Friday, April 9, 2010
Vietnamese Banana Tapioca Pudding
One of the many quirks I have is that I prefer eating raw bananas while they're still greenish and unripe. By the time bananas turn yellow, they're too sweet for my preference. Luckily for me, I learned how to convert overly sweet bananas into a simple traditional Vietnamese dessert that exudes awesomeness.
"Chè chuối" (pronounced "chair chewy") is made with bananas and small tapioca balls. "Chè" refers to the traditional Vietnamese sweet dessert that is similar to soup or pudding. "Chuối" means banana. The fact you're still reading means you're awesome.
To make this delectable dessert, you will need the following:
3 cups water
1/3 cups small tapioca pearls
1 to 1-1/4 lbs of ripe bananas (about 4 regular bananas)
2/3 cups canned coconut milk
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 3 tsp sugar (see Step 5 below)
1/4 cups finely chopped peanuts (optional)
1. In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the tapioca and stir immediately so the balls don't stick to each other. Reduce heat to a slow boil and leave for 12 to 14 minutes until the tapioca is half cooked (mostly clear with a small white dot in the center). Stir occasionally to prevent the tapioca from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to overcook; we want the tapioca chewy, not mushy.
2. Meanwhile, cut the bananas in half lengthwise and then again into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.
3. When the tapioca is ready as mentioned above (it will become thick and viscous), add the coconut milk and salt and stir until blended. Here's a little trick to make this dessert richer and creamier. Though the can tells us to shake well before using, I like to stick it to the man and not shake. Instead, I open the can and scoop out just the coconut cream that rises to the top. Of course whether you shake it like a Polaroid picture or not, the dessert will still taste great.
4. When the tapioca mixture reaches a boil again, add the banana pieces and stir until evenly distributed. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until the bananas are tender, giving the flavors a chance to meld together. Remove from heat.
5. Because the sweetness of this dessert depends largely on the ripeness of the bananas you use, it’s best to add sugar to taste. So before dumping in more sugar, first taste the soup. If you want it sweeter, add 1 tsp of sugar, stir until blended, and taste again. Repeat until desired.
6. Serve with the chopped peanuts as a topping.
Serves 6-8 or 1 monster sweet tooth. Refrigerate unused portion and reheat before serving leftovers.