Guide to Xi Ma

Black sesame sweet soup, or xi ma, is a popular Vietnamese dessert in Hoi An. It first came from the Fujian Province of China and is typically made with black sesame seeds, rice flour, sugar, coconut, and a Chinese herbal medicine called pennywort.

Xi ma is usually served in small portions and tastes nutty and not too sweet. The dessert is also said to be good for the health. This sweet soup can be found sold by street foods along central Vietnam’s Thu Bon River.

Black sesame soup is popular in East Asia and widely available throughout Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Typically served hot, xi ma takes the form of a sweet soup much like Western pudding but with greater viscosity. The delicacy’s main ingredients are black sesame seeds, water, and rice. Sometimes, sugar is added for sweetness, depending on your preference. You can also purchase xi ma in powder form.

The Vietnamese sweet soup isn’t a fancy dessert and doesn’t feature much of anything other than its unique viscous opacity. This black sesame dessert is served in a clay bowl along with the tiniest tablespoon you’ll see. Every spoonful of this soup moves down your esophagus so smoothly. The tangy smell of pandan and the aroma of the black sesame is a delight for your nostrils.

Ingredients of Black Sesame Soup

The main ingredients of this dessert are toasted black sesame seeds, white rice (short grain or long grain, water (amount depends on your desired consistency), and sugar (depending on personal preference).

Some additional ingredients usually added to this sweet soup include black rice, millet, barley, black beans, yam, caviar, other whole grains, yam, soybeans, corn, or red beans.

Benefits of Eating Black Sesame

Vietnamese sweet soups were always valued highly due to their health benefits.

Sesame seeds are known to be dense in vitamins and oils that can help keep the body healthy. They’re also an excellent source of fiber to aid with digestion. Each seed carries antioxidants and is stated to contain anti-aging properties, making it a beloved snack after meals.

Why Should You Eat Black Sesame Soup?

Xi ma offers valuable quantities of copper, magnesium, iron, calcium, phytic acid, sesamin, manganese, phytosterols, vitamin E, and Vitamin B.

The calories for each serving of the Vietnamese sweet soup is approximately 213 calories: 128 from sesame seeds, 24 from white rice, and 61 from granulated sugar.

Also, traditional medicinal practices replenish blood, nourish hair, warm the body, and relax bowels by using sesame seeds. It’s said to be suitable in treating physical weakness such as dizziness, anemia, tinnitus, and constipation.

How to Cook Xi Ma or Black Sesame Soup

You can have a try at cooking your own delicious and nutritious black sesame soup. All you need to do is gather all the ingredients and follow this recipe to a T!

To make xi ma, you’ll need:

Kitchen Equipment



  • 200 g / 0.55 lb black sesame seeds
  • 100 g / 0.22 lb white sesame seeds
  • 40 g / 0.09 lb glutinous rice
  • 190 g / 0.41 lb rock sugar (depends on your preference)
  • 2 L / 8.5 cups water


  1. In a wok or pan, toast the black and white sesame seeds over low-medium heat until the white sesame turns a golden brown color.
  2. Blend the toasted seeds, water, and soaked glutinous rice in a blender until the sesame seeds are fine. This will take around one to five minutes, depending on the type of blender you have. Note: The smoother the consistency, the longer you’d need to blend it.
  3. Pour the mixture into a pot, add in the rock sugar and bring to a boil while continuously stirring.
  4. Reduce the heat and keep on a simmer till it has thickened to your desired consistency. Remember to continue stirring as it cooks.
  5. Serve it hot as is, or place it in the refrigerator and enjoy cold!


  • Consider toasting your own seeds! You can find toasted black sesame seeds at Asian grocery stores, but nothing hits better than freshly roasted ones.
  • Soak the glutinous rice overnight, as it will soften the grains and assist them in blending easily to make a smooth paste.
  • Stir regularly. When simmering, help the rice and seeds thicken into a soup by lightly stirring the mixture. Also, by doing so, you can prevent any burning!
  • Use fewer black sesame seeds if you’d fancy a smoother consistency and not a grainier one.

How to Serve Black Sesame Soup

You can serve this Vietnamese sweet soup as a dessert at the end of your meal, but you can also have it as a snack if you’d prefer. Black sesame soup can be eaten hot right after you finished cooking it or served cold or at room temperature as well.