Banana, Tapioca Pearl and Coconut Sweet Soup (Che Chuoi)

Yum
  • Preparation: 20 mins
  • Cooking: 30 mins
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Servings: 4

Description Banana, Tapioca Pearl and Coconut Sweet Soup (Chè Chuối)

If you have never tried a Vietnamese chè (sweet soup), Che Chuoi (Banana, Tapioca Pearl and Coconut Sweet Soup) is a good place to start. The perfume of the banana comes through wonderfully, and the tapioca pearls, enrobed in coconut milk, cook up to resemble large orbs of clear caviar. Once the tapioca pearls have fully expanded and set, the texture of this mildly sweet treat is like that of a thick Western-style tapioca pudding.
Small, creamy bananas, such as the Nino variety, also known as Finger or Baby, are traditionally simmered for this Vietnamese dessert. They are sold at Asian and Latin markets. If they are unavailable, substitute regular bananas. Regardless of the variety, use ripe but firm, blemish-free fruits.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup small tapioca pearls (about ⅛ inch in diameter)
  • 1 to 1 ¼ pounds ripe but firm bananas, preferably small
  • ⅔ cup coconut milk, canned or freshly made
  • 3 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts (optional)

Method Banana, Tapioca Pearl and Coconut Sweet Soup (Chè Chuối)

1, In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the tapioca pearls, stirring to prevent them from sticking together. Boil, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the tapioca pearls are halfway clear. Look for a tiny white dot in the center of each pearl. The water will be thick and viscous.
2, Meanwhile, peel the bananas, discarding any strings. If using small bananas, cut on a slight diagonal into pieces a scant ¾ inch thick. Or, halve regular bananas lengthwise and then cut the same way. Set aside for a moment.
3, When the tapioca pearls are ready, add the coconut milk, sugar, and salt and stir to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture comes to a near boil, add the bananas. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bananas are slightly soft and the flavors are blended. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Allow the soup to cool and thicken for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust with more sugar and salt, if necessary. (The soup may be prepared up to 2 days in advance, tightly covered, and refrigerated. Warm over low heat, adding a splash of water to thin and prevent scorching, before serving.)
4, To serve, ladle the soup into small bowls and top with a sprinkle of peanuts.

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