This recipe comes to me courtesy of my parents' close friends, who are Vietnamese, but beats me where they got it from. Che Thai is sold often in Vietnamese snack shops, so I'm thinking that this is a Vietnamese version of thab tim kraap. Someone care to enlighten me? Otherwise I'll just have to make it a point to ask hubby's cousin one of these days.
Here are the ingredients you'll need for this delicious dessert. This makes a catering sized pot of the che, large enough to serve a party of thirty or so. Be prepared to eat this for a week and gain a few pounds if you're not willing to cut down the ingredient amounts accordingly. Also, although I used canned fruits, kudos to you if you can find and afford fresh ones!
5 quarts of water
red and green food coloring, five drops each
1 package of agar agar powder (6 oz, makes six cups of agar agar)
2 cans of jackfruit (20 oz. each can)
2 cans of longan (20 oz. each can)
1 can toddy palm seed whole or sliced in syrup (20 oz.)
2 cans sliced water chestnuts (8 oz. each can)
16 oz. coconut cream (you can substitute coconut milk also)
12 oz. rock sugar
14 oz. tapioca starch
First you'll need to prepare the agar agar. Prepare it according to the package, chill, and then cut the agar into thin matchsticks. My mom usually grates these with a special wavy peeler that she got at an Asian supermarket and then cuts them up into thinner strips. Since I couldn't find my peeler, I just cut it up with a knife.
Next comes the fun part (not). Dice up the water chestnuts into centimeter sized pieces. Then the actual fun part (really!). Place half of the water chestnuts in a bowl that won't stain and add in enough water to cover them. Add in about five drops of the green food coloring. In another bowl, do the same with the other half of the water chestnuts but add in the red food coloring. Let these sit while you prepare the fruits.
Dice up the jackfruits and cut the longans into smaller pieces (halves or quarters). Rinse the toddy palm seeds to remove as much of the syrup as you can.
Now remove the water chestnuts from their food coloring, rinse them off, and then add enough tapioca starch to cover them with a nice coating.
Bring the pot of five quarts of water to a boil and then add the rock sugar and the tapioca balls in. Once the tapioca balls start floating to the top, you can start adding in all the fruits and the coconut cream. Stir well and then refrigerate until chilled.
When I'm ready to serve, I will usually add in some ice cubes to keep it really cold. So you see this is a very time consuming dessert to make, so I don't do it often. I'm filing this under Vietnamese until I find out more about its origin (if I ever do).Andrea at Viet World Kitchen also has a version of Che Thai that employs real pomegranate seeds. Yum!