Dearest Readers: I am sorry for such a long absent, but I am back. Will try to post more regularly now that I am getting back into the groove. :)
Sometimes markets like to do some quick sales. In my recently trip to our local Asian market, I found a bag of one pound very ripe baby bananas for 99 cents. Bananas covered in lots brown spots but no damages; it was perfect to make banana dessert! Che Chuoi is a much loved, traditional Vietnamese dessert of bananas cooked with tapioca pearls (sago), coconut milk, and fragrant with pandan leaves. This dessert has the crunch from the roasted peanuts, the richness from coconut milk, the sweetness from bananas, and a hint of saltiness to enhance the flavors. If you refrigerate it overnight, it makes a refreshing tropical pudding.
- 12-15 baby bananas or 8-10 regular bananas* diagonally sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 112 g (2/3 cup) tapioca pearls (sago)
- 1,000 ml (4 cups) coconut milk (I used Aroy-D brand because it doesn’t have preservatives)
- 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 2 g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
- 4 stalks pandan leaves (optional) (use green parts, frozen or fresh or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or pandan extract)
- 110 grams (3/4 cup) roasted peanuts
- 16 grams (1 tablespoon) sugar
- 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
Bring 2/3 pot of water (medium pot) to to a boil, add in tapioca pearls. Let it cook until translucent. drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.In a large pot, add in coconut milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and pandan leaves. (If using extract, wait until the end of cooking) Bring it to a boil and then simmers in low heat for 5 minutes.
Add to the pot of coconut mixture, sliced bananas and let it simmer for several minutes. Then add in the tapioca pearls. Continue to simmer for 1 minute. Stir constantly to prevent pearls from sticking to the bottom. (If you are using extract instead of pandan leaves, add it in now). Remove pot from heat. As the dessert cools down, make peanut topping.
Make peanut topping:
I find using brown lunch (paper) bag for this next task works better, but you can use a ziplock. Put roasted peanuts into the bag. Make sure the nuts are spread evenly in a layer. Fold the opening and hold that end, but be careful when smashing peanuts. Hold the rolling-pin like a paddle and pound on the peanuts to crush into small bits. You may want to shake the bag up and spread nuts out evenly in between poundings. Mix in sea salt and sugar. Close the bag again and shake to mix. (Adjust sugar and salt to your liking)