This scrumptious Viet dessert is made with plantains and cassava cooked into a sweet and creamy tapioca pudding. For those not familiar with this dessert, it is decadently sweet and rich thanks to the generous use of sugar and coconut milk as per the traditional recipe. As good as the first bite always tastes, I find this dessert to be overly sweet and way to heavy that I can’t get past the richness to enjoy the textures and flavors of the plantains and cassava. Not willing to forego such an amazing dessert, I revamped this recipe to be more health-conscious and palatable. There are obvious ingredients that I cut back on but the true twist on this recipe is the use of coconut water. The coconut water is naturally sweet and adds wonderful flavor to this dessert without the heaviness of coconut milk. Because coconut milk is so prevalent in Viet desserts, it’s real easy to substitute coconut water for some of the coconut milk in efforts to lighten a dish. In most cases, you can adjust the recipe by substituting half of the coconut milk required with coconut water. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. Here’s to better health and trimmer waistlines! 🙂
Notes on the recipe
Use fresh or frozen cassava as I showed in the video. The frozen cassava is super-convenient and a great timesaver. When boiling the cassava, be careful not to overcook it initially. Keep in mind the cassava will be cooked again in the pudding. A good test to see if the cassava is adequately cooked is to cut it using a fork. You should be able to cut it easily, but the cassava piece should hold its shape and not get smashed by the fork.
You can use plantains or manzano bananas in this recipe. Manzano or “Apple Bananas” are smaller than regular bananas and rather plump. Like plantains they have a firmer texture and drier taste than regular bananas. Just a note of advice, regular bananas are not right for this recipe as they get really mushy when cooked. I use what’s immediately available and living in San Diego, I can find plantains just about everywhere.
The use of Pandan leaves imparts a wonderful aroma to the dessert. I personally love the smell of Pandan leaves and use it liberally. If you don’t have fresh or frozen leaves, use Pandan extract or essence.
For the tapioca pearls, I use the smallest ones so I don’t have to cook them in advance. Just add the pearls toward the end to thicken the syrup into a pudding. Some people like their desserts soupy and others like it really thick so feel free to adjust the amount of tapioca pearls accordingly. A quick tip, don’t rinse the tapioca pearls too early. The water causes them to soften and they will disintegrate when added to the rest of the ingredients if soaked too far in advance. Also after adding them to the pot, stir minimally so they don’t dissolve.
Adjust the sugar levels to your preference and use a sugar substitute intended for cooking or baking if you’d desired.
If you’re not a fan of coconut milk, try using half-and-half or whipping cream.
Lastly, for those interested in the original recipe, adjust the recipe as follows:
– 1 cup sugar (instead of 1/2 cup) or more per your preference
– Use water instead of the coconut water
– 2 cups coconut milk (instead of 1/2 cup)
– 2/3 cup tapioca pearls
Watch the video below for instructions.[fbshare url=”http://youtu.be/tubMhUTEzu0″ type=”button” float=”right”]
1 lb cassava (fresh or frozen)
1 lb plantains or manzano bananas
1 oz Pandan leaves (fresh or frozen)
2 cups coconut water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca pearls
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup roasted crushed peanuts
If using frozen cassava, cut in half lengthwise. Remove the fibrous core. Cut each section in half again lengthwise. Then cut into 1/2-inch chunks
If using fresh cassava, cut off the ends. Cut the cassava into 3 equal sections. Take one of the cassava sections and using a sharp knife, make one deep cut through the skin starting from the top to the bottom. Work the knife blade under the skin. Peel off the skin and discard. Use a vegetable peeler to remove any remaining skin. Cut the cassava as instructed above.
Place the cassava into a bowl filled with cool water. Allow to soak for 1 hour.
Fill a saucepan halfway with water and then add the cassava. Add 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring the water to a boil. Stir together, cover and cook on Low heat for 5 minutes. Transfer to colander and let drain.
Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the whole plantains or bananas. Cover the pot and cook on Low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the hot water and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the skin from the plantains or bananas and then cut into bite-sized pieces.
Divide the stack of Pandan leaves in half. Take one of the stems and tie it around one of the stacks. Repeat the same step with the other stack to make two small bundles.
Use a sieve to rinse the tapioca pearls in cool water and then drain well.
In a medium saucepan, add the coconut water, sugar and Pandan leaves. Stirring constantly cook over Low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cassava and plantains or bananas into the syrup and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Make sure everything is touching the liquid. Add more coconut water if needed so it just barely covers the plantains and cassava.
Add the tapioca pearls and gently combine with everything else. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the pearls turn from white to translucent. Turn off the heat and then add the coconut milk and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Gently stir everything together. Let the dessert rest for 5-7 minutes to cool and thicken.
To serve, spoon a generous amount into a dessert bowl and drizzle some of the sauce on top. Sprinkle with the roasted crushed peanuts.
Yields: 4-6 servings