Orh Nee is a delightfully rich stick-to-your-ribs starchy traditional Teochew dessert made with the taro root or yam. My memory fails to recall if I actually had an authentic Orh Nee before – commonly served at Chinese wedding banquets – but I love yam, so why not give it a go? In some instances, this dessert is accompanied by ginkgo nuts and pumpkin.
Many traditional recipes call for lard and lots of sugar to imbue it with a silky smooth texture. However, do we really need to follow old recipes and forsake health? Let’s forgo our old tokens of nostalgia and reinvent tradition. I went naked on the oil and sugar. The result? the natural sweetness of yams and pumpkins took the Limelight, accentuated by floral hints of coconut. The Ginkgo nuts were like gold nuggets atop a pedestal of purple Amethyst, offering bits of nutritious jewels as well as brightening up the dish. To further superboost it, I decided to top add a layer of chia pudding too.
If you still need more convincing to try this yummy dish, here are the nutritional highlights of my super Orh Nee:
Yam (taro) and pumpkin: rich in potassium for nerves & muscles.
Ginkgo nuts: brain food. Experiments on neuronal cultures have shown that the active ingredient of Ginkgo biloba preparations, ginkgolides, were protective against synapse damage induced by amyloid beta, and may guard against cognitive loss characteristic of the early stages of AD. For a convenient solution, processed gingko nuts are readily available in vacuum packs in Chinese supermarkets, although it is always recommended to use fresh if available.
Chia seeds: another brain food that is especially high in omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants
Coconut milk: rich in lauric acid and medium chain fatty acids.
- 1 small yam (600 - 800 grams), roughly chopped
- 1 wedge of pumpkin (300 – 400 grams), roughly chopped
- 4 pandan leaves, tied and knotted
- 1-2 handfuls of ginkgo nuts
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 6 tablespoons coconut milk
- Prepare the chia pudding in advance. In a cup whisk together chia seeds with coconut milk. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight to form a gel.
- In a medium pot, add 1 cup water and 2 pandan leaves (the water should be just covering the vegetables). Add the chopped yam and boil for 10 minutes or until the yam pieces are thoroughly cooked. Drain the water and set aside the yam and let cool. Repeat this step with the chopped pumpkin. If you have a steamer, I envy you. You can steam the yam and pumpkin at the same time as it would be a great time-saver.
- Rinse the gingko nuts. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil, then add the nuts and boil for about 20 minutes until the gingko nuts are tender and do not taste bitter. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, place the cooked taro in a food processor and process until very smooth and thick, adding the reserved cooking water to thin as necessary. Repeat this step with the cooked pumpkin. Layer and garnish with chia pudding and boiled ginkgo nuts. This is equally delicious served warm or chilled. Enjoy!