Bingfen: the best vegan & gluten free summer dessert

Bingfen: the best vegan & gluten free summer dessert

Bingfen aka aiyu jelly (愛玉冰) is a refreshingly light summer dessert that’s popular in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. It has a texture similar to loosely set jello and is slightly yellow in color. It’s served chilled with sweet syrup. The flavor is very mild and light, so the toppings largely determine the flavor of the dish.

I haven’t yet come across a type of bingfen that contains either gluten or dairy, but it’s always worth an ask before consuming.

What’s bingfen made from?


Bingfen at Beijing Yibin Hostel from Wikimedia Commons

The seeds of Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang, a type of large creeping fig (nicknamed the jelly fig) are placed in a permeable bag. They’re then soaked and agitated in cold water to release their pectin jelly. The seeds are never crushed or ground to release the pectin, only gently washed and rubbed. After sufficient gel has been released, the bag of seeds is discarded and the mixture is cooled. The gel itself is mostly tasteless, it’s really about the bouncy, airy, and lightly chewy texture.

Some traditional recipes, such as in the video linked in the recipe section below, include an additional step of adding calcium hydroxide and whipping the pectin gel. This creates bubbles and produces an even lighter and airier texture.

Aiyu gel is unsweetened, so the dessert will always include sugar or honey syrup as a topping. Other common toppings include lemon or lime juice, sweet fermented rice (醪糟/酒酿), haw flakes, goji berries, sesame seeds, fresh fruit, and rice balls.


Bingfen toppings spread from Chinese Flavors via X

Bingfen Supplies

Because jelly fig seeds (aka shoofly seeds) can be difficult to find in some areas, some recipes use konjac or agar powder. This won’t create quite the same texture, but can work in a pinch. We’ll link both aiyu seeds and some alternatives below, in case you’d like to order them online.


Jelly option from Michelin

Bingfen Recipes

You really only need a single recipe for making the bingfen base, but I always like to have a few versions linked to reference different toppings and flavor combinations. The video linked below demonstrates the additional step that includes whipping bubbles into the gel, but it’s not required.

* Title image courtesy of SBS.

- Further Reading -