It’s a Vietnamese sweet called che bap. In the Western world, it is categorized as a dessert pudding but it isn’t exactly that. In the first place, dessert is a Western concept; so is pudding. For convenience sake and for lack of a better English translation, let’s just call che bap a pudding.
So, how is che bap different from Western puddings? To start with, it isn’t firm. In fact, it is more like a sweet thick porridge. Che is a generic term for a wide array of soft puddings which can range from soupy to almost dry. Che can have beans, peas, fruits, jelly, root crops or glutinous rice. Che bap has corn and tapioca pearls.
A note about tapioca pearls. Although we, Filipinos, call them sago, it turns out that sago pearls come from a variety of palm tree while tapioca pearls, as the name says, come from tapioca which is a starch derived from cassava. Tapioca pearls and sago pearls are often used interchangeably but, to make sure what you’ve got, better read the package label.
I used tapioca pearls for this dessert. That’s how they look, above, before cooking.
And, below, after they have been boiled for some twenty minutes.
Some cooks say tapioca pearls need to be soaked before cooking; I disagree. You can pour the balls directly into boiling water. Stir often during the first few minutes; stir occasionally thereafter. Make sure that you use PLENTY of water to cook the tapioca pearls to give them space to swim in to minimize the chance that they will stick to each other. The tapioca pearls are fully cooked when no opaque white dot is visible at the center. Drain and rinse in cold water.
- 1 ear of corn
- 1 c. of coconut milk
- 1 c. of cooked tapioca pearls
- 1 c. of coconut cream
- sugar, to taste
- a generous pinch of salt
- toasted sesame seeds
- Using a sharp knife or a box grater, shred the corn off the cob.
- Pour the coconut milk into a sauce pan. Stir in the corn. Cook until tender; about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Add the tapioca pearls. Simmer for another two to three minutes.
- Stir in the coconut cream. Turn off the heat. Add sugar and a bit of salt.
- Serve warm or cold topped with toasted sesame seeds.