What is che? Che is a Vietnamese sweet dessert soup. Maybe soup isn't the proper description because when we think of soup, it is something savory and very seldom is it sweet. Che in the Vietnamese culture can be a combination of sweet rice, red beans, mung beans and gelatins, usually swimming in a sugary syrup or in a bath of sweetened coconut milk. Che can be served either warm or cold -- I usually prefer mine on the chilled side. I grew up eating a lot of che. My mom and aunts were experts at making it; and that is part of the reason why I have such a big sweet tooth.
The event Delicious Vietnam is being hosted by A food lover’s journey and Ravenous Couple. The challenge is to cook a Vietnamese dish or put a spin on a traditional Vietnamese dish. My challenge is to create an ice cream inspired by a Vietnamese dish.
One of my favorite types of che is Che Chuoi, which is traditionally made with bananas, tapioca pearls and coconut milk. The bananas that are used are not your typical store-bought bananas. These are Kepok bananas, which are fatter and not as round or long. They also have a starchier taste, usually not as sweet and are much firmer. You can cook these bananas and they won't get as soft as your regular bananas. You can find Kepok bananas in your local Asian market or even your Mexican grocery store.
Che Chuoi gets its wonderful flavor by simmering the bananas in the sweet and creamy coconut milk and tapioca pearls. The coconut milk gains some of the banana flavor and the banana is softened by cooking in the coconut milk. This dessert has so much texture going on...the tapioca pearls dancing in your mouth, the soft texture of the bananas and the sweet coconut milk coating your entire mouth. The flavor just lingers on your tongue after each spoonful.
Che Chuoi Ice Cream:
2 Kepok bananas (you can substitute regular bananas)
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
toasted sesame seeds or crushed peanuts for garnish
My Che Chuoi inspired ice cream starts off by simmering coconut milk with the Kepok bananas for 30 minutes on medium heat. Remove the bananas and save for later. Stir in sugar, salt and 1 cup of heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a low boil and then transfer to a heat-proof bowl. Add the remaining cup of heavy cream to ice cream base. Place the ice cream base into an ice bath for 1 hour and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Follow your ice cream makers instructions. At this time, slice up the bananas into small bite size pieces. When the ice cream reaches a soft -serve consistency transfer the ice cream into freezer safe bowls. Alternate scooping the ice cream and sprinkling the banana pieces. Do this until the bowls are full of the coconut banana goodness. Let the ice cream harden in your freezer for a couple hours before serving. When serving the dessert you can top it off with some salted, crushed peanuts or toasted sesame seeds, just the like how Che Chuoi would normally be topped off before serving.
Cam on (Thank you),