Thailand and Laos

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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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In Thailand, as in the rest of Southeast Asia, sweets are most popular as afternoon snacks, though sweet sticky rice treats also sell well in the morning markets. See thailand. Thai sweets are inventive and often combine sweet and savory in unexpected ways. For example, sankaya, classic Thai coconut milk custard, comes topped with fried shallots and is often steamed in a small kabocha-like squash. Minced garlic and a few coriander leaves, or shrimp and shredded coconut, flavor the sweet meringue topping on the Thai tuiles called kanom beuang. As in much of Southeast Asia, pandanus leaves (also known as “screwpine,” which give a delicate scent and green color) perfume some sweets and tint them a pale green. See pandanus. Sticky rice, both black and white, is sweetened with palm sugar and coconut milk, then served with tart-sweet fruit, most commonly sliced mango. In neighboring Laos, this treat is called khao nio mamuang as it is in Thailand; versions of some of the other simple Thai sweets such as deep-fried baban and taro are also made in Laos. A Southeast Asia–wide approach to bananas includes grilling (gluay bing) or deep-frying in a simple sweetened rice or wheat-flour batter (gluay kaek); taro is also deep-fried. Cubes of taro are sometimes cooked in sweetened coconut milk to make a soupy comfort food snack called pua gaeng buad; the banana equivalent, gluay bua chi, often topped with sesame seeds or chopped roasted peanuts, is found in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam as well as Thailand.