While I was wandering around food markets in Singapore, I found a brown sweet looking cake of different colours and shades. When I asked the uncle in the store what it was, he looked at me like I was martian and said that they were "one of the most essential ingredients for cooking young man, it is palm sugar." I bought a small sample to taste, wandered off towards home to learn more.
Palm sugar is a sweetener from the sap of date palms, coconuts and nipa palms around the subtropics.
Palm sugar is produced by extracting the sap from palm flowers. They are either sold as is, or allowed to slowly crystallise into solid forms of numerous shapes and sizes.
It is a very common ingredient used in the preparation of traditional South and South-East Asian dishes. As the taste profile of palm sugar varies across the different regions in Indonesia, many locals are very specific when it comes to pairing single origin palm sugar to traditional dishes for its authentic taste.
Palm sugar’s flavour profile varies from a mild caramel taste to a slightly savoury one. In many ways, it is similar to natural molasses, but lighter in flavour. It is traditionally used for making curries, sauces, desserts - ice cream and puddings to name a few.
In Indonesia, Thailand and many other countries, you can find Palm sugar at roadside stalls and local markets. It's also known as gula melaka, jaggery, gula kelapa and gula semut.
For the flavour complexity, we decided to create a cocktail recipe based on dark rum. We hope you enjoy it!
50 ml Dark Rum 20 ml Fresh grapefruit juice 10 ml Fresh lime juice 15 ml Salted Palm sugar syrup (adjust to your taste)* 5 ml Sugar syrup
1. Top up with soda water.
2. Build in a glass over ice, gently stir, garnish with mint spring and a slice of grapefruit.
*Salted Palm Sugar Syrup Dissolve 5 grams of salt in 100 ml of still water. Once the salt dissolves, add 150 grams of palm sugar and stir until it dissolves.