4 Ways to Enjoy Grass Jelly, The Ultimate Summer Refresher

A can of the common Asian ingredient and a little simple syrup can go a long way.

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August 05, 2022

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Grass Jelly Dessert

Grass Jelly Dessert

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

Growing up, summer treats didn’t just include soft serve or fudgy ice pops. My Chinese parents always had a couple of cans of grass jelly in the fridge. On hot nights after dinner, my mom would make a ginger-infused rock sugar simple syrup before dinner was even served. This way it can steep while we are eating. Then my dad would crack open a can, give it a shake and a glassy, shiny, onyx gelatin would jiggle out. Very similar to a can of jellied cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving Day. He would dice it up and divide it amongst five bowls for my mom and siblings. My sister would lightly drizzle the ginger syrup on top, knowing that a little went a long way. As we each enjoyed our own cool and refreshing bowl, my parents would reminisce about summer nights in Hong Kong, making new memories together on our Brooklyn stoop.

For those who are unfamiliar with what grass jelly is, you might know it by another name such as leaf jelly or herbal jelly. They are all interchangeable due to the main ingredient, Platostoma palustre plant, a cousin of the mint family. The flavor has a hint of bitterness but is very refreshing when chilled, making it the perfect summer treat. There are many ways to enjoy grass jelly. Simply chilled with a drizzle of simple syrup and evaporated milk is the easiest. Yet, the most common way is to enjoy it as a drink. My dad orders it from local Chinese bakeries and the strands of grass jelly are served with unsweetened soy milk. Food Network editor Maggie Wong enjoys her grass jelly drink sans soy milk – made simply with small chunks of grass jelly, a sweet syrup and water. Both are super fun to drink through a big bubble tea straw! And for an especially eye-catching summer indulgence, grass jelly can be mixed and matched with several other toppings like tapioca pearls and ice cream.

Grass jelly is a common dessert in many East and Southeast Asian countries, but you don’t have to travel far to give it a try. Many boba drink places offer this as an add-in. Or – you can snag a can online or at Asian grocery stores.

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