Lin Chee Kang or Cheng Tng (Lotus Seed Dessert Drink)

Monday, May 06, 2013


While Chinese cuisine is not normally well known for their desserts, there are a few which I grew up eating and will miss fondly from time to time.

Top on the list is "Tong Yin" or glutinous rice ball soup. I am not talking about the ones which comes stuffed with peanut or sesame seed paste. I am referring to the small multi-colored balls. I can hardly find them these days, unless it is home made.

Another favourite is "Lin Chee Kang." This is how I first knew it as when I was in Malaysia. Here in Singapore, a similar version is called "Cheng Tng." Lin Chee means "lotus seed" and I suppose the M'sian version is centered on it. If you know how Cheng Tng is different from Lin Chee Kang, do enlighten me.

The thing is, we all like the version we grew up with. My idea of LCK or CT is minimalist: I don't like it when it is crowded and comes with all kinds of strange ingredients. These are a few of my favourite things: longan, lotus seeds, the "Pa Dang Hai" jelly stuff and lo han kao for the deep fruity and slightly bitter taste. White sago and dried persimmon will be good to have but I can do without them them. I do not like seaweed floating in my bowl and always wonder why pieces of sugar palm fruit are found in my bowl of CT from hawker stalls. Even sweet potato makes an occasional appearance. I find that baffling but maybe, different dialect groups have their own version of CT.

Whether having it hot on a rainy or as a thirst-quenching cold dessert, a "perfect" bowl of CT finishes off the meal nicely.

I have been wanting to make LCK for the simple reason that I get to eat a version which I miss and like. I have been gathering the ingredients and finally got down to it recently.

Except for the pandan leaves, everything else is dried or dehydrated. So, it is convenient for storage. Get good and whole dried longans (Thai variety is good) which are whole in shape after they are boiled. To make this about 30 minutes of gentle simmering will do. Don't overcook your lotus seeds or longans as you want to eat them while retaining some taste and texture.

I have my cooking kaki, Auntie Lucy to thank for her advice on the way to making this version.

Recipe for my version of Lin Chee Kang

Ingredients

Dried Longans - half a bowl
Dates - 5 pieces
Lo Han Kao - 1 piece (crack it slightly)
Lotus Seeds - half a bowl
Pa Dang Hai -  about 30 pieces
Pandan Leaves (tie them up)
Dried persimmons - cut into thin slices
Brown sugar or rock sugar

Method
  1. Prepare - soak lotus seed in warm water and remove the green stuff from the centre as it is bitter. Soak the Pa Dang Hai in warm water till it expands. Use your hands and remove the seeds and rough stems, if any. Tie your pandan leaves. 
  2. Boil a pot of water (about 5 litres). 
  3. Add in the Lo Han Kao, longan, dates and lotus seeds. Lower heat to a gentle simmer.
  4. After 30 minutes, add brown sugar. Taste to ensure it is sweet enough (it is a dessert after all!).
  5. After 30 minutes of simmering in total, your LCK should be ready. Adjust taste with sugar or add water if necessary. Remove the pandan leaves and Lo Han Kao. 
  6. Bowl your LCK, add the persimmon and Pa Dang Hai...serve hot.
You can of course add or subtract ingredients i.e. white sago, orange peel. If you like to retain the fragrance of the pandan (pandanus) leaves, you can opt to make your pandan-flavoured sugar separately. Dissolve your sugar in hot water and steep the pandan leaves in it. Close the sugar container to retain the flavours. Combine with the LCK  when you serve the bowls. The pandan leaves, like tea leaves, is scenting your drink. Boiling the life out of it will not optimise it's effects.

The photos below will give you an idea what the ingredients look like. Some of the ingredients have medicinal properties, not that this was the reason why I used them.

It is superb when you drink it cold. Put some ice or crushed ice in. Heaven.

Not difficult at all to try out a version of LCK or CT which you like.

I don't mean to make this more complicated than it is, but if you have "Job's tears", you can add them in.  They have a nice bite to it. But definitely optional.

Job's tears or sometimes called Pearl Barley.
This particular lot was fresh and frozen 
L-R: Lotus Seeds, Pa Dang Hai, Lo Han Kao, dried Persimmon, dried Longans
& pandan leaves. Not in pic: red dates, sugar
Pa Dang Hai - they look like small seeds before they are soaked.
They are called "Kembang semangkok" in Malay
After soaking, it will expand. Use your fingers to remove the seeds
Sliced dried persimmons

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5 comments

  1. Your post just brought back memories of my teenage days slurping this at my fave stall in Empress Rd Hawker Centre where the LCK is so yummy on balmy evenings :)
    Thanks for sharing your recipe so I can this for my sisters so we can all sit around the table and reminisce.
    Btw, do I buy the Pa Dang Hai from the same shops that sell red dates and dried longans (chinese medical halls)?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, PDH can be bought from these medical halls. Sometimes provisions shops will carry them too. You can cook the sugar and pandan leaves separately to retain more of the the fragrance.

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  3. Thank you for the recipe! I love cheng tng and it's so hard to find a good one these days. Definitely going to try this out, thank you!

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  4. You asked: "If you know how Cheng Tng is different from Lin Chee Kang, do enlighten me."

    Actually these are two completely different desserts. Think of Lin Chee Kang as a deluxe version of Tau Suan, without the yu char kway. "Kang" refers to a concoction thickened by any form of starch.

    I love Lin Chee Kang, but the high cost of Lin Chee has all but made this wonderful dessert disappear from our hawker stalls.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, the price of Lin Chee can be a cost problem for hawkers.

    ReplyDelete