Banana Tapioca in Coconut Milk

Chè Chuối

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine And Culture In Southern California's Little Saigon

Little Saigon Cookbook

By Ann Le

Published 2011

  • About

Banana che is probably the easiest che to make, and it is also the sweetest. Cooking with tapioca pearls is somewhat tricky, so carefully follow the directions here. The first few times I tried this dish, however, I had to resort to a bailout plan. You can use another fruit or root in this recipe; just make sure it’s something that can stand up to the heat, like bananas. Berries and citrus fruits would fall apart in the cooking process.


  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup medium-size tapioca pearls
  • 5 ripe bananas
  • cups coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • cup shredded coconut


    1. In a large saucepan, heat the 5 cups of water. When it begins to boil, add the tapioca pearls and stir. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, uncovered.
    2. Stir every 5 minutes so the tapioca pearls do not clump together or burn at the bottom of the saucepan. The pearls are finished when they are translucent. (If they’re chewy, they’re not thoroughly cooked.) When cooked properly, the tapioca pearls should be reconstituted and in a thick, gooey, starchy syrup. If the heat is too hot while cooking, the water will evaporate too quickly and you will find the gooey texture appearing before the pearls are cooked through; add a little more water. If somehow there is more water and the pearls are done without the syrupy texture, then drain off the water in a fine-mesh strainer. This will retain not only the tapioca pearls but also the thick starchy substance necessary for the dessert.
    3. Keeping the saucepan at a low simmer, peel the bananas, being sure to remove all banana threads. Cut the bananas in half lengthwise, and then cut into 2-inch slices. Add them immediately to the tapioca pearls, stir, and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.
    4. Stir the coconut milk, condensed milk, sugar, salt, and lemon or lime juice into the tapioca until the mixture is well blended. Simmer for another 10 minutes, uncovered.
    5. The tapioca can be served hot or at room temperature. Pour it into individual bowls or a large serving bowl. Garnish with the sesame seeds and shredded coconut.