Summer is the time for colourful flowers to bloom in Hanoi, and the lotus – Vietnam’s national flower – is one of the most beautiful.
When lotus flower season hits in June, it is time for Hanoians to start cooking something refreshing and healthy to keep themselves cool in the summer weather. When it comes to heat-relieving foods, lotus seed sweet soup is always the first dish served.
Although lotus seed sweet soup is just a common kind of dessert sold in small food stalls deep inside the Hanoi Old Quarter, it is so stunning and delicious that it can satisfy every Hanoian’s sweet tooth.
This might possibly be the reason why this “old” sweet soup can still maintain its position on the Vietnamese favourite dessert list when many non-native desserts such as Che Khuc Bach – almond pannacotta with lychee sweet soup and Thai sweet gruel have made headway into the local diet.
The recipe for this sweet soup is simple, according to Nguyen Thi Thom - the owner of a 40-year-old dessert restaurant in Quan Thanh . The main ingredient is dried lotus seeds, which are often soaked overnight.
They are then cooked in sugar water until tender and starchy enough to eat. The combination of ingredients varies among cooks, but serving the seeds mixed with mung beans, grass jelly and boba tapioca pearls is considered the best way to enjoy the dish.
Lotus seed sweet soup is always the first choice of Hanoians to beat the summer heat because it bears the unique flavour of Hanoi. It is neither sophisticatedly garnished nor eye-catching in colour, however it is the pure simplicity that creates the attractiveness of the dessert.
Lotus seed sweet soup is not only a delicious and elegant dish but also of much benefit to one’s health. It can work as a tonic, helping people to stay cool on hot days because of its heat-relieving nature, giving people a good night’s sleep or even improving people’s strength. Nhan Dan