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Summer Fruit Salad

Summertime is my favorite time of the year for many reasons but what I love most is the abundance of fresh fruits.  It seems during the warmer months, I reach for fruit to cool, quench and satisfy my (constant) sweet tooth.  This dessert is as easy as it gets and is the perfect sweet treat to round out any summer meals.  You can use any fruit in this recipe so feel free to add what you like!

When I can’t find my favorite fresh fruits, I’ll check the freezer section of my Asian grocery store.  If I can’t find the frozen variety, my last resort is to used the canned versions.  As most of the canned fruits are packed in heavy syrup, they are super sweet. So what I do is rinse the fruit with cold water before using.  If you enjoy all that sugar, just drain the liquid well before you make your fruit salad.  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for directions.

Ingredients

1 cup chopped mangoes
1 cup chopped rambutan
1 cup chopped honeydew melon
1 cup chopped lychees
1 cup chopped jackfruit

1 cup cold whipping cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
2 Tbsp coconut milk
2 Tbsp whipped cream cheese

Directions

Chop fruit into small pieces and add into a large bowl.

In a stand or hand mixer, add the cold cream and whip on high for 1-2 minutes until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar, coconut milk and cream cheese.  Whip together for another minute.  Fold the whipped cream mixture into the fruit.  (Reserve a little bit of the cream to use as a topping if desired.)   Cover and chill in refrigerator or at least one hour.

To serve, spoon into dessert bowls or martini glasses.  Garnish with more whipped cream and mint.

Yields: 6 cups

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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.

Ingredients
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

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

Directions

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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Pandan Sticky Rice

Another easy and tasty dish using sticky rice.  This recipe adds Pandan essence to infuse the rice with a fragrant aroma and adds a lovely, vibrant color.  A super simple dish, you can top with a Coconut Sauce and serve as dessert or sprinkle with crushed peanuts and sesame seeds and enjoy for breakfast.

Ingredients

2 cups sticky rice (also called glutinous or sweet rice)
1 3/4 cups water
1 tsp Pandan essence
1/4 tsp salt
sesame seeds for topping

Directions

Wash the sticky rice several times until the water runs clear.  Soak the rice for 1 hour.

Rinse the rice one more time and drain well.  Add rice to the rice cooker along with the water, Pandan essence and salt.  Stir together combining all ingredients well.  Set rice cooker to ‘Cook’.  Allow to cook until the button switches over to ‘Keep Warm’.  Stir the rice.  Cover and allow to cook for another 1o minutes.

Spoon sticky rice into dessert bowls.  Top with a generous amount of the Coconut Sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Yields: 4-6 servings

 

 

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Coconut Sticky Rice and Mango

Coconut milk, sticky rice and fresh mangos–what could be better?  How about it’s also super simple to make!  It’s one my go-to desserts when I need to whip up a dessert fast and the dish I bring frequently to pot-lucks and get-togethers.  If mangoes aren’t in season or difficult to find where you live, use papaya, strawberries or any seasonal fruit.  It all works well.  Once again, this recipe uses my beloved rice cooker to make cooking quick and easy.  Don’t forget to serve this amazing dessert with the delicious Coconut Sauce.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups sticky rice (also called glutinous or sweet rice)
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)
1/4 tsp salt
2 medium ripe mangoes

Directions

Wash the sticky rice several times until the water runs clear.  Soak the rice for 1 hour.

Rinse the rice one more time and drain well.  Add rice to the rice cooker along with the coconut milk, water, sugar and salt.  Stir together combining all ingredients well.  Set rice cooker to ‘Cook’.  Allow to cook until the button switches over to ‘Keep Warm’.  Stir the rice.  Cover and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.

Peel mangoes and cut into thin slices or cubes.

Spoon sticky rice into dessert bowls and add fresh mangoes on top.  Serve with the Coconut Sauce.

Yields: 4-6 servings

 

 

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Easy Coconut Sauce (Nuoc Dua)

Coconut sauce is the Asian version of whipped cream.  It’s a delicious, creamy and sweet topping for many Asian desserts.  This is a fundamental recipe every cook should master because you’ll use it again and again.  My recipe is not super sweet and I add a bit of salt to balance the sugar.  Feel free to add more sugar if you like it sweeter.  Enjoy!

Try the coconut sauce with the Coconut Sticky Rice and Mango and the Pandan Sticky Rice.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Steamed Banana Cake (Banh Chuoi Hap), Rice Pudding with Black-Eyed Peas (Che Dau Trang) and Sweet Mung Bean Pudding (Che Tao Soan, Che Dau Xanh).

Ingredients

14 oz can coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp tapioca starch

Directions

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together all ingredients combining well.  Continue stirring as the sauce warms.  The sauce starts to thicken after 2 minutes.  As soon as the sauce starts to bubble, turn off the heat and continue stirring for another minute.

Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite desserts.

Yields:  1 3/4 cups

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