RECIPE #361, DAY #537
ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Khanom Bataeng Laai/Northern Thai Melon Custard,” from Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok*
TIMING: 1 hour, plus time to cool completely
DIFFICULTY: Little difficult
TOOLS: Tart pan, large baking pan, blender, sieve
COOK TYPE: Oven (or wide Chinese steamer, if you happen to have one of those lying around)
HEALTH: The plus side of Asian “dessert” is that it is not overly sweet or rich, in general. Aaaand, this is gluten free.
EXPERIENCE: Wasn’t sure what to do for Thai dessert for supper club, so I just went with the expertise of Andy Ricker. Although I have always hated melon, I thought this custard seemed easy enough to end a day of very stretching culinary acrobatics.
Although everyone seems to enjoy this dessert–including, surprisingly me–everyone is also very happy with just a small square or two. Perhaps its the delicacy of this dish that begs moderation. In other words, don’t make too much.
I re-made it the next week for 2 separate teas where gluten-free ladies abounded, and they were also very happy with this delicate, floral, refined, exotic (and yet simple) dessert.
NOTES: Officially, this should be steamed in a wide Chinese steamer. Although I have an electric steamer, it does not have the width to make a custard like this or accommodate a wide, shallow dish. Instead, I used a more familiar technique, making a steamer out of my oven. It worked. (Note: I have a double oven and I used the smaller one.)
By white rice flour, I mean a cornstarch-like flour found in an Asian market and not sticky rice flour.
I forgot the tapioca flour, so I used 1/4 cup arrowroot flour, which worked just fine.
- Set your oven racks so that one is in the center and one is underneath with enough clearance for a large baking pan. Place an empty large baking pan on the lower rack. Preheat oven to 350F.
- Bring a tea kettle of water to boil.
- Meanwhile, puree cantaloupe flesh until you have 3 cups. Add enough unsweetened coconut cream to make 4 cups total. Add 1 1/4 cup white rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Puree until combines, scraping down the sides of the blender.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve into a mixing bowl, working the melon through until mostly dry-ish pulp. Discard of the pulp and set the melon aside.
- Lightly grease a tart pan with coconut oil. Gently dump in the cantaloupe mixture.
- Carefully open the oven and pour your kettle of boiling water into the empty baking pan. Quickly but carefully move the custard to the rack in the middle of the oven and close that oven door. Bake/steam for 45 minutes before checking on it. It should not jiggle at all, but should be set all the way in the middle.
- Allow to come to room temperature. Serve cut into 1 1/2-inch square or refrigerate to keep longer.
Serve with Sweetened Condensed Milk Ice Cream Affogato for a stellar ending to a Thai meal.
LEFTOVER IDEAS: You can cover this and keep it refrigerated for a week, but you want to serve it room temperature.
*Recipe has been changed from the original.