Three tempting Thai delicacies
In Thailand, gold is regarded very highly not only for its intrinsic value but for its association with wealth. As Buddhism is the centre of the Thai way of life, we Thais adorn our offerings to Buddha in religious ceremonies or festivals with gold leaf. This tradition is carried over to desserts which incorporate the Thai word for gold, thong, into their names: thong yib, thong yod and foi thong. These desserts not only have the word for gold in their names, but they are golden in colour as well. People believe their origin is from a royal palace of ancient Ayutthaya period. And as mentioned in our ‘Visit Thailand’ page, Petchaburi is the present site of the Ayutthaya period’s rich past. Nowadays the best thong yib, thong yod and foi thong are known to be from Petchaburi.
Strangely enough, these desserts are not of pure Thai origin but are derived from Portuguese sweets. The Portuguese were the first western people to reach Ayutthaya where they introduced the use of eggs which were to become another important ingredient in Thai desserts on top of flour, sugar and coconut products which were already used.
Thong yib means pinched gold. This kind of traditional delicacy is made from pure egg yolk beaten until thick and fluffy. To make this dessert, dollops of batter are spooned into still, hot heavy syrup which is then brought to the boil to cook the batter on both sides. Once cooked, the batter then goes into another bowl which is filled with still, cooled lighter syrup where they are allowed to absorb the lighter syrup. While still warm, they are ready for the last step: pinching them to have 3, 5, 8 or pedals. They are then left in small round ceramic cups to cool and set.
Thong yod means gold drop. This glossy dew drop-like dessert is also made from heavily beaten egg yolk blended with wheat or rice flour. The drop shape is formed by dropping the thick mixture from the tip of a teaspoon or the tip of a finger into hot bubbling heavy syrup. The drops are then removed into still, cooled lighter syrup after cooking.
Foi thong means gold fibre. This is the least sweet delicacy of the three. It, too, is made from pure egg yolk but with a small amount of egg-dew, the light egg white remaining in the egg shells. In order to achieve the desired stringy texture, the yolk must not be beaten but stirred with a spoon or a stick in the same direction until a smooth and well-blended look is reached. A fine string of the batter is then allowed to flow annularly from a small hole at the tip of a cone held 1-2 feet above a vessel of bubbling heavy syrup. Once enough gold silk to form a thick skein has been poured, the cook will interrupt the flow and begin on a new skein. This step is repeated until the vessel is full. When cooked, each skein is waved gently with a stick through the syrup to give it a glossy, silky look. The skeins are then rested on top of another vessel to drain. Once drained, each skein is folded several times to make smaller, thicker skeins.
These photos were taken at ‘Luk Jiab’, a shop in Petchaburi which specialises in making traditional Thai delicacies using ancient recipes but which has adopted modern facilities to meet present mass demands.