Che Chuoi- Coconut Soup with Banana and Tapioca Pearls

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This isn’t your grandmother’s tapioca pudding…. unless of course you have a Vietnamese grandmother.  In fact, I probably shouldn’t even call this a pudding at all… this dish is definitely more like a soup.  More specifically, a rich and creamy sweet coconut-based soup with small, chewy tapioca pearls and chunks of fresh banana.

You can slurp up this soup hot, at room temperature, or cold.  It’s total comfort food any way you serve it.  Just know that the soup will thicken a bit as it cools.  Of course if you are looking for a more pudding-like texture, you can always increase the amount of tapioca pearls.

If you anticipate leftovers, I’d recommend adding fewer bananas and taking care to ladle out all the banana chunks during the initial serving.  That way you can add fresh banana when reheating any leftovers.

This banana version is one of the most common che desserts, but I’ve also had it with chunks of honeydew melon or cooked taro chunks.  Feel free to get creative/adventurous with the mix-ins.

Che Chuoi- Coconut Soup with Banana and Tapioca Pearls

Yield: 6 servings

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

* 3 cups water
* 1/2 cup very small tapioca pearls
* 3-4 regular bananas or 6-8 mini bananas
* 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* toasted coconut or toasted, chopped peanuts (optional)

Directions:

Place the water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and then add the tapioca pearls, stirring to prevent any clumping. Adjust heat and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tapioca pearls are almost translucent with just a small white dot in their centers.

While the tapioca is simmering, cut the banana into bite-sized chunks. Set aside.

Once the tapioca has softened, add the coconut milk, sugar, salt. Cook, stirring, to heat everything through and dissolve the sugar. Gently stir in the banana chunks and cook another minute or two. Remove from heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes to cool and thicken.

Spoon into individual bowls and sprinkle with coconut or peanuts, if desired.

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