It is so good to be back in Bali. We four are truly happy here. The kids are in a fun school nearby. We have a little glass-walled bungalow overlooking a vast expanse of rice fields. Life is sweet.
Once I got over my jet lag, which sadly has gotten more and more tenacious as I get older, all I have wanted to do is dive into the local flavors. What are the most luscious and delectable local ingredients? Where are the best markets? P has taken to waking up early for trips to our small daily village market. Everyone chuckles at him as the odd foreigner; he just keeps going and brings back fantastic goodies. Yes, we really dig rambutans, passion fruit, and mangosteens, but I promise not to share too many recipes using a bunch of obscure tropical ingredients that aren't available away from the equator - I want my travel finds to work in your home kitchens.
The thing I really want to share with you today is my new love....palm (coconut) sugar! When we were first here late August, I fell for coconut sugar, its flavor dark, caramely, rich, and not-too-sweet. Now that we have a working kitchen, it has become my new favorite ingredient. Quick to melt, palm sugar is a great tool for bakers to have. And here in Asia it is used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Little did I know that my new indulgence isn't so bad for you. I read up on palm sugar and found that it is low glycemic, high in iron, potassium, zinc, and a multitude of vitamins, etc. Turns out Palm Sugar is the new thing. Who knew?
Every morning we have rice flour pancakes (post coming soon, I promise) topped with yogurt and a drizzle of palm syrup. We use the syrup in a cocktail with Arak (a local Balinese spirit), lime, and mint. I also like to stir palm syrup into plain yogurt to achieve just the right sweetness.
If you try this palm syrup recipe at home, I'd love to hear what you think of the unusual and complex flavor and how you use it. I hope you love it as much as we do!
- 1 cup Palm Sugar: Granulated is easiest and organic seems to be readily available. (If you can only find a block of palm sugar, it is easy to grate with a cheese grater) Note:you should be able to find palm sugar at Asian markets or your local health food store.
- 1/3 cup water
- optional 1 vanilla pod (let steep in syrup)
Place grated/granulated palm sugar in a sauce pan with water on stove top over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved and begins to bubble. Take off heat. Let cool. It's that simple.