Tasty Tuesday – Khanoms
Well, hello there… those of you that are left after my week off. Last weekend, I was ill with some sort of stomach bug, and the last thing I wanted on my mind was food. That then extended through the first half of the week, and seeing as I was in bed most of the time, I decided to forgo one week of blogging. Week is over, I’m feeling much better, and I’ve got a lot to talk about! So, welcome back, Tasty Tuesday. I’ve missed you.
Since it’s nice to get back on the blogging trail this week, I figured we’d go for something equally as sweet – a couple of my favorite Thai street snacks. Everywhere you go, there are hawkers with small styrofoam or paper trays and boxes filled with yummy bite-sized treats – both sweet and savory. These treats are called ขนม, or “kha-nome.” (I’ll do my best to write out the Thai names in sounds you will understand… not necessarily the proper phonetic system I’ve been taught.)
The first one is called “kha-nome ma-phrao kaew.” This is one of the simplest and yummiest little snack balls in the world. All it takes is a block of hardened palm sugar, a few overripe coconuts, and a touch of food coloring if you so choose. Palm sugar is sold in various sized blocks (from the size of your hand to the size of your head!), and is tan in color. This type of sugar is favored in Thai cooking as it is not only abundant, but has a unique flavor that suits their cuisine quite well. All you need to do is heat it up until it returns to its original liquid form, throw in your fresh shredded coconut, and stir it around until evenly coated. Remove your mixture from the heat, use a fork to form it into small, bite-sized balls, place on a tray or waxed paper and let them dry. As the sugar dries, it sort of glues the coconut together and forms a semi-crispy outer shell. The inside, however, remains chewy and oh so coconutty. Absolutely wonderful for anyone who likes coconut. If you don’t like coconut, then this is the worst snack ever for you.
Another interesting treat is called luke choop. These tiny treats are made to look like all different shapes and sizes of fruits and vegetables. Most are small enough to fit several in the palm of your hand. At first glance, they look almost like a sort of gummy or jelly candy; however, they couldn’t be farther from that! The base of these edible replicas is made from a paste of mung beans, sugar, and coconut cream. When mixed together, these ingredients from a dough similar in texture to marzipan. It is easily formed into whatever shape is necessary before being painted with food colors according to whatever fruit or vegetable it is supposed to be. After shaping and painting, each piece is then dipped into a clear gelatin and set to dry. The gelatin is what really helps the colors pop and what gives them their lovely sheen. Now, do they taste really good? I don’t think they’re horrible… but they’re not amazing either. I just enjoy them because I think each one is literally a work of art, and they can be used to make other treats even more beautiful (on cakes, displays, table settings, etc.). If you’d like to see a recipe or photos of how luke choop is made, click here.