy.
   If you can not find shredded seaweed buy the whole and use a scissor to cut it into thin threads.

The dried lotus seeds and longan before soaking and cooking.

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