Sweetcorn surprise

Variations of this sweet soup - che - are sold on the streets of Vietnam, in special che cafes, and in restaurants. This is my interpretation of the one we ate looking out to sea from the last emperor’s villas; it’s the kind of sweet comfort food I find hard to resist. I use the extra-sweet type of frozen sweetcorn. Glutinous (or sticky) rice flour and coconut milk powder are obtainable from oriental food stores.


  • 25 g glutinous rice flour
  • 500 ml water
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 275 g frozen ‘supersweet’ sweetcorn, thawed

For the coconut cream

  • 230 ml hot water
  • 100 g coconut milk powder
  • sea salt


Put the glutinous rice flour into a saucepan, add 100ml of the water and stir until smooth. Then gradually stir in the remaining 400ml water, followed by the caster sugar and salt. Place the saucepan over a fairly high heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat slightly and allow to bubble for 2 minutes, still stirring.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sweetcorn. Pour the mixture into glass serving bowls. Leave to cool, then cover and chill in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the coconut cream. Pour the hot water into a mixing bowl, sprinkle in the coconut milk powder, add a pinch of salt and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool, then cover and chill thoroughly in the fridge. Before serving, spoon the coconut cream gently over the sweetcorn, showing some of the yellow corn pudding.