Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weird Food Wednesdays: Kaya

If you think this post is about a certain recreational drug enjoyed by Bob Marley, then you are definitely in the wrong place!

The kaya I'm referring to is a delicious coconut jam made from coconut milk, eggs, and sugar. Kaya translates to "rich" in Malay (I feel my cholesterol rise just writing about it). Many versions of kaya can be found all over Southeast Asia, but my personal favorite is the pandan-flavored Nonya variety from Malaysia (tinted green from the pandan leaf, aka screwpine).

Hubby Kris first fell in love with kaya last year in Singapore. A common Singapore breakfast is kaya toast - thick white toast slathered generously with kaya and butter. Though kaya toast can be found in any kopitiam in Singapore, Kris was drawn to the flashier chain outlets, Bread Talk and Toast Box. Each morning, he would leave our hotel room before I woke up and return with a bag stuffed with every variety of kaya toast on the menu.

Here's Kris bidding farewell to Toast Box's requisite "cone of butter" at the Singapore Changi Airport:


We also found a golden-hued Hainanese honey kaya at T&T Supermarket in Vancouver (my mom always keeps a jar of this on hand for her favorite son-in-law):


Homemade kaya is apparently much tastier than the shelf version. But the recipes I've seen require at least an hour of continuous stirring over a low flame. And knowing my history with making custards, I'll probably end up with coconut scrambled eggs! I'll be sure to post a followup if I ever successfully make my own kaya (but don't hold your breath).

You can find jarred or canned kaya in the Southeast Asia/Malaysia/Indonesia aisle of your local Asian food market.

Forget the toast - just eat it straight from the jar!


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14 comments:

KennyT said...

Oh Kaya! Yummy, I love the green one too.

Heavenly Housewife said...

I never heard of this one before, but i'm hearing "coconut" and "butter" so, I know this is one worth trying :)

Christine aka Mistress of Cakes said...

Okay...now I understand you only SOMETIMES eat disgusting food...

Like heavenly housewife said this looks like its worth trying!

Jenn said...

Ooo... That looks tasty. Coconut and butter sounds like a good combination. I'll keep my eye out for it here.

mira said...

oooohh.. love this.. hehehe.. i eat it with bread, toasted or not, with crackers.. with plain butter cake.. adoiiii! yummy!!

Tangled Noodle said...

Wow! There's coconut jam in the Philippines but it doesn't seem anywhere near as delicious as kaya! Darn it - I was just at our big Asian market before I saw this post. I will keep this in mind for my next trip!

Passionate Eater said...

Wow, I have never heard of that. I wonder if it tastes like the coconut filling inside Chinese coconut buns.

Dragon said...

I love anyting with coconut in it. :)

oysterculture said...

We had coconut jam in Martinique and it was addicting, I'll have to see if it has the same ingredients as Kaya.
We have Asian markets galore around here, I'll have a ready supply,

Coconut Girl Connie said...

interesting, we have such a comprehensive mix of ethnic food in Hawaii, but this is a new one to me, I need to check out the Malaysian markets and see if they carry it! Thanks for the info..

Michele said...

I've never heard of this before but it sounds amazing

Phyllis said...

Kenny and Mira: somehow I knew both of you would like kaya!

Heavenly Housewife, Jenn, Dragon, and Michele: Let me know what you think if you ever come across it! If possible, avoid the versions that come in a can (such as Yeo's) - I don't think I liked canned kaya very much as a kid.

Christine, Mistress of Cakes: LOL! I don't go out searching for the most disgusting food, but it often finds me!

Tangled Noodle: The filipino version of coconut jam sounds very similar to kaya. Now I'll need to compare. I'll have to look for it next time I'm at the Asian market.

Passionate Eater: I haven't had a Chinese coconut bun since I was a kid - it was my favorite. That and the bun with the hot dog baked inside. I think kaya is richer and eggier than the filling of the coconut bun. And it's smooth with no pieces of shredded coconut in it. The pandan flavor is probably what makes it taste so good.

oysterculture: yes, I would be interested to hear what the ingredients are in the Martinique version. I couldn't find anything about it online. But I doubt it has pandan in it!

Coconut Girl Connie: With Hawaii being such a melting pot of Asian cultures, I'm surprised that you haven't come across a Hawaiian version! But let me know what you think if you ever do get to try the Malaysian/Singaporean kaya.

5 Star Foodie said...

This sounds delicious - I've never had it but I would love to try - will look for it soon!

doggybloggy said...

this sounds so good - I am going to keep an eye out for this little bit of heaven