Bananas and Coconut Milk with Tapioca Pearls

Chè Chuối Chưng


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    4 to 6

    servings as part of a multi-dish meal

Appears in

The banana flavor permeates this creamy coconut milk dessert “soup.” This is a very common chè (sweet snack). Using the smaller variety of bananas known as “finger bananas” is ideal, but ripe, yet firm regular (Cavendish) bananas will suffice. Be unbound with your creative license: substitute slices of cooked sweet potato (adding to simmering tapioca after 10 minutes) or even taro in place of bananas for a change. You can serve it still warm, at room temperature, or chilled (the cooler it gets the thicker it will be, so you may want to thin it down when serving it chilled).

Tapioca pearls are made of tapioca starch. This recipe calls for the smallest size available as that is what is traditionally used. By all means, if you can only get another size, use it—just adjust the cooking tiem accordingly.


  • 4 cups (1 L.) Water
  • ¼ cup Tapioca pearls, small variety (about the size of mustard seeds)
  • 1 can Coconut milk (about 14 oz.)
  • 4 lg. Pandan leaves, tied into one knot
  • ½ cup Granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. (454 g.) Bananas, “baby” variety whole or large bananas cut on diagonal into 2-inch (5 cm.) pieces
  • 1 tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds or crushed roasted peanuts


  1. Bring water to a boil in 4 qt. (4 L.) saucepan. Slowly sprinkle in tapioca. Stir well; simmer, stirring occasionally until almost completely translucent, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add coconut milk, pandan leaves, sugar, salt and bring up to a simmer.
  3. Add bananas, and return to a simmer for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat and let the banana and pandan flavors permeate the coconut milk. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed with salt and sugar, it should have salty background note to contrast with the overall sweetness. Pull out pandan and squeeze out excess moisture into ché for maximum flavor extraction.
  5. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or peanuts right before serving.