One of my favourite things to eat in Thailand is nam kaeng sai (น้ำแข็งใส), or mixed ice desserts. These refreshing bowls are typically comprised of your choice of an impressive variety of toppings combined with shaved ice (or sometimes crushed ice), coconut milk, and simple syrup. These toppings can include (but are not limited to) fruits, jellies, beans, dessert noodles, rice dumplings, and candied vegetables.
Man sampalang (cassava) cheum (cooked in syrup) is one of my favourite additions to an icey bowl of nam kaeng sai. It is cloyingly sweet, but that sweetness is cut by the addition of crushed or shaved ice.
Slaked lime water is an alkaline ingredient utilised in Thai cuisine to forge a lasting crispness in battered and fried foods as well as to impart a firm texture to pickles and candied vegetables and fruits. It isn’t a necessary step to soak the cassava/yuca in the alkaline water first, but the texture of the cassava won’t be as firm.
Candied Cassava with Coconut Cream (Man Sampalang Cheum – มันสำปะหลังเชื่อม)
Man sampalang cheum, or candied cassava (yuca), is a common ingredient in Thai nam kaeng sai. It is cloyingly sweet, but the addition of ice waters it down into a refreshingly pleasant snack on a hot day. Soaking the cassava in slaked lime water isn’t absolutely necessary, but will improve the texture.
- 450-500 grams peeled cassava, cut into chunks
- 1000 millilitres (4 cups) slaked lime water (optional)
- 750 millilitres (3 cups) water
- 430 grams (2 cups) white granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4-5 pandan leaves (optional but recommended), tied in knots
- ½ cup coconut cream
- 1 teaspoon rice flour
- crushed or shaved ice, for serving
- Optional step: soak the cassava pieces in the slaked lime water for 15-20 minutes. Drain.
- Add the water, sugar, salt, and pandan leaves to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about ten minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid thickens ever so slightly.
- Add the cassava and cook for about 45 minutes on a medium simmer. About halfway through, remove the pandan leaves and discard. Cook the cassava until fork tender and then set aside to cool.
- While the cassava is cooking, prepare the coconut cream by combining it with the rice flour (and maybe a pinch of salt) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the flour has dissolved and the liquid has thickened slightly. Set aside to cool.
- Once everything is cooled, spoon some cassava with a little of the syrup into a bowl. Top with some of the coconut cream. Add crushed or shaved ice if desired.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Cuisine: Thai