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Coconut Sugar

I'm seeking the help of some industrious chowhounds to track down proper thai coconut sugar. I realise that the dried, hockey puck-shaped 'coconut sugar' is available in most chinese supermarkets but what i'm looking for is more akin to caramel: i.e.: sweet, soft and sticky.

Can anyone help?

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  1. I had been on a hunt for palm sugar (Is that the same as coconut sugar?) as it was an ingredient in the pad thai recipe from Salad King. I had heard a CBC radio show, and the recipe was posted on the CBC website. I haven't made it yet, but I did find the palm sugar at Singh Grocery. It's just east of Hwy 27 on Albion Rd. Great samosas too. The sugar is called "jaggery goor" and is most likely available at any Indian food store.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Yongeman

      Palm sugar and coconut sugar are almost the same. You can go to any branch of
      T&T Supermarket and find the product there.

    2. If palm sugar is the same as coconut sugar I buy mine at the House of Spice in Kensington market. I find it really makes a difference in SE Asian cooking.

      I also get unprocessed cane sugar at Perola which gets added to my Latin dishes.

      1. I can't help, but gosh that sounds delicious!
        reminds me a bit of Maltose that I use to eat by the spoonful as a kid.

        why do you need this particular type of coconut sugar?

        1 Reply
        1. re: orangewasabi

          i'm trying to track it down so i can make pad thai from a recipe i picked up while in thailand over new year. it's fantastic (the sugar...well the pad thai recipe too). not overpoweringly sweet and very nutty.

        2. Coconut sugar and palm sugar are quite similar and are used in SE Asian cooking. Here's a link to an overview of the two and how they differ: http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/ingr...

          1 Reply
          1. re: midtowngirl

            That is a great link, thanks! And I followed it to a kickass Pad Thai recipe also!

          2. Thanks for all the suggestions. In the same spirit, if anyone knows where i can get heinz (that's right, the same as the ketchup) sweet chili sauce-- not the thick tomato-y one gotten at most grocers, the one you get in thailand-- i'd be ever grateful.

            2 Replies
            1. re: yoyodyne

              If you're not married to the Heinz variety, Thai Kitchen makes a good sweet chili sauce. Otherwise, check the Asian grocers on Spadina just north of Dundas - they're bound to have what you're looking for. Now you've got me curious about the coconut sugar and inspired me to dig up some of the recipes from my last trip to Thailand. Oh, I miss the food there...

              1. re: peppermint pate

                Thanks for the tip! I miss the food in thailand too.

            2. Another tip for cooking Thai - the green grocer that's just at the bottom of the stairs in the St.Lawrence Market has a great selection of SE Asian herbs. Otherwise, definitely try the grocery stores in Chinatown - you can even find green papaya for som tam.

              1. If anyone reading this hasn't tried palm sugar, run to your nearest Chinese food store and buy a block of it. Seriously, it's sweet and creamy and better than virtually any candy you can find. Delicious stuff, and it definitely makes a huge difference in Asian cookery.

                11 Replies
                1. re: vorpal

                  any chinese store in particular? all the large supermarkets i hit on spadina two weekends ago when i was scouting ingredients seemed to have the same plastic bags full of hard, hockey-puck looking lumps of sugar. I'm totally jonesin' for the real thing so please dish ;o)

                  1. re: yoyodyne

                    I was able to get some in Chinatown East about a year ago, but I've only seen the rock hard pucks of it since (which still is better than white sugar by a huge margin, IMO). There's a spectacular grocery store just east of Pacific Mall that I think had it, but I bet I'm one of the few people determined enough to haul my butt all the way up there on TTC for ingredients :D.

                  2. re: vorpal

                    Sorry for butting in here. I stumbled across this thread when I googled 'Thai palm sugar'. I'm wondering about this 'Chinese' palm sugar - is it made in China? Does the ingredient list specify the type of palm it's made from? Is it very dark brown or more tannish/goldenish like Thai palm sugar?

                    I'm a food writer based in Malaysia and my husband, a photogrpaher, and I have been doing research on SE Asian palm sugar on and off for about 6 months. I'll admit right now that I'm a bit obsessed with the stuff. We've watched it being made in Malaysia, on Sumatra, and on Bali. What's amazing to us is how the flavor of the sugar can vary wildly according to the type of palm it comes from (aren palm and coconut palm are varieties usually used), how it's processed (wood, versus gas, fire gives lots of smokiness; some makers add natural ingredients to get a darker color); and whether or not it's aged.

                    At any rate, thanks in advance for any info. If you've not tried Indonesian palm sugar - which, IMO, is even more wonderful than Thai palm sugar (I agree, it can be eaten like candy it's so good), look for it. Somewhere on the package it should say 'asli' - this guarantees that the sugar is pure palm sugar with no cane sugar mixed in. If you compare asli and 'tainted' side-by-side you find that the cane sugar really changes the flavor, not for the better.

