October 7, 2007
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Dessert
Tu Xuong Street
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Che Dau Hu – sweet tofu in a ginger syrup with coconut milk (2,000 VND)
Everyday from noon to 1:30 PM, the woman pictured above (wearing a flannel shirt and conical hat) sells sweet tofu outside my office on Tu Xuong Street. Every so often on my way back from lunch, I’ll take a seat on one of her especially stumpy stools and order a bowl.
Being a street vendor is backbreaking work, especially when the food has to be lugged around over one’s shoulders. The sweet tofu dealer carries a large pot of tofu on one side of her “pole” and the ginger syrup and coconut milk on the other.
When I place my order, she uses a wide and shallow metal spoon to scoop up a few chunks of the fresh tofu into a bowl and proceeds to douse it with syrup and coconut milk. I’ve previously blogged about my love for this treat, but what’s notable about her rendition is the employment of coconut milk. After trying sweet tofu with coconut milk on several occasions, I’ve concluded that I like mine better without. The creaminess of the milk is pleasant, but unnecessary because what I really dig is the spicy ginger.
You’d think in Saigon’s heat that a warm dessert would probably be the least desirable thing, but sometimes it just works.