Coconut ice-cream with pandan sticky rice (kem xôi)

Delicious Vietnam #11

Coconut ice-cream with pandan sticky rice (kem xôi)

It was a cold winter day with typical Hanoi weather. Light rain, and with the icy chilliness that went deep to the bones. I took Mr. B. to my favourite ice-cream shop in Hanoi. Second favourite to be fair. The top one was at Tràng Tiền street, which sold the best mung-bean flavor ice-cream. But that day, I wanted to show mr. B kem xôi – basically coconut ice-cream served with tiny bit of pandan flavoured sticky rice and toasted coconut pieces. It was cold, but I enjoyed such a sweet treat wholeheartedly.

Truthfully the kem xôi I ate that day wasn’t as good as I had remembered. The ice-cream was made of cheaper ingredients, and didn’t have that creamy texture of a good ice-cream. The sticky rice part was, thankfully, really well-done. Sticky rice could be really dry but this shop had mastered how to cook it perfectly. The grain was al dante. My favourite bit of kem xôi was the toasted coconut pieces, which have wonderful nutty and coconut flavor and aroma. I always believe that such addition was the key to make kem xôi special. It was the link to bind the ice-cream together with the sticky rice component of the dish. (And, who can disagree that pandan and coconut are borne for each other?)

Coconut ice-cream with pandan sticky rice (kem xôi)

So, kem xôi has been my craving ever since. Even though my childhood treat isn’t the tastiest ice-cream I have tried, the toasted coconut flavours never lose its appeal on me. I have always wanted to try to make coconuc ice-cream. No, not the recipe with loads of coconut milk/cream, but something else. An ice-cream recipe which gives me that toasted coconut flavor.

I guess I have Tony Tan to thanks for (thank you!). It is his coconut ice-cream recipe which helps to satisfy my craving. The recipe is perfect, although I did double the amount of toasted coconut to really define the flavours. Of course, I made pandan sticky rice to pair with the ice-cream. And more toasted coconut! Kem xôi, just like the old days, only better!

This post is my contribution to Delicious Vietnam #11 (march edition). This edition is hosted by Nam Nguyen at The Culinary Chronicles. More details can be found here.

Coconut ice-cream with pandan sticky rice (kem xôi)

Coconut ice-cream with pandan sticky rice (kem xôi)

The ice-cream part is adapted from a recipe by Tony Tan, appeared in Gourmet Traveller.

Printable recipe

The sticky rice
100g sticky rice (the normal kind) – soaked in cold water overnight
A pinch of salt
50g castor sugar
½ tsp pandan paste (if you have fresh pandan leaves, this will be better)
The ice-cream
100 g desiccated coconut (plus more, to serve)
300 ml pouring cream
300 ml milk
100 gm dark brown sugar
6 egg yolks

Extra: toasted desiccated coconut to serve


For coconut ice-cream, toast the coconut in a frying pan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden (4-5 minutes). Transfer to a saucepan, add cream, milk and palm sugar, then bring to the simmer over low heat. Simmer for 1 minute, remove from heat, cover and stand for 10 minutes to infuse. Meanwhile, whisk yolks in a heatproof bowl to combine, then add cream mixture, whisking continuously to combine. Return to pan and stir continuously until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly (5-6 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl placed over ice, pressing solids to extract all liquid (discard solids), cool completely in the fridge overnight. Freeze in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions and freeze until required. Makes about 1 litre.

For the sticky rice part, drain the rice and put in a microwave safe bowl. Add in the pandan paste, a pinch of salt and just enough water to barely cover the surface of the rice. Stir to combine. Cover with cling wrap. Cook in the microwave for 5-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked. (The cooking time depends on your microwave. Stir in between and taste – don’t overcook the rice). Alternatively, steam the sticky rice with a steamer. Once it is cooked, stir in the sugar and cool completely.

To serve: one part sticky-rice, one-two parts ice-cream and top with lots of toasted desiccated coconut!

Coconut ice-cream with pandan sticky rice (kem xôi)

48 Responses to Coconut ice-cream with pandan sticky rice (kem xôi)

  1. Phuoc'n Delicious says:

    I love the deep colour of that icecream! It look s fabulous! I must admit that I have never had xoi with kem before, I'm use to having xoi with coconut milk. YUMMY!

  2. leaf (the indolent cook) says:

    Yummy! I love pandan, I bought a fresh bunch the other day. 😀

  3. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says:

    The sticky rice is such a vibrant green! I like the idea of adding brown sugar to the coconut ice cream, I've only ever made it with white sugar before.

  4. maameemoomoo - a ½ food blog says:

    Ice cream with stick rice? Interesting! And definitely intriguing!

  5. TripleScoop says:

    I never thought of pairing sticky rice with ice cream. Very inventive.

  6. tigerfish says:

    What a creative spin on pandan sticky rice and that toasted coconut ice-cream must be a perfect match with the rice :) Awesome.

  7. Hien says:

    your blog is freaking awesome and your food looks too yummy for my empty stomach late at night *rumblessss* <3

  8. Shirley @ Kokken69 says:

    Anh, this reminds me a little of the Thai mango sticky rice…I love coconut ice cream and pairing it with pan dan makes it complete.

  9. penny aka jeroxie says:

    Coconut ice cream is one of my favourite ice cream flavour. And even better if paired with sticky rice!

