Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bubur Cha Cha

bubur chacha
Bubur cha cha, a simple yet yummy dessert of colorful sweet potatoes and taro cooked in coconut milk.

Ming is home and the family is complete. Not counting 1 1/2 years ago when we were in Melbourne for Yi's graduation, our family has not been together for 2 years, so this is a wonderful time. I feel the difference in my 2 older kids. They aren't teens anymore. I feel relieved and a little sad about that.

Ming was telling me about a popular show in Aussieland right now, Master Chef. In one of the episodes, an Asian contestant boiled sweet potatoes in coconut milk and the distinguished judges--professional chefs--were amazed with his cooking creativity and skills. It was hilarious, said Ming. Every Asian knows that dessert. In Malaysia, it's called bubur cha cha. The Thais use pumpkin, Viets add bananas to the sweet potatoes and Indonesians like their bubur cha cha with colored glutinous rice balls.

We get sweet potatoes in white, yellow, orange, light purple and dark purple. To me, there are 3 essential ingredients to making a fantastic pot of bubur (a Malay word for thick soup or congee) cha cha and they are pandan leaves, taro and fresh thick coconut milk. I sometimes make bubur cha cha the Chinese way, like my dad, with sweet potatoes, taro, fresh ginger and brown sugar but that will give a nice, refreshing dessert. Pour in some santan or coconut milk and it turns the dessert from nice to awesome. Santan is to Asia what dairy cream is to western countries. We add santan to soups, veg, drinks, curries, our pancakes, our kuihs, our cakes and our jellies. When it comes to santan, especially for desserts, I am very stubborn: it has to be fresh santan, straight from the coconut. For cooking savory dishes such as curries, I may use canned santan but that is only if I really can't get fresh grated coconut, which is unusual because they are found in most grocers.

You can add large sago pearls to the bubur but I find it a bother to have to cook them separately so I always use the tiny sago pearls. Sago pearls thicken the bubur and are fun to eat and look at (they turn totally transparent). One mistake I always used to make was cooking the sweet potatoes and taro for too long. I've found that it only takes 10 minutes to cook these tubers until tender. Immersed in a pot of hot liquid, the potatoes continue to cook even after the heat is taken off and by the time the bubur is cool, the potatoes are usually mushy and all broken up. Bubur cha cha tastes best when you let it sit a while after cooking, so the best time to eat it is when the bubur is lukewarm.

Note: I checked Nee's post on bubur cha cha and she steams her sweet potatoes and taro until they are tender and then add them to the boiled santan/coconut milk. This way the potatoes will not be too mushy (ensures perfect texture) but their flavor will not be infused into the santan so it's up to you what you want.

bubur chacha1

Bubur Cha Cha (makes a huge pot)
2 kg mix of sweet potatoes and taro
grated flesh of 3 coconuts
5 pandan leaves
sugar to taste
1/2 cup tiny sago pearls

1. Peel and cut the potatoes and taro into 2.5 cm chunks. Wash and tie the pandan leaves into a knot. Add 2 cups of room temp water into the grated coconut, 'massage' and knead the coconut so that the milk released is thick (sometimes called coconut cream). Squeeze out the milk and strain it into a large bowl. Add 1 liter of room temp water again to the grated coconut, massage and knead again. Squeeze the thinner milk through a sieve into the thicker milk. Put aside.

2. Put the pandan leaves into a large pot (doesn't have to be a thick-base pot because it retains too much heat) and add 1 1/2 liter water to boil for 10 minutes. Remove the leaves.

3. Now add the unwashed sago, sweet potatoes and taro, stirring well to mix. Add enough water if necessary to just cover the potatoes. Add enough sugar to just sweeten the soup; not too much because the milk will add more sweetness. Let the bubur simmer for another 5-7 minutes (stir once in a while) and then add the milk. When the bubur heats through but not boil, switch off the heat and let it sit covered for about 10 minutes. The sago pearls may still have some white uncooked starch in their center but this will turn transparent as the bubur cools.

You can add a pinch of salt if like but I think it's good not to salt everything, especially soupy desserts.


Precious Pea said...

I remember someone taught me before to steam those sweet potatoes and taro separately instead of dumping it into the pot. Cannot remember the justification behind, maybe so that it won't turn mushy??

PureGlutton said...

Yumms - i love Bubur Cha Cha! But must have a big group of ppl to eat this as just cannot cook a small pot of it!

foodbin said...

looks yummy.

terri@adailyobsession said...

pp: yes, tt's the reason but d potatoes will not have the flavor of pandan n coconut IN them.

pureglut:y're right. we couldn't finish the pot of bubur, i forgot to put it in the fridge overnight n it went bad :(

foodbin: yes, it Was yummy. i find any dessert with fresh santan very yummy.

worldwindows said...

One of my favourite dessert. I find the Thai and the Vietnamese variety much better than what I get here. Maybe people are busy for desserts or go for ice-cream.

jimctang said...

some specialists reckoned that pawpaw, sweet potato, and xxx are the best three food for human.
you got two of them... .
is that yellow pawpaw ???

Anonymous said...

no it's not pawpaw. u idi,,

Anonymous said...

no it's not pawpaw. u idi,,

Simply June said...

Terri, I found out that Filipinos have similar dessert too and they call it "Ginataang Halo Halo". They however add Jackfruit and also Plantains to theirs. Taste was quite similar.

wmw said...

Bubur Cha Cha! Yummy!

terri@adailyobsession said...

worldwindows: i'm drooling at ur durian photos! how come ur durian season started so early? ours just started this week..

jim: no, tt's orange sweet potato. what is the xxx? yes, pawpaw/papaya is a very good fruit, according to our family doc

anon: tt is so not nice.

simply: mmm..sounds yumm

ugwug: yes, yummy!

Agnes said...

My kind of comfort food! :D

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