Friday, January 15, 2016

Thai Sweets & Mango Sticky Rice

The friends are complete dessert fiends. My gawwd. They eat the sweetest of the Thai sweets!!! I've been forced to taste plenty on this road trip out to the provinces of Samut Songkhram (notably town of Amphawa), Phetchaburi (beaches at Cha-Am), Prachuap Khiri Khan (mainly Hua Hin and Pranburi)

Phetchaburi province is known for its traditional sweets. So its surrounding provinces have a crazy amount of desserts too. Many sweets contain egg yolk and all come in that auspicious golden-yellow color. Their names usually include the word 'tong' (ทอง) which means 'gold'. If you've popped into a Thai wedding or celebration, you'll see at least nine of these desserts at the table.

Dessert shops come in all forms from the family-run ones in the small towns to the big chain names, for example Mae Kim Lung, which is branded bright pink with plenty of outlets along the highway. There're the street stalls at the markets which churn out good quality to satisfy the friends.

Portuguese-influenced 'foy thong' (ฝอยทอง) is made from streams of egg yolks (of both chicken and duck) dipped in sweet thick rose water. There's jasmine or vanilla essence added too. Ridiculously sweet. It isn't machine-churned. Woah. This is difficult to make. It's familiar right? If you're into wagashi, you'd know 'keiran somen'. Like Malaysia's 'jala mas', and definitely descended from Portugal's 'fios de ovos'.

I stood there for a good fifteen minutes watching a grandmother do it with such ease that could only come with years of practice. We bought a box. It was damn sweet, but when freshly made, I could appreciate why this is like the most prized of traditional desserts. There is a difference between those made fresh and those that have cooled and sat for a few hours.

Can't do sweet, but I could do savory. 'Khanom krok' (ขนมครก), a coconut rice custard/pudding/pancake is about as 'sweet' as I can do. It's a little savory, which cuts through the sugar. Eeeps. Still, the man is a bigger fan of it than I am. Probably because, coconut. He can't resist anything coconut, and has so far drunk plenty of coconut water and ate coconut ice-cream and sorbet.

Walking through the touristy (but not as bad as other seaside towns) small Hua Hin night market, we found this random stall did a good version. We kinda stood and watched. The friends thought it looked and smelt right. Importantly, khanom krok has to be eaten fresh. It can't just sit there out in the open without waiting customers.

I do like mango sticky rice (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง). But it isn't the sweetness of the mango I'm looking for. It isn't the usual variety of dependably sweet nam dok mai (มะม่วงน้ำดอกไม้). It's a specific ok-krong (อกร่องมะม่วง), which comes in another few sub-varieties depending on color and provinces. Ok-krong is slightly tart and meant to be eaten with mango sticky rice. It's not easy to find stalls that use ok-krong even in Bangkok. Most stalls simply settle for nam dok mai.

Also at the Hua Hin night market, we chanced upon a stall selling mango sticky rice using ok-krong. Hurrah!!! When nibbling through the food stalls at night markets, we generally buy one portion to share among four. The portions weren't that big, but we ought to save stomach space and not overdose. This particular mango sticky rice dessert had to be eaten in full. No sharing. Heh. Bought four packs. YUM.

No comments: