Che thap cam
What is che thap cam?
The Vietnamese dish che thap cam is a sweet, liquid dish (che) made from coconut milk with mixed beans (thap cam, or “anything”). The dish usually contains small red aduki beans, which themselves have a sweet, nutty flavour – perfect for dessert. Other popular che thap cam beans are white beans and mung beans.
The beans are sometimes hidden in balls of glutinous rice and served floating in a sweet ginger soup. The dish is then called che troi nuoc.
It is likely that the Sino-Cantonese tradition of tong sui (richly filled, sweet dessert soup) was the inspiration for sweet Vietnamese che dishes. However, che is neither a soup nor custard or pudding. The dish is too filling to be a drink. Che is a category on its own and cannot be compared to anything else.
Did you know...
Vietnamese aren’t big dessert fans? They prefer to eat their che thap cam as a snack than as a dessert. After dinner, they usually just have some fresh fruit.
How to prepare che thap cam
The dried beans are first soaked for hours and then slowly cooked with pandan leaves, each ingredient in its own pan, until soft. Sugar is added and the remaining water in the pan is reduced to a bean-sugar syrup. The cooled beans are sometimes mixed in colourful layers, sometimes mixed in a glass, with some coconut milk and crushed ice. Sometimes agar-agar is added to the dish for a jelly-like effect.
How to eat
Pour the che thap cam into a tall glass, add some extra crushed ice (nice on hot days) and eat the beans with a spoon.
Why not try?
Another che on the Vietnamese menu is che chuoi, a banana-coconut pudding with tapioca grains. In Japan, aduki beans are also used in sweet dishes, for example, as a filling sandwiched between two pancakes (dorayaki).