pandan kaya cake with a coconut frosting

yes, it’s that green.

I don’t seem to have much affinity with pandan desserts – they all require second-tries-and-the-promise-of-practice. in truth, it’s probably not the fault of the screwpine leaf – all the recipes calling for it are inevitably asian desserts, which also inescapably means vagueish instructions and a felicitous mix of finesse and experience (and fengshui, let’s not forget that).

this wasn’t bad actually, just a tad too sweet and lots of I-should-haves on hindsight. no recipe for you today, therefore, but a few notes if you’re thinking of trying this out!

Continue reading

thai layered coconut jelly dessert (ta ko)


ta ko is a thai dessert that used to be pretty popular in singapore – we used to get it all the time in restaurants, but now it seems like its popularity is waning in the light of sweets like red ruby and mango-sticky-rice. this is still one of my favourites though – the slightly salty coconut layer and crisp kernels of corn in a soft jelly.

it’s not too difficult to make, but I find that as with other asian desserts, much of the recipe is about approximations such as how long you should cook a mixture for, and what result you have to get – not so great for an obsessive a detail-oriented chef.

Continue reading

traditional vietnamese rice paper, mekong delta





I still have a few posts on vietnam to go – this is the result of having a backlog so dense you can barely see the wood for the trees (does anyone watch QI?). but they’re still pretty cool and share-worthy.

this one is about that traditional vietnamese rice paper that we mostly see wrapped around salad leaves and prawns to make a summer roll – or goi cuon. the ones that you see here are made in the same manner as those translucent wrappings, just these are more opaque from the addition of coconut milk.

the lady competently ladles on batter of coconut milk and flour onto a cloth for it to be steamed, before lifting the thin and now-cooked sheet onto the edge of a rattan basket for it to dry slightly, before drying completely on vented rattan mats. some of them have sesame seeds or coconut shreds added to them.

you can buy these large dried rice sheets, and bring them home to toast into crisp shards of mildly sweet cracker, fragrant with the coconut milk and textural with the sesame sheets. they were a little large for us to carry, but I highly recommend them if you’ve got the space.

that last photo is of a rice mill, from which you can get the ever-useful rice flour.