In Thailand you will see a lot of small street stores selling colourful looking drinks in large glass 'vats'. When you buy a drink the store keeper will scoop out a glass of the liquid and put it into a plastic bag with ice, sealing it with a rubber band to make it water tight. To drink it, you put a straw in through the opening. For sweet drinks it's common to see treats added, for example tapioca gummy balls (in the style of Taiwanese 'Bubble Tea'), or like this one, sticky rice balls in iced milk coffee. If you can obtain large straws they are better for this drink, as the sticky rice balls are normally sucked through the straw.
This drink is made in Thailand using 'Hellbruboy' (a contraction of it's full name 'Hale's Blue Boy' Brand Syrup) a brand name sticky sweet red syrup drink that is added to hot water to make a hot drink. It can be bought in Thai supermarkets, look for the Thai name เฮลซ์บลูบอย. You can substitute strawberry milk shake syrup, it has a similar look but a different taste, sorry there really is no suitable substitute.
This drink is made from the flesh of young coconut. It needs to be young coconut, old coconut (the brown fibrous kind you see in many western supermarkets) doesn't work for this. You can just scoop out the meat from the coconut with a spoon to make it, you can also drink the water inside which is delicious itself. For the photograph I kept some of the flesh to decorate it, you can see the soft coconut flesh in the side of the glass.
This is considered a health drink in Thailand, it's supposed to be good for cleansing the stomach and helping digestion. You can see Bael fruit here, it's available dried in packets from Asian grocers. Serve warm or cold.
4-6 Dried Matoom Pieces
4-6 Tablespoons Sugar
400 ml Water
1. Boil the water in a pan.
2. Add the matoom and continue simmering for 15 minutes.
3. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, adjust the sweetness to your own tastes.
4. Leave to cool.
5. If you want iced tea, chill it in the fridge and serve over crushed ice. For iced tea, it is better to slightly over-sweeten it, as it won't taste so sweet when it's cold.
Not really a recipe, but I thought you might like to see some typical Thai beers to go with these dumplings I've been making lately. These beers are best eaten with gop-gam dishes (savoury or spicy snack dishes that we eat with beer or spirits). The two most popular brands are Singha and Chang beer. Singha is a more acidic tasting beer than Chang.
I wasn't sure whether to put this under 'drinks' or 'desserts'. It is a cone of shaved ice, with the Thai drink syrup known as 'Hales Blue Boy' (Helbruboy) poured over it and dressed with condensed milk. The taste is sweet and creamy, like an ice cream version of cream soda.
One of the nicest ways to drink coconut juice is roasted over a fire or barbecue. For this you will need the young green coconut (not the brown husk older coconut). Cut off the outer husk as much as you can, then place it in the coals and keep turning it until its blackened and roasted all over.
It's very easy to open after it's roasted, you can simply push a knife into the eyes of the coconut and pour out the juice. Drink it while it's warm.
Tamarind is a very sour fruit, you can see them in the left of the photograph. This drink is made from Tamarind pulp, the brown date like pulp used to add a sour taste to Thai food. It is a combination of sourness and sweetness.
40 gms Brown Sweet Tamarin Pulp
400 ml Boiled Water
A Pinch of Salt
100 ml Sugar Syrup
50 gms Crushed Ice
1. Mix the tamarind pulp and water together, in a blender.
2. Bring to the boil, add the salt and syrup, stirring as it warms up.
3. Leave to cool.
4. Sieve to remove any pulp.
5. Serve over crushes ice.
200 gms Fully Ripe Papaya or a Tin of Papaya
200 gms Sugar Syrup
100 gms Crushed Ice
1. I prefer to use a canned papaya for this, the fruit is already soaking in syrup and the syrup has it's flavour.
2. Chop the papaya into pieces, and the syrup from the can, and wizz in a blender until smooth.
3. Crush the ice, and pour the drink over the ice.
Lychees on their own have plenty of taste, but little juice. To make a refreshing drink from them, we dilute it down with grape juice and a little lemon or lime juice to sharpen it up. Although I've photographed it with a lychee and lime slice, that's just to make the photograph a little more interesting. The drink itself doesn't look like much!
Ingredients per 100ml
80 ml Grape Juice
20 ml Lychee Pulp
A squeeze of Lemon
1. Blend the lychee to a purée, add the grape juice and lemon and serve cold.
Ya Dong is a herb infused spirit, reputed to have many medicinal qualities. If you ask a Thai person what's in Ya Dong, they will tell you all sorts of strange stories of lizard penis' and narcotic herbs. The truth is rather more boring, there is no set ingredients for Ya Dong, each person makes their own blend and it's usually nothing more than regular herbs like ginseng, plaonoi, tree bark and vodka or whiskey.
