Lunar New Year is just around the corner! For those of you who don’t celebrate, the lunar new year (called Tet in Vietnamese) falls on Friday, January 31st, 2014.
I won’t go into all the details about the celebration just yet, but I will give you a sneak-peek recipe – there are always plenty of great dishes to share around New Year, and desserts are no exception!
This Vietnamese dessert is a “sweet soup”, called Che. These desserts are a play on texture – there is always great focus on providing various crunchy or chewy elements. The best part is, there are different types of “chewy”, too. Some are snappy-chewy, like palm fruits, for example – other times, they are soft-chewy, like sticky (glutinous) rice flour balls.
Che can either be cold and served over ice, or served hot or warm. Often, it’s finished with a bit of coconut milk for added richness and body. This particular Che is served warm. It’s very soothing, great on a cold day, and has a wonderful spicy kick from ginger, beautifully contrasting textures from the glutinous rice flour and mung bean paste, and will make your whole body warm.
- 2 cups water
- 1 hand of ginger, cut into thin slices (normally I don’t peel)
- 1 cup of brown sugar or equivalent of rock sugar
Add the ginger and water to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat, and cover for 20 to 30 minutes (if you don’t want it as intensely gingery, simmer for less).
- 1 bag glutinuous rice flour (6 oz.)
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 2 cups of yellow, shelled, split mung beans
- 1 tablespoon sugar (white or brown)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Soak the mung beans overnight (or at least 2 hours) in a covered bowl. Drain, rinse, and put them in a small sauce pan or a pot, with just enough water to cover the beans. Turn the heat to high and let it come to a boil. After about 10 to 15 minutes, test to see if they are soft enough to mush between your fingers. If they are still firm, test them every additional five minutes.
- Mung Bean Filling
- Ginger Syrup
- Pot of boiling water
- Bowl of ice water
- Thinly sliced ginger (optional)
- Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- coconut milk or cream (optional)
Note: I use this brand of glutinous (sticky) rice flour: