Che Thai (Asian Fruit Cocktail)
This Asian dessert definitely tops my list of favorites! It’s incredibly easy to make and very refreshing on a warm day. This dessert traditionally uses coconut milk as the base and has shaved ice in it as well, but you can skip all that and still have a tasty little treat on your hands. You may also use any assortment of canned fruit that you like! The ones that I used in my tutorial are some of my favorites! Some other popular ones are toddy palm seeds and longan.
I prefer all milk (maybe with a little bit of half and half) because coconut milk tends to separate, the longer you let it sit. In the recipe written below, I offer you two ways to serve Che Thai.
1 can of seedless lychee drained and then halved
1 can of rambutan drained and then halved
1 can of jackfruit drained and then cut into bite size strips (I prefer fresh)
2 small jars of pineapple jelly drained
1 can of Asian green jello cut into strips (or make your own, recipe below)
Half a gallon of milk ( I use lactose free milk)
2 cups of half and half
1/4 cup-1/2 cup of *caster sugar (sweeten to taste)
liquid red food coloring (optional)
*caster sugar is super fine sugar. Run some white granulated sugar in a food processor or blender for one minute to make your own.
FOR THE FAUX POMEGRANATE SEEDS (red rubies):
8 ounce can of sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped (not too fine)
red food coloring
1 Tbsp of water
ice water bath
FOR THE HOMEMADE GREEN JELLO:
1 TBSP of agar agar powder
3 cups of hot water
1/4 cup of sugar
2 pinches of salt
1/2 tsp of *banana extract (optional)
*liquid green food coloring (or any color)
*you may sub the banana extract AND green food coloring for pandan extract. Pandan extract can be found in most Asian markets.
FOR THE COCONUT SAUCE (this option does not use any milk or half and half):
coconut milk (depending on how many servings you want, you’re going to need a lot)
sugar and salt to taste
1. Start off by making your jello. Add your agar agar powder and salt into a small saucepan and then pour in your hot water. Whisk until dissolved. Place your saucepan on the stove and turn to medium-medium high heat. Keep whisking and keep an eye on it as the mixture can boil over. Allow mixture to come to a quick rolling boil for 1 full minute, remove from heat and then add in your banana extract and a generous squeezing of green food coloring. Mix well. Pour mixture into a 9 inch pie dish (or something as shallow) and allow to cool slightly before moving jello into the fridge to firm completely. Once firm, cut into bite sized strips or cubes. You will not use all of the jello. Add a little or a lot depending on your preference.
2. If you are making the coconut sauce, make it now. Combine the above ingredients into a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add sugar to taste with a touch of salt. Allow to cool before using.
3. Boil a pot of water.
4. Take your chopped water chestnuts and place them into a non staining mixing bowl. Add in 1 Tbsp of water and then add a generous amount of red food coloring. Mix well. Add in your tapioca starch. Start off with a little bit, mix, and then gradually add enough until most of the red is coated evenly with tapioca starch. You should have very little red peeking through at this point. LIGHTLY sift your water chestnuts.
5. Get your ice water bath ready.
6. With your water at a HARD boil, add in your coated water chestnuts and cook them for about 3 minutes or until they all float to the surface. Remove and place them in your ice water bath UNTIL READY TO USE. Taking them out too soon will cause them to clump together.
7. Add all of your prepared fruit, jello, and faux pomegranate seeds into a nice serving bowl. Add in your milk and/or half and half, caster sugar to taste, and finally a few tiny drops of red food coloring (to make it pink). Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Option # 2
1. If serving this in individual cups, layer your fruits, jello, and faux pomegranate seeds, add in your coconut sauce, and then top it with shaved ice, shredded coconuts (optional), and then chia seeds. Mix well with a spoon before indulging.
* If you are using the coconut sauce as the base (and plan on using shaved ice), you must keep in mind that adding the ice will dilute the sauce so you will need to make the coconut sauce a little sweeter than you’d actually like.
* You may choose to save the syrup from the canned fruits and add them into your che thai as well. The syrup is very sweet though, so I would be very careful as to not overdo it when making this dessert. And if you plan on adding the canned syrup into a large serving bowl, keep in mind that with the syrup, the longer it sits in the milk, the sweeter it gets, especially when you get to the bottom of the bowl.
* The homemade jello in this doesn’t pack a lot of flavor, but just enough so that it isn’t too bland. You may choose to up the sugar if you wish, but in this dessert, the slightly sweetened milk will tie everything together.