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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kem Chuối (Banana Ice Cream Bars)

Have you ever tried Vietnamese Banana Ice Cream Bar with roasted peanuts and shredded coconut? It's very simple to make and actually tastes pretty good. I haven't had it for so long. It's not that bananas are rare  by any means in the U.S. It's just that we have abundant food here and sometimes forget the simple good old day food that we used to eat.

Banana ice cream bar (we called Kem Chuối) brings back so much memories from my precious childhood in Vietnam. Since 3rd grade besides going to school, everyday a few of my close friends and I walked to our tutors's houses for Math, Vietnamese and English.  After our tutoring session over we often walked to a dessert house for yogurts, banana ice cream bars and glasses of cold water.

During the summer time, my neighbor friends and I made kem chuối at her house and sold them to the other kids.  We didn't make much profit but we enjoyed being little entrepeneurs.
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RECIPE: Banana Ice Cream Bar (Kem Chuối)
Make: 4-8 banana ice cream bars
4 ripe apple bananas or any types of banana, peeled
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 tablespoon or more of fresh durian (optional)
1/2 cup of roasted peanuts or roasted pecan, chopped
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
plastic food wrap

4 bamboo sticks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon tapioca flour + 2 teaspoon water, mixed it
Prepare Coconut Milk
Bring coconut milk, salt and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Coconut milk should taste sweet and a little bit salty. Do a taste test and adjust sugar and salt if needed.  When coconut milk starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium.  Stir the mixed tapioca flour, slowly pour it into the saucepan and constantly stir it for a few seconds. Coconut milk needs to be thicker.  Remove from heat. Pour it on a plate. Let it cool down. If used durian, add it to mixed coconut. Mix it well. 

frozen grated coconut (white bag)
Assemble Banana
Use spatula to press a whole banana down.  If you want to make a smaller size of banana bar, split a banana into 2 pieces and press it down. Dip it in coconut plate, sprinkle shredded coconut and roasted peanuts or roasted pecan. Repeat it on the other side of banana.  Stick a bamboo stick in the middle of banana.  Wrap banana with plastic food wrap.  Freeze it until firm.
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I made 2 kinds of dip: coconut and durian coconut

Bananas are ready to freeze.

My girls are enjoying delicious Kem Chuối.'s too cold!

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*The orange stripes you see on the banana ice cream bars (picture shown on top of the page) are carrot stripes. If used carrots, shred carrots into thin stripes. Sprinkle carrot stripes on the banana.


  1. A friend of mine showed me your blog, and I was instantly wowed! I grew up in Vietnam as well (Binh Duong), so seeing a lot of the dishes you featured brought back really nice childhood memories. ;) We used to make kem chuoi at home all the time! I haven't had these since forever, though.

    Your pictures are fantastic! The colors bring out the complexity of flavors in real Vietnamese food, and I really like how you incorporated traditional Vietnamese cooking methods with American ingredients like mahi mahi. I've been looking around for good fish dishes, so I'll definitely give that a try!

    Your daughters are so cute, btw!


  2. Hi Jeanne,
    thank you for your compliments. I hope these dishes will not only fill your belly but also let you reminisce about the good old days.

  3. Hi Chi, i'm searching for Kem Chuoi and your blog is show up. Thanks for sharing all the good food. Can i use Chuoi Gia Huong instead of Apple Banana?

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Hi there,
    You can use Chuoi Gia Huong too. Have fun making it.

  6. can I use rice flour as a substitute for tapioca starch?