There are several things that I buy from an Asian grocery that I have never used. They will be sitting in my kitchen’s cupboard for several weeks. Even years. Why I do that is something that I can’t explain. I am sure I am not alone with this strange “got to buy this one off ingredient” food syndrome. There is always that impulsive, spur of the moment when out shopping at an Asian grocery and come across something that I have to buy, even though I am not going to use it straight away.
Well, one of the item that I have been keeping in my cupboard for a few years is a 1kg packet of “mung bean”. I am not sure why I bought the packet in the first place. I have tried to use it previously. But each time I brought it out onto my kitchen bench, it would sit there for a few days or weeks untouched. Then back into the cupboard. So this time, I told myself I will have to cook it, and I did. I made a curry dish and a Chinese dessert, “Tong Sui”.
Tong Sui is typically served hot or warm after a Chinese meal in a Chinese restaurant. It means “sweet water” in Cantonese. In Penang, most of the Chinese restaurants provide a complimentary red bean tong sui and fresh cut fruits to the customers. Unlike western food, desserts are not a regular feature in a Chinese restaurant. The closest you will find in a Chinese restaurant in Asia is tong sui, which comes in a few varieties. It is believed to help regulate the digestive system, just like drinking hot Chinese tea during and after a Chinese meal.
Tong sui is also served cold with ice especially in a hot climate like in Penang. It helps moderate the body heat and quench the thirst. It is simple to make. Slow cooked until it is ready.
My tong sui is a mung bean in ginger sugary soup with dices of sweet potatoes.
1 cup mung bean
6 cups water
1 large rock sugar
1 sweet potato
1-2 inches ginger
1. Presoak mung bean for 4-6 hours or overnight
2. Peel and cut the sweet potato into small dices
3. Peel and slice ginger thinly
1. Place presoaked mung bean with 6 cups water
2. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer temperature
3. Add rock sugar and ginger slices. Slowly simmer until mung bean breaks down
4. Add sweet potatoes. Continue to slow simmer until sweet potatoes are cooked
The mung bean curry requires more preparation and ingredients. This is the first time I made a dhal dish, which is a lentil curry dish. It is not as spicy as I wanted, but my partner seems to like it and prefer a mild flavour.
Again, the mung bean needs to be presoaked in water for several hours or overnight. Then place in a pot with twice the amount of water and slow cook until the beans are soft and broken down.
While that is happening, prepare the other ingredients.
2 cups mung bean (presoaked)
1 red onion
1 1/2 inch ginger
1 bunch coriander
8-10 curry leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1. Presoak mung bean for several hours or overnight
2. Put presoaked mung bean in a pot with twice the amount of water. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to simmer until mung bean is cooked and broken down
3. Diced the tomatoes, potatoes and onion
4. Toast the coriander and half of the cumin seeds in a dry pan. Then grind the toasted seeds into finer/coarse texture
5. Chopped the ginger finely
6. Peel the coriander leaves for garnishing. Chopped the stems finely
1. Heat a shallow frying pan. Add a cup of vegetable oil (use ghee if you prefer)
2. Toss in mustard seeds and the remaining half of cumin seeds. Fry lightly until fragrant
3. Add the other ingredients – chopped onions, tomatoes and potatoes followed by curry leaves, grounded coriander and cumin seeds, chili powder, garam masala and turmeric powder
4. Add some water if the spices are starting to dry up
5. Add mung bean and mix through with the other ingredients. Slow simmer for a few minutes until ready to be plated
She is a local pottery artisan based in Geeveston at the Southern Design Centre. Her last exhibition, Sill Life and Memory, was a joint exhibition with artist Alison Hill at the Salamanca Arts Centre.
Bronwyn’s work combines printmaking techniques with an interest in slip-cast ceramics and food. Her ceramic practice is concentrated on developing dinnerware which conveys a story and often uses images, text and links to her response to literature.
At her last exhibition, I saw this set of gorgeous jade green medium size dinner plates. I bought them, a set of six. To my surprise, after the exhibition and a few weeks later she delivered 8 pieces to me. The additional two was a surprise and special gift for my 50th birthday. These 2 had the image she used on the front of the plate edged in black on the back. It is truly unique and special.
If you are interested to know more about Bronwyn Theobald and her work, you can contact her at the Southern Design Centre, 11 School Road, Geeveston, TAS 7116. Phone: (03) 6297 0039.