More than a dessert, che buoi (sweet soup made from pomelo peel, coconut and mung beans), is a beloved snack that is healthy and delicious.
Che refers to a wide range of sweets made from different ingredients, mostly using a sticky clear liquid made from kudzu powder mixed with water and sugar. The liquid is mixed with sweetcorn, black beans, com (young green rice), lotus seeds, mung beans, durian, taro or sweet potatoes. A bowl of che can be topped with colourful jelly and shredded coconut.
The dessert is topped with blended ice that helps reduce the sweetness and mixes all the ingredients, making it the ideal summer snack.
Though it’s sweet, there’s no need to worry about packing on the pounds thanks to che buoi.
That’s because Vietnamese pomelo cuts fat levels in blood and apart from the juicy flesh, the white part under the green shell is what’s used make che buoi.
While it’s a challenging and time-consuming dish to make, you won’t regret having a go, and neither will anyone lucky enough to try some!
First, you peel off the green cover of pomelo and use the white part which looks like sponge. It’s then cut into small cubes and mixed with a little salt. These cubes are soaked in water for five hours. Then they’re rinsed until they don’t taste bitter and the white cubes of pomelo turn crunchy.
The cubes are then boiled and soaked immediately in an icy bowl, which helps the pomelo be crunchier and chewier.
They can then be mixed with sugar and stir-fried several times. At this stage, a little tapioca starch is added into the hot pan and mixed very well to make the flour cover all sides of cubes. After stir-frying, the remaining tapioca starch is added to the cubes to make a coat for them.
Processing these pomelo cubes is the most important part and many people end up with still bitter or too crumpled pomelo.
The other steps are similar to the process of cooking other sweet soup – just steam mung beans (without skin) until they are soft, and mix mung beans and pomelo cubes in a mixture of tapioca starch, water and sugar until the mixture is thick.
Nguyen Thi To Nhu, a resident in Hoan Kiem district, said she has enjoyed che buoi at a small shop on Hai Ba Trung street since she was young. While other shops sell different types of sweet soups, this one serves che buoi only.
“Here che buoi has a balance of the ingredients, it’s not too sweet,” said Nhu.
“I love che buoi because it cools down the summer’s heat. It’s also good for health – the pomelo cubes are chewy and soft.”
Nguyen Thị Le, owner of the shop, has made che buoi for 25 years. She said this dish is the most complicated one among the family of che.
“I steam the mung beans twice to make them soft but still keep the whole grains,” said Le.
“The pomelo is processed with carefulness in all steps, as any misstep can ruin the dish.”
Some people love a fusion of various types of sweet soup in one bowl, called che thap cam.
Tran chau (literally translated as pearl) is a favourite topping for many. They look like pearls, but are in fact little round blobs of gelatinous rice, with a tiny chunk of coconut inside.
The dessert is not only eye-catching but brings joy for diners because they can try different textures and tastes at the same time. Viet Nam News