Lotus Seed Dessert

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Chinese Heritage Cooking

Chinese Heritage Cooking

By Christopher Tan and Amy Van

Published 2018

  • About

A simple and nowadays rarely-seen dessert that plays off the subtle, nutty flavour of lotus seeds against a sweet broth. It is worth noting that high-quality lotus seeds are expensive but worth the price for their soft, almost creamy texture when cooked. In comparison, smaller, low-quality seeds are harder to skin and have a less refined flavour. Though not traditional, a handful of small dried longans added to the pot with the lotus seeds in step 5 makes a delicious touch.


  • Dried lotus seeds, skins on 200 g (8 oz), rinsed and drained
  • Water 650 ml (21⅔ fl oz / 2⅔ cups)
  • Pandan leaves 3, washed and tied into a knot
  • Unrefined brown sugar 135 g (4⅘ oz)
  • Finely crushed rock sugar 30 g (1 oz), or to taste
  • Sweet potato starch 30 g (1 oz), or to taste


  1. Place lotus seeds in a large pot and cover with ample boiling water. Set pot over very low heat, cover and let seeds stand for 30 minutes. The water should not return to a boil.
  2. Drain lotus seeds, then peel off skins. If skins are not soft enough to come away easily, let seeds stand over very low heat for 15–20 minutes more, then drain and peel. With tweezers, pluck out and discard any shoot in the middle of each seed.
  3. Spread lotus seeds out on a tray or plate in a single layer and steam over medium heat for 10–20 minutes, until they are tender.
  4. Meanwhile, combine water, pandan leaves, brown sugar and rock sugar in a pot. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, until sugars have completely dissolved, then strain syrup into a clean pot.
  5. Stir lotus seeds into the strained syrup. Cover, bring to a bare simmer over low heat, and let cook gently for 10 minutes.
  6. Dissolve sweet potato starch in a little water to make a slurry, then add to pot, stirring constantly. Simmer for a few minutes more, until dessert thickens. Serve hot.