Several roots, herbs, seeds and grains are known for their medicinal properties called thuốc bắc in Vietnamese. There’s a Vietnamese dessert that gathers a collection of these delicious ingredients known as healing in Asian culture. It’s called chè sâm bổ lượng and consists of a mix of dried lotus seeds (sen), longans (nhãn), Chinese pearl barley, dried mung beans, dried jujube (táo tầu in Vietnamese, also known as Chinese dates), dried white fungus and ginseng roots.
The natural starch from the barley thickens the dessert. Even though the jujube and longans are naturally sweet, I added a bit more sweetener to the syrup of the dessert with Chinese rock sugar.
On hot summer days, you could also serve this chilled with crushed ice; it’s amazing.
1. Info for Che Sam Bo Luong Recipe
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Servings: 10
- Calories: 53 kcal
2. Ingredients for Che Sam Bo Luong Recipe
- 1 (8-ounce) “necklace” dried lotus seeds
- 8 ounces dried longans, unsweetened
- 1½ ounces Chinese pearl barley (called bo bo in Vietnamese)
- 5 ounces dried mung beans
- dried jujube (Chinese dates)
- dried white fungus
- dried seaweed (kelp)
- 8 slices ginseng root (or ginger)
- 5 large chunks Chinese rock sugar (or 6 ounces granulated sugar), to taste
- In separate bowls soak in cold water the mung beans, ginseng roots (no need if using fresh ginger root), Chinese pearl barley, dried longans and dried jujube. Let them re-hydrate overnight. Rinse the following day.
- Re-hydrate the white fungus in warm water, then finely chop in small pieces. Set aside.
- Place the lotus seeds in a saucepan, fill with water, then bring to a boil. Cook on medium-low for 1 hour. Check doneness; they should be soft when gently pressed between your thumb and index finger. Drain and set them aside. Repeat the same procedure with the barley for about 20 minutes, until soft.
- Blanch (dip for a minute in boiling water then transfer to an ice bath) the dried longans to ensure they’re clean. Rinse with lukewarm water and set aside. Repeat the same procedure with the ginseng, white fungus and jujubes. Once cooked, add the mung beans and more water (about 2 cups) and bring to a boil. Cook until the mung beans are soft. Sweeten with 2 chunks of rock sugar (about 2 ounces) and wait until completely dissolved.
- Drain the water from the lotus and barley.
- Place the longans in a small pot. Add about 1 quart water. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes (Note: the longer you cook the liquid, the more intense the longan flavor gets). Add the rest of rock sugar and cook until fully dissolved. Add the lotus seeds and the jujube mixture. Remove from the stove and allow the syrup to infuse for about 15 minutes.
- Serve warm or chilled (I prefer it warm ).
- Bon appétit!