Nangka stuffed with pulut
Mango sticky rice (“kao niew mamuang” in Thai) is among my favourite Thai desserts. The fresh, sweet mango is paired with rich, soft pulut (glutinous rice) smothered with a creamy santan (coconut milk) sauce. Sometimes the dessert is sprinkled with toasted mung beans, adding a little crunchy texture to the delicious treat.
Pulut durian is another decadent treat I relish. It is also topped with a thick santan sauce. Hearty and filling, this pairing is sinfully delicious, especially if you are a durian lover. By itself, the smooth, creamy durian flesh is already something sublime to indulge. However, savouring the “King of the Fruits” with pulut and santan takes it to a whole new level. Come to think of it, this is actually a meal in itself (seldom served as a dessert) as it will keep you feeling full for hours.
One other fruit that complements pulut well is nangka (a local term for jackfruit). In Thailand, a dessert known as “kao niew kanun” is jackfruit stuffed with pulut. I love cooking and am always willing to explore new flavours and textures that excite my palate. Thus, when making this dish, I experimented with two types of pulut. One version was with white pulut, of course, infused with the “lemak-ness” of santan when steaming. I left it pristine white although it could be coloured light green with pandan (screwpine) juice or blue with butterfly pea flowers.
The coconut sauce is also easy to make. Cook the sauce with some sugar and salt to taste and a little rice flour (dilute with water) to slightly thicken it. Once it starts to boil, remove it from the stove and allow it to cool.
The other version I tried was with pulut hitam (black glutinous rice) which added more contrast, making it visually appealing. The sun-yellow hue of the nangka looked handsome against a lovely shade of burgundy from the pulut hitam. Maybe this is why pulut hitam is also known as purple sticky rice. I added some white pulut to soften the texture of the rice and obtain a lighter shade of colour. Having complementary colours on the plate is exciting and vibrant. Although the pulut hitam is not as soft as the white variety, it, however, had more body and bite. Enjoying this offering with a thick santan sauce is truly satisfying.
The next time I make this dish, I will top it with some freshly grated coconut that will add more texture and dimension to the dessert. Adding gula Melaka (palm sugar) will also increase the aroma of the santan gravy. I would only add a little gula Melaka to avoid overpowering the sweet fragrance of the nangka.
Steaming pulut is easy. All you have to do is rinse and soak the pulut overnight. The following day, drain and steam the pulut with santan and pandan leaves. Putting this exquisite Thai dessert together is easy as well. Since there are very few places in Penang selling it, I would recommend that you make it at home. Allow the pulut to cool down before stuffing it into the nangka. It is worth exploring!
Written and photographed by Adrian Cheah © All rights reserved
17 May 2017