                    -----

                    http://eatingasia.typepad.com

                    1. re: foodfirst

                      Wish I could give you more information... The label that was at the top of what I believe is my coconut sugar (it came in light golden tan, creamy small patties that sort of swirled up like little lumps of soft serve ice cream, was soft, and totally melted in your mouth) is long gone, so I can't tell you anything. From your descriptions, I suspect that it was probably Thai, and given that the focus of my cookery is Thai, I guess I was in luck when I purchased it. I'm almost out, too, and I'm sad because I've yet to locate it again in Chinatown East, which only seems these days to stock the hard, hockey puck lumps of dark brown stuff. Still delicious and far superior to white sugar, but nowhere near the other stuff.

                      I'm ludicrously jealous, by the way, that you're based in Malaysia. I have been looking for Malaysian ingredients in Toronto without much success for some time. I managed to track down Baba's Chicken Curry powder and belacan, but virtually none of the other essentials, unfortunately, and no one seems to know anything about them. At my first chance, I will be heading to SE Asia to visit Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore to further study the cuisine of those areas first hand. Curse being a poor grad student!

                      Thanks so much for that information. I find it highly difficult to get detailed knowledge of the subtleties of SE Asian cooking down here, and I relish everything I can find.

                      1. re: vorpal

                        Hi there - sorry for bringing back such an old post..

                        I also live in Toronto and have been trying to find Baba's meat curry powder.. and your post was one of the first things that came up on Google..

                        Could you suggest any shops where I may be able to find it for sale?

                        Thanks!

                      2. re: foodfirst

                        By the way, your blog is fantastic! Thank you for sharing the link with me!

                        1. re: vorpal

                          Is mail-ordering from the States a problem? www.uwajimaya.com has a decent selection of Malaysian and Indonesian ingredients. They do have Indonesian palm sugar, one brand --- and read the descriptions bec. one is 'asli' and one is not. It sure be pure palm sugar and nothing else. I don't Malaysian palm sugar is exported at all, which is really a shame. Many of these small batch producers will eventually give up the craft, and it will disappear.

                          I hear you about lack of info on Malaysian cuisine. It truly is SE Asia's most underrated, I think. We lived and ate very well in Thailand and Vietnam - wonderful cuisines both. But after 1.5 years in Kuala Lumpur we are still just scratching the surface of what Malaysia has to offer. There's just a general lack of info out there about food in Malaysia. All the foodie travelers rave about Singapore but Singaporeans drive up to KL on the weekends to eat (not to mention Penang and Melaka).

                          Books I'd recommend are Oseland's of course ... but also Brissendon's, which was recently put out in a new edition. Lots of lesser-known Malaysian and Indonesian dishes in there. And, if it's not out of print or if you can find an old copy, Konneman's 'SE Asian Specialties' from their Culinaria series is quite good. Sometimes the recipes aren't super specific, but what I've made from the book so far is very authentic. Once you make your own rempah (powder) for a Malaysian chicken curry from scratch, you'll never go back to packaged!

                          BTW, thanks for the kind words re: our blog.

                          -----

                          http://eatingasia.typepad.com

                          1. re: foodfirst

                            as a cuisine sorely under represented in our fair burgh (though i strongly suspect it's combination of flavours would appeal to the local citizenry), i'd love to learn more about malaysian cooking and look forward to reading your blog to find out more.

                          2. re: vorpal

                            Thought you all might be interested in this:

                            http://www.bigtreebali.com/sugar.html

                            I haven't sampled it but I would expect the additional heating required to get it to 'user-friendly' crystal form alters the taste. Still, it may be worth checking out. Googling brought up Kalyustan's in New York as another source.

                            Cheers!

                            1. re: foodfirst

                              Robyn,

                              The presentation you and dave are giving in chicago sounds totally fascinating (wish i were closer so i could attend). i'm assuming it's what all the research was for? it strikes me that making coconut and palm sugar seems like a very similar process to the venerable canadian spring tradition of 'sugaring off' to make maple syrup and maple sugar. i might have to do some research to determine whether there are any 'artisanal' maple sugar makers in ontario/quebec...

                              1. re: yoyodyne

                                The research sprung out of a personal obsession, and the talk (and a possible article) followed. We are looking forward to introducing this incredible product to however many folks plan to attend.

                                Sap is taken from many kinds of palms - we'll have samples of coconut sugar (eg. most Thai palm sugars), sugar from the aren palm (most common on Sumatra, a bit in Malaysia), and the nypa palm (Bali, Sarawak). All delicious, but I am really partial to the Sumatra stuff.

                                I'd thought about researching artisinal maple sugar, just to talk to the makers and hear what they have to say about flavor and how to achieve the best. Ran out of time. I would imagine there are some in Canada. Would be an interesting comparison, for sure.

                      3. AHA! I have some!!!! Available in 4 different varieties, Coconut Palm Sugar (plain) with Ginger, or Cinnamon...or Vanilla.

                        I saw them online at a Canadian website: www.epicureal.com

                        Oh, by the way, they are the ones from Big Tree farms - Bali

                        Enjoy!

                        1. Living Foods carries coconut sugar. You can find it online. I would like to make hard candy using coconut sugar. Has anyone tried it?

                          1. For all those still interested, I found coconut palm sugar at my local Bulk Barn (Richmond Hill) of all places, after searching high and low in Asian supermarkets. It is in granulated form if that makes a difference. I bought it specifically to make sago gula melaka but I end up using it as brown sugar substitute in baking/ Very yummy stuff..