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Coconut Pudding
ขนมครก khanom krok
Posted: 11th March

Another one of my favourite street food snacks has to be khanom krok. This can be loosely translated into English as Coconut Pudding. It is basically a mixture of flour batter and coconut cream cooked in a pan over a charcoal fire. You can find them in most places around Thailand with the same basic recipe. Our local hawker is called Wirat, she is 42 years old and she comes from Lopburi (and she apparently wants to marry me - so she keeps saying). She is a friendly soul and I can't pass her in the morning without having to engage in some sort of conversation.

Wirat works very long hours. She sets up her stall at the top of our lane(locally known as Soi Sulao) at 6 a.m. She then does her best business between this time and 10 a.m. catching the breakfast crowd. I think most hawkers would then go home for a break but Wirat stays there all day. (Though I sometimes see her sleeping!) By about 3 p.m. customers start arriving in bigger numbers though nothing to match the early morning crowd. She then finishes by about 8p.m. Today she made 700 puddings. A tray costs 10 baht for ten coconut puddings (actually 20 as they are two halfs put together). So, her income for a day would be only 700 baht (US$18). Out of that she has to pay for the charcoal and all of the ingredients.

I don't buy khanom krok from Wirat every day, though if I see her just making a fresh batch then I am tempted. I prefer my coconut puddings piping hot. And she knows that. Even if I am walking by on the other side of the road she will call me over if she has just made a fresh batch. "Rich-aaard - rawn rawn" she shouts. Which means hot. This afternoon she was just about to light up her second charcoal stove so I thought I would stop to chat and take some pictures. She wasn't busy so she didn't mind taking the time to show me how to cook khanom krok and also divulge some of her secret ingredients! Scroll down to see the recipe.

Step 1 is to pour charcoal into the stove. There were some hot ambers underneath so after only five minutes there was a flame.

Step 2 she poured one kilogram of khanom krok flour and 2 spoons of regular flour into her yellow bucket. She then poured in a bottle of water mixing it together with her hand. The bag says "flour to make khanom krok" and adds "it is very easy"!

Step 3 she used some oil to grease the pan which by this time was already hot.

Step 4 she ladled the flour batter into a kettle and then added two spoonfuls of her secret ingredient - Sprite!

Step 5 she poured the batter into about 12 of the holes in the pan. She then scooped some of her second mixture on top which had been previously prepared. This consisted of: coconut milk, sugar, palm sugar, salt and water.

Step 6 she continued filling in the other holes in the pan. She then sprinkled chopped spring onions over the top. Finally she covered the pan for about 5 minutes.

Step 7 she carefully scoops out the coconut halfs and places them on a tray, putting one on top of the another making a whole. She then sells ten whole coconut puddings for 10 baht.

RECIPE

If you like, you can have a go at cooking this at home. I typed up the following recipe from the excellent book "It Rains Fishes" by Kasma Loha-Unchit.

Coconut-rice pancakes (Kanom krok)

3 14-oz. cans coconut milk, or 1 3/4 cups coconut cream
with 3 1/2 cups lighter coconut milk
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. sugar
2 1/2 Tbs. tapioca or arrowroot flour
3 Tbs. uncooked white rice
1/3 cup finely shredded fresh coconut, or 1/4 cup dried,
unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups rice flour
2 tsp. sea salt
2 to 3 Tbs. peanut or corn oil
Optional filling ingredients:
1/4 cup green onions, cut in thin rounds
1/4 cup fresh corn kernels
2 Tbs. cilantro leaves

If using canned coconut milk, spoon into a small saucepan 1 3/4 cup of the creamiest part from the top of three cans of coconut milk. Heat just enough to melt and smooth out the lumps. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool before mixing in 2 1/2 Tbs. of tapioca or arrowroot flour. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

Combine the remaining coconut milk from the cans and stir until smooth, heating if necessary to melt the coagulated parts. Allow to cool. Grind the uncooked white rice in a food mill or clean coffee grinder as finely as possible. Do the same with the shredded coconut. Combine the two with the rice flour, salt and coconut milk. Stir and mix until well blended and smooth. Heat a well-seasoned kanom krok griddle (or substitute with an Ebelskiver pancake griddle) on the stove, in a hot oven or over a small round barbecue kettle with medium-hot charcoals. When the griddle is hot, brush the surface indentations with peanut or corn oil. Wait a few seconds before spooning the salty rice mixture into each indentation to about two-thirds full. The batter should sizzle when it hits the hot metal. (If you have a teakettle with a spout, you may find it helpful as a container from which to pour the rice batter onto the griddle.)Before the batter sets, add a dab of the sweet coconut cream mixture over the top to fill and sprinkle the center of each cake with a little bit of one of the toppings, or leave plain. Cover with a round lid and allow to cook for a few minutes, or until the pancakes are firm and crispy brown on the bottom. Remove gently with a rounded spoon. Re-grease the griddle before making the next batch. Because rice flour tends to settle, stir the coconut mixture well before pouring onto the griddle. Serve warm.

Also see: khanom krok hoi

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