Hanoi-style Sweet Coconut and Lime Delights


  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 50ml warm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups standard baking
  • flour
  • 50ml coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup long-thread coconut (or 1/3 cup dessicated)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • extra flour for kneading
  • rice bran oil for frying
  • coconut milk for drizzling
  • black sesame seeds to garnish
  • zest of 1 lime


One of my favourite street snacks in Hanoi are banh tieu, or fried doughnuts, that street vendors make fresh each morning and sell throughout the day. They're perfect to have with strong black coffee, laced with condensed milk of course, in true Vietnamese style! Here I turn them into a perfect dessert, served warm with lime zest and drizzled in chilled coconut milk.

In a bowl, mix and dissolve the yeast with the warm water and sugar and cover. Set aside for 5 minutes until the yeast bubbles, indicating it is alive and ready to go to work!

Add the flour, coconut milk and threads and salt and stir with a knife to combine. Turn out on a floured surface and knead until the dough comes together and springs back to the touch - about 5 - 7 minutes. Place back in the bowl, cover and let sit in a warm spot until it doubles in size, about 30 - 40 minutes.

Turn out, knead again and shape into a long tube. Cut tube into 12 - 15 small pieces of dough, kneading each to a smooth ball.

In a small pot, heat enough rice bran oil to a depth of 10cm. Deep-fry each ball until golden brown and puffy. Drain on paper towels.

Serve warm, drizzled with chilled coconut milk and sprinkled with black sesame seeds and lime zest.