99% sure I get it from my mom, but I’m a control freak. A huge benefit I like with home cooking is control. You can control everything: the process, timing, ingredient proportions, quality of ingredients, cleanliness. Everything. I love eating out at restaurants, but control over all the little details pulls me back into cooking at home, just like with this dessert recipe.
Chè bắp is a Vietnamese dessert, and (almost) a one pot wonder, so it is incredibly simple to make on the stove. This one features lots of flavors I like in a single dessert: corn, pandan, and rich coconut cream.
This recipe makes enough to split into eight small bowls, but it easily scales up too. You can prepare this ahead of time, and reheat quickly for a tasty after dinner snack too!
The glutinous rice
The glutinous rice, which is sometimes called sweet rice provides the backbone, the bulk, the texture for this sweet dessert. Do not use regular long grain or even short grain rice which is sometimes known to be stickier-it is not the right type and the results won’t turn out right.
Cooking the rice just right is key for this recipe too since it makes up the bulk of this dessert. Cook it too much and you’ll have soup, too little and you’ll have starchy, crunchy grains. No good.
Sticky rice is used in lots of other desserts and savory recipes too. If you want to just learn how to cook this rice by itself, see my guide on how to easily, and flawlessly cook sticky rice.
Ratio-wise, good ol’ corn on the cob comes in second but is what the dessert is named after. Get some in-season corn that’s naturally sweet and you’ll add a much better flavor to this dish, instead of trying to compensate with sugar.
You can add raw corn kernels straight into the pot for this recipe instead of pre-cooking it. Check out my other post if you just want a quick corn snack by itself: how to microwave corn on the cob!
The pandan leaves
I’ve harped on the wonderful aroma and flavor of using real pandan leaves before in my recipes for banh kep (pandan pizzells), pandan sticky rice, and che choui (banana, coconut & tapioca dessert). This recipe also highlights the leaves wonderfully.
Get fresh leaves when you can, but more often you’ll be able to find good quality ones in the freezer section of your southeast Asian supermarket. It takes way too many leaves to get a green color dark enough so we do cheat a little with a drop or two of artificial pandan leaf extract.
If you’ve been to Vietnamese desserts shops you may have seen this dessert too, but it is typically clear and not green, with yellow corn, but rest assured it is the same dessert and it will be much better made fresh!
This recipe makes about 7-8 small bowls for you to share, or keep in the fridge and enjoy for about five days max. Make sure not to add the coconut cream topping until you’re ready to serve! I like keeping it a bit on the side so you can vary the proportions per bite, and the flavors remain a bit distinct vs. just mixing it all.