Chinese Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup (Yup, Soup for Dessert)


Growing up in Hong Kong, I was always aware of Chinese dessert soups. But aside from sweet tofu and black sesame tong yuen, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. I used to think, beans? FUNGUS? That’s not dessert. But cheesecake and chocolate cookies? Now those I can get down with.

Since moving back to Hong Kong this year, I’ve learned that there are a lot of little stores dedicated just to Chinese dessert soups. One in my neighborhood is particularly famous, so I mustered up the courage to try it out. And you know what? Red bean soup is delicious. Papaya and snow fungus, despite the name, is lovely. I must be getting old, or I’m starting to truly understand the crappy effects sugar has on the body, because I’ve started to enjoy these simpler and less sugary desserts.

But my absolute favorite discovery is Sweet Potato and Ginger Dessert Soup, which my friend Rach’s auntie introduced me to. You can serve this hot or cold, but even if it’s still 80 degrees everyday in Hong Kong in October, I love having this soup hot. With a hint of sweetness and strong ginger kick, it’s like a warm hug in a bowl! It’s traditionally made with a slab of raw brown sugar, or in Rach’s auntie’s case, Red Sugar. She was disgusted to hear that I used regular brown sugar in mine and handed me a bag of Chinese “Red Sugar”, saying the soup would taste bad with gwailo sugar. Seeing as red sugar is basically brown sugar with food coloring, I’d say we’re all OK using brown sugar, hehe. Feel free to adjust the amount of ginger depending on how much you like. I personally like to add more than the below recipe, but not everyone does!

Chinese Sweet Potato and Ginger Dessert Soup
Makes 2 servings (can be easily doubled)

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 inch piece of ginger, skinned and sliced
1 3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Pour the water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and ginger, and lower the heat. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes have softened. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Take off heat, remove the ginger if you wish, and serve! Dassit.


Breakfast, Dessert

Ontbijtkoek: Baking Inspiration from Europe

It’s been almost a month since my vacation in Europe and I haven’t talked about it on the blog yet. Life has been crazy! After coming back from vacation, I got sick and spent a couple of days unwell and unmotivated. The next week I found my social calendar out of control, though I love to see people and can’t complain about that. Then Hurricane Sandy came to visit us, leaving a trail of destruction. But better late than never.

I had a fantastic vacation, albeit a short one. We spent two nights in the north of France, near Belgium, for my childhood best friend’s wedding. The reception was at a beautiful farm-chic venue, and instead of a sit-down dinner we got to sample all kinds of delicious treats (pictured above). I didn’t know savory macarons exist! With such great people and good wine, we had a blast. Even if we were hurting the next day. Next, we took a train to Amsterdam. We only had two nights there too, but we crammed in as much sightseeing and Dutch cheese as we could.

I think the best thing I ate this trip was at the wedding: foie gras on a speculaas cookie (yup, the cookie butter stuff) or on a slice of ontbijtkoek. Hot, rich, savory foie gras paired with spiced sweetness…YUM. I used to eat ontbijtkoek quite often as a kid, but had since forgotten about it until this trip. It’s a sweet, almost sticky cake eaten for breakfast, and with cinnamon, cloves, and molasses, it reminds me of gingerbread. Maybe that’s why it feels so perfect this time of year. It’s easy to make, tasty, and not as bad for you as some other desserts. It’s perfect smeared with warm butter. Or foie gras, if that’s how you roll. Smakelijk!



Makes one large loaf

Adapted from My Dutch Baking Blog

Butter for loaf pan
1 cup dark rye flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, ginger, and/or coriander (optional, if you have them)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup honey
1 cup milk
pinch of salt

Heat the oven to 300°F.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix ingredients into a smooth batter with a wooden spoon. Place on a lower oven rack for about 80 minutes or until the cake is done.