  10. OohLookBel says:

    The colours in the rice (and the ice cream and tablecloth) are just stunning! I love these photos :)

  11. Celeste @ Berrytravels says:

    Yum! I'm really interested in trying this out now :o

  12. Christine@Christine's Recipes says:

    Wonderful combination of sticky rice and ice cream. Your photos convinced me at the first sight, that I have to give it a go. :)

  13. kewpie says:

    hi anh, i love ice cream. the amount of ice cream i can consume in one seating is staggeringly scary! but enough abt me. coconut and pandan… match made in heaven! great pictures and post! looking forward to more decadent postings! can't wait to see your viet coffee ice cream results!

  14. cognitiveleeks says:

    This looks great! Pandan is new to me and I've been trying to find out as much as I can about how to use it. Could the ice cream be made with coconut cream?

  15. Anh says:

    @cofnitiveleeks: I found that coconut cream based ice-cream is a little heavy. But I'm sure you can try it out with a vegan based ice-cream?

  16. Hannah says:

    Squee! So pretty! I've never had a dessert like this before (black sticky rice with mango would be the closest), and oh how I want!

  17. The InTolerant Chef says:

    I love pandan, I buy it fresh when I can and store it in the freezer for when I can't find it a t the markets.

  18. Ivy says:

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. Wow, I would surely love to try this ice cream but some of the ingredients are new to me.

  19. Kris Ngoei says:

    Such sinful but delicious treat! Pandan flavor goes well with coconut…

  20. msihua says:

    Oh delicious! Is the ice-cream brown because of the brown sugar? I usually only see white coconut ice-cream or slightly green ones (with pandan)… but yumMMm

  21. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul says:

    Oh my! This looks so good! Coconut and pandan are one fo those perfect marriages Anh…and you've upped the ante by adding in some sticky rice too! Gorgeous!

  22. shaz says:

    Oh my, this sounds divine. I feel like rushing off and make this straight away but I'll need to wait. I'll just dream about it for a few days :)

  23. john@heneedsfood says:

    Oooh I'll have some of that, please? Looks an sounds wonderful. The colour of the icecream is amazing!

  24. Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! says:

    Have had coconut ice cream but not toasted coconut ice cream. Looks so gorgeous and yes, pandan and coconut were made for each other! You can't have one without the other (in my opinion anyway).

  25. Fatbooo says:

    Coconut and palm sugar – wonderful match! Add to that a beautiful looking pandan rice, amazing. : )

  26. Tanvi@Sinfully Spicy says:

    What a beautiful color of the rice from Pandan.WOW!This is just my kind of comfort food bowl -rice and ice cream.Love the very sound of it.Thanks for sharing.I m gonna try these two in summers.

  27. Min {Honest Vanilla} says:

    love the green and light brown! and the dessert spoon wiht a green gem, truly picture perfect :) amazing photogprahy!

  28. Alicia (The Red Deer) says:

    mmm that looks so delicious – the ice-cream looks amazing!!

  29. sanjeeta kk says:

    What a lovely spread! Like the green colored rice out there.

  30. Gattina Cheung says:

    I'm falling in love with your home country!!! All these (fresh) food, amasing color and choke-full of flavors!

  31. Little Corner of Mine says:

    So interesting, ice-cream with sticky rice! So agreed with the pairing of coconut and pandan, perfection!

  32. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    Mmm I <3 sticky rice in anything and everything. What a refreshingly different dessert.

  33. Monet says:

    I am not normally a huge fan of ice cream, but hearing you talk about this dish made me change my mind. I want some right now! I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow. Thank you for sharing another bowl of delicious goodness!

  34. Cynthia says:

    Your photographs are such works of art.

  35. Gastronomy Gal says:

    this looks really gorgeous. I can't eat ice cream but these photos are making me wish I could!!

  36. Peggy says:

    What a beautiful color on that ice cream! The whole dish look superb!

  37. Sally - My Custard Pie says:

    That green colour is so attractive. I've cooked with pandan leaves but not heard of pandan paste. I must keep an eye open for it.

  38. El says:

    The ice cream looks sensational. I love coconut. And the sticky rice is stunning.

  39. bunnyeatsdesign says:

    Stunning photos. I adore the spoons. Is there a special name for these spoons?

  40. Anh says:

    bunnyeatsdesign, I don't know. I bought them in China, and am not sure if you can find them here?

  41. pickyin @ Life Is Great says:

    When I saw your post title in my RSS feed I was expecting a normal coconut ice cream but toasted coconut ice cream is brilliant. Here we have "cendol", tiny strands of pandan rice noodles served with coconut milk, palm sugar and possibly a scoop of vanilla ice cream or sticky rice.

  42. ChichaJo says:

    This looks divine! And these flavors echo so much of my own native sweets, where coconut and pandan are indeed a match made in heaven!

  43. Jo says:

    This is definitely something new to me but I do like the sound of the flavours. And the colour of the sticky rice is really gorgeous.

  44. Food For Tots says:

    What a perfect combination! I bet it must be very flavourful with the toasted coconuts!!

  45. Jenn @leftoverqueen says:

    Wow, this looks so great! I love coconut ice cream too and serving it with sticky rice sounds really great!

  46. Stella says:

    Whoa! That looks super delicious! I really need to get an ice cream maker. I live in the subtropics, so I really should. You've got me wanting one at least (smile)…

  47. Nam @ The Culinary Chronicles says:

    Seriously looks delicious! I am totally picking up a bunch of pandan leaves the next time I go to the store!

  48. Phuong says:

    I just made pandan glutinous rice but it didn't come out as green as the one u made. I guess it was because I used fresh pandan leaves. The pandan paste would give it a greener color. BTW, this combo of sticky rice and ice cream looks so yummy. I'll definitely give it a try. Thanks

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