Once in a while, I get a craving for a Chinese dessert soup. And during the recent lunar new year, it was as good an occasion as any to make one of my favourites. Despite years of encouragement and convincing, no one else in my immediate family has acquired a taste for a sweetened porridge made from beans, seeds, and flower bits.
Perhaps tong sui is one of those things you have to eat growing up to continue enjoying as an adult. As a kid, we knew these in Cantonese, literally, as “red beans”, while I only learned the name “azuki” or “adzuki” later in life. I also ate them exclusively in a sweet soup, only making dishes like sekihan when I began to cook for myself.
There are countless recipes for red bean porridge online, but the one I make was taught to me by my father. I captured his recipe a really long time ago, on paper, and am finally putting it online for posterity.
This soup is pretty easy to make. Don’t skip the steps of soaking some of the ingredients, as nobody likes hard bits in their soup. And it’s essential that you put in the extra effort to ensure the lotus seeds are tender. And, this is key, don’t skimp on the ingredients: red bean soup is more than just red beans.