A Culinary Trip to Vietnam ~ Banh Bot Bang

Banh Bo BangMy hubby just returned from a business trip to Danang, Vietnam. While he was gone, I spent a lot of time learning about Vietnamese food! Cooking is one way I like to explore different cultures and “travel” in a way. Since I couldn’t go with him on this particular trip, spending time in my kitchen making Vietnamese dishes was a close second for me. 🙂 On my cooking adventure, I made Bo La Lot, Banh Xeo, and these little tapioca pearl balls filled with a sweet mung bean paste called Banh Bot Bang.

I used a recipe from my favorite Vietnamese recipe website that I discovered a couple of years ago called Danang Cuisine. The texture of this dessert is really what makes it interesting – It is springy and chewy on the outside and dense and rich on the inside. Then the luscious coconut sauce raises the bar to make this quite a remarkable dessert!

Banh Bot Bang

Based on a recipe from DanangCuisine.com

For the balls:

½ cup peeled split mung beans, rinsed, soaked in water for at least 2 hours or overnight, drained

4 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons granulated sugar

½ cup unsweetened canned coconut milk

1 ½ cups small tapioca pearls, soaked in water for about 30 minutes, drained

3 teaspoons cornstarch

For the sauce:

½ cup unsweetened canned coconut milk

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

2 pandan leaves (optional)

For the balls:

In a small saucepan with a lid, add the mung beans and enough water to cover the beans. Cover the pot with the lid. Bring the beans to a low boil and cook until they are soft enough to smash with a spoon. Drain the excess water. Add the cooked mung beans, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and ½ cup coconut milk to a food processor. Process until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Over medium heat, stirring occasionally, cook down the mung bean mixture until it is the consistency of paste.

Scoop the paste out onto a plate and let cool.

When the mung bean paste is cool, roll it into small balls, each about 1 centimeter in diameter. Set aside while you make the outer tapioca portion of the dessert.

Preheat a large steamer pot or a bamboo steamer on medium heat. Cut a piece a parchment to cover the portion of the steamer that will come in contact with the food. Wrap the pot’s lid with a kitchen towel so the condensation from the steam doesn’t drip down into the pot.

Mix ½ cup of the tapioca pearls with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Microwave the mixture on high for about 20 seconds, or until it is a little sticky.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a clean work surface. Place a small amount (approximately 1 ½ tablespoons) of the sticky tapioca pearls to the center of the plastic wrap, and press down into a disc. Add one of the mung bean balls in the center of the disc. Using the plastic wrap to help, wrap the mung bean ball completely with the tapioca mixture. Then remove the plastic wrap.

Place the balls into the prepared steamer basket. Be sure they don’t touch, or they will stick together. Cover and steam for about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, but keep the lid in place. Let sit for another 10 minutes, or until the tapioca is translucent.

Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients, working in 2 more batches.

For the sauce:

In the meantime, make the coconut sauce. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Whisk well. Then add the pandan leaves to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Remove the pandan leaves.

Serve the tapioca balls with the sauce.

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