Chè (Sweet Soup)
To Vietnamese people, “Chè” (sweet soup) plays an essential role in the country’s cuisine, not only as a dessert but also as a kind of street food which is very familiar to young people.
In older times, because of the economic difficulties and the fact that people were very busy with farm work from dawn till dusk, they did not have time to make sweet soup. They had to wait until Tet holiday or other special festivals like Mid-Year Festival or Lantern Festival to taste this dish. Today, “Chè” has become popular in Traditional Vietnamese Food Culture. Whenever we want to taste this delicious food, we can find it easily in almost every street corner in Vietnam.
Chè Trôi Nước (Rice Balls Sweet Soup)
Vietnamese sweet soup is very famous for its diversity. Among them, Rice Balls Sweet Soup (Chè trôi nước) stands out. The reason why it is called Rice Balls Sweet Soup probably comes from the shape of the dish as balls boiled in water. When they are well cooked, the balls will float and bob on the water.
Rice balls sweet soup is made of glutinous rice filled with mung bean paste bathed in a sweet clear or brown liquid made of water, sugar and grated ginger root. It is generally warmed before eating and garnished with sesame seeds and coconut milk. It is very suitable to taste it in winter days.
This traditional dish is considered as a pure Southern Vietnamese food. However, some people think that its origin is from a kind of Chinese sweet soup called “tangyuan”, which was cooked by Te Chau people during the 18th century when they were living with people in the West of Vietnam. However, “tangyuan” contains salty and sweet stuffing while rice balls sweet soup has only sweet stuffing. “Chè trôi nước” in the South of Vietnam is also attractive by its diversity of colors.
How To Make Chè Trôi Nước?
If you want to taste this traditional Vietnamese food, you can find it available in the street or can cook it at home.
-Mung bean (green bean)
-Sugar, white sesame, coconut milk, tapioca flour, salt, pandan leaf, ginger
- Soak mung bean for 20-30 minutes then purée it. Fry the purée with a little salt until it becomes soft and divide it into small balls.
- Roast sesame and wait for it to get cold.
- Wash pandan leaves and cut them into short pieces.
- Peel off the cover of ginger, clean and slice thinly.
- Mix water with glutinous flour until it is soft and smooth (pour slowly water in flour until you have that mixture). And then divide this mixture into small rice balls and incubate for about 20 minutes.
- One by one, use hands to press thin rice balls and add mung bean stuffing in the center then cover it into the circle shape.
- Boil the rice balls in water until they float on the face of water, then take out and soak them immediately in cold water.
- Add sugar, sliced ginger and pandan leaves into a pot with 1 litter of water, wait for it to hard boil and add rice balls into the sugar water.
- Make coconut syrup: Mix coconut milk with 1 or 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour and then cook this mixture with medium heat about 10-15 minutes, stir well and nonstop until it becomes thick.
- Color it: If you want to make this dish more attrative, you can color it by using natural ingredients mixed with flour such as pandan leaves (green), Gac (orange), pumpkin (yellow) and beetroot (purple).
When tasting, ladle rice balls sweet soup on a small bowl, pour coconut syrup on the face and sprinke roasted sesame. Or you can serve it with grated coconut or roasted peanut. Use it when it is still hot to have the best taste.
Some recommended places to taste this cuisine in Ho Chi Minh city:
- Chè Ma: 48 Ly Chinh Thang street, ward 8, district 3.
- Aunt Mai restaurant: 136 -138 Le Thi Hong Gam street, Nguyen Thai Binh ward, district 1.
- Ha Ky sweet soup: 138 Chau Van Liem street, ward 11, district 5.