How to Make a Delicious Three Color Dessert from Vietnamese Cuisine

lotte plaza vietnamese cuisine three color rainbow dessert

As in many of the other steaming regions all over Asia, Vietnamese locals have invented various desserts to help the savvy diner cool down

The punishing summer heat and humidity on the US east coast is nothing to sneeze at. In Vietnam, you might find yourself sweating enough to justify showering four times a day. As in many of the other steaming regions all over Asia, Vietnamese locals have invented various desserts to help the savvy diner cool down. Che is Vietnam’s most common word for desert, and the famous Three Color Dessert is known as Che Ba Mau (chey bah ma-oh or jeh-ba-mao) in its mother tongue. We’ll show you how to make it as authentically as possible!

First Off, What is It? 

Before we continue, we should explain what this fabulous chilled dessert is all about. Red beans, yellow mung beans, and stripes of green pandan jelly are at the heart of this treat. Then shaved ice and coconut milk complete the presentation. You’ll also hear it called the “rainbow dessert” or che 3 mau for its eye-catching layers of flavors. If you grew up in a Filipino household, you’re probably familiar with the Halo Halo dessert. Think of that as the cousin to this recipe we’re showing you. 

A Simple List of Necessary Ingredients

With that out of the way, let’s talk about the ingredients you’ll need. Agar-agar, pandan paste, peeled and split mung beans, sugar, sweetened red beans, and coconut sauce are the constituent components. In addition, you can’t go without coconut cream, tapioca starch, salt, and more sugar for the coconut sauce. One substitution you can make, however, is swapping out the red beans. One can of kidney beans takes their place. 

Making the Red Bean Layer 

You can get your sweetened red beans from your friendly local Lotte Plaza. Since kidney beans are an acceptable substitute for these other beans, you can try something different. Start by rinsing out the can – this will remove the saltwater inside. Then use a saucepan to dissolve a half cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of water. Be careful not to set the burner too high – low heat will do. After the sugar has dissolved, add the kidney beans and let the mixture simmer. Set a time for 10 to 15 minutes. This trick gives beans time to absorb the sugar. Let them cool as you move on. 

Making the Mung Bean Yellow Layer 

The next step is to make the yellow layer from scratch. For this part of the process, you’ll need to have some mung beans. Start by washing a half cup of the beans before splitting and peeling them. Doing this will get rid of the coloring. Once the mung beans are fully soaked, cook them in 1.5 cups of water until they turn soft. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar and proceed to mash the beans. After that, cook for 10 to 15 minutes. As soon as they’re done, put them in a dish to sit and cool until they achieve a pudding-like consistency. 

Making the Pandan Jelly Green Layer

The last step is to make the green layer. Pandan jelly is commonly used throughout various types of Asian cuisine as a stand-in for gelatin. All you need to do here is mix 1 tablespoon of agar-agar powder into 4 cups (approximately 1 liter) of water. Bring it all to a boil, constantly stirring as you go. The pandan gives this particular layer that striking green coloring. 

Get All Your Asian Groceries at Lotte Plaza Market

Lotte Plaza Market is your one-stop shop for all of your Korean and Asian grocery needs. With more than 10 Maryland and Virginia locations, this growing market is continually expanding and opening new markets to better serve our customers. Since we opened in 1976, our goal has always been to provide the best customer service and groceries to our customers. For answers to all of your questions, please email us at


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