Friday, August 14, 2015

Burmese Coconut & Mango Kyauk Kyaw or Jello

Mango Kyauk Kyaw
Agar agar is a gelatin substitute that is used in south-east Asian countries. It is a plant-based extract which makes it a great vegetarian alternative to gelatin which is animal-based. The texture of jello made with agar agar is much firmer than gelatin which I, personally, find addictive. 

Kyauk Kyaw made with just coconut milk is supposed to separate into two layers, a transparent layer on the bottom and opaque on the top where the cream settles. I've been experimenting with Kyauk Kyaw for quite a few years and have not been able to create this layered effect. I think it may be because I've always used canned coconut milk instead of fresh. So making two separate layers of mango and coconut milk gives me great satisfaction. 

Agar agar is available in strands or powder form. I've used Telephone brand of the powder which is really convenient. For this dessert only 3 teaspoons of the powder was used which was only about a quarter of the packet. It's important to thoroughly dissolve the powdered agar agar in cold water before bringing it to a boil to avoid clumps. The mango layer is made first, poured into the serving dish and allowed to come to room temperature by which time it sets. The coconut layer is then poured over the mango layer to get a two-tiered effect.

Gelatin takes hours to set in the refrigerator. Agar agar sets once it comes to room temperature in less than half an hour and needs refrigeration only to chill. Chilled kyauk kyaw tastes better so make sure to refrigerate it overnight before serving.