My mom, sister and I would take a girl trip every once in a while to San Jose and hang out at Grand Century Mall, the epicenter of all things Vietnamese. We don't go there for shopping. We go there for one thing and one thing only ... inexpensive and authentic Vietnamese food at the food court.
When we get there, everyone knows their roles. Cash is sorted and orders are given. You. Go get Nuoc Mia (freshly squeezed sugar cane juice). You. Go get Banh Xeo (Vietnamese sizzling crepes). My job is to save a table by strategically placing personal items all around the chairs.
We would gleefully fill our bellies with wonderful Vietnamese dishes until we cannot eat no more. Then we would buy a bunch of items to take home as if we would never set sight on Vietnamese food ever again.
Before exiting the mall, the bakery at the front allures us with the sweet aroma of baked coconuts. The smell is intoxicating and inescapable. Vietnamese coconut pandan waffles are freshly made at the front and we can't help leaving the mall without a couple (or 20) Vietnamese coconut pandan waffles to go. These waffles make us happy and they conclude our San Jose food trip.
Vietnamese coconut pandan waffles are made with coconut milk and pandan extract. Pandan is the "vanilla" of Southeast Asia, and it is what gives these Vietnamese waffles their iconic green color. I normally would run away from green waffles, but pandan and coconut pair beautifully together. In fact, you would find the marriage of these two ingredients in many Southeast Asian desserts.
Some Vietnamese waffles have shredded coconuts baked right inside them. And unlike regular waffles, there is no need for syrup. The sweetness is already in the batter. I just happen to love, love, love maple syrup so I can't help dousing my Vietnamese waffles with a bit more sweetness whenever I make them at home.
The other day, I came across pandan extract on the grocery store aisle. I knew exactly what I needed to make. Below is a quick Vietnamese waffle recipe that utilizes a pancake mix. When those cravings hit, I'm all about the shortcuts with the premixes. Enjoy!
Makes 3-4 waffles
2 cups prepared pancake flour
1/2 cup shredded coconuts
1-1/2 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pandan extract
In a large bowl, mix everything together until well blended. Small lumps in the batter are OK.
Preheat waffle iron.
Grease waffle iron with butter or vegetable oil.
Ladle about 1/3 cup of batter into the preheated waffle iron.
Cook for 2 minutes or until very little steam rise from the iron. Serve immediately for best results.