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Sweet Potato Fritters from Simple Thai Food Book

Sweet Potato Fritters from Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu

© Erin Kunkel/Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House

I have recently written another article about GFB, the woman behind these sweet potato fritters as well as many other fried things I have yet to introduce you to. The article also includes instructions on how to make them.

Halloween would have been a more appropriate time to run this story — any story about GFB, actually. But it’s a long way away and I would like you to give this recipe — one of my personal favorites from Simple Thai Food book — a try now.

So if you’re not the type that gets scared easily, please move on over to Wall Street Journal Scene Asia.

You’ve been warned.

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Chilled Tapioca-Cantaloupe-Coconut Milk Dessert Soup (สาคูแคนตาลูป)

Chilled Tapioca-Cantaloupe-Coconut Milk Dessert Soup
Many types of dessert soup, featuring various main ingredients, are routinely consumed in Thailand as well as other places in Asia, especially the East and Southeast. Some of these dessert soups are served warm; some are served chilled or topped with crushed or shaved ice; some are great at any temperature. I have covered some of them here already. Remember pineapple in iced syrup (or the apricot version of it), glutinous rice pearls in sweet coconut cream, crunchy water chestnut dumplings in iced coconut syrup, or sweet sticky rice and durian in coconut cream? Even things that you don’t normally associate with dessert — let alone ice dessert — can be prepared in this manner, e.g. egg noodles. Sa-khu Cantaloupe (localized as khaentalûp), a chilled dessert ‘soup’ of chewy tapioca, juicy cantaloupe, and sweet and creamy coconut milk fits right in that pattern.

Once cooked, tapioca pearls become soft, translucent, sticky, and viscous. Sweetened with sugar and topped with creamy and slightly salty coconut cream topping, you get a comforting, warm, and gooey pudding that comes in countless variations depending on what other ingredients you add to the tapioca base to create different flavors and textures (corn kernels, young coconut meat, and taro are among the most common add-ins). The way tapioca pearls are used in this case, however, is atypical. The presence of this large amount of coconut milk breaks up the starchy “glue” that holds the cooked tapioca pearls together, causing the tiny beads to loosen, separate from one another, and float freely.

The end result is not much different from a chilled bubble tea. The only exception is that it’s served in a bowl instead of a tall see-through glass, that the tapioca pearls are lighter in color and much smaller, and that you go after the little pearls and the added melon balls with a spoon and not an oversized straw. Continue Reading →

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Creamy Egg Crepe on Rice (Khao Khai Khon ข้าวไข่ข้น)

Creamy Egg Crepe on Rice
A new friend whom I met during my most recent trip back to Bangkok was sitting on my lap as we were going through the first few pages of The Little Prince together. This was 4-year-old Jade’s first exposure to the French classic and her sparkling brown eyes were transfixed on the pages as I was reading off them. Soon we got to the famous part where the narrator recounts the time during his childhood when he drew a picture of a boa constrictor who had swallowed an elephant and how the adults all thought it was a drawing of a hat.

“Nuh-uh,” Jade closed her eyes, shaking her head slowly. “This is not a boa constrictor with an elephant in his tummy.”

“But, Jade, that’s what the narrator is telling us,” I said. “That was what he had in mind when he drew it.”

Jade turned around to look me in the eye. “He was kidding, Leela,” Jade uttered a faint sigh. “Don’t you see? That’s khao khai khon!” Continue Reading →

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