This chilled dessert soup is a family favorite made by Mrs. Meilin Lau, the mother of Mayway's four sibling owners. Mrs. Lau is Chinese, but grew up in Vietnam where her mother often prepared sweet Vietnamese soups or porridges known as chè for breakfast. Chè may be served hot or cold and are usually made with some combination of various kinds of beans, tapioca pearls, glutinous rice, lotus seeds, and all kinds of tropical fruits. When left to sprout, small dark green mung beans become the classic long white bean sprouts used in many Vietnamese and Chinese recipes. This sweet mung bean soup is commonly eaten for breakfast in Vietnam, but may also be eaten for dessert or thinned slightly for a sweet drink.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, Lü Dou/mung beans are sweet and cold, enter the Heart and Stomach, and they clear heat, relieve toxicity, dispel summer heat, relieve thirst and restlessness/irritability. “Lü Dou” means “green bean,” and it is the green skin of the mung bean that is considered to be cold in temperature, while the meat of the bean is neutral. Mung beans were first mentioned as a medicinal substance in the Chongding Bencao (Revised Materia Medica of the Kaibao Era) in 974 AD and have been used ever since in food therapy to prevent heat stroke or simple overheating by keeping the body temperature cool in the summertime. Mung beans are also quite effective to mitigate reactions to other herbs. In ancient times mung beans were prescribed to clear the heat of the ironically toxic metals (such as mercury and arsenic salts), used in "elixirs of longevity" created by Taoist alchemists.
- 1 cup dried mung beans (either unpeeled and soaked for at least 4 hours, or peeled and soaked for 30 minutes)
- 5-6 cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½-1 cup sugar or coconut sugar (or to taste)
- 1 (14 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
- ¼ cup tapioca beads, if desired
- Rinse the mung beans well in cold water.
- Soak the mung beans - either for 4 hours/overnight for unpeeled beans or just 30 minutes for peeled beans.
- Drain and place the beans and water in a large saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until beans are tender, about 60-90 minutes.
- Skim foam and discard. Tip: if pot tends to boil over, either lower heat or set a pair of chopsticks across the top of the pot.
- Add tapioca pearls and cook until clear, approximately 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and stir in coconut milk, vanilla and gradually add sugar to taste.
- Let cool, then refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve chilled. (Another option: serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!)