One of the great, fun to eat Thai desserts, this one transforms ordinary water chestnuts into what looks like pomegranate seeds or the jewel called “rubies”. In this recipe we are making red rubies; you can use green coloring to make “emeralds”; you can use your imagination with different colors to create other jewels to eat! Kids especially enjoy the crunchy texture.
The Thai name is usually spelled in English as tup tim grop and the Thai script is ทับทิมกรอบ.
Serve four people as part of a multi-course Thai meal.
The preparation for this dish takes about 10 minutes of cutting the water chestnuts and
Making the Pomegranate Seeds
- water chestnuts, about 2 cups, rinsed and well drained, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. We are going to later color these uninspiring items to a glorious red.
- 2 teaspoons red food coloring (look for a product labelled “FCF” – it means it is designed for coloring food and has been tested by governmental bodies for safety of ingredients)
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups cornstarch
- 2 cups mixed tropical fruit such as orange slices cut into small pieces, or mango pieces, jackfruit, lychees or longans, as available in the market or the better quality cans (some canned tropical fruits such as lychees or longans can be lovely)
- crushed ice for serving
Sweet Coconut Cream Topping
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups thick coconut cream from a can. The Thai brands Chao Koh, Aroy-D and Savoy are all best sellers.
- 1 teaspoon jasmine, pandan or vanilla extract (depending on the manufacturer, you will see this flavoring products referred to as “essence”, “extract” or “liquid”, but they all serve the same purpose)
To Make The Pomegranate Seeds
- Add the food coloring to the water and stir. Place your diced water chestnuts into a bowl. Add this colored water over the cute little seeds and stir well. Let the water chestnuts sit in the colored water for 15 minutes so they absorb the color.
- Remove the water chestnuts from the water and drain very well. If the water chestnuts are dried until slightly moist, the cornstarch will adhere better, so deposit them into a sieve and give it a good shake.
- We use cornstarch to help preserve the color of the ruby red water chestnuts when they are cooked. It acts like a shield so the color does not wash off in the hot cooking water. Add the cornstarch to medium bowl. Roll the well-drained pomegranate seeds in the cornstarch until each side is coated. Make sure to separate all the water chestnut pieces so they are uniformly coated with the cornstarch. Place the coated seeds in a wire mesh strainer and shake well until the excess cornstarch falls through the sieve, then set these aside. Removing excess cornstarch will help make sure the starch doesn’t clump on the outside of the water chestnuts when cooked.
- Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium so the water slows to a gentle boil. Add the red, cornstarch-dusted seeds in half cup batches, stir with a spoon to separate and cook for 3 minutes or until all the water chestnut seeds float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water for 1 minute. Repeat this process until all the water chestnuts are cooked. After they sit in the cold water, the exciting brighter red color will emerge.
To Make The Sweet Coconut Cream
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the water and sugar and heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so the sugar fully dissolves and you get a thick syrup. Remove from the heat and set this aside to cool. Add the coconut cream and the flavoring extract and mix well with a spoon. Set aside to cool slightly until ready to serve over the red pomegranate rubies.
Serve Me Red, Red Rubies
Serving is a snap: place some crushed ice in dessert bowls and apportion about 3 tablespoons of the red, red rubies on top of the crushed ice. Add some the various fruit on top of the red, red rubies. Spoon 4 tablespoons of the sweetened coconut cream on top of each serving for the dessert and serve with a smile.