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Ben Hong

Grass Jelly

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From my memories as a small child in Toyshan, I recall a treat that I loved and that was grass jelly (?) or leung fun. The taste was an acquired one and in later years, I found that it was not as cherished a treat as I remembered. The cool, thick, black, jiggling mass, swimming in simple syrup that was reminiscent of eating distilled essence of grass with a slight bitter after taste took some getting used to. :shock:

My question: How many of this board have "enjoyed" this earthy treat, if indeed you know what it is? :unsure: A positive answer to both parts of the question tells me that you are a real Sinophile. :cool:

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If it's the same as Guilinggao, I've had it but can't say I've enjoyed it. What does that make me?

Around here, "grass jelly" is usually associated with a drink, which I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, unless it was added to whisky blanc in vermouth-to-gin proportions.

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I enjoy it, although it's not something I seek out. If it's on the menu, I might order it. It's considered cooling so it's good to eat at this time of year. It's good with coconut milk.

If you think grass jelly is bitter, you should try turtle jelly, which is made from turtle shells. yikes, that stuff is very bitter.

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gary soup

grass jelly is distinct from turtle jelly, as aprilmei calls it, also aka guilinggao which traditionally had turtle shell ground and added to it. Both do come served with jelly and look like dark quivering masses.

i think now the latter just has different assortment of herbs, hence its bitter taste. certain blends of turtle jelly are prized for their 'ginseng taste' but i'm not sure what goes into it.

ice-cold grass jelly is best when snozzled through a straw with the accompanying syrup on a hot day but i won't touch turtle jelly voluntarily for its bitterness. funny enough, never thought grass jelly or what everyone calls chin-chow here had much taste to it by itself.

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Gary, that makes you a member of the Chinese Brotherhood that doesn't like leung fun. :biggrin::laugh::cool:

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I drank lots of the stuff as a kid. I never remember the stuff as being bitter - not as the primary taste anyway. If I recall, it was pretty much tasteless, with a herbal aroma.

My mum made grass jelly "tea" very often because she valued its cooling properties, given that the weather in Malaysia is always hot and humid. I think during that time, the grass jelly drink that is commonly available now was rare, so she bought grass jelly (just the jelly itself) that came in can, which she cut up into small cubes and mixed with water and sugar.

I think she called it 仙草 (xian cao) in Mandarin but in foochow it sounded like "cao li". I'm gessing the first character is grass, but no clue what the second is.

I could think of worse things to drink. :smile:

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I enjoy the grass jelly drink, but hate the struggle to get the" last chunk"from the can... :angry:

One of my Chinese students brought grass jelly to a potluck supper. It was cut into chunks and swimming in a mixture of diluted sweet condensed milk. I prefer it ice cold in a light sugar syrup.

仙草 I believe the second character is "grass"?

There is another "jelly" that I love...called agar agar. Can't remember for the life of me, at this moment, what it is called in Chinese. It is like Jello, except it is clear, and often has egg swirled in it with sesame sprinkled on top.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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There is another "jelly" that I love...called agar agar. Can't remember for the life of me, at this moment, what it is called in Chinese. It is like Jello, except it is clear, and often has egg swirled in it with sesame sprinkled on top.

My dictionary says it's qiongzhi (琼脂).

In its natural state it's tasteless, and is often used by vegetarians as a substitute for gelatin.

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Love grass jelly ice cold, cut into jiggly chunks with maple syrup poured over it. I learned this practice from my father, as it was his way of adapting a familiar asian treat with a Canadian touch. Bitter after taste with a lingering sweetness - really refreshing in the summer.

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仙草 I believe the second character is "grass"?

In the foochow dialect, we don't say "xian cao", but "cao li". Funny how dialects have different names (from Mandarin) for the same things. So I have no clue what "li" stands for.

My mum makes agar agar all the time as well. She often adds flavourings like milo, or condensed milk, or those "Sun valley" cordials. Barley is my favourite.

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Bitter after taste with a lingering sweetness - really refreshing in the summer.

Funny how the bitterness can be refreshing. I find that whenever I make soup with bitter melon...Bitter followed by a cool and refreshing sensation.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Oh, wow, we had grass jelly for after-dinner dessert at home two nights ago! Nothing says summer to me like an ice-cold bowl of grass jelly thinly sliced into sugar syrup. Memories of dad mowing the lawn and we kids playing outside and all of us coming inside hot and sweaty to find that mom had a bowl of chilled grass jelly for each of us at the dining table. Mmmmm. Today, I never can have a bowl by myself -- it's got to be the whole family around the table.

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Does grass jelly have any medicinal properties?

Never liked the stuff until my friend talked me into it. She said it was the best medicine for hemorrhoids.

I tried and it sure helped. Psychological? Maybe. Since then I always keep a few cans of grass jelly drink in my pantry...just in case :laugh: Well, it's very refreshing specially after eating a lot of spicy food.

