Thai Pumping Custard
Tomorrow, I will visit a friend on Vashon Island, and I want to surprise her with some Thai pumpkin custard for dessert. Yesterday I found the right size of Kabocha pumpkin and some fresh pandanus leaves (also known as pandan), two crucial ingredients for making this dish. Now it has been cooked and is sitting in my refrigerator. All I have to do is to take it with me before catching the ferry.
Thai pumpkin custard is every Thai’s favorite dessert. We seldom make them at home but we always purchase from the artisans when available. Most of the time it is hard to find small-sized Kabocha pumpkins. I use duck egg but chicken eggs also work, so I would suggest that the freshness and availability should be considered key in making a decision. Pandanus leaf is an important part of making traditional Thai custard, you can find it fresh or frozen in various Asian markets. At home I always have a dozen in the freezer. If I don’t have the right size pumpkin and pandanus leaf, I prefer to prepare other custard dishes instead of using a substitution.
Below is a slide show of pictures taken in Khmer Cooking Class which is located in Siem Reap. To my surprise, the teacher didn’t use the pandanus leaf but instead used a whisk to mix the custard mixture instead. This could be another way for you to try at home when pandanus leaf is not available. The rest of the steps are very much the same.
Thai pumpkin Custard
Preparing time: 15 minutes
Steaming time: 45 minutes1 small Kabocha pumpkin, about 5 inches across and 4 inches tall 4 duck eggs, about 1 cup eggs or chicken eggs ½ cup evaporated cane sugar or palm sugar ½ cup coconut milk ½ teaspoon salt 2 pandanus leave, torn into 4 pieces lengthwise from each leaf
Clean outside of the pumpkin well and dry with towel. Insert the knife on the top pumpkin to make a lid of about 2 inches wide (please see photo from a slide show). Remove all seeds from the inside the pumpkin until completely clean.
Add water to a steamer to 1 ½ inches tall and bring to a boil while preparing the custard.
To make custard, place egg, sugar, coconut milk into a medium-size bowl. Use torn pandanus leaves to massage and mix the custard mixture by hand constantly for 8 minutes. This is a Thai tradition way to make a custard instead of whisking. Pandanus leaves helps the mixing process, at the same time pandanus flavor is infused into the custard mixture.
Strain and fill the custard into the pumpkin, make sure to leave a 2/3 inch free space from the top.
Steam the pumpkin custard in the steamer, also the lid but separately. Do not cover pumpkin with the lid. It should be done between 40 to 45 minutes. To tell the custard is cooked when shake the custard is not moving except 1 inch in the center. And that is when to turn off the steamer and remove the lid and let the pumpkin custard sit until cool down.
Cut into wedge and serve cold or at room temperature.© 2010 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen I Love Thai cooking Pranee teachs Thai Cooking class in Seattle areas, her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com