Vietnamese Soy Milk Agar Pudding with Pandan Coconut Cream Milk and Ginger Syrup – Che Thach Dau Nanh

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The following pictorial recipe is an inspiration from my friend, Helen Tran’s soy milk agar pudding with ginger syrup and pandan flavored coconut cream milk.   I had the honor to taste her homemade version made from scratch during a Thanksgiving dinner and have been practicing making this.  It’s now my favorite Vietnamese dessert of all.  This is not tofu because tofu requires a coagulant to firm up.  Agar agar is a natural gelatinous thickening substance made from red algae.

The important key is using just enough of agar agar powder to thicken the soy milk so that it is not runny or too firm, but more like a mimic of tofu.  I made my soy milk from scratch.

Ingredients:

For the soy milk pudding:

  • 2 quart/liter fresh soy milk
  • 3/4 Tbsp (or a little less) agar agar powder

Note: Refer to my Pandan Flavored Soy Milk pictorial and omit the pandan extract and sugar to make the plain soy milk for this pudding recipe.

For the coconut cream milk:

  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut cream milk
  • 5-7 fresh pandan leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water

For the ginger syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 – 8 Tbsp (pieces) of pure palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup sliced ginger

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Direction:

1.  Make the soy milk.  Soak the 2 cups of raw soy beans for at 8 to 12 hours in 10 cups of water.  Refer to my Pandan Flavored Soy Milk recipe to make the soy milk.  Just omit the sugar and flavoring extract for this recipe.

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2.  Boil the soy milk with agar agar.  When you are ready to cook the raw soy milk, bring it to a light boil and lower to medium heat for five minutes.  Discard the bubbly scum or bubbly surface. Add in the agar agar powder and stir simultaneously for a minute.  I suggest to use anywhere from a half to no more than 3/4 tablespoon of agar agar.  Remove the pot from the heat and pour the soy milk with agar agar mixture into small cups.

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You can use glass or BPA free plastic containers.  I like to use the empty OUI French yogurt glass jars.  About 15 minutes after pouring the soy milk agar agar into containers, carefully discard the bean curd that builds up on the top surface.  Let cool and refrigerate to chill the soy milk agar agar pudding.

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2.  Make the pandan flavored coconut cream milk.  Wash and wipe the pandan leaves dry.  Cut it into small pieces and put it in a small sauce pan.  Pour in the coconut cream milk.  Cook on medium heat (#7 heat setting).  Stir occasionally.  When coconut milk boils, lower heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes to extract the pandan leaves.  The coconut cream milk won’t turn green but I finally figured using at least five or more leaves will bring out the nice pandan aroma and flavor.

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Pour in the 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cornstarch with water mixture into the coconut cream milk.  Stir with a whisk for a few seconds.  Quickly remove the coconut cream milk mixture from the heat and strain through a large mesh spoon to separate the pandan leaves.  Discard the pandan leaves and let the coconut cream milk mixture cool.  This suppose to taste slightly salty to balance out the sweet ginger syrup.

4.  Make the sweet ginger syrup.  In a small sauce pan, melt the 1.5 cups of light brown sugar and pure palm sugar with 1 cup of water on medium high heat.  When the sugar has melted, add in the sliced ginger. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until you reach desired thickness. Let cool and transfer to container.

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Once the soy milk agar pudding is chilled, top it off with some sweet ginger syrup and coconut cream milk mixture.  Stir and enjoy!  It’s now my newest addiction and my favorite dessert now.

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