Thursday, February 3, 2011

新年快樂 (Happy Chinese New Year!)

I love celebrations, but I think I enjoy planning new foods for celebrations just as much!

The Chinese New Year didn't mean much to me until the day my daughter was born ON the Chinese New Year, in the year of the dragon. My husband worked with several Hmong women at the time, and they went out of their way to congratulate us & tell us how lucky we were. Now at her insistence we usually try a handful of new Asian foods throughout the month of February.

Today I am introducing the family to a treat I've had just once, when I was eight years old. It's Vietnamese, and was served at a Chinese New Year party by a family of brand-new immigrants from Vietnam. It's called Ce Chuoi, and is positively dreamy. It incorporates several of my favorite non-chocolate dessert ingredients, and cooks up in minutes. Bananas, coconut milk & tapioca pearls blend together to create a creamy, dreamy dessert that's just as good hot as cold. And just in case that doesn't tempt you... it's vegan!

For this recipe you will need:

one 14oz can coconut milk
two cups water
1/2 cup tapioca pearls
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
and 4 bananas, sliced

*After trying it my family informed me that 1/2 cup sugar might be better... it was not quite sweet enough for them, even though I liked it as-is.

Bring the milk & water to boil. Reduce heat and add tapioca & sugar. Let boil until the pearls become translucent. If you're using regular pearls, this will take about 15 minutes. If you can only find the minute-pearls, it's only going to take 1-2 minutes so stay by the stove stirring constantly! Turn off the stove, and stir in the vanilla. To serve, divide the bananas equally between your serving-cups, and spoon the pudding over them. If desired, you CAN sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish. (I didn't, but it's traditional!)

This can be served hot as a thick soup-like dessert, OR you can serve it chilled. It will thicken as it cools to more of a pudding. Enjoy!

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