Sweet Noodles in Coconut Milk Recipe (Salim)
Sweet Noodles in Coconut Milk (salim or saleem) is a traditional Thai dessert sweet of multi-colored mung bean flour noodles or threads, topped with sweetened flavored coconut milk and served over crushed ice. The noodles are made fresh daily by pressing the cooked mung bean flour dough through the tiny holes of a salim press into a bowl of cool water. Now-a-days this type of fresh noodle is usually picked up ready-made in wholesale markets and found at the local market stand of the dessert seller along with various other sweets.
Salim Noodles are always prepared with mung bean flour and are similar to the more a well known kanom called Lot chong. Lot chong is pandan-flavored rice noodles in sweet coconut milk and is also known as cendol in other parts of South East Asia.
In Thai cuisine, mung bean flour is the basis of Bean Thread Vermicelli, which is a manufactured type of dried noodle. Interestingly, in India and Pakistan there is a sweetened vermicelli noodle dish, which is made with dairy milk and seasoned with cardamom pods, called seviyan which is made with wheat flour. Sev, another Indian noodle dish, is made with flavored mung bean flour dough extruded into hot oil and fried. These two Indian dishes may have had some influence on the development of this Thai version.
Traditionally these mung bean threads are colored with the natural colors of flowers like the chitoria tematea linn (dok un chun in Thai) for a purple or lac (krang in Thai) for a pink and Pandanus Leaf for the green color. This simple dessert is especially appreciated in the hot summer season (April-May in Thailand) as it is served over crushed ice.
- Salim Press
- 2 wooden dowel sticks
- 1 cup Mung Bean Flour
- 5 cups water
- Mix mung bean flour in water. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions and add 1-2 drops of food coloring - red, green, blue or white (no added color) are the traditional colors. We recommend mixing just 2 colors the first time you prepare this kanom.
- Work with each color of dough individually. Pour into a large heavy bottom sauce pan. Put on the stove over low heat, stirring constantly, cook until the flour starts to turn a bit sticky. Then, turn up the flame to medium and stirring constantly, cook for approximately 15 more minutes.
- Pour the cooked flour mixture into the bottom half of the Salim Press until full. Then, using the press, press the dough down equally through the holes into a bowl of cold water (hold the press about 5 inches above the surface of the water). You may put 2 wooden dowels in the handles of the press to assist in holding the press upright or have a friend hold the press. Leave the starch noodles in the cold water for about 5 minutes and the drain well and set aside. Continue with the other color(s). Work at a steady pace, as the dough will start to firm up making it harder to press through the press.
- To make the simple syrup, mix sugar and water together and stir on stove over low heat until the sugar melt.
- Pour the coconut milk into the simple syrup and cook until it just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. You may also flavor the coconut syrup by burning a fragrant incense candle to add a pleasant smell. In order to smoke the syrup, place the bowl of coconut syrup in a sealed pot or jar. Light the incense candle until smoking, blow out the flame and place in the sealed container. Allow to sit for 2 or 3 hrs. To make the syrup even more smoky, you may repeat the process if desired. (See Kasma's Grilled Coconut Cakes for another Thai kanom recipe using this interesting technique.)
- To serve, place individual serving size portions of the various colored salim noodles in a shallow bowl, and pour over a few tablespoons of the coconut syrup and top with finely crushed ice.
Recipe & additional images © 2010 Temple of Thai. Main image © 2001 Hobby Maker Co Ltd., Thai Sweets for Thai People and Thai Tradition, ISBN 974-7349-21-3