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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bánh Tằm Khoai Mì (Cassava Silkworm Cake)

It's been raining cats and dogs here in Sacramento; we needed that. My girls decided to create their own fun by putting on their raincoats and boots to go splashing puddles in the backyard while the rain confined me to the kitchen all day.  I made the most of it and kept my kitchen very busy. By day's end, there were mứt dừa (candied coconut ribbons), bánh bao (pork buns), Cá Nướng Vỉ (grilled salmon), and Bánh Tằm Khoai Mì (Cassava Silkworm Cake).
Bánh Tằm Khoai Mì  is one of the dishes that I had spent a lot of time experimenting to get the right texture but I wasn't a hundred percent satisfied.  As you will see in the series of pictures, my girls and I attempted to make this many times. And on a rainy day like Saturday, I was determined to try it again. Finally, I think I found the right balance; here is the recipe for you to try out.  

Bánh tằm khoai mì's texture is somewhat chewy and soft; it's blended in the richness of coconut milk and covered with a layer of grated coconut. When eaten, sprinkle bánh tằm khoai mì with some roasted sesame seeds and peanuts mixed in salt and sugar to enhance the flavor of it.

The name Bánh (cake) Tằm (silkworm) is a description of what it resembles from its appearance.  Bánh Tằm Khoai Mì is made out of Cassava root which is a vegetable that's a  main staple of southern Vietnamese diet.

This Cassava Silkworm Cake can be fun to make with your little ones. They'll have a blast getting their hands onto the goo and adding the colors to the cassava mixture.  As you can see how much fun my girls and their friends had in choosing their favorite colors.

RECIPE: Cassava Silkworm Cake
Printable Recipe


1 (16 oz) bag frozen grated cassava
2 tablespoons Tapioca Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Coconut Milk 
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 bag Vanilla Sugar or 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Powder
1/2 (16 oz) bag of Grated Coconut, I prefer grated coconut over shredded coconut
For Roasted Sesame Seeds Mixture
6 tablespoons Roasted Sesame Seeds 
Roasted Peanuts, optional
1 teaspoon Salt
4 tablespoons Sugar

Preparing Grated Coconut

Steam grated coconut for about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
Preparing Roasted Sesame Seeds

Slightly crush the roasted sesame seeds or roasted peanuts or both in a mortar with a pestle to release the nutty aroma of sesame seeds or roasted peanuts then mix with salt and sugar.  You can also place sesame seeds in a ziploc and slightly crush it.  Set aside.

Preparing Cassava

Squeeze cassava with both hands until the liquid stops coming out. In a bowl, add in cassava, tapioca flour, sugar, salt, vanilla and coconut milk.  Stir until the batter is well blended. 

If add food colors, divide the cassava mixture into small bowls. The numbers of bowls depend on how many colors you choose.   For 1 bag of frozen cassava, I use 2 of the 9 inch pans.  You can use one color per pan.

For green, I prefer to use pandan paste which has a nice sweet and unique aroma instead green food color.

 Pour cassava mixture into 2 cake pans.

Give it a shake to even out the mixture.

Steaming Cassava Cake

Bring the water in a steamer to a boil.  Steam on medium high for about 6 minutes or until cassava becomes transparent.  Let it cool before cutting.

Cutting the Cake

Cut the cassava cake into thin strips and roll them in the grated coconut.


Serve cassava silkworm with roasted sesame seeds mixture.

Ăn Ngon!  Eat Well!


  1. Hi Ms. Loan, I finally got my hands on a package of banh bot loc flour! In your recipe, you call for 1 cup of boiling water mixed in with the flour but the package calls for 1 1/2 cup cold water then 2 cups boiling water in the mix. Should I ignore the package directions and go with yours? Thank you!

  2. I think their recipe is for Banh bot loc wrapped in banana leave which requires more water.

  3. Hi Loan, if I were to make these Banh Tam Khoai Mi, is it mandatory to consume them all in one day or can ai put some away in the fridge for later? How many days can I store them if they're storeable? And also, do I have to re-heat when consuming them (from fridge storing) ? Thanks

  4. Hi Vicki,
    you can store banh in the fridge for about a week.
    You might need to re-heat if it harden.
    Don't add roasted peanut if you decide to store it in the fridge.

  5. Food look good but it will get contamination when you wrapped it with newspaper. Ink from newspapers can cause cancer.

    1. It's newspaper print deli sandwich wrap paper.

  6. Can I use the oven with water bath instead of steamer? I don't have a large steamer so it takes too long. What temperature and length of time should I experiment with the oven? Thanks

    1. I haven't tried the water bath so I don't have any tips to share with you. However, you can use a small bowl in the bottom of a large pot or make 3 large equal-sized balls out of aluminum foil and arrange in a triangle in the bottom of a pot. Place a baking pan or a heat-proof plate on top. Fill the pot with water up to just below the plate, bring to a boil and cover. Hope this helps!