A: Welcome to VOV24/7’s Food Delight, bringing you helpful cooking tips and delicious recipes.
B: Hello, guys and gals. I’ve just returned from a trip to Ben Tre province in the Mekong Delta and brought back several yummy recipes to share.
A: The mention of Ben Tre makes people think of coconuts, so my guess is that the dish you’re introducing today might contain coconut.
B: Good guess! Can you guess the dish?
A: I visited Ben Tre last year and tried several delicious coconut dishes: creamy coconut rice, coconut-braised shrimp, salad made with coconut hearts, and coconut candy. Which one is it?
B: It’s coconut candy! During my trip, I visited a coconut candy factory to learn how this sweet, chewy, yummy candy is made. Long, our tour guide, showed us where the process of transforming coconuts into candy begins.
"You have to peel off the whole skin of the coconut first by using an iron tool. Local people only need about 10 to 12 seconds per coconut. The coconut juice can be made into coconut whiskey or coconut caramel,” Long said.
If you visit Ben Tre, don’t leave without trying the coconut candy. (Photo:monngonbonphuong.net )
B: Long then took us inside the factory, where we met some local workers preparing to make a batch of coconut candy. The necessary ingredients are coconut, sugar, and malt.
“First, we extract the coconut meat, grind it, and use a fabric filter to extract the milk, which is mixed with malt syrup to make coconut candy. The leftover coconut meat is dried for 1 or 2 days and then pressed again for coconut oil, which can be used to make skin or hair care products. Big pieces of coconut shell are carved and decorated to make souvenirs for visitors. Smaller broken shells are fuel for cooking the coconut candy,” one worker told us.
A: In addition to making candy, Ben Tre people also use coconuts to make conical hats, roofs, juice, wine, and collages.
B: I admired the many fine art products and jewelry made from coconuts, such as handbags, wallets, hair-pins, masks, rings, necklaces, chopsticks and souvenirs.
A: Coconut products are beautiful and popular with tourists. But let’s get back to the candy. What do they do with the coconut milk?
B: Let’s hear more from that candy maker: “The mixture of coconut milk and malt is slowly brought to a very high temperature over 40 minutes. You must keep stirring the mixture with large wooden paddles until it is caramelized to a thick texture.
"You have to stand near the pot and keep an eye on its progress. You could add some durian, pandan leaf juice, or roasted peanuts to enhance the flavor. While the thickened mixture is still hot and soft, pour it into wooden molds and allow it to cool for 15 to 20 minutes."
|A coconut candy factory in Ben Tre. (Photo: vietnam-tour.biz)
A: The just cooked caramel is extremely hot and will most certainly burn your hand or mouth if touched or tasted. So, even though it looks great and smells great, wait until the caramel has cooled, then cut it into small rectangular pieces.
B: Afterward, the coconut candy is wrapped twice, first with edible rice paper, then with paper soaked in vegetable oil so the candy won’t stick.
A: If you visit Ben Tre, don’t leave without trying the coconut candy. Good luck and bon appétit!