color by numbers

mindless musings of a semi-creative guy

Tasty Tuesday – โรตีสายไหม

This week’s tasty Thai treat is something called โรตีสายไหม – Roti Sai Mai – also lovingly known as a “cotton candy burrito” among English speakers.

If you remember from the last Tasty Tuesday, a roti is basically any kind of flat pancake / bread / tortilla / crepe type food that can be wrapped around a filling.  Though each type of roti may be similar in use and general appearance, each one has its own specific recipe (some using plain flour, others using coconut, rice or glutinous rice flour) and technique for making them.  This is particular one has a very sticky, clumpy dough that requires its maker to practice working with it for quite a while before getting the hang of it.

As you can see, the woman holds a tool for lifting the crepe (which, honestly looks like a 50 cent paint scraper from a hardware store) in one hand, while the other hand is actually dipped into the roti mix.  It really is quite fascinating to watch the whole process (one of these days, I’ll get you a video!).  The roti maker simply dunks one hand into a bucket of super sticky, stringy batter and brings out a handful of goop.  Next, the person simply puts their half closed palm down onto the skillet and smears a thin circle of batter onto a hot metal plate before pulling their hand away.  About 5 seconds later, the roti is lifted from the pan and stacked with the rest.  There is no need for flipping as they cook, and because such a small amount is used for each crepe, one dip goes a long way.

Once you have your super thin crepes ready, it’s time to add the filling – super fine sugar silk or candy floss.  This floss is quite sweet and is similar to cotton candy in the way it seems to melt in your mouth as you eat it.  The difference, however, is that the strands are a bit thicker, slightly clumped together, and stretched into long threads or ropes instead of being spun into a puffy cloud like you may be used to in the States.  Here’s a shot up close –

The floss comes in a wide range of colors from green to pink, pure white to golden brown, neon yellow to purple and orange… you name it, you can probably find it.  If you would like to see how this sugar silk is made, click here or here and check out the photo strip demonstrations.

It isn’t common to find these “burritos” already made, so if you want one, you’ll have to go buy your own stack of fresh roti from the market, along with a bit of floss from a big, inflated bag like this –

The thing is, depending on where you are in Thailand, it may actually be difficult to find a vendor.  If you live in the next province over from us, Ayutthaya (where this treat apparently originated long, long ago) though, it’s no problem at all.  In fact, you’ll see a seemingly infinite number of stands all along the highway just like this –

Okay, so you have your crepes, you have your floss… now just roll them together and take a big bite! If you aren’t a big fan of sweets, this is definitely not the treat for you.  Seriously, it’s sugary enough to make your teeth tingle.

** Unfortunately, my first experience with this treat was so quick I didn’t get the chance to snap any photos… so, I’ve borrowed what you see from others on the internet.  Every picture is linked to where it came from, so if you want to see more, click away! **


November 9, 2010 - Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays, Thailand


  1. That was definitely one of the odder looking snacks we encountered there. But it didn’t taste bad at all! I was skeptical at first 🙂

    Comment by April | November 9, 2010 | Reply

  2. silkworm cocoons!!!!

    Comment by mom | November 9, 2010 | Reply

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