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2 Ratings: 4.5
A dessert soup or pudding, Vietnamese origin

Chè is a Vietnamese term that refers to any traditional Vietnamese sweet dessert soup or pudding.      As such, it may, with the addition of qualifying adjectives, refer to a wide variety of distinct soups or puddings, which … see full wiki

1 review about Chè

Dessert or Soup? As you wish...

  • Jan 23, 2010
No, it's not Cuban, nor is it Che Guevara. It is Vietnamese sweet dessert, in the form of soup or pudding. There are quite a wide varieties of Vietnamese desserts that embodies the term Che, however it is one specific dessert I'm writing about here.

When I was in the university, I lived for a few months in my uncle's house. My aunt was originally a Vietnamese Chinese but grew up in Hong Kong instead. Still, as is the case with most people, she has Vietnamese as her native tongue (literally, I mean, in terms of food we grew up eating) and I was blessed with lots of Vietnamese food while I was at her home.

Now, most of Vietnamese food are not easy to make in that you really need to go to a local Vietnamese store to get the ingredients & spices or else your food will not turn out quite right. In addition, as with Thai, Indonesian and Chinese cuisine, it's complicated to prepare. And since I'm way too lazy to cook anything other than instant noodles or soups whose ingredients are prepackaged, I did not experiment with any of these Vietnamese goodies, other than one dessert which I found it good and easy to make. 

I haven't had the time to try this out for many years but since it's simple and a nutritious one, not forgetting it's a yummy one, I thought I'll share it here on Lunch. Frankly, I didn't know what it was called until I did a search on Google. And despite my misgivings about them pulling out of China as a way to protest against China's censorship law, it is one damn of a good search engine. Mostly, it was Wikipedia.org that provides the answer to my question. Thumbs up for Wikipedia.org & those who work so hard to make the site what it is today. If you wish, you can also make a donation to Wikipedia at its founder, Jimmy Wales' appeal.

Mung Bean
So, what is this dessert I'm touting about? Well, in Vietnamese it is Chè đậu xanh phổ tai . Essentially, Mung bean Seaweed (or Kelp) dessert

Mungbean (commonly known to the Chinese as green bean) is a highly nutritious bean which is cultivated in many parts of Asia (China, Thailand, Indonesia, India, etc). It is not only good for the body but also cheap and abundantly available. Mung bean is also grown into bean sprout (Yes, I remembered those days as a child when I had so much fun growing bean sprouts out of mung bean! it's truly amazing to see them grown out of these little green beans! Have you tried it? If not, you must. Try germinating it with your kids, they'll have lots of fun and learn a thing or two about life ;-)) In addition, in China and Vietnam, the starch of these beans is also extracted to make jellies and transparent noodles. Those skins of Spring Rolls and Summer Rolls which we all enjoyed are also made from Mung Beans!

Yes, the Asians eat seaweed, esp. those from Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Many in Scandinavia and Peru do too. Seaweed is known to be rich in calcium and magnesium as well as to have lots of other health benefits. The Japanese made soups from these and also eat them as snacks (Japanese "nori", Korean "gim", Chinese "zicai:紫菜")

Kelp is the braod and large seaweed which is rich in iodine and alkali. Kelp is harvested as Kombu in Japan & the Japanese favor it in Dashi soups. Kelp also helps in softening the Mung beans & thus helps in converting indigestible sugars & reduce flatulence.

Incidentally, Kelp has been known to be used as a possible alternative source of energy as well. Its high growth rate & decay yield methane & sugar which when converted becomes ethanol. Unlike corn ethanol, kelp does not require irrigation. Hence, solving the food vs energy controversies.

The Mung bean & Kelp dessert is especially beneficial to children and teenagers. Here's how you make it:

Recipe (Vietnamese style)
1 cup green beans, washed & soaked
1 strip or more of Kombu (Japanese Kelp) if you like (cut them into 2 inches length)
Rock sugar or Brown sugar
Coconut milk, again, depend on how thick you like the soup to be.

Bring the green beans and Kombu to a boil and let them cook in the medium-low heat until they are about 80% done. Then add the rock sugar in & let it boil for a few minutes before adding in the coconut milk. Stir for a few minutes & then off the heat.  If you like the dessert to have a smooth feeling to it, you may also add sago.

That's it. Simple enough, isn't it?
Some of us like it hot while some like it cold. You may serve it either way. They are both delicious!

This dessert can easily be converted to a Chinese soup, ie. salty version. Just supplement the sugar with salt and leave the coconut milk out. Most versatile soup I've ever found. You can have it the way you like and whenever you like since both Mung Bean and Kombu (or Kelp) are in dried form which means you can store them for as long as you wish, somewhat like canned food. Great as a back up!

Dessert or Soup? As you wish... Dessert or Soup? As you wish... Dessert or Soup? As you wish... Dessert or Soup? As you wish...

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January 24, 2010
Mmmmm, I love me some Vietnamese Cuisine.  Thanks for sharing this recipe!  Got any for three color bean drink? ;P
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