Sweet corn and sticky rice pudding (chè bắp) recipe

Posted on October 11, 2013

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I’m not one of those highly organised people who goes to the market with a shopping list. The only time I ever really have a list is when I want to make a specific dish that contains ingredients I don’t usually have around the house. I shop mainly based on what’s on sale and looks the most appealing at the time. To put a hipster spin to it, I could say that I shop based on seasonal produce. Because let’s face it – seasonal produce is cheaper. Nice to know that what’s good for the environment is also good for my hip pocket. However this method of shopping sometimes leaves me with a predicament where I’d end up with things I haven’t decided on how to use/eat…

Recently this meant a few cobs of sweet corn were stranded in the fridge and demanding my attention. I was half contemplating making a sweet corn ice cream, but I wanted a quick sugar hit, not something that would require any waiting time. Which led me to make a version of chè bắp – a Vietnamese based sweet corn pudding. And that is the beauty of most Asian style sweet soups/desserts; they tend to be relatively quick and easy to make. It’s not tricky like how baking can sometimes be, it’s simple and you can pretty much make things up as you go along.

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So yes, the recipe below is made up by yours truly. There are many versions of chè bắp around the web, but the key ingredients of corn, water, coconut milk and sugar remain constant. The 2 biggest variations are what base or ‘bulking’ ingredient you want to use to complement the corn, and whether you cook the pudding with coconut milk or serve it as a separate sauce. In regards to the base ‘bulking’ ingredient, I chose to use glutinous rice (sticky rice) but other recipes may use tapioca pearls instead or even split mung beans (as preferred by Luke Nguyen) . I also like to make the coconut sauce separately as this allows me to customise the level of creaminess for each individual serve of chè bắp.

IMG_7540If you haven’t tried chè bắp before, sweet corn season would be a good time to start. And judging by the market prices, I’d say sweet corn is back in season for us Aussies! Hint hint ;).

RECIPE – Sweet corn and sticky rice pudding (chè bắp) serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 cobs sweet corn (or approximately 2 cups of corn kernels)
  • 1/3 cup glutinous rice (sticky rice) soaked in water for ~2hours and drained
  • 750mL water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pandan leaves knotted (optional)

Coconut sauce:

  • 250mL coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pandan leaves knotted
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 tablespoon water
  • toasted white sesame seeds for garnishing

Method:

  1. Cut corn kernels from the cobs.
  2. Place half of the corn kernels in a blender or food processor and puree until it resembles creamed corn. Reserve.IMG_7518
  3. Place pre-soaked, drained glutinous rice in a medium pot with water, sugar, salt and knotted pandan leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low to medium simmer with the lid ajar (sticky rice can boil over if the pot is completely covered). Cook for ~20 minutes.
  4. Add pureed corn and corn kernels into the pot and continue to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes. The pudding is cooked once the rice is tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Allow pudding to stand for ~5 minutes, the pudding will thicken further as it is cooling.IMG_7529
  5. While the corn pudding is cooling, prepare the coconut sauce by placing coconut milk, sugar, salt and pandan leaves in a small pot and warming on low heat. In a separate small bowl, mix together 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/2 tablespoon of water to form a slurry. Once the sugar and salt has dissolved, add in cornstarch slurry. Continue to heat and stir the mixture until the sauce has thickened.IMG_7520
  6. To serve, ladle corn and sticky rice pudding into individual bowls, pour over as much (or as little) coconut sauce as preferred and top with toasted sesame seeds. I’m accustomed to having chè bắp warm, but serving it at room temperature can work.IMG_7528

Yum and it so wholesome too. I’d like to think that this is a pretty healthy dessert. There’s a stack of fruit (or is corn considered a vegetable..?) and not too much sugar. Love the smell of this in the house. And it tastes exactly the way it smells; fresh, light and sweet. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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