Palm and Coconut Sugar

Palm & Coconut Sugar: nahm dtahn

Palm sugar and coconut sugars, known as nahm dtahn bpeep and nahm dtahn, are common forms of the sweet taste in Thai cooking. Although used similarly, palm sugar comes from the sugar palm and coconut sugar from the coconut palm. Each of these sugars are extracted from the sweet sap inside the cut flower bud of the trees. This sugar, unlike processed cane sugar, goes through very little processing mechanisms, making it a very health form of sugar. From creamy taupe, to deep caramel, gooey and stick, to rock hard, these types of sugars vary greatly in appearance and consistency due to their unprocessed nature. Normally, the darker forms of palm sugar are the most sweet and flavorful.

In Asian markets, you can purchase palm and coconut sugars in bags or containers. This ingredient is used as a balancing agent and flavor enhancer for spicy, sour and pungent curries, as well as savory sauces. These sweeteners are also used for making many forms of Thai desserts, as the soft, caramel-like consistency and sweetness lends a helping hand to the robustness of Thai sweets. If you cannot find this ingredient, you may also substitute with brown sugar, but the effects will not be exactly the same, nor nearly as tasty.

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