I'm not sure what's in my jar (above), it has been handed down between my friends, and I just top it up with vodka every month or so. I drink it with lime to kill the flavours a little. I'll try to find out what the herbs are and update this blog entry. (Anyone?)
Spring is coming, well at least in the Northern hemisphere! As with previous years, I'll be doing lighter food and drinks for the coming summer like this one. If you can get fresh guava, this is one of the most delicious ways to use it. It is a juice, really a smoothy, made from the pulp of the guava fruit.
Use larger older guava for this recipe, it will give a sweet/sour taste to the drink.
120 gms Guava Fruit
5 Tablespoons Sugar Syrup (50-50 sugar & water solution)
236 ml water ( boil )
1. Peel the guava, take only the outer flesh minus the seeds in the middle.
2. Mix the guava, syrup and water and blend in a food processor.
3. Pour over crushed ice.
4. Optionally a tiny pinch of salt over the top fills out the flavours.
Well you can buy sweetened soya milk in packets, but it's quite easy to make your own if you have yellow soya beans. I've photographed the milk sitting on dried soya beans, but if you can get fresh yellow or even green soya these both work well.
100 gms Soya Beans
500 ml Water
1. Rinse the soya beans to clean them. If the beans are dried, soak them overnight to soften them.
2. Blend the soya beans with water and sieve the mixture in a fine cloth sieve to remove the skin and pulp, leaving yourself with a white liquid.
3. Heat this liquid in a pan with the sugar, bring until just about to boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Serve chilled.
Soda making has gone out of fashion, but the ingredients are still there in Asian supermarkets if you look for them. For this you'll need Helbruboy (Hales Blu Boy). A range of syrups that has been available since my mother was a child!
4 Tablespoons Soya Milk.
3 Tablespoons Green Soda Syrup
2 Tablespoons Lemon
40 ml Soda Water (or Fizzy Mineral Water)
40 gms Crushed Ice
1. Mix all ingredients together except the soda in a cocktail mixer and shake.
2. Pour into the glass and pour the soda in.
Red bull is an energy drink from Thailand that famous worldwide. You've seen it in the usually silver cans, but in Thailand it's sold in small bottles. In the picture Red-bull is in the center, and because it was so successful many imitators have sprung up, a selection of which I've photographed.
We have berries in Thailand that are stimulants (similar to coffee) and these herbs and berries are frequently used in energy drinks. Older Thais chew a nut that makes their teeth black, which contains a similar active ingredient. I'll try to find some to photograph.
I'm visiting friends in Belgium for Christmas, and it's freezing! -4 degrees Celsius, it's 31 degrees in Bangkok and very humid. Time for Nam Kang Sei! Frozen snow cones from the freshly fallen snow, drizzled with Hales Blue Boy (helbruboy in Thai) cream soda and condensed milk. Merry Christmas.
This time of year (January, February) is when the sugar cane is harvested, in Kanchanaburi province, the streets are filled with convoys of trucks carrying the harvested sugar to the factory for processing. At this time of year you'll also see sugar cane sap vendors on the street with a machine to squeeze out the sweet juices and freshly cut canes. The cane sugar for drinking is much more juicy than the cane sugar for making sugar, it is grown specially for this drink.
This is an unusual cold Thai drink available in cans, but here we make it fresh. It looks like frog spawn, but don't let that put you off, those little gelatin lumps with black centres are actually Thai basil seeds. Thai basil has a smaller leaf than you see in Italian cooking, but the seeds are widely available. When you add water the seed swells into small soft balls and these give an unusual texture to the drink. The traditional flavouring is rose water, but you can flavour it with vanilla or peppermint essence if you prefer, or try adding the seeds to Iced Tea for tea with texture!
Bai Bua Bok is a green herb used to make health tea. You'll see the ice tea sold in many street markets across Thailand, it's the green tea, often sold next to yellow Chrysanthemum tea, and also called 'Gotu Cola'. A claimed cure for cancer, and sold as a health tea drink, it actually has quite a pleasant herb like flavour and goods source of vitamins when fresh. The herb can also be eaten raw, and is eaten with chillie paste.
On a hot day this is a good pleasant ice-tea like drink.
Another of the common flower and herb iced teas you see at Jatujak market is this one, made from, yellow Chrysanthemum flowers. Unlike Bai Bua Bok, the green herb tea I made a few days ago, this one is purely a floral flavour, no herbiness about it, and the syrup gives it the same sweetness.
