Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Banana & Coconut Tapioca Pearl Pudding

Yummm. It's silky and creamy...even I couldn't believe how savoury this pudding turned out!

The first time I made this pudding was just over 10 years ago when I was living in France. I had bought my first vietnamese cookbook in the 13th district (13ieme arrondissement) of Paris, in a huge Asian grocery store called Les Frères Tang, on avenue de Choisy. Sadly, I lost the book when I moved back in Montreal. I loved that book so much! It was a thin and slender red book with simple photos of different vietnamese dishes and very easy to follow recipes, especially for a first-time cook like me back then. It had all the tasty vietnamese dishes my mother would cook back in Montreal. While I was in France, I was eating mostly french food, didn't know many asians and couldn't find a really good vietnamese restaurant that would serve home-style dishes. As much as I love french food, I was missing my mother's home cooking. Thankfully, I had an uncle, my mother's little brother, who lived 40 minutes away from my place, just across the city (at least, it was the same city), and when he was free, we would go to this great Vietnamese restaurant called Hawai, if I remember correctly. It was a jewel and definitely on my A list of places to go whenever I felt home sick. From the "Pho Bo" (Tonkonese soup with beef) to the "Banh Cuon" rolls(steamed rice flour rolls stuffed with pork), everything was to be found at that restaurant. Right across the street was the Frères Tang store, where I bought my long lost and very missed cookbook. In that book, was a simple recipe of one of my favourite vietnamese desserts called "Che Chuoi Chung", the tapioca banana pudding. This version called for cooking the tapioca pearls in boiling water and sugar, to which you would add the bananas and the coconut milk. Really delicious.

For this post, I wanted to make this pudding richer in texture and in taste. I eliminated the water and used mostly coconut milk and added a personal touch of cardamon seeds.

The key ingredients to making this pudding ultimately rich and flavourful are the coconut milk, the cardamon seeds, and the ripe bananas. Any other fruit like honeydew or cantalope melons, can also be used in place of the bananas, making the pudding thinner and more of a summer treat. Or, simply "au naturel" (no fruit) with some shaved coconut.

The cardamon seeds on the far left can be purchased in any asian grocery stores, in the spices sections. The pods are crushed, shells discarded and the dark brown seeds used for flavour.

Small tapioca pearls are used for this pudding and can be found in any local grocery store. I prefer buying the white ones sold in any asian grocery store.
Approx. 5 minutes preparation, 15-17 minutes cooking time

Recipe "au pif":
1/4 cup small tapioca pearls
1 can (14 oz, 400ml) coconut milk
3/4 cup soy milk (plain, unsweetened)
2 tbsp raw cane sugar
5 cardamon pods, shells discarded - retain the seeds
a small pinch of salt
2 ripe bananas thinly sliced
fresh mint leaves to garnish
dark rum (optional)
* Soak the tapioca pearls in about 1 cup warm water. The pearls will swell in less than 2 minutes. Discard excess water.
In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, soymilk, tapioca and salt.
Slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Simmer and stir until mixture just starts to thicken, about 5 minutes (mixture will be thin).
Remove from heat; add in sugar and cardamon seeds and stir.
Let stand in saucepan uncovered 12-15 minutes until the pudding thickens.
Add the bananas and stir. Let the pudding sit for a few minutes until it thickens even more.
Transfer in cups or small bowls. Garnish with a little bit of fresh mint.
To make it even more interesting, drizzle a dash of rum and enjoy!
Serve warm or chilled.
Makes about 6 servings.


ioyces said...

this looks so good!! I'm gonna give it a try as soon as the weather gets cooler here!! Yum!

Nidhi said...

Lovely! I am certainly going to try this. We Indians make a much simpler version of this with plain milk and cardamom and eat it hot. I am quite excited about trying this with bananas. Mango would be good too. I really like your blog!

Isom said...

I've a Cambodian friend who's tracing down the foods she ate when younger & this is one she mentioned that she loved. It's so simple to make after the first time, one doesn't even need a recipe!

Like you, I prefer mine with a bit of cardamon. I tried it both ways & a hint of cardamon improves it. I use those 'baby' bananas too as they have more flavour than the big ones that taste kind of bland to me.

Navi (my friend) said she has no idea why all the Vietnamese people are thin when coconut is used for so many dishes. And I wonder the same thing. It's not just desserts but coconut is in many diff recipes. How do they do it? I know they don't eat fatty crap like many westerners do but coconut is VERY high in fat. Any secrets? Neither her nor I are overweight at all but it's still made us curious.

QlinArt said...

Hello Isom, thank you for your inviting comment. It's true that vietnamese people tend to be thin - but we don't eat high fat foods every day. Most dishes are consumed with rice, vegetables, meat - but nothing rich really - on occasions and in moderate quantity. But overweight vietnamese do exist ;) and a lot more these days - and especially in north america . BTW, I love Cambodian food.