Vietnamese Tri-Colour Desert (Nab Vam)

  • coconut milk (can, carton or fresh)
  • Crushed ice
  • 480 ml (2 cups) of sugar & 240 ml (1 cup) of water

For Green layer:
  • 85 gm (3 oz) agar-agar powder 
  • 480 ml (2 cups) of pandan extract 
  • 240 ml (1 cup) of water

For Yellow layer:
  • 240 ml (1 cup) of dry yellow mung beans
  • 120 ml (½ cup) of sugar
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) tapioca starch
  • 120 ml (½ cup) coconut milk

For Red layer:
  • A few drops of red food coloring
  • 450 gm (16 oz) of water chestnuts 
  • 480 ml (2 cups) of tapioca starch

  1. Soak yellow mung beans for 2 hours. 
  2. Prepare the green layer by boiling the pandan extract and water in a pot. Stir in the powder and stir for 2 minutes then transfer it into a square pan and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  3. During the wait, start the red layer. Boil about 2 quarts of water. 
  4. Rinse the water chestnuts and quarter each (cut each into 4 equal parts).  Once the water starts boiling, mix a few drops of red color into the water chestnuts, then coat the water chestnuts with tapioca starch thoroughly on a strainer, sifting excess tapioca. They should be coated as well as a powdered donut. 
  5. Immediately put handfuls of coated water chestnuts into the boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes. 
  6. Gently scoop the water chestnuts with a big spoon and transfer them into a bowl of ice cold water and set aside. (you do this to keep them from sticking onto each other). you are now done with the red layer.
  7. Now, prepare the syrup. In a small pot, bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Stir constantly for a minute then transfer it into a bowl and chill in the fridge.
  8. When the yellow mung beans are done soaking, steam them for 20 minutes in a steamer. 
  9. During this wait, take out the green jelly of the square pan. It should slide out easily. This particular jello makes cutting eating. 
  10. The easy way to make thin green jelly strips, is to cut as thin as u can vertically, then horizontally. 
  11. Transfer them into a bowl and set aside. you are now done with the green layer
  12.  When the yellow mung beans are cooked, transfer them into a bowl and pour the rest of the “yellow layer” ingredients into the bowl and mix with a hand beater (or a blender) for just a minute. you are now done with the yellow layer.
  13.  Finally, you can mix everything in a big bowl similar to a trifle or prepare individual glass cups. For individual glass cups, layer top to bottom: yellow, green, red layer and then crushed ice, with a couple spoonfuls of the syrup and coconut milk.