Learn how to make this easy tau suan or lek tau suan dessert made with split mung beans served in thick and gooey sweet soup and you tiao (Chinese fried crullers). This humble dessert is absolutely delicious.
I got to know tau suan when I lived in Singapore for a few years. It is the local favorite and it has been mine too ever since. I love anything that has to do with beans to begin with. So, tau suan effortlessly just made it into my favorite dessert 🙂
What is Tau Suan?
Tau Suan is of Teochew specialty. Tau or dou means beans. Suan means sticky soup. Though, in Hokkien, the word suan means diamond. If you look at the overall presentation, the beans are similar to little diamonds suspended in the thick soup. Anyway, just an observation.
1. Split mung beans
Split mung beans are mung beans that have been split and hulled. So you no longer see the green skin and the beans are split in half. This makes the beans cook much faster and doesn’t require long soaking time compared to regular whole beans. They are available in dried form in any Asian grocery store
2. Pandan leaves
Pandan leaves add great flavor to the dessert. Unless you really can’t find them, I won’t skip this ingredient. You can use fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen)
3. Coconut sugar
This tau suan soup looks a bit darker because of the coconut sugar. Usually, regular granulated sugar is caramelized to adds some extra flavor, but I’m doing a “shortcut” and use coconut sugar, which also adds a nice flavor
4. Granulated sugar
You can skip coconut sugar and use all granulated sugar instead too
5. Sweet potato starch
I found that sweet potato starch is the best thickener for tau suan. The soup stays thick for a long time. Other best substitutes for sweet potato starch for this recipe are: potato starch (not potato flour), water chestnut starch, and wheat starch (teng fen)
When I use corn starch or tapioca starch, the soup turns watery much quicker. If you use the latter two, thicken the soup only when you are ready to serve it right away
6. You tiao (Chinese fried crullers)
You can get fresh or frozen from Asian grocery store. You can also use homemade you tiao
How to cook tau suan / lek tau suan
1. Soak the split mung beans in hot water for 30 minutes or 1 hour if using room temperature water. Discard soaking water.
2. Place the soaked beans in a steaming dish along with pieces of pandan leaves.
3. Steam the beans over high heat for 10-15 minutes or until the beans are soft, with a bit of bite and not mushy. Remove from the steamer and discard the pandan leaves
4. Place water,sugar, a tiny pinch of salt, and pandan leaves in a medium to large pot.
5. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves and then lower the heat to let it simmer for 10 minutes. Have a taste and adjust the sweetness level if needed. You can prepare ahead up to this point
6. Mix sweet potato starch with water. Bring the soup back to a boil. Add cooked beans and bring back to a simmer.
7. Give the sweet potato starch solution a stir. While one hand is stirring, the other slowly pour in the sweet potato starch solution and keep stirring until the liquid is thickened. The beans should not sink to the bottom and suspended by the thick gooey soup. If the soup is not thick enough to your preference, you can thicken it with more starch and water mixture.
8. Turn off the heat and serve with you tiao
Can you keep leftover tau suan?
I won’t recommend storing leftover tau suan. Tau suan is best served as soon as it is made. The longer it sits, the watery the soup will be. Let’s say you do have a leftover, you can keep them in the fridge and when ready to serve, simply reheat on the stove. You will most likely need to thicken it again, which will make the soup more starchy
Tips on how to store tau suan (before thickening the soup)
1. Soak and steam the split mung beans as per recipe
2. Prepare the soup as directed without thickening it first
3. Both can be stored separately in the refrigerator for up to one week
4. Simply get the amount of beans and soup you plan to serve and thickened the soup as directed in the recipe
Did you make this recipe?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
You may also like similar desserts like these:
Easy Tau Suan / Lek Tau Suan (Split Mung Bean Dessert)
- 220 gr split mung beans 1 cup
- 4 pandan leaves cut into 2-3 smaller pieces
For the soup:
- 1400 ml water 6 cups
- 30 gr coconut sugar 2 1/2 Tbsp, or use regular brown sugar
- 70 gr sugar 5 2/3 Tbsp
- small pinch of salt optional, but brings out overall flavor
- 2 pandan leaves knotted
- 50 gr sweet potato starch 1/3 cup, or more as needed
- 80 ml water 1/3 cup
- 2 pairs you tiao
Prepare the split mung beans:
- Soak the split mung beans in hot water for 30 minutes or 1 hour if using room temperature water. Discard soaking water. Place the soaked beans in a steaming dish along with pieces of pandan leaves. Steam the beans over high heat for 10-15 minutes or until the beans are soft with some bite to it and not mushy. Check at 10-minute mark to avoid over cooking. Remove from the steamer and discard the pandan leaves
Prepare the soup:
- Place water,sugar, a tiny pinch of salt, and pandan leaves in a medium to large pot. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves. Have a taste and adjust the sweetness level if needed. You can prepare ahead up to this point
When ready to serve tau suan:
- Toast the you tiao briefly in toaster oven or air fryer until crispy and then cut into smaller pieces and set aside
- Mix sweet potato starch with water. Bring the soup back to a boil. Add cooked beans and bring back to a simmer. Give the sweet potato starch solution a stir. While one hand is stirring, the other slowly pour in the sweet potato starch solution and keep stirring until the liquid is thickened. The beans should not sink to the bottom and suspended by the thick gooey soup. If the soup is not thick enough to your preference, you can thicken it with more starch and water mixture. Turn off the heat and serve with you tiao
- You can also use corn starch or tapioca starch, but the soup turns watery much faster compared to using sweet potato starch or potato starch
I was very happy to have found this recipe of my favorite dessert here and your cooking instructions are relatively easily to follow. I over boiled my tau suan a tad too long so they look mushy but overall it is perfect in taste, Thank you Marvellina!
I’m glad you like it. Yes, watch out when boiling the beans as the split mung beans tend to cook a bit quicker than regular mung beans.
Can I steam the beans a day before? Will it alter the taste of the final product?
Yes, you can. It shouldn’t affect the final product 🙂
Thanks for the recipe, I have a question though. I think I might be buying the wrong type of flour from the groceries. Mine says it’s a “sweet potato flour”. The recipe calls for sweet potato starch. Will my sweet potato flour do the same thing as sweet potato starch or should I use tapioca instead?
Depending on where you are, some places label sweet potato starch and sweet potato flour as the same thing. By definition, the flour is usually made by grinding the whole sweet potatoes. The starch is made by extracting the starch out from the sweet potatoes. That’s the difference between the starch and the flour. We want to use the “starch”. You can test it out by mixing a small portion of water with the starch and then cooking over low heat and keep stirring and see if it thickens the liquid and turns translucent, if it is, that’s the starch. The flour will not turn translucent and won’t gel the way the starch does. I hope this helps. If in doubt, yes, you can use tapioca starch too.I haven’t tried it myself, but I believe it should work too.
thanks for sharing, n the tips to cook beforehand 🙂 seems like i got to get the sweet potato or water chestnut flour just for this.
Frank from IG: gentlemans_cooking
Hi Frank, yes, if you can get a hold of sweet potato starch or water chestnut flour/powder, that would be best 🙂