While I was wandering around food markets in Singapore, I found brown sweet cakes of different colours and shades. When I asked the uncle in the store what it is, he looked at me like I was martian and said that they were “one of the most essential ingredients for cooking young man, it is palm sugar.” I have bought small sample to taste wandered off towards home to learn more.
Happy reading 🙂 …
Palm sugar is a sweetener from the sap of date palms, coconuts and nipa palms around the subtropics.
Palm sugar is produced by extracting the sap from palm flowers. They are either sold as is, or allowed to slowly crystallize into solid forms of numerous shapes and sizes.
It is a very common ingredient used in the preparation of traditional South and South-East Asian dishes. As the taste profile of palm sugar varies across the different regions in Indonesia, many locals are very specific when it comes to pairing single origin palm sugar to traditional dishes for its authentic taste.
Palm sugar’s flavor profile varies from a mild caramel taste to a slightly savoury one. In many ways, it is similar to natural molasses, but lighter in flavor. It is traditionally used for making curries, sauces, desserts – ice cream and puddings to name two.
In Indonesia, Thailand and many other countries, you can find Palm sugar at roadside stalls and local markets. It’s also known as gula melaka, jaggery, gula kelapa, gula semut to name a few.
For the flavour complexity, we have decided to create a cocktail recipe based on dark rum. Enjoy!
50 ml Dark Rum
20 ml Fresh grapefruit juice
10 ml Fresh lime juice
15 ml Salted Palm sugar syrup (adjust to your taste)*
5 ml Sugar syrup
Top up with soda water
Build in a glass over ice, gently stir, garnish with mint spring, slice of grapefruit and enjoy.
*Salted Palm Sugar Syrup
Dissolve 5 grams salt in 100 ml still water, once salt is dissolved, add 150 grams of palm sugar and stir until it dissolves.
Bartenders note: “Did you know that palm sugar was widely used in Indonesia long before sugarcane reigned throughout Java?”