New Lao recipe - Vun (Coconut milk and egg dessert)
This is a classic Lao dessert, though I must admit not everyone likes it. But if, like me, you love all those Thai desserts that are based on coconut milk and sugar, you should like this one, too.
I also consulted Phia Sing's cookbook (the desserts are not his, but were added to round out the collection). There, the eggs are optional, but if used, the coconut milk is added to them, rather than the other way around. I tried it that way, too, and found that it was harder to incorporate all the egg, and some remained runny after the Vun had set. I prefer my teacher's method.
1 cup thick coconut milk (divided into two 1/2 cup portions)
2 medium eggs
2 1/2 cups thin coconut milk (should be the consistency of skim milk)
1/2 oz mun (agar-agar)
1 cup granulated white sugar
Have ready by the stove a deep sided 8" square pan
Beat the eggs into one of the 1/2 cup potrions of thick coconut milk and set aside until needed.
Boil the mun in the 2 1/2 cups thin coconut milk until it is all dissolved. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add one of the 1/2 cup portions of thick coconut milk and stir.
While stirring the boiling mun/coconut milk/sugar mixture, pour in the egg/coconut milk in a thin stream, as you would for egg-drop soup. Let the egg mixture cook a few seconds without stirring, then immediately pour it all into the 8" pan. Set aside to cool (it will take about 30 to 40 minutes). Slice into squares and serve.
Thick coconut milk is simply coconut milk with a high proportion of coconut fat in it (like cream, which has more butterfat than milk does). It can be obtained two ways: either grate your own coconut and let the first extraction of milk sit so that you can skim off the top thick part (it rises to the top like cream in unpasteurized milk), or (much easier), buy canned coconut milk and do the same. Usually, when I buy Chaokoa (sp?) brand or Thai Taste brand, there is a thick mass of coconut milk on top that I can simply remove, leaving the thin stuff behind.
Do not use sweetened coconut milk that is made for addition to mixed drinks like pina coladas - use the plain canned coconut milk and sweeten it according to the recipe - then you know what degree of sweetness you're getting. If there is no thick stuff in the top of the can, pour it into a bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator until the thick part rises to the top.
If you really want to be traditional, use two coconuts and grate the white part only (remove the brown skin from the meat). Add 2 cups warm water to the grated meat and wring it out in a tea towel to get the first extraction. Wringing out the same coconut meat 2nd and 3rd times gives a thinner product that is called "thin coconut milk."