Traditional sweet soup for special occasion

I notice only in Asia or more precisely in South East Asia we have a kind of dessert – sweet soup , in Vietnamese we call “chè”. What’s is the sweet soup? It’s a kind of mixture of many things, cooked or fresh, it could be fruits like banana, durian, jackfruit, longan, lychee…or seeds like lotus seeds, millet or all kind of beans, green, red, black, white, peanuts…in a sweet liquid – either the coconut milk or the sirup.

Sweet soup is very popular in Vietnam, it’s like a traditional dessert, or more than that – a kind of dish we always prepare for special occasions like Lunar New Year, certain anniversaries…Today I ‘m sharing a kind of sweet soup we call “chè trôi nước” (trôi means drift and nước – water!). It’s a tough challenge for me to translate it into English correctly!

Chè trôi nước in color – the “drifting balls in sirup”

Anyway, it’s like small balls made of glutinous rice flour, filled with some bean paste (mostly green or red beans) and “drifting or floating” in a dark sirup with ginger! One of my favorites! We can have this “small balls drifting in sirup” year-round, but by somehow for certain occasions – we prefer to prepare this sweet, like baby’s first birthday or in the next few days – the festive of Đoan Ngọ, middle day of summer, when the sun is the most near to our Earth!

There are some other dishes people also prepare during this festival like “sweet fermented rice” served with mung beans sticky rice or a kind of traditional cake, ú tro, in triangle shape, without or with filling, strongly smell of “lye water” and of course these beautiful sweet balls in ginger sirup!

We can find many vlog-recipes on Youtube, as it’s very popular, just type “chè trôi nước”. In the North of Vietnam – they have different name – trôi Tàu, the size of ball is much smaller. This sweet soup, simple to prepare but requires some hard-work, especially when shaping the balls! I’m not sharing the recipe here, I just made notes for myself, what I was doing yesterday for my memory! But if you are interested, you can give it a try!

Preparation & ingredients

  1. Glutinous rice flour 400 gr.
  2. Green beans 500 gr.
  3. Pan-dan leave powder 15 gr. (well mixed with around 200 ml of water)
  4. Beetroot powder 15 gr. ( well mixed with 200 ml of water)
  5. Condensed milk 30 gr. (to add into the green beans paste)
  6. Salt 5 gr. (for green beans paste)
  7. Water 500 ml (for the sirup)
  8. Brown sugar 300-400 gr. (for the sirup)
  9. Ginger 100 gr. (sliced)
  10. Sesame (roasted for decoration, unfortunately, I don’t have it at home!)
The sirup made of brown sugar or palm sugar with a lot of ginger
Green mung beans soaked in warm water for 1 hour then cooked with a little of water
mash it with spatula and slowly add condensed milk
I need a mixer to make it much smoother
shape it into small balls
Pan-dan leave powder to make green color, mixed it with 200 ml. of cold water
Beetroot powder to create red color, mixed it with water (200 ml.)
Now time to play with powder, slowly add beetroot water…not too dry, a bit wet
knead with hands until it gets smooth, it likes a clay, easy to handle it!
same with pan-dan leave water to get green color
Time to fill it with the green mung bean paste
shape it into small ball, size of ping pong ball or slightly bigger
same with green color balls
It’s quite tiring work to shape these little balls, luckily I made only 30 balls!
Now time to cook them in boiling water, after 1-2 minutes, quickly remove them to the hot sirup
I’m happy when seeing the color of cooked balls, the red of beetroot is very nice!
Time to taste, so yummy!

The sirup with ginger should be sweet enough as the ball filled with green mung beans are not sweet at all, even slightly salted, the mixture of beautiful chewy cover with mung bean paste and the sweetness of the brown sugar sirup with strong ginger flavor – it’s simply a delight! We also can skip the color of beetroot or pan-dan leave, the original is white, after soaking into dark sirup, the small balls are in nice golden color! The pan-dan leave and beetroot just give the color, no flavor at all! Enjoy!

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