Thai Jasmine Pudding with Coconut Cream Topping - Ta-goh

"Jasmine pudding?" I hear you ask. Yes, well coming up with an English name for this Thai sweet was a little difficult. After all, the Thai name ta-goh doesn't have any direct translation, and it might be a bit confusing if I just used that. You might think I'd gone all Mexican on you. So, "pudding" seemed the best fit with the dish's consistency, and it is flavored with jasmine, if you can find it.

Jasmine Pudding
Jasmine Pudding, served in a Martini glass; definitely not dry!

If I had to pick just one Thai sweet as my favorite, it would have to be this apparently simple recipe for a two layered sweet. The bottom layer consists of a nearly clear gelatin-like substance that typically has bits of something crunchy in it. The traditional crunchy bit is provided by water chestnuts, but you can use lotus seeds, sweet corn, steamed peanuts or even chunks of mature coconut. You can also try bits of fresh fruit, such as lichee, longan or mango.

The top layer is another sort of pudding made with just coconut milk and rice flour. It has an opaque snow white appearance, which might make it a quite appropriate sweet for the winter holidays. Since the top layer hides whatever is in the first layer, it makes these sweets something of an adventure. Most stalls that produce these sweets with several different bits of fruits or nuts in the first layer will place a bit of the fruit on top of the coconut layer.

You probably don't have access to a pandan bush to source the raw materials for the boxes, and you may not wish to spend the time making the number of boxes that this recipe will fill. In that case, try to find some small foil cups for muffins or petite fours. Another possibility is to use something like a Martini glass, which makes a more elegant serving container.

Some additional ingredient notes: Corn flour is a perfectly acceptable substitute for tapioca flour. The two serve exactly the same purpose and have almost the same taste (which is pretty much none). There is no substitute for the rice flour. See the recipe for jasmine water to find out how to make it, as well as what to do if your jasmine bush isn't in bloom. If you can't find pandan juice, or extract, I suggest you just leave it out. I prefer the color of the dish without it. I've seen any number of descriptions of how to get coconut cream out of coconut milk, but frankly, the canned stuff works the best and tastes great.

(6 Servings)

Jasmine Pudding

Ingredients

Granulated white sugar240 g
Water220 ml
Rice flour40 g
Tapioca flour20 g
Jasmine water440 ml
Pandan juice2 TbspOptional
Water chestnuts250 g

Preparation Method

  • To create the first layer, bring the sugar and plain water to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat.
  • Stir together the 40 grams of rice flour and tapioca flour. Mix in the jasmine water and pandan juice bit by bit. Pour slowly into the sugar mixture. Add in the water chestnuts and stir to mix through. Quickly pour the mixture into the leaf boxes, or whatever you are using to serve the dessert. You have to work fast, since this mixture will gel quite quickly.

Coconut Cream Topping

Ingredients strong>

Coconut cream440 ml
Rice flour20 g
Salt1½ tsp

Preparation Method

  • To create the coconut cream second layer, mix together the coconut milk, rice flour and salt in a pan. Heat to boiling over medium flame, stirring until it thickens. Remove from heat and spoon onto the top of the first layer, filling the leaf boxes, or whatever.

Serving note: If you refrigerate this dessert - which you will want to do if you've made it well ahead of time - be sure to take it out well enough ahead of time to be served at room temperature. The dish doesn't taste very good cold, and needs to be room temperature or warmer to allow the jasmine fragrance to come out.

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