Lotus seed pudding is the most popular dish in Hue and throughout Viet Nam. The ingredients are simple: lotus seeds, longan, and sugar. But “this is still an enjoyable dessert desired by many,” says Hue culinary expert Ton Nu Thi Ha.
Che sen nhan long (Lotus seed pudding)
No one knows exactly when the dish was created. But the elderly in Hue say lotus seed pudding is hundreds of years old. The simple ingredients of the dish have played an important role in defining Hue’s cuisine.
These days, Ha Thanh (the old name for Hanoi) serves lotus seed pudding, too. But Hue pudding still features unique characteristics because it uses fresh local ingredients.
“Hue lotus has a nutty flavour and Hue’s small longan is crispy and lightly sweet,” Ha says.
In the past, royal cooks often ordered longan from Kim Long District, famed for its very sweet, scented fruit.
Making lotus seed pudding – a sophisticated process
Making lotus seed pudding is a sophisticated process to ensure that the boiled lotus seed wrapped in longan remains as white as a pearl.
“The pudding is often eaten in summer to cool heat inside the body, to reduce stress, and to improve the health of children and the elderly, especially people lacking sleep,” Ha says.
Tran Van Kieu of Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung District says the pudding is both luxurious and common and it is enjoyed by everyone from high-ranking officials to labourers.