By | Saturday, February 12, 2011 Leave a Comment

In January of 2000 my friends Mike, Richard, Heather, and I visited Wat Suthep, the magnificent temple atop Mt. (Doi) Suthep outside Chang Mai, Thailand. There is a long, steep stairway leading up to the Temple with golden sea dragons on each side acting as banisters. It had taken some time for us to get to the Wat, so we were all anxious to get going on the long climb up the staircase. But just as we were about to begin our ascent, a food vendor at the base of the stairs shouted out, "Waffle!"

“No, thank you,” we replied.

"Waffle! You want waffle?" She asked again.

"Mai ow. Mai ow, khrap,” (No. No thank you, in Thai.)

"Banana inside!" She added, undeterred.

“Oh my God,” we all said to each other in unison, “banana inside.”

So of course, we stopped for waffles. As with virtually all street food in Thailand, they were spectacular.

Several months ago, I got on a pancake and waffle kick for a while. I began searchingfor different kinds of pancakes and waffles to make for breakfast. Eventually I thought, "Hmmmmmm, Thai waffles… with banana inside!" I searched around in the books I own and online, but didn't find a recipe for Thai waffles with bananas inside. I did, however, find a recipe for Thai coconut waffles with pandan extract that are delicious.

Pandan extract is a flavoring that is extracted from the leaves of the pandanus tree (pandanus utilis), though frequently it is artificially made. You should be able to find pandan extract at any Asian market, or it is available at Pandan leaves give a really nice mild coconut-like flavor to things, and in sufficient concentration turn foods slightly green. Pandan extract is made with prodigious quantities of green food coloring turning everything it touches bright, vivid green. These waffles are no exception. Kids go crazy for them. A while back my friends David and Eva were visiting with their children. David and Eva had bought a box of Lucky Charms for the kids to eat for breakfast. I made these coconut pandan waffles, but the kids had had their hearts set on Lucky Charms, so they didn't want any. They didn't want any, that is, until they saw them. Their bowls of Lucky Charms turned soggy as they devoured plate after plate of waffles.

The recipe originates from Viet World Kitchen, to whom I am indebted. However, I have made many of edits to their version, including doubling the quantities. My rendition of this recipe follows. It makes 4 waffles on my Black and Decker 4-square waffle iron.

2 Cups all-purpose flour [see note 1]
¼ Cup sugar
3 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs, separated [or whole if you are feeling lazy – see Note 2]
1 13.5oz can coconut milk [see Note 3]
3/4 Cup water [see Note 3]
4 Tbs. unsalted, melted butter
2 tsp. pandan (la dua)

Preheat waffle iron

In one bowl sift together the flour, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder.

Separately combine the egg yolk (or whole eggs), coconut milk, butter, and pandan extract.

Stir and fold the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula. The resulting batter will look lumpy. Expect the batter to be thick. Avoid over-working the batter, which will toughen the glutens in the flour, making the waffles tough.

[See Note 2 below] Separately beat the egg whites until they hold peaks but don’t become dry. Gently fold into the batter.

Cook on your waffle iron as per the manufacturers instructions.

Note 1: I sometimes use 1 cup AP flour and 1 cup pastry flour for more tender waffles.

Note 2: Separating the eggs, beating the whites, and then folding them in makes a lighter, fluffier waffle; however, it is a pain in the ass, especially early in the morning, and especially when you are hungry. The result will be almost as good if you just use whole eggs above.

Note 3: The original recipe calls for 2 cups of coconut milk (16oz). Where I live in California, USA, coconut milk comes in two sizes of cans. For me, the most convenient size is 13.5 oz. To make 2 cups of liquid, I would add 2.5oz of water. However, I have found that the resulting batter is just too thick. So, I have taken to adding 6 oz. (3/4 cup) of water along with one 13.5oz can of coconut milk.

These waffles don’t have banana inside, but they are delicious with banana on top. I am told that they freeze well, but I’ve never managed to retain enough of them to try that :-) .
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