Luk Chup looks like various kinds of fruits and vegetables, such as chilies, cherries, mangosteens, oranges, mangoes, watermelons, and carrots but they are in miniature size. Their taste is sweet, their smell is fragrant, and their appearance is attractive and colorful. The meaning of Luk Chup is ‘lovely,’ usually used when adults give candy to little ones.
A distinctly Thai adaptation of a sweet almond snack that was introduced to Thailand by Portuguese adventurers way back in the 1600s, Luk Chup are made by boiling mung bean, sugar and coconut milk into a pulp, which is then molded into fantastical shapes. As a finishing touch, a jelly is applied to coat the mung bean sweets to create a plastic look and texture. The flavor is unlike any other. Smooth, rich and creamy as bean pastes are, with a rubbery outer layer. They're semi-sweet with a hint of smoky aroma from the infusion of essence(Ray,2016 June 3).
In the old days, Luk Chup was the sweetmeats made for the king of Siam to have after meals in the palace. The skill of making these little sweetmeats could thus be learned only from people in the palace. Nowadays, eating Luk Chup is not limited to only palace people. However, they still preserve its position as the sweetmeats for those of high society since they are rather expensive and the Thais popularly present the dessert to their superiors and elders on special occasions like New Year's Day, birthdays, or as a gift to convey one's congratulations (Luk Chup candy, 2016).
- Green mung beans or the peeled variety
- Coconut milk (first pressing)
- Food colorings
- Castor sugar (also known as granulated sugar)
- Mortar and Pestle or Food Processor!
- Mixing bowl
- Wide flat pan with steamer
- Heavy wooden spoon
- Dipping bowl
- Wooden skewers
- Foam or drilled piece of wood
- Small paintbrushes
- Soak the mung beans in 1 liter of water for 6–7 hours. At this point, take off the excess water and let the peeled green mung beans remain. You will then need to steam the green mung beans until they become soft. Make sure that you have drained off all the water from the beans before starting the steaming process. Once steamed, leave the beans aside to cool down.
- Pour the beans into a food processor, add the coconut milk and sugar to the bowl. Stir the ingredients until they have mixed well. The beans will still retain shape and only partially disintegrate with the mixing process.
- Gently pulse the mix to make a soft homogenous paste of the steamed mung beans, sugar and coconut milk. The mix may still look rather wet at this stage.
- Empty the mix from the food processor and pour it into a fairly wide frying pan. There is no need to oil the pan. Keep the pan over a slow flame and slowly heat the mixture. You can use a thick wooden spoon to stir the mixture in the pan.
- This process is meant to give the mixture the right consistency to allow molding into miniature fruits and vegetables.
- Using the wooden spoon to mix the contents will give you a good idea as to when the consistency of the mixture is just right. At this point, turn off the flame and take the pan off the burner. Allow the cooked mixture to cool, ready to mold into candy.
Molding the Luk Chup
- Take small portions of the Luk Chup mixture prepared above, roll and mold the mixture into the shape of your choice. Traditionally the size of these miniatures Luk Chup is around 1.5 cm to 2.5 cm. Once you have used your artistic skills to mold the best candy, stick a toothpick into the soft Luk Chup. Gently hold the toothpick from below and use the food colors to paint the Luk Chup.
- You will now need to allow the Luk Chup molded pieces to dry without getting them crushed or deformed. This is where the thick foam or thick stiff sponge we mentioned above becomes useful.
- Your toothpick will now have a Luk Chup fruit or vegetable at one end. Poke the other end into the foam or sponge. In the next stage, you will dip the dried and painted Luk Chup into the gelatin.
Preparing the Gelatin
- Make a clear jelly by heating water, sugar and gelatin powder (follow the instructions on the gelatin packet for the correct amount of water) for 5 to 6 minutes. The gelatin is now ready for the Luk Chup dipping process. Make sure that the Luk Chup that you poked into the foam or sponge has dried. If this is not the case, some ugly color smudging could result when you dip the Luk Chup into the gelatin.
- Pick the dried Luk Chup one by one with the attached toothpick, gently dip the candy into the gelatin and once again poke it into the sponge or foam to dry. The gelatin coating on the Luk Chup will harden a bit when dry and give a shimmering gloss to Luk Chup (Luk Chup, 2018).
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