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Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea, referred to as East Sea (Vietnamese: Biển Đông), to the east. With a population of over 86 million, Vietnam is the 13th most populous country in the world.

Banh khoai mi nuong - Cassava Coconut Vietnamese Cake


Bánh khoai mì nướng, literally baked cassava (or manioc) cake in Vietnamese, is a sticky, sweet cake. The cassava provides the starch, the coconut milk provides the fat, and condensed milk is used as a sweetener.  It's unlike any Western dessert you've ever tried.

Cassava
is a starchy tuberous root that is widely used in South America, Africa and Asia.  The flour made from the roots is called tapioca.


Ingredients

Yields: 6

6 cups Cassava (Manioc), shredded, tightly packed (650g)
3/4 cup split mung beans, dried
1 1/3 cup coconut milk
1 Tbs canola oil
1 14-oz can condensed milk
2 egg yolks (optional)
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs butter, at room temperature

Preparation

In a bowl wash the mung beans thoroughly. Pick out and discard any bad-shaped beans and little stones, then soak them for at least 3 hours before cooking. It's best to let the beans soak overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the mung beans in a sauce pan, barely cover with water and bring to a boil, then lower to medium-low heat and cook for 30 minutes. The beans should be soft and tender. Make a paste using either a mortar and pestle or a mixer. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until you get a pale yellow foam. If you're not using the egg yolks, just mix the sugar, vanilla extract, shredded cassava, the condensed and coconut milks, the pureed mung beans and oil. The mixture should be homogenous like a thick cake batter.

Coat the sides of 2 non-stick round cake pans with a thin layer of butter. Place a disk of wax paper in the bottom of the pan. Pour the cake mixture into the greased pans. Even the batter with a spatula and by gently lifting and dropping the baking pan several times.

Bake for about 10 minutes at 350°F, then lower the heat to 300°F and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

The edges of the cake should be slightly golden and dry. To test the doneness of the cake, poke with a toothpick. The toothpick should come out grainy, but not "liquid-y" at all.

Remove the cake from the pan, place it on the serving dish and let it cool for at least 10 minutes.

Voilà !


Tips

You can find shredded cassava in the frozen section of any Asian store, well at least in California. Buy cassava that is originated from Thailand and not Vietnam. It's sweeter and starchier. Do not forget to thaw the root before using it in the batter. I usually drain the extra liquid using a cheesecloth.

If you cannot find the frozen product then peel 2 lbs of fresh cassava and soak the root in salted water for at least 30 minutes. Rinse thouroughly under tap water, then shred using a mandoline. Fill a bucket of water and place the shredded product in it. Fish out the shredded root. Do not discard the water. Let the water sit for 15-30 minutes so that the starch can settle at the bottom. Then discard the liquid. Gather the starch with the shredded cassava. Continue the instructions as stated.

I use the Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, the one with the picture of a white long-bearded old man. You can easily find it in Asian store, well at least it's very easy to find it in California. I find the sweetness of the condensed milk gives a good balance to the cake to my taste. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar to the cassava mixture.

The addition of the egg yolks gives a firmer texture to the cake. If you have egg-allergy like my little 9-year-old sister-in-law, the result will be a little mushier.


I use the AROY-D coconut milk brand. It has no preservatives and it is very convenient, they sell it in 8.5 oz little package (which is about 1 cup).

You can find split mung beans in any Asian store. You can also find this product in Indian stores, it's called mung dahl.

The end product should have a slightly firmer consistency if you use egg yolks. If you have egg allergy, it's not all that necessary.

NOTE: To get a more coconut-y flavor, you can add one cup of unsweetened grated coconut and 3/4 cup of evaporated milk to balance the batter.

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