Jackfruit and ‘pomegranate’ in coconut soup (chè mít hạt lựu) recipe

Posted on July 3, 2013

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I always knew that I would love pomegranate, even before I ever tried the fruit. It sounds strange, but it’s because I spent a large portion of my childhood eating and loving imitation pomegranate (hạt lựu)! (Top photo of just the pomegranate seeds is courtesy of http://www.52kitchenadventures.com/2010/11/09/how-to-de-seed-a-pomegranate-and-not-make-a-mess/)

pomegarate real vs imitation

Though I didn’t actually know those jellies were meant to be imitation pomegranate when I was a kid because I never knew the meaning of its Vietnamese name. Our family always referred to them as “the crunchy red jellies that MissC likes”. Thanks to the interwebs, I finally discovered what hạt lựu means and now understand why I had a pre-concious love for pomegranate. A byproduct of my research has even taught me how to make these little things, so you dear reader are in for a treat!

Before I go on to overhype them, I must tell you that jellies don’t taste anything like pomegranate and actually have little to no taste of their own. They are usually served in desserts to add texture. Hạt lựu is probably most commonly served in a jelly and coconut milk drink called sương sa hạt lựu which is very similar to the 3 colour drink, but with a different mix of sweeten beans and jellies. I love the c (sweet drink/soup/dessert) stands in Vietnam because they always feature a range of beans and jellies so that you can assemble your own combination of flavours and textures.

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My favourite drink is actually the ‘4 colour’, when they add the hạt lựu to the regular 3 colour concoction. Most Vietnamese establishments in Melbourne don’t offer the 4 colour drink for whatever reason, but the take home 4 colour drink packs that some Asian grocers sell usually include hạt lựu with the chendol and beans.

Chè mít hạt lựu translates to ‘sweet soup of jackfruit and imitation pomegranate’; it is one of the many ways to enjoy hạt lựu and is very easily reproduced at home. It can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled (with ice shavings). A dessert for all seasons! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do :).

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The below recipe makes quite a bit of hạt lựu, depending on how small you dice the water chestnut. You can store them drained in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days if you don’t use them all up in the one go. You can colour the hạt lựu in any hue you like or if you don’t like using colouring, you can leave it colourless. Red is the most classic colour for obvious reasons. I made 2 colours just for fun.

Canned water chestnut and canned jackfruit were used when I made this recipe, both of which can be found at an Asian grocer. If you can get your hands on the fresh varieties, by all means go for it. Fresh jackfruit can occasionally be found in the markets, but I’ve never come across fresh water chestnut in Melbourne before so if you know where they are sold, do let me know. I used the Kara brand of pure coconut cream (contains 99% of coconut content and a couple of acid stablisers). You may need to adjust the dilution factor if the coconut cream you use has a lower coconut content. It is also a matter of taste and how rich you want the soup to be. You can use any type of sugar, here I used palm sugar.

RECIPE – Jackfruit and ‘pomegranate’ in coconut soup (chè mít hạt lựu)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can water chestnut drained
  • ~6 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • a few drops red food colouring
  • a few drops pandan paste (this serves as the green colouring while adding a beautiful fragrance)
  • 1 can jackfruit drained and sliced
  • 100mL pure coconut cream
  • 2 pandan leaves tied in a knot
  • ~200mL water
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of palm sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Dice water chestnut, as finely or as chunky as you like (they don’t even need to be uniform in size, I actually like the look of different sized jellies so this is really a personal preference).
  2. Divide diced water chestnuts into 2 small bowls. In one bowl add in a few drops of red food colouring and mix well. In the other bowl add in a few drops of pandan paste and mix well.IMG_6818
  3. In each of the bowls, add ~3 tablespoons of heaped tablespoons of tapioca starch or enough to thoroughly coat water chestnut pieces. Shift away excess starch.IMG_6819
  4. Prepare an ice water bath and reserve.
  5. To cook the hạt lựu, blanch the starch coated water chestnut pieces in a pot of rapidly bowling water for ~1 minute or until they float to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to collect cooked hạt lựu and immediately place them in the ice water bath. You can leave the jellies in the water bath until you are ready to use them, however don’t leave them in there for too long (up to a couple of hours is fine) as they will lose their colour.
  6. To prepare coconut soup, place coconut cream, pandan leaves, water, sugar and salt into a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has completely dissolved. If serving dessert cold, leave coconut soup to sit until it cools to room temperature.IMG_6820
  7. To assemble dessert, place sliced jackfruit in the base of a glass, top with hạt lựu then spoon over the sweet coconut soup. Mix well and enjoy!chemithatluu

It’s very easy to make, but for some reason is lengthy to explain. I still remember being amazed that they managed to encase a crunchy thing in the centre of a jelly when I was a kid. Who knew they’d be this easy to make?

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