Remove the ontbijtkoek and let in cool completely in its pan. Slice and serve with butter. Wrap the rest aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or store in an airtight container



The 2012 Ice Pop Project: Watermelon Mint Julep

Happy Labor Day! I hope none of you American readers are seeing this until tomorrow and are out enjoying your long weekend. Labor Day is a reminder that summer is winding down. And that I don’t care about fashion rules and will continue to wear white in the coming months.

As my ice pop season is coming to an end, I thought I’d squeeze in one more boozy ice pop. This time, a watermelon mint julep ice pop. Never mind that I’ve never actually had a mint julep. (What? I’m not a cocktail girl). It’s time for me to to get into bourbon.

Is it cocktail? Is it a dessert? I don’t know! But it may have been one of my favorite ice pops this season. It is so sweet and juicy, but thanks to the bourbon, it tastes so much boozier than other alcoholic ice pops I’ve made in the past. Then you bite into a mint leaf and it adds another layer of freshness. Mmmm.

Make these ice pops. Sit outside and eat them with a loved one. Play Wild Nothing’s new album. Watch the last days of summer slip away.



I Did It For The Fruit

There’s a reason why I switch to ice pops in the summer. It’s dang hot! I still want dessert but I don’t want to turn my oven on. However, now that we’re in late, late summer, I’m feeling sad that I will no longer be seeing gorgeous berries, peaches, nectarines, and watermelons at the farmers market. I’ve been enjoying summer fruit raw, but it would be a shame not to bake something delicious with them while they’re still around. So as gross and hot as it is, I turned on the oven. I did it for the fruit.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m totally obsessed with the Joy the Baker podcast. So here’s a recipe from Joy’s partner in crime: Tracy from I’ve had a bag of black sesame seeds sitting in my cupboard for God knows how long, so I saw her Peaches and Plums with Sesame Crumble recipe as a good excuse to use some.

It turned out really good. Even better with a dollop of whipped cream. Why do people buy the pre-made stuff anyway? It takes like 10 seconds to whip up.

P.S. I got a new toy! And by toy I mean camera. Still have no idea how to use this thing, so the photos came out so-so. But I have high hopes for the future of photography at Eating Clean in the Dirty City.



The 2012 Ice Pop Project: Mocha

I am a serious coffee lover. While I’m pretty plain when it comes to drinking it (black espresso in the cold weather and black cold brewed coffee in the summer), I do love coffee flavored desserts. I’ve been dying to make another one since last year’s crazy delicious Thai Iced Coffee Pops. Thankfully I came across A Cozy Kitchen’s Mocha Popsicles.

It’s a tasty but simple recipe, but sometimes simple is good. My only complaint–I would love to eat this for dessert but am scared it’ll prevent me from falling asleep. I guess this is my weekend ice pop!

Wait, summer is ending soon. Noooooo! Only a few more ice pops left to go. Sad. Let’s make the most of the last days of summer, people!


The 2012 Ice Pop Project: Coconut and Mango Rice Pudding Pops

Ohhh man. I realized I hadn’t had mango in such a long time until I saw the recipe for these Coconut and Mango Rice Pudding Pops. I made them last week and they were so delicious, with chewy rice in every bite. It reminds me of a summer treat I ate a lot growing up in Hong Kong called “Mango Sai Mai Lo“. It’s a cold soup-y sago (similar to tapioca pearls) pudding with mango. A delicious ice pop that brought back happy memories, yay!


The 2012 Ice Pop Project: Avocado

OK if you’ve never heard of avocado ice pops (or paletas de aguacate if you want to be fancy), I know it sounds kinda weird. But don’t be fooled–it is so tasty. The avocado gives it a creaminess without using any dairy at all. If you like avocado, do it! You will not be disappointed.

I used a recipe from Fany Gerson’s Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas (my Amazon affiliate program link). A friend asked for the recipe and I realized it’s online at too, woohoo! But if you love Mexican summer-time treats, I recommend getting this little cookbook.

So many ice pops to eat, so little summer. Ain’t that the truth.