Sương Sáo aka Grass Jelly is a dessert/drink popular throughout Southeast Asia.  According to Chinese medicine it has "cooling" properties and is good for the skin.  Grass Jelly is actually made from a dried herb that is a member of the mint family...not grass as the name suggests.  The herb's name in Chinese which is "len fan chou" (cooling grass). Thus, jelly made from cooling grass is....you guessed it Grass Jelly.

You can purchase Grass Jelly at just about any Asian grocery store for dirt cheap...but where's the fun in that?



"Grass" to make Grass Jelly can be found at most Chinese Herbal/Medicine Shops.  Rinse/wash the grass, add water to cover the grass by 2", simmer for at least 1 hour. 







Cool and strain the grass through a cheese cloth or a fine sieve or...both.  The liquid obtained will be used as the base to make grass jelly.






 
To make grass jelly.....
Use a measuring cup to measure the liquid obtained after straining out the herb.  Dilute that liquid with an equal amount of water.  For example, if you got 2 cups of liquid add 2 cups water (+/- depending on how pronounced you want you jelly to taste).  For every 6 cups of diluted liquid you will need 75g of tapioca starch (+/- depending on how firm you want you jelly to be).

Bring 5 cups of liquid to a boil.  Meanwhile, dissolve the tapioca starch in the remaining 1 cup of liquid.  As soon as the liquid in the pot begins to boil, stir in the starch mixture.  You'll notice the liquid will thicken immediately.  Mix well and fast, then pour the mixture into a clean bowl and allow to set.  The jelly set right before you eyes...literally.  In about 20 mins the grass jelly is ready to be served.

To serve: cut the jelly into small pieces, mix with sugar or honey...grass jelly also pairs exceptionally well with Nước Rau Má (Pennywort drink)....I was going to post a recipe but my dear friend Lily beat me to it...you can find her recipe here http://lilyng2000.blogspot.com/2010/07/pennywortpegaga-drink-secret-fountain.html 

Just in case you're wondering...this isn't 'real' grass jelly since the starch is setting the jelly and not the grass.  I thought so too...so I experimented.  I tried to thicken 6 cups of water with 75g of tapioca starch to see if the liquid would set like grass jelly....it didn't...as you can see from the picture below.  The white mess in the bowl is the water + tapioca starch vs. grass jelly + tapioca starch.  



The starch triggers a chemical reaction with the grass jelly liquid to set the jelly.  The starch alone can not do the job.  Besides tapioca starch you can also use corn starch, mung bean starch, arrow root starch or rice flour.  However, I found that tapioca starch gives the jelly the best appearance (clear and pitch black). If you prefer a very soft jelly, use 30g of starch (it's the minimum amount of starch you'll need to set 6 cups of grass jelly; the more starch the firmer the jelly).  For a slightly chewy texture add 1/2 tsp lye water

Comments (18)

On 1:44 AM , Su-Tra said...

Hello,

this is great! In Germany we have temperature above 35°C and we want to drink "tre viet nam".
But my husband don't like the tin grass jelly, this is now no problem anymore!!!
Thank you so much!!!
Greets from Germany
Sue

 
On 6:59 AM , lily's wai sek hong said...

tt

thank you for this recipe. Did you get the grass from the chinese medicine shop?

According to what i heard a long time ago that it has to be cooked for several hours and the jelly will set on it's own. Your method is better, faster

 
On 11:21 PM , hoangtam/tt said...

Su-Tra,
grass jelly makes a wonderful drink. can you get the grass in Germany?

lily,
I heard that the grass will set on it's own too. I tried boiling the grass for 6 hours but didn't set. Then I blended the grass in a blender and reboiled it for another 2 hours and it still didn't set. Starch is definitely the "secret ingredient" since you only need a little but can't do without.

 
On 4:02 PM , lilyng said...

tt

thanks for the tips. If i do get hold of some grass, will try it and give you a feedback

 
On 3:28 AM , Anonymous said...

Hi Hoang Tam,

Many thanks for sharing with us. Could you post the picture of the bag of "len fan chou" (cooling grass) in Asian shop because I don't know how the bag looks like and I don't speak Chinese so it would be hard for me to find the product.

Many thanks.

Happy cooking

Lucy.

 
On 3:34 AM , Anonymous said...

Hi Hoang Tam,

Many thanks for sharing.

May I have the picture of the bag of len fan chou please. I want to buy the ingredient but I don't know what it looks like in the Asian shop.

Happy cooking

Best regards

Lucy.

 
On 5:10 PM , Me of Cubi said...

Chao co^ Hoang Tam,
Ghe nha of co^ hoai` ma ko co dam comments. Co^ cho Amy lam quen voi co^ nha co^. Amy cung theo dao phat nhung o Ks co 1 cai chua nhung Amy chua co dip di. Website of co^ rat la huu it. Amy hoc hoi duoc rat nhieu. Cam on co^.

 
On 9:30 AM , hoangtam/tt said...

lucy,

the grass was sold by weight and there wasn't a "bag" that it came in... the first picture in my post is of the grass...hope that helps.

 
On 6:57 AM , Jenny @ Musings and Morsels said...

My goodness, I can't believe (astoundingly pleased) you went to all that effort to make grass jelly! I am in awe. The most I've ever done was flip open a can of the honey grass jelly drink from Asian groceries.
That's also probably the only form I recognise it in; how else would you use it? I'd love to hear more :)

-Jenny

 
On 2:39 AM , edith said...

This information is really valuable. Each day we ate stuff that we don't know how it is originated. Thanks for the education.

 
On 1:17 PM , Success said...

Looking forward to testing this out. I will post my results.

 
On 11:18 PM , Two fit and fun gals said...

wow great recipe- i definitely want to try this out!

 
On 12:47 PM , HoaAnhDao said...

Hoàng Tâm,

Cô trồng Sương Sáo, hái vào phơi khô nhưng nấu hoài không có đen, chắc tại cây còn non hé? Làm ơn ghé thăm bà con đi HT!
Cô thử cho bột sương sa nhưng nó không đặc, ai có biết là phải có bột năng.

Thanks for the tip.

Isabella

 
On 12:07 AM , hoangtam/tt said...

Cô Isa,

Cô thứ bóp cho dập sương sáo trước khi phơi khô xem nó có đen thêm chút nào không?

 
On 7:05 PM , Anonymous said...

Someone purchased the herb for me, but can you tell me how much of the herb to use for your recipe?

 
On 1:42 AM , hoangtam/tt said...

How much herb you use depends on how much grass jelly you want to make.

the recipe starts after you extract the liquid from the herb. That said, the more herb you use = more liquid = more grass jelly.

 
On 7:11 AM , HoaAnhDao said...

HEHEHEHE! I gave up on SX since all my plant died during this cold winter.

 
On 11:06 PM , hoangtam/tt said...

Hoaanhdao,

suong sao comes from the mint family. Mint seems to be very hardy, cross your fingers maybe they'll sprout again once the weather warms up.