When you think dessert, you may be thinking foods that are of guilty pleasure - desserts that are full of sugar, creamy and rich. But it is not so for traditional Cantonese desserts like Fu Chok Tong Shui. It is a watery dessert that can also be categorised as a soup.
Fu Chok Tong Shui is of a Cantonese origin. It is known in English as Dried Beancurd and Ginkgo Nuts Dessert. This simple dessert is dubbed in my family as a dessert that is ‘easy to prepare and cook’. All it requires are 7 ingredients, thrown and simmer in a pot of boiling water and voila - you get a delicious and healthy dessert. Although it is a simple dish, the preparation process is not as easy as it includes breaking the husk of the ginkgo nut with a small hammer, a process that takes time and effort. Sure, we can easily find canned ginkgo nuts with the husk already removed. But grandma and dad always does this step to ensure that the dessert we eat will be kept as natural as possible without chemical or preservatives.
Flavorful, light and mellow is how I remembered it to be when I first tasted this dessert. The beancurd sheets is so smooth it flows down your throat, the ginkgo nuts and pearl barley go together to tantalise your tastebuds. Upon my first taste, I liked it so much that one bowl wasn't enough for me and soon, one bowl became two and two became three.
When I first tasted this dessert, it was after visiting my grandfather’s ashes on Qing Ming Jie (清明节), a festival whereby the Chinese visit their ancestor’s tomb. After visiting, all of us from the youngest to the oldest, would return back to my grandmother’s house to eat and bond over congee porridge and Fu Chok Tong Sui.
My grandmother says that this dessert reminds him of grandfather as it was his favourite dessert and it kept her memories of him alive. My grandmother brought nothing with her except her knowledge, skill and love for cooking when she came to Singapore with my grandfather. If 'the way to a man's heart is through is stomach' was true, grandmother has definitely did that with grandpa through Fu Chok Tong Shui and other delectable dishes she concocts.
Grandmother hardly cooks anymore because of her health and I am just really glad that she made sure her masterpiece was passed on to her children like my father. Now, I no longer get to enjoy the dessert made by her but at least I still get to have the taste of it when my dad cooks Fu Chok Tong Shui. It is hardly found outside and is more of a home-styled dish which reminds me how easily traditional dishes like this dessert can wane over time and how the responsibility of making sure that traditional dishes like these stays alive is upon the shoulder of each individual.