Literally translated, Bến Tre means Bamboo Port. It is a small provience of Vietnam, located in the Mekong Delta. Bến Tre is famous of its coconuts. It's all things coconut.... even religion. Ông Đạo Dừa used to call this place home. He developed his own religion based on hòa hảo which united and worshiped both the Buddha and Jesus. Sadly, when the communist invaded South Vietnam, his property was seized and turned it into a restaurant. He was restricted from practicing his religion and later passed away. To this day, his name is still well know throughout the land but there are very few followers of Đạo Dừa . Đạo Dừa, literally translated means Coconut Religion. Followers of this religion were on a strict diet of only coconut.

Bến Tre is the leading producer of coconut goods... rice bowls, chopstick, spoons, you name it they can make it....out of coconut! Most famous of all, is Kẹo Dừa (Coconut Candy). Fresh grated coconut is squeezed to obtain coconut milk. Coconut milk is then mixed with sugar and boiled until the soft crack stage. The candy is then cooled until cut into thin strips (pic. above). The thin pieces are then cut into smaller pieces of candy. Easier said then done. The candy hardens when it cools, thus the candy must be cut while still warm. Being warm means it's extremely sticky which requires a very shape knife to cut. Through the long cooking process the coconut milk converts into oil which helps give the candy a nice shine and nutty flavor. There are many versions of Kẹo Dừa, some places add durian, others add pandan. Whatever the flavor is it's all yummy, sweet and creamy....oh so good!

Here's the recipe if anyone wants to try.

-Equal portions of sugar and coconut milk BY WEIGHT
-1 tsp maltose or lime juice for every 500g of sugar

**Bring everything to a boil and simmer over medium heat while constantly stirring. The candy is ready when it reaches the soft ball crack stage. Pour the candy mixture onto a heat proof surface to cool. Once it's cool enough to handle, shape, cut, wrap and enjoy.

For pandan flavor, blend coconut milk with pandan leaves and strain....or just add pandan extract. For durian flavor, add durian ....how? Don't ask just Play With Your Food and find out! lol




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