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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chè Táo Xọn Vỏ Quýt (Sweet Mung Bean with Tangerine Peel)

My mother always like to create various chè for a certain ritual or ceremony. There would always be extra chè to share with every household in our neighborhood.  Though I've never been fond of sweets, I always like to make desserts for my family and friends to enjoy after a meal. Especially when the summer ends, and the cold starts creeping in, I love to bake and cook warm chè.  The warm, wonderful aroma of fresh baked goods and chè give the home a sense of warmth and comfort.  

Most of the time, my pantry and freezer are filled with frozen corn, grated cassava, pandan leaves, coconut milk and all kinds of dried bean and flour.  All these ingredients are readily available for me to make desserts should an occasion or spontaneity arise.

Once of the desserts that I like to make when I have little time is Chè Táo Xọn Vỏ Quýt.  I've learned from  my cousin in Vietnam that the reason why people in southern Vietnam call this sweet mung bean dessert  chè "Táo Xọn". It's simply a literal translation. "Táo Xọn" is Chinese for mung bean.  In northern Vietnam, they called it chè Hoa Cau which is suitable as these tiny yellow mung beans look like the flower of  Areca.

As I always like to incorporate natural ingredients in my food, I decided to throw tangerine peel in chè and called it Táo Xọn Vỏ Quýt (Sweet Mung Bean with Tangerine Peel).  The pleasantly fresh, sweet and citrusy aroma of tangerine peels mixed with the starchy and mildly sweet taste of mung bean blended in cool  and    clear tapioca starch is just perfect.

To make this chè, all I need are mung beans, coconut milk, sugar and  tangerine peels; I can produce a pot of chè in less than 30 minutes. The two healthhy ingredients in this chè are mung beans and tangerine peels.  According to, mung bean is popular as the perfect food for reducing weight. It is recommended as a food replacement in many slimming programs, as it has a very low fat content. It is a rich source of protein and fiber, which helps one lower the high  cholesterol level in the blood system. While tangerine peels has two major benefits such as its cholesterol lowering capabilities and cancer fighting properties. The disease fighting flavonoids tangeretin and nobiletin are found in higher concentrations in peels that in the juice we commonly drink. The only downside of this chè is the amount of sugar and coconut milk.   I think the benefits outweighs the risks here though.
RECIPE: Chè Táo Xọn Vỏ Quýt

Printable Recipe


1 bag (1 1/2 cups) Mung Beans, peeled
1 Tangerine Peel, finely chopped
10 cups Water
1 1/4-1 1/2 cups Sugar, 
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 cup Tapioca Starch Flour
1 cup Water
1 Pandan Leave, tied in a knot 
1 bag Vanilla Sugar, optional
Coconut Milk Topping
1 can (14 oz) Coconut Milk
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Tapioca Flour
2 teaspoons Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract  or
1 Pandan Leaf,  tied in a knot
Preparing Mung Bean

If you're not pressed for time, soak mung beans in water for 1 hour or overnight, this will shorten the cooking time and make the beans more digestible. Then rinse a few times until the water is clear.

Otherwise, skip the soaking process.  Place mung beans in a steamer, and steam for about 20 minutes.  If steaming pre-soak mung beans, it takes about 10 minutes to cook.

Preparing Tapioca Flour

In a bowl, combine flour and water and mix well.  Set aside.

Cooking Chè Táo Xọn

Bring 10 cups of water and a knot of pandan leaf to a boil.

Add sugar, salt, and tangerine peel then stir until melted. Bring it back to boil.  Reduce heat to low while waiting for mung beans to be cooked.

When mung beans are ready, stir the tapioca flour mixture again then slowly pour it into the pot while constantly stirring it gently so that flour won't clump.

The consistency should be thicker at this stage. 
Add cooked mung bean and stir gently.  Bring it back to boil at medium heat. Reduce heat to low, add vanilla extract or vanilla sugar if used, and stir gently for a  minute.

Preparing Coconut Milk Sauce

In a sauce pan, bring coconut milk, sugar, salt and a knot of pandan leave to a low heat.  Once the coconut sauce starts boiling, reduce heat to low.
In a small bowl, mix tapioca starch with  water to dissolve, then add to the pot while constantly stirring it.

Add vanilla extract if used.  Remove from heat. Set aside.

Ladle c  into a small bowl, then top with coconut milk.

Ăn Ngon!

Súp Măng Cua (Asparagus Crab Soup)

Súp Măng Cua is a popular delicacy and consider to be a high-end soup in Vietnam which we get to enjoy only on special occasions like weddings or anniversaries. Asparagus or Western bamboo (Măng Tây), as we call it, was introduced by the French. Since Asparagus does not grow well in hot humid climates, it becomes a rarity in Vietnam and expensive. 

