Comfort Cooking

Covid-19 stay-home recipe: Vegetarian dessert


At a loss as to what to cook tonight? Fret not. In this daily series, STFood Online Editor Hedy Khoo features nourishing recipes you can whip up during the circuit breaker period

When I cook green bean soup, I usually do it with a basic combination of green beans and sago pearls.

When my colleague suggested I add sweet potato to the dessert, it sounded so delicious, I decided to give it a go.

Plus, I get two classic Chinese desserts in one bowl: green bean soup and sweet potato soup.

I use a lot of pandan leaves as they add plenty of aroma and flavour to the soup.

While sago pearls lend a slippery, chewy texture to the dessert, those who are unfamiliar with cooking them may encounter the problem of white cores in cooked sago pearls, which occur when they are not cooked through.

To fix this, boil the pearls uncovered for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the pearls to continue cooking in residual heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

I do not soak the green beans overnight. Unsoaked beans take about 45 minutes to cook in a claypot. Soaking them overnight for eight hours should halve the cooking time.

I usually cook an entire pack of green beans (500g) as I like to store the leftover dessert in individual containers in the fridge so I can have it chilled later.

You can also cook half the quantity if you are just trying this recipe.

The texture of the soup will thicken as the dessert cools, especially when it is kept chilled.

Adjust the amount of water and sugar to suit your preference.

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500g mung beans, washed and rinsed

5.8 litres water

106g pandan leaves (16)

80g sago pearls

400g brown sugar in pieces or slabs

1 Tbs loose brown sugar

1 pinch salt

4 sweet potatoes (445g) peeled


1. Place beans in the pot. Add 3.6 litres of water and pandan leaves.

2. Bring to a boil and cook covered over medium heat for 45 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in another pot, bring 1.4 litres of water to a boil. Add the sago pearls and boil uncovered, over medium heat, for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for 15 to 20 minutes until the pearls are cooked through and clear with no white cores.

4. Transfer the sago pearls into a metal sieve and discard the cooking liquid.

5. With the pearls still in the sieve, rinse them with tap water.

6. Transfer the pearls into a bowl of 800ml of iced water. Soak for five to 10 minutes. Strain and set aside. Discard the iced water.

7. Peel the sweet potatoes and soak in water. Cut them into 3.5cm-thick chunks and continue soaking them. Set aside.


8. In the pot of beans, add the brown sugar slabs, loose brown sugar and salt.

9. Add the sweet potatoes and simmer over medium-low heat for seven to 10 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the sweet potatoes are tender.

10. Add the sago pearls and let the mixture come to a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat.

11. Serve hot or chilled.

Serves 10

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2020, with the headline 'Vegetarian dessert'. Print Edition | Subscribe