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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chè Đậu Trắng (Vietnamese White Bean Pudding)

Once a while, I would crave for chè and I want it right away.  So most of the time, my kitchen  stocked  up with fresh ginger, sweet rice, canned white bean, black bean, frozen shaved corn (bắp bào), frozen pandan leaves and coconut milk.   Whenever my sweet tooth is calling me, I have all the ingredients I need to make a few bowls of che for me and my family to enjoy. 
The weather is a little bit chilly today in Elk Grove. After a light lunch, I suddenly craved for a sweet and warm dessert.  I decided to make Chè Đậu Trắng since my two darlings love bean pudding. We enjoy Chè Đậu Trắng as the white beans are starchy and soft along with  the richness of coconut sauce,  the spice of ginger,  the aroma of pandan leaves and vanilla mixed in with salt and sugar make it irresistable.  All of these ingredients combine to make it a savory Chè Đậu Trắng
In about 20 minutes dessert is daughters enjoyed two bowls of warm delicious filling chè and my little one is already asking for seconds. 

RECIPE: Chè Đậu Trắng
Make 5 bowls


1 can White Bean in Brine (15 oz), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Sweet Rice, rinsed and drained
1 2/3 cups Water
1 tablespoon fresh shredded ginger
3 pandan leaves, tied together,  optional
1 teaspoon  Pure Vanilla Extract
1 bag Vanilla Sugar, optional
1/3 cup Sugar
Coconut Sauce
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
A pinch of Salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Tapioca Flour or Cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon Water
1 pandan leaf, tied together, optional
Making Chè

In a small pot, bring sweet rice, water, ginger and pandan leaves to boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer it until sweet rice is soft which should take about 10 minutes.  Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent from sticking  to the bottom of the pot.   Add beans and sugar to the pot and simmer it for another 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. 

Making Coconut Sauce

In a small sauce pan, bring all coconut sauce ingredients except  flour and water to boil.  In seperate bowl, mix 1/2 tablespoon of water and flour and add it to the sauce. Mix it well.  Remove from the heat.

Chè Đậu Trắng Presentation

Ladle Chè Đậu Trắng into small bowls and top with the coconut sauce.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Gỏi Đu Đủ Khô Bò Gan Cháy (Vietnamese Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky and Liver Jerky)

While we were in San Jose to visit our relatives yesterday, I spotted a couple of places that sell Vietnamese Beef and Liver Jerky at the Vietnamese Grand Century Mall.  I immediately thought of my papaya salad recipe and wonder how I can improve on the sauce; it has the right taste but I can't seem to get the saltiness just right; I think it needs to be just a tad lighter. So, I bought some Beef  and Liver Jerky and got a few green papayas at an Asian grocery store nearby.  Realizing that I have church on Sunday, I will test out the sauce recipe at church. 

This morning, my 4 year-old daughter and I woke up at 8:00 am and started to experiment on the sauce with different ingredients that I didn't use in my previous sauce recipe.  While my mother-in-law helped us shred the fresh green papaya, my daughter helped out as the official taster; she actually has quite a reliable taste when it comes to food. 

The first batch we made,  she thought the sauce tasted different and it was too salty.  She recommended adding more sugar.  After adjusting the ingredients, it was still a little salty and somehow it didn't taste right.  Okay, back to square one.  This time, however, we used hoisin sauce as the main ingredient.   Low and behold, that was all it needed..  My daughter gave it a taste and gave it two thumbs up.   I thought it tasted so much better and  yet simpler than the previous recipe. 

We put together two large  trays of Papaya Salad with Beef and Liver Jerky, a jar of sauce and it was ready for the mass to try at church.  It's a simple recipe, but the papaya salad is packed with a complex array of flavors -  meaty, tangy, refreshing. It goes to show that simplicity can indeed packs a gustatory punch. 

This Gỏi Đu Đủ Khô Bò Gan Cháy would make a nice dish to start the Spring. 

I made a revision to the previous Gỏi Đu Đủ Khô Bò Gan Cháy recipe.   Hop over  here for the Recipe.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bánh Chuối Nướng (Baked Banana Cake)

I seem to be fond of anything that's made out of bananas. I was at Sam's Club one day and saw tons of ripe bananas. My first reaction was "Oh no, I have got to save these bananas." Browsing my mental catalog for recipes using bananas, I remembered I still have a bag of white bread left over from my daughter's birthday. I can use it to make banana cake. 

My younger daughter has been craving for raisins of late, so I thought adding raisins to the banana cake will entice her to eat my baking. This banana cake not only produces a wonderful aroma accented by coconut milk, butter and the burnt raisins, but it's a delicious treat or dessert to have with tea, coffee, or the wine of your choice.  I love to eat it while it's still warm.

Recipe: Bánh Chuối Nướng


4 ripe Bananas, sliced diagonally
1/4 cup dried Golden Raisins
1/2 cup plus 3-4 tablespoons Sugar
A pinch of Salt
1 cup Coconut Milk
½ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract 
7 slices White Bread
3 tablespoons melted Butter
Making Bánh Chuối Nướng

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, sprinkle a few tablespoons of the sugar and a pinch of salt over the sliced bananas.
Set aside.

In a saucepan, cook 1/2 cup of sugar in the coconut milk until dissolved, then stir in the vanilla.

Remove the outer brown part from the bread.  Discard it.  Soak the bread in the coconut milk mixture. 

Grease a nonstick baking pan with melted butter.

Arrange a layer of the bananas on the bottom.  Break the soaked bread apart then cover bananas with a layer of bread.  Sprinkle some dried raisins.

Repeat the process and finish with bananas and raisins on top.  Brush melted butter on top.

Place the banana pan in the middle rack of the oven.  Bake for about one hour. Make sure to brush butter on top occasionally.  If you don't want the raisins to burn, just cover the  pan with foil wrap while baking it.

Remove the banana pan and adjust the oven rack one notch higher and then remove the foil wrap if used and broil it on high for about 5 minutes or until the top is golden brown. 

Allow it to cool before cutting. You can also keep it in the fridge and enjoy it cold.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or tapioca coconut milk and sprinkle some roasted peanut on top.