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Thai Rice Balls in Warm Coconut Milk, 'Bua Loi'

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Usually Thai desserts are served cold, but this one is unique as it is meant to be served warm. We love the consistency of the balls, almost powdery and a bit like Japanese desserts. Usually in Thailand a sweet poached egg that has been cooked in sugar syrup, is spooned onto the top of each serving, but that's optional. A brass wok is used here which is the perfect authentic preparation, as this sweet dessert will always be made using a brass wok if the chef specializes in bua loi.

Here we prepare two different versions, one basic and another similar using pumpkin to create a vivid orange color and rich flavor.

Ingredients

1 cups glutinous rice flour
10 drops of pandan (screwpine) paste mixed with 1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups coconut milk cream (see below)
3/4 cup packed palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs (optional)

Method

In a mixing bowl, mix the flour with pandan water to make a stiff dough. Knead well and roll the dough into small balls (as shown in pictures below).

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Toss in the flour balls and boil until done (they will float to the surface). Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse with cool water, drain and set aside.

To get coconut cream, remove the lid from a can of coconut milk and, without stirring the contents, remove the top cream and discard the thin liquid. Our Chaokoh brand is very high quality so it only takes about 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk to yield 1 1/4 cups coconut cream.

In a large brass wok, mix 2 cups coconut cream with palm sugar. Bring to a boil and add the cooked flour balls. When the mixture returns to a boil again, remove from heat.

For the topping: in a small saucepan, dissolve 1/2 cup coconut cream with salt. Remove from heat just as it gets hot.

Serve in individual bowls with topping. If serving with poached egg, add it on top also.

Pumpkin Version

Ingredients

1.5 cups glutinous rice flour
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
10 drops of pandan (screwpine) paste mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 cup packed palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (or a bit more)
1/2 cup jasmine water (add a few drops of jasmine essence to cold water)
1/2 cup squash or pumpkin
a few drops pandan paste

Method

Peel your squash, remove seeds, and slice the flesh into small pieces. Steam this until it cooks, about 15 minutes. Mash it, and measure 1/2 cup.

In a mixing bowl, mix the rice flour with cooked squash. Add jasmine water and knead it until smooth. You might need to add a bit more water. Split the dough in half. Put one half into a separate bowl, and add a few drops of screwpine paste to one half. It will turn to a nice green color.

Roll each batch of dough separately, and shape it all into little marble-sized balls.

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Toss in the flour balls and boil until done (they will float to the surface). Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse with cool water, drain and set aside.

Warm coconut milk over low heat with grated palm sugar and salt. Raise temperature and bring to a low boil. Add cooked bua loi balls, stir gently, remove from heat and serve in individual bowls.

Thai Street Vendor Photos

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