Che Dau Do (Sweet Red Bean Soup) For Good Luck And A Ph.D. Party

Since you’ve been following my vocal drama prior to my public Ph.D. dissertation defense, you know that last Friday was the big day. And it went well – I am now officially Dr. K, as someone in my department keeps calling me to tease me.

My lab threw me a wonderful party afterwards, and I’d just like to share with you the wonderful group of people that I get to work with every day. That’s me looking all fancy in my suit, and my boss is in the knitted sweater:

After the defense, they surprised me with a gorgeous bouquet of lillies and roses, after having secretly called my wife about my favorite flowers (actually, those are amaryllis, but they weren’t available this time of the year and lillies are a close second) – I almost started bawling right there.

On to the party! Look at that cake! Matched perfectly to my blouse color, huge, half chocolate, half vanilla, from my favorite Italian bakery in Cleveland, Presti’s.

Of course there was also champagne (my boss almost hit his wife with the cork…), and being awesome, my lab members ordered food from High Thai’d, the restaurant I proposed in. There was pad thai, broccoli beef, a chicken dish and shumai, my personal favorites. And a bunch of snacks, lots of beer (even Dutch and Belgian kinds for my picky European sensibilities) and other drinks.

The party lasted about 3.5 hours, and afterwards we transferred everything to a friend’s house and kept going (many a White Russian were involved) into the early morning. I woke up very sick again, but it was more than worth it. I had an amazing day with amazing people and delicious food – I couldn’t ask for more.

Now, since this is a food blog, let’s focus on che dau do: I don’t consider myself supremely superstitious, but I guess I have a tendency to believe in positive superstitions – I make wishes when I blow eyelashes, I have a lucky charm my parents gave me in high school, etc. Black cats,broken mirrors and the like don’t scare me one bit though! One of the positive superstitions I readily adopted since joining this lab is the eating of che dau do, literally translated from the Vietnamese as “sweet red bean soup”.

Do, the word for “red”, also means luck, and therefore red beans are eaten before exams and other big challenges one faces. Both my boss and our lab technician are Vietnamese, and I was presented with a big, warm bowl of che dau do on Thursday, with instructions to eat half for dinner, half for breakfast. I very happily complied, because che dau do is one of my favorite ever desserts. While che means “sweet soup”, this is really more of a pudding, especially once the dish cools down. The pudding is sweet, satisfying, and definitely has brought me luck whenever I’ve eaten it.

So here is the secret recipe as followed by my lab technician’s family:

- 1 cup dried azuki beans
- 5 cups of water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- vanilla extract to taste
- 14 oz coconut milk
- 1/2 cup tapioca jelly cut into strips

Soak beans overnight in 5 cups of water.
2. Bring to a boil, add sugar and cook for about 1 hour at a simmer.
3. Turn off heat, stir in vanilla extract, coconut milk and tapioca jelly, and let cool.
4. Gobble down and feel extra-lucky!


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38 Responses to Che Dau Do (Sweet Red Bean Soup) For Good Luck And A Ph.D. Party

  1. Jacky says:

    Sounds like you have some amazing co-workers, how thoughtful! Sounds like a great way to celebrate.

  2. Parsley Sage says:

    BIG NEWS! Congrats Dr. K! What an accomplishment! And this dessert is sooooo yummy and it looks absolutely packed with good luck ;)

  3. SarahCupcake says:

    Congratulations :)

    The recipe looks very interesting!

  4. Baker Street says:

    Congratulations Kiri! Happy for you! Your colleagues seem great and your recipe is absolutely fantastic. :)

  5. Such great colleagues your have Dr Kiri and yes, I am superstitious at some issues but am beginning to learn to let go as I am not sure whether those I am have been believing in should be that way or not. Red is an auspicious color for the Chinese people and yes, they believe that red brings them luck.

    • Kiri W. says:

      I really do! They’re wonderful people :)
      I need to let go a bit, but since it’s at least not negative, fearful beliefs, I think I’m okay.
      In Japan, red beans are eaten to celebrate big events, say New Year’s and the first period of a girl, but it’s something done after the event occurs rather than before. Makes sense that China and Vietnam have similar traditions :)

  6. Congrats, Dr. Kiri! How wonderful that you have an amazing group of people who have been there for you along the way and share in the joy of accomplishment. I’ve never tried che dau do, but I think I need to change that.

    • Kiri W. says:

      Haha, thank you so much!
      Yes, I’m really grateful to be with such a wonderful group. :) It makes every moment so much better to be happy and comfortable, and to work with friends, not just colleagues.
      Let me know what you think if you try it! I really enjoy this as a dessert or breakfast.

  7. Congratulations, Dr. K! You look like you work with a great bunch of people…and I am intrigued by that very authentic recipe for sweet red bean soup…Theresa

  8. a doctor is big time! congratulations a hundred times over!

  9. Liz says:

    What a fabulous celebration for a huge accomplishment! Everything looks perfect…gorgeous flowers and amazing food! Glad you were well enough to enjoy it all…and I think that soup brought some luck :)

  10. What a wonderful group of people you work with. Looks like a great celebration!

  11. azuki beans are one of my favorites! love this idea and the use of tapioca jelly.

  12. Ann says:

    Congratulations Dr. K! I imagine this day is a long time coming! What a nice thing for your office to do and I’m thrilled for you!

  13. Nish says:

    Congratulations Dr K! I also believe red brings luck :)

  14. CONGRATS DR K!!! WELL DONE!!! I have never heard of azuki beans, may have to see if I can find them here in FL.

    • Kiri W. says:

      Thank you so much Shari :)
      They’re awesome, they come canned, too, from Eden Foods, but otherwise they’re available dried on amazon, too ;) Totally worth it, I love the subtly sweet flavor.

  15. balvinder says:

    Kiri ,I missed this. Formally I congratulate you and today’s toast is especially for you.
    Your recipe of azuki beans is sweet and I cook as a savoury dish.

  16. Ramona says:

    Here I am again….. late to the party. I want to wish you the biggest congratulations!! What an accomplishment!! I always admire people that work hard and attain their goals like this… fantastic job. Looks like a great party (white russians and all) : ) Take a bow Dr. K!! Well done. PS.. I am missing too many of your posts.. I must sign up to get your post sent to me… off to do that right now. :) Have a great weekend. ~ Ramona

    • Kiri W. says:

      Thank you so much! :) I am *so* happy I’m done with it!
      The party was wonderful, I really love my lab mates & friends.
      Yay! Thanks again, and the sidebar should have an RSS feed or Email feed option, so if you do it on a post, I think you just get emails about comments on those posts. I am still new to blogging myself, haha!

  17. Ramona says:

    okay.. I’m trying to figure how to sign up… I just clicked the two options below. Don’t know if I have to leave you a message to get them to work.. so just ignore this message. Sorry… I’m not that great when it comes to computer stuff. LOL!

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