Our dear friend Vanna is the most amazing cook. Literally everything she makes is the best I’ve ever eaten – no matter what she’s cooking!
Last night she was in town and made supper for all of us, including one of my favorite desserts – Nam Van, and she shared the recipe with me.
Nam Van is a popular dessert in Southeast Asia, and it’s a fruity, coconut milky dessert that’s unlike anything you’ll ever try. More liquid than a pudding, it’s refreshing and not overly sweet. The green jelly make it a pretty light green color, too.
We are lucky to have a great Asian Market close by, so we were able to pick up all the components, but you can always order these items online as well. All the fruit and coconut milk was Arroy-D, and the green jelly is Chin Chin brand.
1/2 cup palm sugar (or 1/3 cup brown sugar)
1/2 cup water
1 can lychees in syrup (save lychee syrup)
1 can longans in syrup
1 can rambutans in syrup
1 can toddy palm seeds
1 can jackfruit in syrup
3 cups of coconut milk (We used Arroy-D cartons.)
2 cups ice
2 cans Green Jelly (We got Chin Chin brand)
1 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
1 cup fresh muskmelon chunks
Make a simple syrup with palm sugar and water, by heating them in a pan until it comes to the boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
Open all the cans of fruit. Drain the syrup and rinse all the fruit. Be sure to save the lychee syrup – you’ll add it back in later!
Palm seeds are oddly slick and sticky at the same time, but add a wonderful chewy texture. Don’t freak out – just put them in a colander and rinse them really well.
Place all rinsed, canned fruit into a large bowl.
Add the coconut milk, lychee syrup and about half the simple syrup. Stir the fruit gently until well mixed. Add ice and stir more until the mixture is a little chilled. Stir very gently and taste – adding more of the simple syrup as needed.
Shake the jelly out of the can, and cut it into 1/2″ cubes. Cut melons into chunks and add both to the coconut fruit mixture, again stirring very, very gently.
Refrigerate at least a couple of hours.
To serve, add a little crushed ice to a bowl or cup and fill with fruit and coconut mixture. The ice helps keep it cool.
You could probably save time by refrigerating the cans and carton of coconut milk overnight so they’re cold to start with. Still add ice to the mix and to the cup – this lightens the milk a bit.