Chè chuối: Banana Sago in Coconut Milk

che chuoi banana sago

 

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.

Note: *the amount of bananas use is according to your preference, but use at least 7 regular bananas.
  • 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)

Peanut topping:

  • 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)

This dessert can be served warm or cold.  Just  garnish with peanut topping right before serving.
Enjoy!
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Spanish Style Potatoes with Smoked Bacon and Peppers

spanish style potato

I have been cooking from my favorite recipe books lately.  Here is one I really like.  It’s a spanish-style comfort food adapted from Diana Henry’s Pure Simple Cooking.  I like the smoked flavor of the paprika in this dish, but I substituted smoked bacon for Chorizo because it was what I had in my fridge.  Instead of roasting everything in the oven,  I cooked all the ingredients over the stove top first  for caramelization before putting in the oven.  Served it up with steam-fried vegetables.  Very satisfying dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 big potatoes (I used russet)
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 6 strips smoked bacon, cut int to bite-sized bits
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped for garnish
  • Olive oil for cooking

Directions:

  1. Cut potato and bacon into bit-sized chunks; chop onion; slice bell peppers; crushed and finely chop garlic. Set aside.
  2. Place a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Let skillet warm up then add olive oil. Wait for 30 seconds then add in the chopped onion. Stir to keep onion from burning.  When onion start to caramelize, add in the bacon when these begin to crisp then add in the rest of the ingredients.  Add in paprika, cumin, season with salt.   Continue to stir and cook until bell peppers start to tender.
  3. Transfer all the ingredients in the skillet to a large baking dish, roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes depending on the potato doneness.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve this dish with steam-fried broccolette and yellow French bean.  You can also serve it with a sunny side up egg as suggested in original recipe.

Enjoy!