Silkworm Cassava Cake (Banh Tam Khoai Mi)

The name comes from the strands of cake which resemble silkworms.With it being so close to Halloween I wanted to share a childhood sweet treat.  Growing up, every kid I knew loved Silkworm Cassava Cake.  Perhaps it’s the bright colors, the chewy, slightly stretchy consistency which prompted us to play with the cakes before eating them or even the mild sugar rush.  Whatever the reason, my Mom always kept a steady supply of these cakes around for us to enjoy.  Below is the super easy recipe.  In terms of Vietnamese cakes, it doesn’t get any simpler than this:  1) Mix the batter  2) Steam the cakes  3) Cut and roll in shredded coconut.  If you’re interested in making a fun treat for Halloween, watch the video for my recipe twist.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Use any plate, dish or mold you have handy for this recipe.  I like using my salad/dessert plates.  They’re about 9-inches in diameter and make the perfect cakes.  You don’t want to use a plate that is too large otherwise your silkworms will be thin.

Steaming time varies depending on the size of your cakes.  The cakes typically steam for 5-6 minutes.  You’ll know the cakes are done when they turn translucent.  Try not to over-steam or the cakes will be tough.

When removing the steamer lid, lift one side of the lid up and allow the water to drip down the other side.  This prevents the water collected on the lid from dripping onto the cake.

Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the plate.  When the cake is warm, it’s sticky and difficult to separate from the plate.

The cake taste best if eaten within the day.  Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.  To reheat, simply microwave on Low Power for 30 seconds.

For a fun twist, use cookie cutters to cut the cakes into fun shapes and sizes.  The kiddies will love these cute cakes in their lunchbox.

Watch the video below for instructions.


16 oz frozen grated cassava, thawed
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup shredded coconut
food coloring

Sesame Seed Topping

2 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt


In a large bowl, combine the grated cassava, sugar, vanilla sugar, salt, tapioca starch, and coconut milk.  Stir until well-blended and batter is smooth.

Scoop out 3/4 cup each into 3 smaller bowls and leave the remaining in the original bowl.  Add different food coloring to each of smaller bowls and mix well.

Pour each of the 4 batters into separate salad/dessert plates.  Spread evenly and smooth out the top.

Prepare the steamer by filling it 2/3 full with water and bringing to a boil.  Reduce the heat to Medium High.

Please the first plate into the steamer and steam for 5-6 minutes or until the cake turns translucent.  Remove the cake and continue with the next one.  Continue until all 4 cakes are steamed.  Allow the cakes to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Place the shredded coconut into a large bowl.

Using a small knife, run it under the cake along the edge.  Carefully lift and peel the cake from the plate.  Cut the cake in half and then into thin strips, approximately less than 1/2-inch thick.

Take a few pieces and drop them into the bowl with the shredded coconut.  Roll the strips in the coconut, coating them completely.  Repeat this process until all cakes are cut and coated.

To make the sesame seed topping, combine the sesame seeds with sugar and salt.

Just before serving sprinkle the cakes with the sesame seed topping.

Yields: 4-6 servings

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16 Responses to Silkworm Cassava Cake (Banh Tam Khoai Mi)

  1. đạt December 28, 2022 at 9:13 am #

    I’m very new to cassava and I think I made a lot of mistakes with this recipe. I hand grated cassava but left some chunks in. The cakes themselves came out crumbly and the chunks weren’t fully cooked (even though I cooked the cakes on a plate in a bamboo steamer for more than an hour).

    If the cakes come out crumbly, do you recommend adding more coconut milk? Should I also be steaming my cakes in a metal environment, closer to the water like your cakes? I will be sure to grate the cassava better next time.

    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes. I’ve been able to do a lot of savory dishes in the instant pot and the phở gà is a favorite of my friends and family.

  2. Tiffany October 29, 2019 at 2:48 pm #

    Where can I buy frozen grated cassava?

  3. Oui February 10, 2019 at 10:16 am #

    I bake cassava cake today by follow your rescipe. It turns out so good. Thank you for sharing us with tips that made cooking more simple.

    • Trang February 12, 2019 at 12:44 pm #

      Hi Oui,
      That’s wonderful! I am thrilled you enjoyed this recipe along with my cooking tips. This is a favorite at my house because it’s so much fun to eat. 🙂

  4. Lori phan November 18, 2018 at 7:49 am #

    Just a tip, I use fresh cassava but t grate it with a juicer machine. It separates the liquid and the grated cassava but then I put them back together and continue with the ingredients. The texture is perfect and this recipe with coconut milk always turns out great.

    • Trang November 25, 2018 at 11:36 am #

      Hi Lori,
      I really like your tip to grate the cassava with a juicer. It’s brilliant! Thank you for sharing your tip! 🙂

  5. Alicia December 7, 2017 at 7:52 am #

    Can this be made with cassava flour instead of grated cassava?

    • Trang December 11, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

      Hi Alicia,
      Cassava flour is ground too fine and changes the texture of the cake entirely. I recommend using grated cassava. Hope you give the recipe a try! 🙂

  6. Khuyen Jolene Ha November 29, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    I tried several recipes, yours came out the best. I so love the texture, it’s exact like what I usually had in Vietnam. Thank you very much for this awesome recipe

    • Trang December 2, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

      Hi Jolene Ha,
      I am so glad to hear you liked this recipe. Thanks for taking the time to share your results. 🙂

  7. Amy April 16, 2017 at 7:50 am #

    I’ve made this dish before but was not happy with the result, and I really like your recipe. I know it’s all personal preference, but I do like your ratios, a lot.

    The “cake” had the right consistency: soft and chewy. I made the recipe before with 2 Tbsp tapioca for one 16-oz bag that it came out a bit too dense. I also like the 1 cup of coconut milk per 16-oz bag ratio (vs. the 1/2 cup I used to make). I made it for a party and everyone was saying that it was so good, and so much better than buying in the market (qualities vary there too).

    Also, I used the frozen grated coconut in the Asian grocery store for the coating instead of the desiccated coconut and it was vastly superior. Steaming the coconut a few minutes also helped bring out the flavor.

    • Trang April 19, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

      Hi Amy,
      I am really pleased to hear you enjoyed this recipe. This is one of those recipes, I tinkered with for awhile before getting the results I liked. You’re right, it’s all a matter of preference and I always encourage everyone to adjust any recipe as desired. Thanks for sharing the tip about using frozen grated coconut. It’s a wonderful alternative to the desiccated coconut. 🙂

  8. Phuong November 26, 2015 at 4:25 am #

    Hi Trang

    Is it possible to use fresh cassava that I will shred myself? I notice the consistency of the frozen and the fresh isn’t the same. I wonder if it will make a difference

    • Trang November 27, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

      Yes, you can used fresh cassava that you shred yourself. With fresh cassava, I recommend that you soak the shredded cassava in water for an hour or so to help remove the toxin. Several changes of water is good too. Once you cook the cassava, the texture is the same. Hope that helps and good luck!

  9. Quyen November 15, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Mmmmmmmm…I’m so gonna make some tonight. May I ask where can I get the frozen coconut? Thanks so much for the detailed instructions.

    • Trang November 16, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      Hi Quyen,

      You can buy frozen coconut in the Asian grocery store–same place you find the grated cassava. However, the shredded coconut that I am using is dried and you can buy this at any American grocery store. Good Luck with the recipe!

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