Vietnamese rainbow coconut dessert is a refreshing vegan-friendly recipe that is very popular in Vietnam. The ingredients that make up this beautiful dessert are mung bean paste, faux pomegranate seeds, jelly, canned Asian fruits and coconut milk. This dessert is a definite crowd pleaser and is good to have all year round.
My Vietnamese rainbow coconut dessert recipe is based off this recipe here by NPFamily Recipes. It’s something I’ve eaten many times at Scruff’s mum’s house, but not anything I had ever tried making myself. This dish can be a real labour of love as there are a few different components to make, but the happiness it brings when I finally get to sit down to slurp this up makes it well worth it.
Making this efficiently
There are four separate components that need to be prepared for this dish, so it’s worth taking some care in how you approach this so you’re not in the kitchen for hours.
If you plan on making this in one go, follow the ordering I have below in the recipe, which is:
- Make the jelly while the mung beans are soaking.
- Make the coconut sauce while the mung beans are cooking.
- Make the mung bean paste.
- Make the pomegranate seeds last.
This will make the most of non-active cooking time, while ensuring the jelly and coconut sauce have time to set and chill.
If you’d rather make things bit by bit, know that each component will keep for about three days in the fridge, so you can spread your work out. If you’re doing it this way make the pomegranate seeds last – they will still be safe to eat after three days but they do lose their texture after a while.
Notes on ingredients
Mung bean paste – the mung bean paste should be soft and smooth Make sure the beans are fully cooked before blending, and stir through some of the reserved coconut sauce as this helps prevent the paste from drying out.
Aloe vera jelly – this is very easy to make, it’s just aloe vera juice with some agar agar (a vegan-friendly version of gelatin). You can substitute the aloe vera juice for water and 1.5 tsp of sugar for a plainer version, or you can skip making your own jelly altogether and buy canned grass or aiyu jelly.
Pomegranate seeds – The best way to store is in a container with just enough water to cover the seeds. The seeds will try to stick together, but having less water will make it easier to dislodge.
Sugar syrup – you can either make your own sugar syrup, or do what I do and repurpose the syrup that comes with the canned fruit. We prefer the taste of the canned longan syrup but you can also use the canned jackfruit syrup.
Ice – You must have a decent amount of ice to dilute the sugar syrup. If not, it will be way too sweet.
Extras – other things you can add include toddy palm seed, lychees, tapioca pearls/zigzags, whipped cream, and aiyu or grass jelly.
Recipe Costing (Australian)
This table shows how much this recipe will cost if you had to go out and buy everything on the ingredients list (“Shop Price”), as well as the value of ingredients actually used in the recipe (“Recipe Cost”).
We haven’t included optional ingredients or small quantities of salt, pepper or sugar as the cost would be negligible. All prices are in Australian dollars and are based off what was published on Coles Online or Woolworths Online as at time of writing.
|Ingredient||Quantity Bought||Shop Price||Recipe Needs||Recipe Cost|
|Dried mung beans||375 gm||$2.60||85 gm||$0.59|
|Aloe vera juice||1.5 L||$4.30||250 ml||$0.72|
|Coconut milk||400 ml||$1.50||400 ml||$1.50|
|Water chestnuts||225 gm||$1.25||225 gm||$1.25|
|Tapioca starch||500 gm||$1.50||50 gm||$0.15|
|Pandan extract||60 ml||$2.00||2.5 ml||$0.08|
|Red food colouring||50 ml||$1.10||0.6 ml||$0.01|
|Canned jackfruit||565 gm||$2.90||283 gm||$1.45|
|Canned longans||565 gm||$3.50||283 gm||$1.75|
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Vietnamese Rainbow Coconut Dessert
Mung bean paste
- 1/2 cup dried split mung beans, (the ones with the husk removed and are yellow)
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp reserved coconut sauce see below
Aloe vera jelly
- 1 cup aloe vera juice (Note 1)
- 1/2 tsp agar agar
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 225 gm canned sliced water chestnuts, cut into small chunks (Note 2)
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1/2 tsp pandan extract (or substitute with green food colouring)
- 4 drops red food colouring
- ice cubes for ice bath
- Canned jackfruit, cut into strips
- Canned longans
- reserved syrup from canned longans
- ice cubes / shaved ice
Mung bean paste
Rinse the mung beans, then cover with just-boiled water and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. While waiting make the aloe vera jelly.
Drain and rinse, then boil in a saucepan for 15 minutes. While boiling make the coconut sauce.
Drain, then add the sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Use a stick blender to process until smooth.
Stir through a tablespoon of the coconut sauce, then refrigerate.
Aloe vera jelly
Heat the aloe vera juice in a small saucepan until close to boiling point.
Add the agar agar, and whisk over medium heat for two minutes.
Pour into a container, leave for ten minutes or so to cool, then cover and refrigerate.
Once set, cut into thin strips.
Put all ingredients into a pot, heat over medium-high heat and stir until thickened (about four minutes). Pour into a jug, then refrigerate.
Chop the water chestnuts into small pieces, about the size of a pomegranate seed. Divide into two bowls.
Add the red food colouring to one bowl, and the green food colouring to the other bowl. Mix using separate spoons until each seed is completely coloured.
Add 1/4 cup of tapioca starch into each bowl, and stir until coated. Place the seeds into a sieve so that excess flour can be shaken off, then place seeds into a clean bowl. The one bowl for both colours is fine at this point.
Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil, and prepare an ice bath by placing ice cubes into a bowl and adding cold water.
Once the water is boiling, use your fingers to drop the pomegranate seeds in a few at a time. Stir to prevent seeds from sticking.
The seeds will be cooked once they start to float, and the water has returned to the boil – about a minute or so. Once cooked use a slotted spoon to remove and place immediately in the ice bath.
After five minutes or so in the ice bath, transfer to a clean container and add just enough water to cover, then refrigerate.
The dessert can be assembled once the jelly has set, and the coconut sauce has chilled. For best results assemble right before serving.
Layer the ingredients in a drinking glass as follows, starting from the bottom layer: mung bean paste, jackfruit, aloe vera jelly, longans, pomegranate seeds, syrup from the canned longans, ice, then top off with the coconut sauce. Give everything a stir before eating.
- Can be substituted with 1 cup water and 1.5 tsp caster sugar.
- Can be substituted with whole chestnuts, you’ll just need to do more chopping.