Sweet beauty tonic to keep you cool

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If you enjoy jelly-like foods, this is one dessert soup that will tickle your palate.

Peach gum dessert soup is a delicious way of enjoying peach gum, regarded as a beauty tonic in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

I came across peach gum at a dried goods shop, Queen Street Trading (01-239 Block 269 Queen Street, tel: 6338-9285), in Bugis.

Called tao jiao in Mandarin, it comes in the form of amber-hued crystals and is actually the resin of the Chinese peach tree (prunus persica).

The manager of the shop, Mr Walter Chua, 49, said peach gum can be soaked in room temperature water for at least three hours. Hot water can be used to reduce the soaking time.

Better grade peach gum comes in larger crystals and it is easier to remove the impurities in it. Pro tip: use tweezers.

Mr Chua said that after soaking the peach gum, it is best to remove the bits that remain hard.

In TCM, peach gum is believed to have cooling properties, so he suggested cooking it with dried longan and dried red dates to balance the dessert. Pandan leaves give the soup an aromatic flavour.

He also recommended using honey rock sugar as it adds to the flavour of the soup.

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PEACH GUM DESSERT SOUP

INGREDIENTS

2.2 litres of water

150g peach gum

3 pandan leaves, knotted

50g longan

6 red dates (40g), halved lengthwise

120g honey rock sugar

20g wolfberries, rinsed

METHOD

1. Bring one litre of water to a boil. Place peach gum in a heat-resistant bowl and pour hot water over it. Soak for two hours.

2. Discard water and rinse peach gum.

3. Use a pair of kitchen tweezers to remove impurities from peach gum.

4. Place peach gum in colander and rinse well.

5. Transfer peach gum into a pot with 1.2 litres of water. Add pandan leaves and bring to a boil.

6. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

7. Add longan and red dates and simmer for another 60 minutes.

8. Add honey rock sugar and simmer for another 30 minutes.

9. Add wolfberries and simmer for another two to five minutes. 10. Discard pandan leaves. Serve hot or chilled.

Serves four

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