Love at First Bite with Thailand’s Thong Yip Dessert

Thong Yip traditional Thai dessert made from duck and chicken eggyolks, sugar syrup and jasmine-flavored waterMeet my new favorite Thai dessert. She looks harmless and simple. But don’t be fooled. Once you pick her up from her dainty plastic cup, your fingers will immediately feel the pull of its sticky, sugary nature. She’s soft and oh-so supple. As you start salivating, go ahead and put it in your mouth. The first contact is quite unforgettable — it’s quite heavy because it’s steeped in syrup. You know how rum cake soaked in rum tastes like, right? Well, it’s twice better. What sealed the deal for me was that the moment I squeezed the moist, juicy morsel in my mouth, out came the syrupy, floral-flavor liquid! Not surprising, I learn much later that this golden-colored dessert is cooked in jasmine-scented syrup. And once you’re done, you’ll have this sweet smile of contentment and you fall silent for a few seconds, thinking about the extraordinary gustatory journey that you just had. All’s well in the world and the sugar rush just whizzed past the finish line.

Thong Yip (thong = gold, yip = pick, or “Picking Gold”) is a very symbolic dessert that is said to signify prosperity. It is considered one of nine auspicious traditional Thai desserts. It is also often lumped together with two other desserts — Thong Yod and Foi Thong. One informative article can be found in Bangkok Post. By the way, did I say that it’s mainly made of duck and chicken egg yolks? Popping these sweet florets into your mouth one after the other is a very, very, very bad idea. Historians believe that these desserts are influenced by the Ayutthaya Kingdom’s connection with the Portuguese from the 14th to 18th centuries.

Anyhow, if you want to learn how to make Thong Yip, here’s a recipe from Thai Airways Magazine. Me, I’ll just walk to Ratchawat Market and buy my Thong Yip to my heart’s content. — B.C. Lee

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