You can find the dried flowers needed to make this in China town in Bangkok and also there's a good selection of blended Chrysanthemum teas too, to be found there. I left a couple of the flowers in the top for the photograph, but I'd remove all of them when serving it.
As you can imagine the Thai tea and coffees are served over ice as a cold drink rather than a hot drink. Although Starbucks are everywhere, and Costa Coffee shops are practically on every corner, we still have our own, older brands of tea and coffee.
See also 'Iced Sweet Thai Tea' on my Life blog for a video of how this is sold.
In the photograph above on the left, this is ready made tea from โอเลี้ยง (O-leang brand), and on the right I've made O-leang brand coffee with evaporated milk the way it's drunk in Thailand. Both served over ice.
I was shocked when I first visited Europe and when I asked for a lemon soda, I was given a fizzy clear sickly sweet drink that had never been near a lemon. That was my first brush with bottle lemonade (yuck). Here's how I make lemon soda in Thailand. If you've never made fresh lemonade, you may be suprised at the taste, just as I was suprised at the taste of supermarket bottled lemonade! Imagine a lazy summer day by the pool sipping lemonade when you drink it.
Among Thai people, it's far more common for us to drink whiskey and beer than wine as an alcoholic drink. The reason is simple, wine is very expensive, grapes don't grow well here in Thailand and so it's largely imported from abroad. We do grow a lot of rice and a lot of sugar and both are perfect to make spirits.
There are quite a few varieties, some made from distilled fermented rice (Similar to Sato), but most are fermented molasses, closer to rum than whiskey.
This is my breakfast. Every day, day in day out, I have a smoothy made with fresh seasonal fruit for breakfast. The fiber is good for digestion and the lycopene keeps your skin looking young.
(The Thai Vegetarian Festival is on, and I'll only be doing vegetarian recipes for a while).
To make a smoothy, you'll need a liquidizer to blend the fruit into a liquid ready to drink. I drink about half a liter of fruit smoothy each day for breakfast. That's about 5 of your 5 fruits a day.
Over the years and after several thousand smoothies, I've discovered there are rules to which fruits work and which not. Make a mistake and smoothy can taste like flavourless textureless mush.
There are three extra parts that I always add, firstly a creamy yoghurt to smooth the texture out, vanilla works best. Secondly frozen fruit, peaches, strawberries and dark skinned fruit like blueberries or blackberries, since these have a lot of lycopene in them. The coldness of the frozen fruit creates an ice crystal smoothie, which is far fresher to drink than a warm smoothy, and far more enjoyable. Thirdly, a dash of pomegranate or berry juice, this is a strong anti-oxidant and being liquid, helps the blending.
There are parts I keep to a minimum, I only use a little guava and a little pear, because they form a gloop and too much of them makes the drink unpleasantly gloopy. If you've used too much, add more grapes or watermelon to thin it out.
Sato is a home made rice 'wine', made from fermenting Thai sticky rice with water and yeast. The recipe for brewing it at home is below, but I wanted to give a free plug to Sato Click, a new brand I discovered that tastes delicious, crisp, refreshing and slightly sweet. Like an alco-pop without that horrible gloopy sweet corn syrup they add. If you're visiting Thailand, I'd strongly recommend you give it a try. I don't think they export it yet, but wish them every success with it. Spicy Thai food needs a sweet drink to go with it, and Sato, being traditionally Thai made with the best Thai sticky rice would be perfect to sell alongside a spicy gop gam dish, or even my Tom Yum Cashew Nuts from Phuket.
You will need the dried yeast culture to make sato at home. It's much more like a beer than a wine, not fizzy, and similar in strength to beer, but it need not be alcoholic. You can make a sweet Sato by fermenting for only a short period of time, not enough for alcohols to form, but enough for sugars to form from the starch.
The golden rule is cleanliness! Any mold contamination will ruin the sato, so you must clean everything in hot water and clean your hands carefully. The water should also be boiled and then cooled to make it sterile. If your water is chlorinated it can affect the yeast, so leave the water to stand for the chlorine to escape before using it.
I want to show you some of the many Thai drinks we have, and try to recreate the flavours of them. This one has a smooth cream soda like taste with a slight acidic after taste. The ingredients list says soda, sugar and a little drinking yoghurt, but when I tried that it didn't work. After some experimentation I found that full yoghurt is needed to get the creaminess, and that a squeeze of lemon juice adds the bite.
(Note, this is Japanese in origin).