Rau Cau Dua: Vietnamese Coconut Jello Recipe

Rau Cau Dua: Vietnamese Coconut Jello Recipe Recipe

Rau câu is Vietnamese jello made with agar agar, which is a seaweed by-product, similar to gelatin (except it's vegetal). Several months ago, family friends came for dinner and brought delicious rau câu made with nước dừa ("coconut juice" in Vietnamese). We usually serve the more traditional Vietnamese dessert made with sweetened condensed milk and flavor it with layers of chocolate, mocha, pandan and sometimes durian, but I really like the flavor of this variation. I was also pleasantly surprised at how easy this version was to make. All you need is a few cans of coconut juice with pulp and agar agar. How simple is that?

The coconut jello has another great advantage. It has the same texture as pana cotta, so you can serve it to children without being scared of any spilling or any accidents on your floor. I've adopted this cube version whenever I make it for kids. You can use the same recipe using your children's favorite drinks. It's mess-free and melts in your mouth. They’ll love it!


Yields: 6 servings

2 (0.88-ounce) package agar agar powder
2-1/3 cups cold water
5 (17.5-ounce) cans coconut juice with pulp, store-bought
¼ cup superfine sugar, to taste


Dissolve the agar agar in water. Pour the agar agar liquid into a sauce pan. Heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower to medium. Keep stirring for an even, smooth texture.

In a different pan, heat the coconut juice with pulp, then combine with the agar agar liquid. Add sugar (if used), then lower the heat. Move immediately to the next step; otherwise the mixture might set in the pan.

Brush an (at least 1-inch high) baking sheet (I used a brownie pan) with cold water. Pour the coconut liquid into the baking sheet. Let the coconut jello set until it's completely cool.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Unmold the jello cake onto a serving platter and cut into cubes.

Serve with Vietnamese iced coffee.

Bon appétit!


Agar agar powder is a good gelatin substitute for vegans and vegetarians. It is derived from seaweed and is cooked the same way you would gelatin powder. It is widely used in Asia. I also use it to make fruit mousses such as my egg-free banana mousse or chestnut mousse. I buy the Thai Telephone Brand; it's sold in 25-gram packages. (FIY 0.88 oz = 25 g).

I used 17.5-ounce cans of coconut juice with pulp. You can find them in any Asian market.

The end product should have a slightly softer consistency than panna cotta.


Published By: Jacqueline Pham on May 23, 2011.


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