This is Chinese ching po leung, a type of herbal tong sui served cold. In Vietnamese, it is known as Che Sam Bo Luong. I never order this dessert at Vietnamese restaurants because most of the time, it is substituted with very cheap ingredients such as canned jelly grass and agar jelly instead of the essential dried herbal ingredients that makes up its name. The Chinese in me has to make it with the dried herbal ingredients. I’ve been working on this recipe for a while playing with different sweet ingredient and timing of when to put certain ingredient into the pot first, next, and last so nothing is overcooked nor undercooked to make it taste like how my mom used to make it. There’s a lot of food she makes when she was younger…not she’s in her seventies and tends to forget how to cook many food that I so used to love in my childhood. Luckily, I have a good memory of how her food tasted when I was a kid growing up watching mom cooked. It’s now little foodie’s all time favorite che ever since she was a bab.
1/2 cup of dried dried polygonatum (omitted)
2. In an 8-quart pot, pour in 5 quarts of water. Drop in the Chinese brown candy, the block of palm sugar, dried lily bulbs, longans, and gingko nuts. Bring the water to a boil and turn heat to medium or constant light boil. Cook for 45 minutes.
3. In a 2-quart pot, cook the dried lotus seeds and pearl barley with water and some of the sweet mixture from the big pot. Bring the small pot to a boil and cook on constant light boil until the two ingredients are soft. Add more water if needed to maintain at least 2 inches above level. If you do add the dried polygonatum, you would cook it with the lotus and barley because these three ingredients takes the longest time to cook or soften up.
4. Meanwhile cooking the two pots, cut the kelp into 2-inch strips and the white fungus into small pieces. Discard the center area where it may be hard.
6. When the pearl barley and lotus seeds are soft, transfer it into the big pot mixture.
Let cool, refrigerate and serve cold or warm. Keep refrigerated for up to a week. Enjoy! Someone is so excited when mommy makes this.