Chè bà ba is a Vietnamese sweet soup dessert typically made with a coconut soup base and square bits of cassava, taro, and khoai lang bí (a type of long sweet potato with yellow flesh and red skin). You can eat this dish hot, but you can also eat this cold with ice.
This delicious Vietnamese dessert is made from over ten ingredients, including taro, cassava, sweet potato, peanut, peeled mung bean, tapioca pearl, tapioca strip, pandan leaf, seaweed, peanut, salt, sugar, and coconut meat (or coconut milk in a can). The perfect combination of all of Chè bà ba’s ingredients has won the hearts of the Vietnamese people and foreigners too.
The sweet soup has a colorful appearance thanks to the yellow color from the mung bean and sweet potato, brown from peanuts, purple from taro, white from coconut milk sauce, and green from seaweeds. Chè bà ba also has a beautiful blend of sweet and buttery, chewy and sticky, crunchy taste.
The Vietnamese dish has many plausible origins. In Vietnamese, “chè” (che) is translated to sweet soup, and “bà ba” (ba ba) is a traditional garment of southern Vietnamese associated with rural Southern Vietnam. Vietnamese women are beautiful when wearing an Ao dai (long dress) and in Ba ba. According to the Vietnamese people, Chè bà ba sweet soup is as indigenous, sweet, and beautiful as Vietnamese women when wearing Ba ba so that they called the dessert Chè bà ba (Che ba ba).
It’s also possible that a person with the nickname “Third” created the sweet soup dessert, which might make “Ms. Third’s sweet soup” a possible translation for the Chè bà ba’s name. Another story states that the dessert was sold at the Bình Tây Market (in District 6 of City Ho Chi Minh City) around mid-century. It was first made with green beans, coconut milk, cassava, sweet potato, and other ingredients such as lotus seeds and jujube, making the sweet soup contain nine to ten components in total.
According to another account, the Vietnamese dessert is the third popular dish prepared by an old lady.
Chè bà ba has become more prevalent in Vietnam after starting as a rural food in Southern Vietnam’s countryside. You can also find this dessert at restaurants or street foods in many Vietnamese regions. If you go to Vietnam, don’t miss your chance to try this fantastic dish. You’ll love it at first bite!
How to Cook Chè Bà Ba
There are various ways of cooking this delicious Vietnamese dessert. Though, it depends on which region or the ingredients you like the most. To cook Chè bà ba, you must prepare the ingredients and follow the instructions of this recipe below:
- 350g sweet potato
- 200g cassava
- 200g taro
Note: can be a combination or just one type (first remove the skin, then cut into small cubes, and soak in salt water for five minutes to prevent the root vegetables from turning brown)
- 100g peeled mung beans (wash and rinse several times until the water runs clear)
- 150g peanuts
- 80g seaweed strips or dried sliced kelp (wash for multiple times, soak in warm water for five minutes, and rinse well)
- 80g tapioca pearls
- 80g tapioca strips (rinse properly)
- 500g coconut meat Or 250ml canned coconut milk
- 400g sugar (adjust depending on your sweet preference)
- 2 pandan leaves (tied into a knot) OR green food coloring
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preparing all the Ingredients
- Soak the tapioca strips, tapioca pearls, seaweeds, and peeled mung beans separately in water for a few hours or overnight (much better).
- Boil the peanuts until they become tender.
- If you’re using coconut meat, pour 300ml of hot water into the coconut meat. Then squeeze the coconut and filter for the initial extract. Pour another 2l of hot water into the coconut meat and repeat the procedure to get the second extract.
- Peel and cut the taro, sweet potatoes, and cassavas into cubes.
Cooking the Chè bà ba
- Pour mung beans, 2l of water, and the second extract of the coconut meat in a pot and cook until it’s boiling.
- Add in the taro, potatoes, and cassavas and cook until they turn tender.
- Add the tapioca strips, tapioca pearls, peanuts, and pandan leaves, and continue to cook until the tapioca strips and tapioca pearls are tender.
- Add the sugar, seaweeds, and half a teaspoon of salt.
- Pour in the first extract of coconut meat and stir well.
Chè bà ba is one of the most popular Vietnamese desserts and an absolute favorite of those who like eating sweet food. The fat of the coconut blends perfectly with the smell of the mung beans, fleshy sweet cassava and potatoes, and the faint aroma of the sticky pandan leaves. This traditional sweet soup dish is a must-try Vietnamese dessert.