There are two types of asparagus: green and white. White asparagus is simply green asparagus that hasn't been allowed to turn green. The way white asparagus is grown is that it's covered in a thick layer of mulch and dark plastic so that no sunlight reaches the spears.This way the vegetable never gets a chance to turn green because there's no photosynthesis.This process creates pale white asparagus spears that have a mellow flavor and a bit more tender than green asparagus. 

The main ingredients for asparagus crab soup are crab meat, white asparagus and egg white which create a simply wonderful and tender soup. Since food is abundant here, we have a tendency to add more such as varieties of mushroom, quail eggs, etc...My husband likes the texture of mushroom; my girls love quail eggs, so I sometime add Enoki or Shiitake mushroom and quail eggs to the soup.  Shiitake mushroom can make the broth darker.

Green asparagus is inexpensive and can be found at almost every supermarket but white asparagus can be difficult to come by. The only way I can get white asparagus to make this soup is buying imported canned white asparagus. Some people use green asparagus in this soup but I much prefer white asparagus as I like the elegant ivory color and it has a special delicacy and milder in flavor and a bit more tender than green asparagus.

I much prefer Reese white asparagus over the one made in China that you would see in the Asian supermarket.  Its asparagus is packed in glass jars or cans and the quality is superior I think.  Even Reese 's white asparagus is so hard to find in stores. The best way to get this is by ordering  online.  Walmart online store carries it and has the best deal but it sells in bulk.

I blogged this post a few weeks ago but didn't want to post it yet as I wasn't satisfy with the ingredients I used. I wanted to wait until I had a chance to try out the Reese asparagus but it's already been over half a month. So, here is a quick and easy Súp Măng Cua recipe for you to try out. Adding mushroom is optional. I prefer to use tapioca flour over cornstarch to thicken the broth as tapioca flour makes the broth clearer. Súp Măng Cua makes a perfect soup to slurp down during this cold season.
RECIPE: Súp Măng Cua (Asparagus Crab Soup)

asparagus soup with shiitake mushroom

5 (14 oz) cans  or 10 cups Chicken Broth or Pork Broth
1 large can or 2 small cans White Asparagus
1 container (1 pound) Crab Meat, available at Costco or Sams Club
1-2 can Quail Egg or 1-2 dozen of fresh Quail Egg
1 bag Ekoni Mushroom, optional
3 Egg Whites
1/2 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 tablespoon Vegetable Seasoning
1 Whole Garlic, peeled
1/2 cup Tapioca Flour 
 1 cup Water
Cooking Broth

Bring chicken broth and garlic to boil.  In the mean time, prepare the remaining ingredients.
Preparing Asparagus

Rinse asparagus then cut into 1 inch segments.  I cut mine into thin diagonal pieces to make it easier for my kids to bite on it. Discard the top part of the asparagus as it is too soft and easy to break apart.  The broth will get cloudy.

If used fresh green asparagus, cut and discard about 1 1/2 inches of the bottom of the asparagus as this part is tough and not enjoyable.  Use a peeler to peel of the skin of asparagus.  
Preparing Quail Eggs

If used fresh quail eggs, bring eggs and water to boil.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and places egg in cold sink water to cool down the eggs and also to make it easier to peel off the shell.

If used can eggs, rinse eggs.  Set aside.
Preparing Mushroom

If used Enoki mushroom, cut the bottom and discard.  Wash and cut mushroom into an inch segments.  Set aside.
If used Shiitake mushroom, wash and thinly sliced. Set aside.  
Preparing Tapioca Flour

In a small bowl, mix flour and water.  Set aside.  I prefer to use tapioca flour to thicken sauces as it makes a totally clear sauce and lends a glossier appearance. Stands up to acidic liquids better than cornstarch. Sauces thickened with cornstarch are less opaque and glossier.
Preparing Egg Whites

Use a fork to whisk the egg whites in a small bowl.  Set aside.
Putting Soup together

When the broth is boiling, add crab meat. You might need to separate the crab meat as you are putting it in the broth.  The crab meats tend to clump together.

Bring it to a boil again. Add quail eggs, asparagus, mushroom if used.

Seasoning with sugar and mushroom seasoning.

This mushroom seasoning contains no MSG
Once it's boiling again, reduce heat to medium low. Pour flour mixture into the broth while constantly stirring it so flour won't create lumps.

Next, slowly pour the whisked eggs into the soup while using one hand to continually stir the soup in one direction with a fork. This will create the nice egg ribbons.


Ladle soup into a soup bowl. Sprinkle some white ground pepper. This should keep you warm throughout the winter. Enjoy!