Three color dessert – Nab Vam

Three color drink - Nab Vam
Three color drink - Nab Vam

There are so many different ingredients you could add into making this sweet tricolor dessert. It’s the same idea as choosing your toppings for your ice cream cone. The Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Hmong and other southeast asian minorities make this dessert as each add different items into the dessert. Usually at big parties, Hmong people would mix all ingredients together in a big bowl, and would pour ladles of the dessert into individual bowls or cups. However, you can serve it any way you like by color coding in a classy glass cup or just by mixing everything in a big bowl to serve a big crowd. There are many variations on making nab vam, and this recipe will guide you into the basic way the Hmong people like to make NabVam, the multicolor sweet drink.

Preparation: 10 minutes. Cooking: 40 minutes

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 14 oz tapioca pearls, multicolor bag– Use only half of this Bag
  • 8 oz tapioca strings – use half of the Bag
  • 1/2 can of coconut –For desserts (preferably Aroy-D brand) (see Image 1 below)
  • 1/2 can of green jello, cubed – found on the canned fruits & powder jello aisle (see Image 1a below)
  • 1cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to make the syrup
  • 1 TB of banana extract
  • optional: crushed ice or ~10 ice cubes
  1. Boil two separate pots on high heat. One pot should contain 3 quarts of water for the tapioca pearls, and the other smaller pot (for tapioca string) should contain about 2 quarts of water for the tapioca strings. Bring both to a boil first, and then slowly pour them into their pots and stir. Thoroughly stir the pot with the pearls continuously for the first couple of minutes. During this time also stir the pot of strings time to time. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes or until cook. The pot with the tapioca pearls should be done before the strings. take one pearl and bite into it-it is thoroughly cooked when you can easily bite into it without any effort. repeat this for the tapioca strings as well. it is important your tapiocas are soft, not rubber chewy!
  2. While you are waiting for your tapiocas to cook, take a couple minutes to prepare your green jello by cubing it then set aside in a bowl. Next prepare the syrup – In a pot, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil, an add 1 cup of sugar and mix until sugar dissolves. Set the small pot in the freezer to let chill.
    Drain the tapioca pearls and strings in a strainer then with your hands gently rinse the hot tapioca strings through running cold water from the kitchen faucet then set aside (Image 2 below).
  3. In a big mixing bowl, mix all ingredients in with 10 ice cubes but saving ¼ of the syrup. Taste, if desire add more syrup.

3 thoughts on “Three color dessert – Nab Vam

  1. I am so happy you got the website and the recipe. I wasn’t sure how to do it. Now I can make them for my kids and my church members for next potluck. Thanks for making it happen.

  2. there’s a few variation on how people make it. Some would use equal amounts of rice flour and potato starch. example:
    3/4 cups of rice flour (what taste good and soft)
    3/4 cup of potato starch (helps make it thick, chewy and not fall apart)
    5 cups of water

    Mix ingredients then divide into two batches. put in separate pots. in the first pot, add 15 drops of color (your choice). On medium low heat, stir for 10 minutes or until thickens. Then put on low heat.
    Now use a colander and a big bowl, and a potato ricer. fill the big bowl with ice cold water. add 1 cup of the thickened batter into potato ricer and squeeze out strings into the ice cold bowl of water. repeat this until you finish the pot of thickened batter.
    Repeat all steps with the second pot of batter (choose a diff. color for this one).

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