What is che chuoi?
The word che in Vietnamese stands for liquid sweets, such as sweet soup, drinks or pudding; chuoi is the word for banana. The che chuoi dish (chè chuối, pronounced “chèh chjoiy”) is, therefore, a tapioca coconut pudding with banana, which can be eaten hot or cold. The pudding is soupy when warm, while the cooled version is somewhat stiffer in texture, like a set custard.
Che chuoi is a popular summer dish among the Vietnamese. Just like the ice cream man drives through the streets in the afternoon, old women in the streets of Vietnam carry jars with sweets, including che chuoi, for sale as a snack.
It is likely that the sweet che dishes are inspired by Chinese-Cantonese tong sui, a rich, sweet dessert soup.
What is che exactly?
Che comes in many forms and is therefore hard to define. It is not really a dessert – instead, the Vietnamese eat it as a snack. The texture looks a bit like porridge, but not always. Che can contain beans, lotus seeds and water. For toppings, you often see peanuts, longan and other fruit. It can be served hot, cold or iced. Do you see why it’s hard to describe?
How to make che chuoi
Tapioca pearls are first soaked for a few hours and then boiled in water until transparent. Meanwhile, ripe bananas or plantains are marinated in sugar to make them extra sweet. Next, a creamy pudding of water, coconut cream, pandan leaf, the bananas and the tapioca is cooked. The rich dessert is sprinkled with chopped peanuts, which bring out the taste of the banana.
The fried banana dessert from Indonesian cuisine, pisang goreng, is another sweet banana-based treat. Would you like something unusual? Then consider another filling dessert from Vietnamese cuisine, che thap cam, a jelly-like coconut soup with sweetened beans. Che thap cam is usually served in a tall glass with a long spoon to scoop up the beans.