Tapioca and Mung Bean Cake (Banh Xu Xe / Banh Phu The)

This Vietnamese dessert is visually intriguing with its translucent bright green color.  For those unaccustomed to Asian desserts with an alien-green color, please try to overcome your apprehensions and give them a try.  You will be pleasantly surprised!  Pandan paste is what gives the cake its vibrant green color and floral aroma.  Made of tapioca starch and filled with sweetened mung bean and coconut flakes, this steamed cake will satisfy your sugar cravings.  The glutinous texture is rather unique and as a child I remember playing with the stretchy, sticky cake before eating it!  Yes, to this day, I still play with my food! 🙂

The typical method of making this cake is to roll it in plastic wrap so it looks like a nugget.  I am not entirely convinced that steaming food in plastic wrap is safe and so I’ve changed the preparation.  I use silicone baking cups lined with banana leaves.  The banana leaves add a lovely aroma and they make cleaning the baking cups much easier.  Tapioca starch is quite gluey and sticks to everything!  If you don’t have banana leaves handy, use foil baking cups.  I buy banana leaves in the freezer section of my Asian grocery store.  To defrost, I simply run the leaf under warm water and shake off the excess water.  Then I cut the leaves to the needed size.  Any remaining leaves, I place in a resealable plastic bag and pop it back in the freezer.

Watch the video below for instructions.

For the Filling:
1/2 cup mashed mung bean
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp coconut flakes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Dough:
2 cups tapioca starch
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pandan paste
1/2 cup coconut flakes

16-4-inch squares of banana leaves
silicone baking cups
2 tsp vegetable oil


Place a square of banana leaf on top of the baking cup and gently press the leaf inside the cup.  Flip the cup over and trim the excess leaf with scissors.  Continue lining all cups.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the filling.  Mix until a soft paste forms.

In a medium saucepan, add the tapioca starch, sugar, water, vegetable oil and pandan extract.  Whisk until starch and sugar is dissolve and mixture is smooth.  Put the saucepan over low heat and stir continuously.  In 2-3 minutes, the mixture starts to thicken.  Turn off the heat but continue stirring as sauce thickens and becomes a soft dough.  When the dough starts pulling away from the saucepan, remove from the stove.  Add coconut flakes and stir quickly blending well.

Spoon a tablespoonful of dough into the cup.  Add a teaspoon of filling in the center.  Add another spoonful of dough on top.  Spread the dough evenly in the cup.  Continue until all cups are filled.

Steam the cakes for 15 minutes.  Remove from steamer and allow to cool for at least one hour before serving.

To serve, peel off banana leaf and enjoy!  Cakes can be refrigerated for up to a week.  Warm in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before eating.  They can also be frozen for several months.

Yields: 16 cakes

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7 Responses to Tapioca and Mung Bean Cake (Banh Xu Xe / Banh Phu The)

  1. Vi December 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

    Hi sis, cam I replace banana leaf by something elses? Thanks

    • Trang December 11, 2017 at 6:38 pm #

      Hi sis, the banana leaf adds a lovely aroma. A good substitute is coconut leaf but you can skip the leaves entirely for simplicity. Enjoy the recipe!

  2. Na January 31, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Hi Trang,

    just wondering if you can make this a day before and leave in the fridge over night? Thanks so much…

    • Trang February 5, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

      Hi Nina, yes you can make the night before and refrigerate. Before serving, let the cakes warm to room temperature or simply pop in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to take-off the chill. Good Luck!

  3. Thanks sis Trang July 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks sis Trang :))))))

  4. Thao July 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Hi sis, sis mua may cai chen nho de lam banh su xe o dau vay ?

    Thanks sis

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