Update 03/15/2012: Use Carnation Milk – recommended by Grandma.
Not the best pictures, I know, but cut me some slack! The light was disappearing, the ice was melting, the camera was dying, and of course I do this drink no justice without one of those tall glasses! But you gotta work with what you got. Anyways, here’s another dessert drink to cool you down during these hot summer days. The credit for this one, I believe, is most often given to Hong Kong, although there’s a Japanese dessert that’s practically the same thing, just using cream or half& half instead of milk.
I grew up drinking this as a sweet accompaniment to beef noodle soup in Chinatown. I never really thought about it until now, but it’s a nice contrast to the soup. It’s cold and creamy, with a subtle sweetness from the Red Bean. Like most Chinese/Asian desserts, it’s not overwhelmingly sweet and really simple to make.
I guess I should probably mention that there are variations so that you can do with it what you like. I was reading around and I read that a Sugar Syrup is typically poured over the Red Beans or that the beans even sit in a syrup. The latter option just seems like it would be way to sweet for me, and the first option probably would work too, but I’ve just decided not to do it that way. But because I’m giving you the recipe for a syrup, you can do it that way, if you like.
Also, some people like to put a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream on top of the Red Beans as well, to make it extra dessert-y. I’m just going to keep it to the classic drink that I’ve been having all these years, although I know from experience that Red Beans and Vanilla Ice Cream are great together. And if you have any (I don’t at the moment, or I would add them in, too), you can put in Boba in the bottom with the Red Bean, too. Mmm m-mm mm.
Red Bean Ice
1/4 Cup Dried Red Beans
1/4 Cup Sugar or Rock Sugar
Shaved Ice or Several Ice Cubes, blended in a blender
In a saucepan or pot, cover the Red Beans with water and bring to a boil. Drain, discarding the water, and cover the beans once again with Water (I used about 1& 1/2 cups water this second time). Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and simmer, covered, until the beans are cooked through and soft, but still mostly holding their shape, about 1 hour (This is how I usually have it, but you can let the beans cook longer so that they are half-crushed, more like a paste).
Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the Sugar with 1/2 cup Water. Stir constantly over heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. This should only take a few minutes.
Once the beans are cooked, pour out most of the water, leaving only a few tablespoons behind. Add some sugar syrup to the beans (how much depends on how sweet you like it. I probably added 1/4 cup or less) and mix in well. Set the beans aside and let cool a little.
To assemble: In a clear glass, layer the ingredients in the following order: Red Beans with Syrup, Shaved Ice, and Milk. The milk should cover the red beans and most of the ice. You can now enjoy it with a spoon or large straw!