Monday, 5 September 2011

Everyday Dessert

Ever since I learned how to cook this simple Chinese dessert...known as Tau Suan, I will make sure my better half gets to eat his favourite dessert whenever he is back home.

If you are living on the other side of the earth from this little red dot, Tau Suan is a warm, sweet dessert made with split, skinned mung beans. The mung beans is usually steamed still it is cooked before it is boiled in a pot of water. Not just plain water, but water that has been simmering away with a few bundles of pandan leaves or screw pine leaves. The soup is then sweetened with sugar and thickened with starch such as sweet potato flour or water chestnut flour. This dessert is always served with fried you tiao or fried dough fritters, a bowl of tau suan will never taste the same if there is no you tiao to go with it.

This cheap and simple dessert is easily available at most dessert stalls here...and if I am not wrong, there is at least one dessert stall in every single food centre or what we known as hawker centres. However, nowadays, it is not easy to find good tau suan. I either get a bowl of watery mung beans with a lot more water than mung beans, or the consistency of the dessert is so thick that it was no different from swallowing a bowl of gummy glue.

Although it is a simple dessert to prepare, it never occurred to me that I could actually make it at home...not until I first saw it at Esther's blog, Bits and Pieces of Life. She has followed the recipe from Makansutra, and thanks to Seetoh's video, I've since learned how to cook tua suan! I noted his unique way of stir frying the mung beans till it caramelised. This is definitely something different from the usual method of steaming the mung beans. By stir frying them, not only it shortens the preparation time; ensures the beans remain 'whole'; it also gives the dessert a nice golden hue. I have later tried another recipe using the steam method (just to compare), but the colour of the tau suan looks so pale and unappetising despite replacing white sugar with brown ones.

The other thing to note is the right type of starch to use as thickening agent. Water chestnut flour will give the best moulthfeel, without being too sticky, followed by sweet potato flour. Hope over to this interesting article to learn about the 'power' of the various thickening agents. For his recipe, Seetoh uses a combination of water chestnut and sweet potato flour. However, I used only sweet potato flour, yet I don't find the consistency or taste of the tau suan being compromised. My homemade tau suan tastes better than what I could get from most dessert stalls. Someday, when I find suitable recipes to use up water chestnut flour, I will certainly use it to thicken the dessert.

With the right knowledge of the ingredients, and following the recipe closely, anyone can make a nice bowl of tau suan. Do give this simple dessert a try, I am sure you won't regret it :)

Tau Suan with You Tiao

(serves 4)

1.5 ltr water
2 ~ 3 bundles of pandan leaves
250g split mung beans
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
50g sweet potato flour (original recipe calls for 30g water chestnut flour and 20g sweet potato flour)
50ml water
2 ~ 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (adjust according to taste)
1 stick of you tiao

  • Soak mung beans for about 5mins. Drain and set aside. 
  • Wash pandan leaves and tie into bundles.
  • Place water and pandan leaves in a pot. Leave to simmer for about 10mins.
  • In the mean time, place mung beans in a frying pan. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar and stir fry continuously over low heat till the mung beans caramelised (about 8~10 mins).
  • Discard the pandan leaves from the pot of water.
  • Transfer mung beans into the pot of water. Bring it back to boil. Leave to boil for another 5~10 mins. Taste the beans for the prefered texture. Cook a couple of mins longer if prefer softer texture. Add in 2 ~ 3 tablespoons of sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  • Dissolve sweet potato flour with 50ml of water. Stir in gradually. Turn off the heat once it comes to a boil. 
  • Serve with you tiao or dough fritters
(note: in order to get a nice consistency, do follow the ingredient amount closely, especially amount of water, amount of water chestnut/sweet potato flour.)

Recipe source: adapted from Makansutra Cooking


edith said...

mmm this looks yummy. unfortunately only my hubby and myself eat this.

鲸鱼蓝蓝蓝 said...


Angel @ Cook.Bake.Love said...

Thanks for sharing. I am sure I want to try this method. Tau sian is my family favourite dessert. I agree with u it's hard to find good store bought tau sian nowsaday in fact I can't find any.

Tracy Low said...


NEL, the batter baker said...

I love tau suan. It's my comfort food :) Now you're tempting me to make a huge pot of this. I wonder if it freezes well, so I can have it on demand when i crave for this...

happybowl said...

the dough fritters looks really good, somewhat like croissants.

Yummy Bakes said...

Yeah indeed this is also an all-time favourite dessert. Looks very good.

Sue said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. All the while, I always thought the mung bean must be placed on a bamboo tray line with a big white cloth to steam first. This thought has put me off to try to cook it at home. I'm really glad to see this simple recipe in your blog. Gonna buy ingredient to cook it tomorrow as I'm also a big fan of tau suan. Thanks again for your kind sharing, HHB.

hanushi said...

You remind me how long I havent eat this dessert! :) Well done!

The Experimental Cook said...

Hubby always insists on this desset because he likes yutiao. I have tried thickening with many kinds of flour , except the ones you used, but the consistency is not to my liking. Will give a try again.
Interesting tip about frying the mung beans. Looks like I will be trying my 3rd taosuan trial in 2 weeks..

アンゼエリン said...

Hmm...lovely Tau suan. U know what. I was trying to tell my frens about this dessert, but unfortunately I can't remember what it is called? thanks for day i'll cook for my frens to taste...


Caca said...

thanks I have been looking for tao shua recipe for a long time.

Anonymous said...

HHB, where did you buy sweet potato flour? Is there another name for it? Thks :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi May, it is stated as Sweet Potato flour on the packing. I happaned to get it from Sheng Siong, I think it is also available at ntuc, look for it at the baking supply section.

Anonymous said...

Can corn flour or tapioca flour be added instead of sweet potato flour?


Happy Homebaker said...

Shirlynn, corn flour or tapioca flour will give a differently consistency, read about it here:

Anonymous said...

this recipe is really easy n yummy. i cooked it this evening n all likes it. Managed to buy the Sunflower sweet potato flour which has a fine texture. Someone told me that certain brand's flour texture is coarse, so those should be avoided.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi May, thanks for telling me, I am using the sunflower brand too :)

Anonymous said...

yummy, yummy,HHB u have tempted me to make this tao suan. My Ah Ma used to buy this as breakfast for me when I am small. My childhood memories all come back to me whenever I see this desset. Can't really find good tao suan nowadays- will definitely try this receipe of yours. Thanks for sharing your receipe. :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Emily, thanks for your lovely comments :) it is nice to know that you have such a fond memory of this sweet dessert :)

candydreamland said...

thank you very much for the recipe! I'm going to try it out soon.

emma's mummy said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe here! I made this in the morning for our breakfast. Every one including my mil and helper are happy.

And thanks for the post about cold tofu with century egg. I am from China, stay here for 18 years, though my friends and my husband are very accommodating and I can take almost all the local food well ----Laska, Durian, Briyani rice; they never expect me to make/cook local specialties.

So happy to know that you like cold tofu dish, probably as much as I like Tau Suan.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi emma's mummy, I admire your passion for baking and cooking for your family! I don't have the skills to prepare local or traditional desserts unless it is super easy ;)

emma's mummy said...

Hehe.... it makes me a bit embarrassed. Just do what I can do, thankfully, kids and elders appreciate it.

Thanks a lot for sharing, will try more recipes and keep you informed!