Considered an age-old dessert dish in Vietnam, the position of banana sweet soup in the hearts of Vietnamese people has never changed. This sweet soup, called chè chuối in Vietnamese, is made from ripe yellow bananas, pearl tapioca, coconut milk and toasted sesame seeds. Modern recipes often add roasted peanuts in place of toasted sesame seeds. Banana sweet soup is smooth, fatty and fragrant, can be eaten with some ice, but it is best to eat when the soup is still warm to feel the full flavor and aroma of the soup. The sweetness of banana sweet soup is usually not too strong, so even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you might still be addicted to this dish.
This banana sweet soup is sometimes referred as banana tapioca pudding, banana coconut pudding, banana pudding in coconut milk with tapioca pearls, coconut soup with banana and tapioca pearls due to its resemblance to pudding.
The best banana for this dessert is Pisang Awak cultivar, which is called chuối sứ in Vietnamese. The banana should be fully ripe.
Pearl starch is starch in tiny pearl forms. In Vietnam, pearl starch was previously made from the starch of arenga palm (Arenga pinnata, Vietnamese: báng) which was popular in central Vietnam. But modern pearl starch is made from tapioca, which is often labeled as tapioca pearls.
Made from the meat of the brown-shelled coconut. It is not easy to get a really fresh ripe coconut outside the tropical climate where it grows, so canned coconut milk is an excellent substitute for the fresh and sometimes even better. Do not buy coconut cream; it is not a substitute for coconut milk.
Old traditional recipes call for toasted/roasted sesame seeds, but modern ones often utilize coarsely crushed roasted peanuts or a mixture of them.
All types of sugar might work because they will eventually be cooked and dissolved. Brown sugar is suggested.
Some other optional ingredients include crinkle-cut tapioca shreds (Vietnamese: bột khoai), vanilla, coconut shreds, arrowroot vermicelli, kudzu powder, glutinous rice wine, pandan leaves.
To add extra aroma or fragrance, you can cook with some pandan leaves during cooking session, or add some vanilla powder or banana essence after.
Adding some glutinous wine or some meunier wine may bring some unique taste to the dish.