Grass jelly is a dessert found in Asia, mainly around Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand. It is a great addition in milkshakes or to have with fruits. Although it is found in its canned form in most Asian stores, it is also pretty easy to make at home if you have the right ingredients.
Did You Know?
The leaves of the xian cao plant are aged and dried for more than a year, before it gets the suitable aroma and, flavor needed to make good grass jelly.
An unusual dessert, grass jelly or leaf jelly is made with the leaves of the Mesona chinensis or xian cao plant to form a black translucent solid gel. In China, it is usually served with a sugar syrup, evaporated milk or cut fruits. Indonesians use the Cincau perdu plant to create a green-colored grass jelly. In other regions of Asia, a jelly-soy milk combination is highly popular. For those who are wondering what does grass jelly taste like, it is slightly bitter, with a mix of lavender and iodine flavor. It is not a flavor that everyone will like on the first try, as it is an acquired taste.
All ingredients needed to prepare this jelly are generally available at your local Asian store. The recipe is very simple, and using your freshly made jelly in various desserts is a great way to add a unique twist to the dish.
Grass Jelly Nutrition
Grass jelly is relatively light on nutrients and is mainly used for its flavorsome properties. 300 grams of grass jelly contains only 180 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of proteins. Of the carbohydrates, only around 3 grams come from dietary fiber, while the rest is from sugar. Grass jelly neither contains fat, nor does it contain any vitamins or minerals. Now, let us look at how to actually make grass jelly at home.
Black Grass Jelly Recipes
- Cornstarch, ½ pound
- Mesona chinensis/xian cao leaves, ½ cup (dried)
- Alkaline water, 2 tablespoons
- Wash the dried Mesona leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or grime on them.
- In 4½ quarts of regular water, add the washed leaves and the alkaline water, and bring it to a boil.
- Simmer the mixture for around two hours, then remove the vessel from the heat and allow it to cool.
- Once it is cooled, take the leaves out of the water and vigorously rub and squeeze them to get the leaf extract into the water.
- Boil the water and extract mixture for ½ an hour, then cool and repeat the rubbing and squeezing procedure.
- Filter the water to get all the solids out.
- Mix 2½ cups of cold water and cornstarch, and stir well.
- Heat the mixture once again, and take it off the flame when it’s just about to boil.
- Cool the liquid and leave it in the refrigerator till it sets into a jelly.
- The grass jelly is now ready for use in any dessert you wish to use it in.
- Mesona chinensis leaves, 6 tablespoons (dried)
- Rice flour, 4 tablespoons
- Bean flour, 4 tablespoons
- Alkaline water, 2½ tablespoons
- Mix the rice flour with some water to make a thin, watery paste. Strain the mixture to remove any solid particles, and leave it aside.
- In a non-metal pot, add the Mesona leaves, alkaline water, and 9 cups of regular water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour.
- Remove the vessel from heat, cool the liquid, and rub the leaves in the water to remove the extract.
- Boil this extract-water mixture for 25 minutes, remove from heat, cool, and repeat the rubbing process.
- Strain the liquid to remove any solids, then bring it to a boil again before taking it off the heat.
- Put the rice water and bean flour in a separate pan and mix well. Add this mixture to the jelly liquid while it’s still hot.
- Stir the jelly mixture and cool. Refrigerate it till it sets.
- The black grass jelly is ready for use.
Green Grass Jelly Recipes
This is the Indonesian version of grass jelly, and it is made from Cincau perdu leaves.
- Cincau perdu leaves, 50 approx (aged)
- Water, 1½ quart (boiled)
- White sugar, 50 grams
- Soak the Cincau leaves in cold water for 10-15 minutes, after which you have to remove any stalks still attached to the leaves.
- Rinse the leaves 2-3 times under strong running water, to thoroughly clean them from dirt and pesticides.
- Cut the leaves into small pieces, and put them in a blender.
- Add the sugar and boiled water in the blender, and run the machine till the leaves are ground well along with the sugar.
- Strain the liquid 2-3 times, to get rid of any solids.
- Pour the strained liquid into a bowl or container and refrigerate until it sets into a solid jelly.
- Your green grass jelly is now ready to use.
Grass Jelly Drink Recipe
This recipe is very easy and very tasty. It can be served either warm or cold.
- Water, 9 cups
- Grass jelly, as per taste
- Rock sugar, as per taste
- Ice cubes
- Take 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil.
- Add the desired amount of rock sugar to the boiling water and stir till it dissolves.
- Add the remaining water and grass jelly, and stir well.
- The drink is ready to serve if you want it warm. However, if you would like it chilled, refrigerate the mixture till cold, and serve with ice cubes.
As you can see, these recipes are incredibly easy and can be prepared by anybody with the right ingredients. So, prepare some fresh grass jelly and surprise your friends and family.