Food Rhapsody: Dessert Soup (Che)

I realize that this picture may not inspire appetites or get anyone salivating, but behind that speckled glass window, in those metal mixing bowls lies my favorite dessert in all of southeast Asia--dessert soup. Known in Vietnam as Che, dessert soup involves any number of ingredients served with a simple syrup, ice, and often coconut milk.

A few standard options include stewed bananas, stewed pumpkin, sticky rice, black beans, tapioca, yellow mung beans, black eyed peas, jackfruit and sticky rice, pandan leaf noodles, and various colored jellies.

The standard Western palate is unused to eating legumes in a sweet dish, but I hope that won't stop anyone from trying this dessert. It is the perfect mix of sweet, salty, creamy, and refreshingly cold. When ordering, you point at the metal bowl of your preference and the proprietor will scoop your choice into a small
bowl, followed by a ladle of clear syrup, a ladle of coconut cream, then a spoonful of crushed ice.

A standard offering of cooked black-eyed peas and white sticky rice with syrup and coconut cream.

My favorite che of all is this one, known in Cambodia as Boua Loy. It is composed of glutinous rice balls (similar in texture to the Japanese mochi) filled with yellow mung bean paste. The balls are served in a ginger syrup with fresh coconut cream and a topping of crushed white sesame seeds.

1 comment:

  1. Boua loy is one of my favorites too. My grandmother used to make them for special occasions. As of now I'm looking how to make them. Hopefully they will turn out good. :)