Che Chuoi Recipe (Vietnamese Dessert)
Chè chuối is a popular dessert from South Vietnam, where my parents are from. Bananas are simmered whole until softened in a coconut milk tapioca pudding. It takes less time to prepare than Western desserts, plus chè chuối is made exclusively with vegan ingredients.
If you like Vietnamese desserts or Vietnamese sweets in general, you've probably noticed they don't always have the nicest presentation, especially chè desserts. They often have a very neutral, grayish color and soupy texture. If you get past that, you're guaranteed to at least get a completely fresh take on dessert.
Yields: 10 servings10 Burro bananas (chuối xiêm), peeled
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
½ cup tapioca pearls (see tips)
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
2-½ tablespoons coconut cream (optional)
4 pandan leaves, slightly bruised and tied in a knot
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 sliced mango, for garnish
2 tablespoons lightly toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
The day before...
Soaking the tapioca pearls: Soak the tapioca pearls in cold water overnight or for at least an hour prior to cooking.
The next day...
Prepping the tapioca pearls: Drain the tapioca pearls, leavings as little liquid as possible. Transfer to a large saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until the tapioca pearls are softened and fluffy. Drain well. The pearls should feel gummy but not too firm between your thumb and finger. Do not overcook, as the pearls will finish cooking in the coconut sauce. Set aside.
Making chè: In another saucepan, add 4 cups water and ½ cup granulated sugar, palm sugar and the pandan leaves. Bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Add the whole bananas. Simmer for about 6 minutes. Make sure they're nicely coated in the chè mixture. Add cooked tapioca and gently stir to combine. Be very gentle as you don't want to turn the bananas into mush. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for about 20-30 minutes. Remove and discard the pandan leaves.
For the candied sesame seeds: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar, light corn syrup and 1 tablespoon water. Stir with wooden chopsticks (or a spoon) and cook over medium-low heat. It will take some time until it becomes a syrupy caramel. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Using the chopsticks, dip and vigorously swirl thin lines of the hot caramel sugar over a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone mat. Immediately sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let the caramel set, carefully lift and separate little mounds of sesame seeds and sprinkle them on top of the bananas and mangoes.
Assembly time: The texture of the coconut tapioca pudding should be slightly thick. Spoon into individual serving bowls (I sliced the bananas in half lengthwise). Garnish by fanning a few slices of fresh mangoes. Cover with a few tablespoons of the coconut sauce and garnish with the candied sesame seeds.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a nice cup of hot unsweetened tea.
You can find sago pearls at the Asian market. Tapioca pearls are similar to sago pearls, and are used in essentially the same ways. Consequently, tapioca may be called sago, and vice versa.
Choose firm but ripe, sweet chuối xiêm bananas (baby bananas). If you can't find this particular variety at your market, you can substitute regular, ripe, sliced bananas.
I slightly bruise the pandan leaves before placing them in the coconut milk to ensure that all the flavors are released.
I use AROY-D brand coconut milk, sold in a can. It has no preservatives.
I also use AROY-D brand coconut cream. I usually use what's leftover to make chicken and tofu satay. Coconut cream is sold in different sized packages. You can find both coconut milk and cream in any Asian store.
Fun facts: I often use tapioca starch for my Indian-style embroidered shirts and Vietnamese outfits as a textile stiffener. It works great and keep my shirts looking brand new.Published By: on April 13, 2012.