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Enjoy this deliciously cool bowl of ‘Dragon De Coco’ to round up the Year of the Dragon!

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 – It’s practically an annual tradition, even though no one speaks about it. After the last ang pow has been handed out and everyone has had a piece of sweet and greasy bakkwa (or more), it’s time for my father to make dessert.

Given this is Chinese New Year and we are a Cantonese family, you might wonder if it might be a special tong sui. We have that too, but the tong sui has always been my mother’s domain – barley ginkgo with foo chuk and lotus seeds after a vegetarian meal on Chor Yat – so, yes, something else.

Hours of labouring over the stove is simply not my father’s style. His idea of a Chinese New Year dessert will always be cracking open a couple cans of fruits in syrup – preferably one with longan and one with peaches – and mixing it all in a big pot with cold water and ice cubes.

The chilled water dilutes the cloying syrup and the ice cubes ensure the dessert is at near freezing serving temperature, perfect for the classic Chinese New Year weather in our country.

To be honest, this is far from my favourite dessert but being my father’s son, I might have inherited his penchant for something simple and straightforward when it comes to making dessert (or at least during Chinese New Year).

Creamy and cool, every spoonful is a delight.
Creamy and cool, every spoonful is a delight.

Creamy and cool, every spoonful is a delight.

What I prefer, however, is something with a little more pizazz. But still fruit-based and very well chilled.

Given it’s the Year of the Wood Dragon, what I have conjured up makes good use of red dragon fruit (get it?), creamy Greek yoghurt, chewy and fibre-rich nata de coco, fresh blueberries and just a touch of lime juice to bring it all together.

I call this "Dragon De Coco” in honour of the Chinese Zodiac. An auspicious name and a terrible pun all at once (nearly as bad as "huat wings” or even "curry of abundance”). Who could ask for more in a dessert to kick off a most excellent year ahead?

DRAGON DE COCO

Red dragon fruit is full of nutrients, including betacyanin, an antioxidant that can protect cells in our bodies from damage by free radicals. This is also where the fruit gets its startling scarlet hue from, unlike its white cousin, which is far paler.

Red dragon fruit always tastes sweeter – and looks more eye-catching.
Red dragon fruit always tastes sweeter – and looks more eye-catching.

Red dragon fruit always tastes sweeter – and looks more eye-catching.

It can be just a matter of taste; I’m sure some prefer the white variety. I usually go for red dragon fruit, which is sweeter than the white, and I don’t mind the risk of staining anything with a shocking red colour.

At the market or grocers, look for a specimen that is ripe but not too ripe: red dragon fruit ought to have a sweet and almost crunchy flesh, rather than a mushy texture.

Textures play a big role in this easy-to-make dessert.

A touch of dairy richness from thick Greek yoghurt.
A touch of dairy richness from thick Greek yoghurt.

A touch of dairy richness from thick Greek yoghurt.

For instance, Greek yoghurt is thicker than ordinary yoghurt as it has been strained to remove its whey. The cubes of chewy, translucent nata de coco offer a lovely bite, albeit one that won’t crack any teeth.

Chewy and fibre-rich 'nata de coco'.
Chewy and fibre-rich 'nata de coco'.

Chewy and fibre-rich 'nata de coco'.

I would almost say the lime juice is optional, except it really isn’t. The fresh acidity really livens up everything. Don’t forget the small things; they make a huge difference.

Ingredients

1 red dragon fruit

1 punnet blueberries

12 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

1 can nata de coco, drained

1 lime, juice only

Method

Make sure all the ingredients are chilled ahead of time.

Slice the red dragon fruit into rough cubes. Divide between 4 bowls.

Add the blueberries, again dividing equally between each bowl. Gently mix the red dragon fruit and blueberries to combine.

Blueberries (left) and limes (right).
Blueberries (left) and limes (right).

Blueberries (left) and limes (right).

Next add 3 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt to each bowl. Top with some nata de coco that have already been drained of its canning liquid.

Finally squeeze some lime juice over each bowl and serve immediately while chilled.

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