One of the other mainstays of summer for me is che bap (Vietnamese dessert soup with corn and tapioca pearls). Che is a catch-all word to describe Vietnamese dessert soup. It can be eaten as a snack at any hour of the day, not necessarily as a dessert, served warm or cold. It can be made with anything from corn to bananas to seaweed to beans. While you can get che bap at any time of the year, summer's bounty of fresh corn on the cob makes this an even fresher treat. I like using fresh corn sliced off the cob.
Tapioca pearls. Yup, this is the same stuff that most Americans would recognize in tapioca pudding.
And coconut powder. Why powder and not coconut milk? I find it easier because I can see when the tapioca pearls become translucent if I boil them in water and not coconut milk. The powder also allows me to control how creamy I want to make the che. I sometimes alternate and add coconut milk instead too. It's personal preference.
Che Bap (Vietnamese Pudding with Corn and Tapioca Pearls in Coconut Milk)
For about 4 servings, you'll need:
2 cups water
2 tblsp sugar, or more if you like it sweeter
1/4 cup tapioca pearls, or more if you really like tapioca pearls
2 corn on the cobs, corn kernels sliced off
6 tblsp coconut cream powder or 1/2 cup coconut milk
A dash of vanilla extract
Honey to taste
Slice kernels off corn. Set aside.
You can soak the tapioca pearls for several hours or overnight until translucent. But if you're really impatient and want to eat it right away, you can follow my method. Add 2 cups of water to a small pot. When the water boils, add 1/4 cup tapioca pearls and 2 tblsps sugar. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer.
Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or so. When the tapioca pearls become nearly translucent, like so, add about 6 tblsp coconut powder or 1/2 cup coconut milk, a dash of vanilla extract, and the sliced corn kernels. Taste and adjust coconut powder or sugar if necessary.
Allow to simmer for another 15 minutes until tapioca pearls are completely translucent and the che has thickened like so. Optional: Add honey at the end for aroma or further sweetening.
Che bap may be served warm or cold.
I like serving mine in these delicate bowls. Like it? The bowls were one of my thrift stop finds from a decade ago.
Other Vietnamese puddings:
Che Dau Trang (Vietnamese Pudding with White Beans and Sticky Rice in Coconut Milk)