February 21, 2013 | Narrative
ice cream recipes from bangkok
thai one on for size
article by allison morgan
I thought I was doing a pretty good job in the transitional stage from life in Bangkok to daily life on College Hill. My winter-session internship there had sadly come to an end; I dragged my feet upon entering T.F. Green airport from the plane. I knew the transition from luscious Thailand life to dreary Providence would not be easy. My digestive track had to readjust to glutinous bread after having gotten used to glutinous rice. The concept of wearing winter gloves and not perspiring from basic activities such as walking down stairs was still a bit hard to grasp. But I had seemed to be making progress—until, much to my dismay, this glove-wearing concept became a requirement: Providence was covered in 36 inches of snow.
This recent snowfall was just the reality check I was avoiding. I gave the storm several hours of indoor observance. I wished others well on their Ratty-tray sledding trips and bid a caring adieu as they embraced the outdoors. I could not help but think: Is this pathetic? Should I at least walk outside?
Upon my first step out the door, I knew even a brisk walk across campus would be filled with thoughts such as, In Thailand, I did not have to worry about a trip on sheets of ice … the only thing in blocking the sidewalk was a street cart serving coconut ice cream. Thai ice cream is quite different from American ice cream. It’s more of a savory mixture of toppings upon cream-of-coconut-drenched shaved ice, all served in a to-go bowl with a plastic spoon.
With this in mind, I picked up my pace and returned directly to my kitchen. I am at least going to use this storm to my advantage. Grabbing a few ingredients from the fridge, I embraced the snow … by scooping an untouched pile from my front porch into a bowl. (The transaction lasted a freezing .8 seconds). Within minutes, I had myself a comforting taste of Thailand. While I am anxiously awaiting the snow season to end, I have a coping mechanism in case of any additional Providence precipitation.
THAI ICE CREAM—NEMO A LA MODE
1 can coconut milk
½ cup sugar (I used evaporated cane crystals—but any sweetener will do)
any fresh fruit that you may have—preferably something with tropical origin
canned fruit such as lychee (if interested)
black beans (or kidney beans—anything but chickpeas, really)
some sliced pumpkin (or in my case, butternut squash)
diced fruit such as mango, taro, or canned lychee
copious amounts of (preferably clean) snow
iI there is not snow on the ground, or you are as much of a wimp as I am, store-bought vanilla or original coconut ice cream (found at most grocery stores) will work as well.
1. Open can of coconut milk and with spoon, remove all of the white, congealed portion (this is the cream), and place in microwave safe dish.
2. Microwave for roughly 15 seconds to liquify the cream. Add sugar and a few ice cubes; stir.
3. Pour generous amount over snow (ice cubes are optional to include, dependent on desired texture).
4. Top with various toppings listed above, to taste. More snow may be needed.
Cultural notes: Ice cream comes in many different forms in Thailand, but a majority of the variations are made with coconut milk. Different neighborhoods of Bangkok have different serving methods, and the following additions may improve your Thai ice cream experience:
· Thai Ice Cream Sandwich à la Chinatown, from the thriving Chinatown neighborhood in the city that sells this variation on carts: Take a white hot dog bun or other breaded roll, open slightly, and add selected toppings from list above. Scoop ice cream onto bun, and eat with care.
· Thai Ice Cream for Tourists à la Chatuchak Market, a gargantuan weekend market that sells everything from shoes to puppies: Find a coconut or coconut shell, crack open in two halves, and scoop out a majority of the fruit’s meat. Scoop the ice cream into the coconut shell and eat plain.
· Thai Ice Cream for Temple Visitors à la Ayutthaya, where ice cream, found near the exits of ancient ruins and temples, require no utensils: Blend ice cream (or coconut milk) with fruit or beans; then freeze concoction in a brick-like mold. Approach as if it were a popsicle.
· Thai Ice Cream for University Students à la Siam Square, a central area with close proximity to many of the city’s universities: Siam Square is filled with frozen yogurteries and other soft-serve businesses, so chuck the culinary attempts and get some FroyoWorld.