Dejah, you have to use a large straw. :raz:

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I like to eat it with shaved ice, palm sugar and red kidney beans.

regards,

trillium

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Are the jiggly, black, shiny cold squares, in some Dim Sum places Grass Jelly -- or a black rice concoction? (no liquid with it --- just plain)

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hmm... too bitter for me

my mom used to buy it from the chinese grocery in cans and make us drink it in the summers

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??  I believe the second character is "grass"?

Yes, the second character is "grass."

The first character is composed of a person next to a mountain. Anyone know the meaning of the character, or have a dictionary on hand?


Edited by browniebaker (log)

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The first character is composed of a person next to a mountain. Anyone know the meaning of the character, or have a dictionary on hand?

it's pronounced "xian" which means divine or godly since in a lot of folklore people who lived in the mountains had special divine powers

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I enjoy the grass jelly drink, but hate the struggle to get the" last chunk"from the can... :angry:

There is another "jelly" that I love...called agar agar. Can't remember for the life of me, at this moment, what it is called in Chinese. It is like Jello, except it is clear, and often has egg swirled in it with sesame sprinkled on top.

A small tip for you Dejah: when you have finished the first round of drinking all the grass jelly chunks in the can, pour in some chilled water, swirl the can then garble up the last of the chunks.

Also, if you eat a lot of grass jelly you should buy the grass jelly itself (not drinks) in a can. You open the can and cut up the grass jelly yourself, top with some sugar or honey and share it with the whole family. You get a lot more grass jelly for your buck that way.

Agar Agar doesn't sound like Chinese in origin (Malay? Indonesian?). Not sure what it is.

I love grass jelly mixed with ice and sugar syrup. I also love other summar drinks: Waterchestnut drink (Ma Tai Lo [Cantonese]) and a dark green herbal drink called Bunk Dai Wun [Cantonese], wihch literally means a big bowl with a chipped rim.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Are the jiggly, black, shiny cold squares, in some Dim Sum places Grass Jelly -- or a black rice concoction? (no liquid with it --- just plain)

Not grass jelly. They are sweet rolls made of black sesame and some binding agent (gelatin?) I believe.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Agar Agar doesn't sound like Chinese in origin (Malay? Indonesian?). Not sure what it is.

I love grass jelly mixed with ice and sugar syrup. I also love other summar drinks: Waterchestnut drink (Ma Tai Lo [Cantonese]) and a dark green herbal drink called Bunk Dai Wun [Cantonese], wihch literally means a big bowl with a chipped rim.

In foochow, we call agar agar "cai yien". No clue what the chinese characters are.

I love bun dai woon. It's been so long since I've had it. Is that available in the United States? I thought ban dai woon tasted a little like wheatgrass juice at some point but I was never able to compare the two - had them at two different places and time.

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Agar Agar doesn't sound like Chinese in origin (Malay?  Indonesian?).  Not sure what it is.

The name is of Malaysian origin, it's but origins are actually the seas -- it's extracted from purple seaweed. It's called "dai choy goh" in Cantonese (I just looked that up).

It's also a medium used in biology laboratories for growing bacterial cultures because it's very pure in its reconstituted form yet very nutrient-rich. (I knew that long before I knew that people actually eat it!)

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Are the jiggly, black, shiny cold squares, in some Dim Sum places Grass Jelly -- or a black rice concoction? (no liquid with it --- just plain)

Not grass jelly. They are sweet rolls made of black sesame and some binding agent (gelatin?) I believe.

Ah-- Yes! That was it---- Black Sesame. Thanks! I had it so long ago that I forgot what it was.

I guess I have a ??treat?? ahead of me with Grass Jelly?

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Mmmmm.... I love grass jelly. I haven't had the stuff since I was a kid. I used to look foward to summer so I could beg my mom or dad to open up a can for a snack. Last time that I had anything that came close to grass jelly was the grass jelly drink with its tiny cubes that were totally impossible to suck up with a straw and not choke yourself with it. I think I'm going to go pick up a can.

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It's also a medium used in biology laboratories for growing bacterial cultures because it's very pure in its reconstituted form yet very nutrient-rich. (I knew that long before I knew that people actually eat it!)

Actually the point of using agar as a support medium for bacterial cultures is based on the fact that it's not nutrient-rich, at least as far as bacteria are concerned. Bacteria are frequently characterized according to whether they will or will not grow under certain conditions (such as the sort of sugar present), and agar's an easily manipulated medium---you can add exactly what you'd like and not worry much about what's already there.

Agar is simply a cheap support medium for displaying bacterial colonies. Its translucency is a nice feature as well, permitting inspection of bacterial colonies from all angles (as petri dishes are also clear).


Can you pee in the ocean?

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