楊枝甘露 Mango Pomelo Sago
I’ve always looked forward to the Mid-Autumn Festival not because I’m interested in eating or making mooncakes of course, but because pomelos are also in season. For me they are a real treat during this time of the year. When I was young I’d had a somewhat peculiar way of eating pomelo, plucking the pearly pulp individually from the membrane and squash them one at a time in my mouth. That sudden burst of those sourish packets of juices remains one of the highlights of festivities celebrations in my childhood, because that was traditionally the only time of the year pomelos were available.
I still enjoy pomelo by the pulp, even till today, especially when its paired with another fruit in season, thai honey mangoes to create a very famous dessert, Mango Pomelo Sago, or better as Yeung Zhee Gam Luk 楊枝甘露, a name that alludes so much poetry.
Yeung Zhee Gam Luk is a highly popular chilled “modernised” 糖水 “tung shuei” which can be found on the menus of any tung shuei shop or dessert parlour in Hong Kong amongst which are famous names like 許留山 Hui Lau San, 大良八記 Dai Leung Pak Gei, 滿記 Mun Gei. It was created in the 1980s by the famous 利苑酒家 Lei Garden restaurant chain which specialises in authentic Cantonese cuisine. However unknown to many, and this might come as a surprise to some, Yeung Zhee Gam Luk, despite its immense popularity in Hong Kong is actually “Made in Singapore”. In 1987, Lei Garden opened their first branch in Singapore in the now-defunct Boulevard Hotel located just next to the current Four Seasons Hotel, and rumour has it that the dessert was created then by the joint’s executive chef Wong Wing Chee as a novel way to utilise leftover pomelo pulp meant for 撈起魚生 Lou Hei Yu Sang. Surprisingly, it became an instant hit in Hong Kong and became better known back in Singapore only over the last couple of years or so.
Yeung Zhee Gam Luk is a very refreshing chilled dessert using mango puree as a base enriched with evaporated milk for a creamier texture. Syrup is added to enhance the sweetness but I personally prefer it to have a slight sour edge. I also found the use of only Thai honey mangoes to be rather one dimensional. Hence a mixture of fresh malaysian chukanlam mangoes and thai honey mangoes were used, the more sour yet aromatic former to be pureed to form the base while the sweeter but less aromatic latter diced into cubes and incorporated for texture. The former is more fibrous and needs to be sieved for a smoother puree, while the latter on the other hand is almost free of tough fibres, and hence less jarring to the teeth, making it ideal as a garnish.
Sago pearls are also added for a more varied palate experience but for me, the real jewels on the golden crown are the morsels of pomelo pulp, adding so much contrast to otherwise silky and luscious concoction.
Truth be told, I had intended to modify it to incorporate passionfruit puree for the sourness and fragrance but quickly decided against it to “preserve the integrity” of the original piece. The recipe I used is from Chef 江庆新 , executive chef of 满福苑 Mun Fook Yuen restaurant but it can be tweaked according to one’s liking for texture and taste.
I’ll probably try to infuse with passionfruit since it pairs so well with mango, as in Sugino’s Tahiti. Ipoh pomelo is used as its widely available now but Thai pink pomelos can be used if one prefers slightly less tart taste. But the pulp tends to be less firm and apparent thus affecting the textures.
楊枝甘露 Mango Pomelo Sago Recipe
300g mango pulp diced
100g pomelo pulp
100ml evaporated milk
500g mango puree (either processed or pureed from fresh mango pulp
700ml simple syrup
To a pot of boiling water, add sago pearls slowly and cook until they are left with only a tinge of opaque white left.
Turn off the flame, cover the pot and set aside for 10-15 min for the pearls to cook through with residual heat, until totally transparent.
Sift the cooked sago pearls and soak into a bowl of ice water. This truncates the cooking process so that the pearls would remain “QQ”. Refrigerate until ready to be used.
Peel mangoes and chunk the flesh into large cubes.
Blend mango puree with simple syrup until smooth.
In a large serving bowl, pour mango puree, most of diced mango, most of pomelo pulp, sago pearls and evaporated milk.
Chill for several hours until ready to serve
Ladle into small serving bowls and garnish with more fresh mango cubes and pomelo pulp