KitchenTigress: Tau Suan (Mung Bean Sweet Soup)

Tau Suan (Mung Bean Sweet Soup)

Tau suan is thick mung bean soup sweetened with caramel. It's topped with you char kway (Chinese crullers), which is salty and crispy.

If you know what 豆爽 is, you probably know that "豆" means beans.

What about "爽"? What does "爽" mean?

"Suan" means sticky soup, which may be savory or sweet. I guess "爽" is another word for "羹".

"Cooking for the President" has an alternative explanation that's quite interesting.

The nyonya Hokkien author says "suan" means diamonds because the little beans in tau suan look like diamonds. "Diamonds" ("钻") in Hokkien (and Teochew) is pronounced "suan".

Diamonds, eh? I don't mind having a bowl of diamonds. Do you?

tips for making tau suan:

1. The mung beans in tau suan should be evenly suspended in the sweet soup. How to stop the beans from sinking to the bottom? First, bring the soup to a gentle simmer. Then, stir the soup so that the beans are suspended. Keep stirring as you drizzle in the thickener. Once the soup is thick, the density of the liquid stops the beans from sinking to the bottom.

2. Use sweet potato starch to thicken the soup. Other thickeners, such as corn starch, turn watery more easily when stirred.

3. Do not overcook the beans. Mushy beans and sticky soup don't make a good combination.

Good tau suan has the aroma of caramel and pandan leaves. The mung beans are soft but not mushy. Tau suan wouldn't be tau suan without crisp, salty you char kway. The topping is crucial.

tau suan
  • 220 g dry split mung beans
  • 4 pandan leaves, light green part only – wash, cut 8 cm long

  • 200 g sugar (1 cup)
  • 6 cups water
  • 16 pandan leaves – wash, knot
  • ⅔ cup sweet potato flour (White Swallow brand, special grade) – mix with ⅓ cup water

  • 1 pair 油条 (youtiao, you char kway, Chinese crullers), separate into 2 pieces, toast till crisp just before serving, cut bite size

  1. Soak mung beans in water till expanded, about 1 hour. Drain thoroughly.

  2. Lightly oil a plate or line with parchment paper. Spread evenly with half of beans. Place cut pandan leaves on beans, spaced evenly. Top with remaining beans. Steam over rapidly boiling water till cooked but not mushy, 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat. Discard pandan leaves. Set aside till ready to serve. Cover only after beans are cool.

  3. Place sugar in a pot. Drizzle with 2 tbsp water. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling to ensure even browning. When sugar is lightly coloured, reduce heat to medium-low. Continue swirling till sugar is light brown, then turn off heat. Keep swirling till sugar is medium brown. With your hand to the side of the pot (to avoid burst of steam), add 6 cups water. Turn on heat and bring to a boil.

  4. Add knotted pandan leaves and simmer gently, covered, for 10 minutes. Discard leaves. Taste and if necessary adjust sweetness. Set aside till ready to serve.

  5. To serve, bring pandan sweet soup to a boil. Add mung beans. Once soup returns to a gentle simmer, stir and, at the same time, drizzle with sweet potato flour slurry. Bring back to a gentle simmer. Turn off heat immediately. Do not overcook or beans would turn mushy. Stirring too much and cooking after the soup has thickened would make it watery.

  6. Serve tau suan hot, topped with you char kway just before eating.