Chè cook off – Delicious Vietnam #16
Surprise! It is all about chè today. I have joined the force with my two favourite Viet girls – Phuoc from Phuoc’n Delicious and Chi Anh from Door to my kitchen – for a chè cook off. Each one of us is bringing our favourite che to the table and share the love.
Chè is perhaps the most important dessert in Vietnamese cuisine. Essentially, it is our version of sweet soup pudding/dessert. More often than not, it is cooked with beans and thickened with tapioca flour to achieve a glutinous texture. Chè is often served over ice, providing instant relief on hot days. In winter, we also serve chè hot as well.
One of my favourite chè is also the simplest one – Chè hoa cau. The name of this dessert is utterly poetic – hoa cau means the flowers of betel nut tree. The flowers are tiny and yellow. The appearance of the cooked mung bean in sweetened tapioca texture resembles such flowers, hence the name.
Chè hoa cau involves two major elements – cooked mung beans and sweetened tapioca pudding mixture. The bean is tender and slightly salty, giving a contrast of taste to the sweet pudding. The dessert is often perfumed with pomelo blossom essential oil, something I have missed dearly.
However, lately, I have found a way to give the pudding a floral aroma. I’ve been using Bột sắn (Vietnamese arrowroot starch), which is now available in most Viet shops in Australia. It’s unrefined flour, almost. The starch is marinated with jasmine flowers, and has a very refreshing floral tone. We like to make cold summer drink with it (by just adding sugar and water), or cook up pudding.
Being multicultural here, my Singaporean side of the family calls this dessert Tau Suan, and happily eats it with fried Chinese donut sticks. But for me, chè hoa cau is always a Vietnamese dessert .
You can check out the two posts on Chè from Phuoc and Chi Anh!! ChiAnh is also hosting Delicious Vietnam #16, please join us to celebrate Vietnamese cuisne.
Ingredients (to serve 8 small bowls)
200g mung beans, soaked for 3 hours
100g Vietnamese arrowroot starch (Bột sắn) or tapioca flour. If using tapioca flour, add in 2 tsp vanilla essence
5 cups water
250-300g rock sugar or raw sugar (to taste)
Drain the soaked mung beans well. Put them in a steamer with a pinch of salt. Steam over medium heat until the beans are just tender. Set aside to cool.
In a pot, bring 5 cups of water to the boil. Add in sugar and stir to dissolve.
Dissolve the Vietnamese arrowroot starch (or tapioca flour) with ½ cup of water. When the water in the pot is boiling, gently pour the arrowroot mixture in. Stir gently over medium heat until the mixture just thickens. Cool.
You can serve this dessert hot or cold. To serve, ladle the pudding into a bowl, and sprinkle cooked mung bean on top.