© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <email@example.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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Recipe from: The Nation
Servings: Makes 20
Preparing Thai desserts can be a daunting task for the unmotivated as it is a surprisingly labour intensive and time consuming process. This is why in days of old Thai desserts were only made for special occasions, such as religious celebrations and the visits of important guests.
Small and delicate in form, Thai desserts are often regarded as the "duty" of highly respected Thai ladies. Usually, the sweet delights are prepared with only natural ingredients, even when it comes to colouring. Flowers and plants are pressed into service for the wide variety of hues and scents that are present in most Thai desserts. Pandan leaves, saffron, burnt crushed coconut shell and turmeric are used to gain green, red, black and yellow respectively. Jasmine and roses provide the aroma..
Thai desserts have been greatly influenced by such distant neighbours as the Portuguese and, of course, the Chinese. The most influential person in the Thai dessert history was actually a Portuguese lady, Marie Keemar, who was appointed as the Royal Dessert Chef during the Narai era and whom we have to thank for introducing eggs to Thai desserts.
This week's recipe, look choop is one of the most popular desserts. The little ones love it because it is richly flavoured with nuts and sugar, and its look mimics fruits of all shapes and colours. Simple to make, look choop is also an ideal afternoon activity that you can do with the kids. The quality of the dessert, incidentally, is as much determined by its look as by its taste.
Take your time and be patient when cooking the nuts paste over a low heat because it is very easy to burn. And don't forget to be creative with those miniature fruits.
150 gm mung beans, washed and soaked overnight
1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 cup sugar
For the coating:
1 tablespoon gelatin
2 cups water, with 1 drop of jasmine extract
½ cup sugar
20-30 bamboo sticks, 10cm-12.5cm long, satay sticks or long toothpicks
Foam base measuring 15cm x 20cm (holds 20-30 pieces of look choop)
3 small paint brushes
food colourings: red, yellow, green, and purple
Boil the mung beans until soft then drain thoroughly.
Use the same pot to mash the boiled beans with the coconut milk and sugar. Stir over low heat until thoroughly blended, and until dry. Set aside to cool.
For the fruit shapes, take about 2-3 teaspoons of mung beans and use your hands to shape them into the form of the fruit desired - mangoes, oranges and cherries are popular choices. Use the bamboo sticks to lift the fruit pieces and place them on the foam base.
In a pan, mix the gelatin, water (with jasmine added) and sugar. Bring to the boil over low heat. Allow about one third of the water to evaporate so the jelly thickens.
Coat the beans, paint with the food colouring so they represent the selected fruit. Leave to dry.
Once dried, dip each fruit in the jelly at least three times and leave to dry on the foam base.
Sharpen the forms with a small kitchen knife.