Warorot Market in Chiang Mai is closed at night but the streets surrounding it were buzzing with fruits, flowers and food when we were there in January this year. It was from one of the food stalls there that we had our first experience of Thai coconut custard pancakes or khanom khrok (yes, it turns out that the correct spelling includes “h”) as they are called by the locals.
These tiny pancakes consist of three parts — the shell which is crisp and lightly chewy at the same time, the custard filling, and the topping which can be sweet corn, scallions or tiny cubes of cooked taro. In Chiang Mai, we tried the ones with corn and scallion toppings, they were lovely but, for me, it was the ones with scallion that made me gasp in appreciation — with total abandon, I must say.
Just how small are these pancakes? In diameter, a bit larger than takoyaki. There is a special pan in which they are cooked — cast iron and similar in appearance to takoyaki pan but the indentations are wider and shallower. Similar to the Vietnamese banh khot pan too.
We were not able to buy the proper pan for making Thai coconut custard pancakes at home so we had to make do with our takoyaki pan. As a result, our pancakes were smaller but thicker at the center. The size wasn’t really an issue anyway. What’s important is that we got the taste and texture right. Well, Alex did. She was the one who made them.
The shell is a combination of rice flour, palm sugar, grated fresh mature coconut, coconut milk, salt and cooked jasmine rice for better aroma. The ingredients were processed in the blender just until no large pieces remained.
The filling is made by mixing together coconut milk. rice flour, sugar and salt.
To cook the pancakes, a teaspoonful of the shell batter was poured into a hole of the pan and topped with a teaspoonful of the custard filling. When the pancakes were bubbly along the edges, the toppings were added.
When the edges of the pancakes were nicely browned (a sure signal that the entire bottom was nicely browned as well), Alex used a skewer (her sister Sam’s suggestion) and a spoon to loosen the pancakes from the pan and transfer them to a rack.
It was a first attempt at making khanom khrok at home and it was a resounding success. Perfect shells that crackle, and custard so soft that it just spreads inside the mouth. If I an obviously focused on taking photos of the scallion-topped pancakes, it’s because I prefer them over the ones with sweet corn. Speedy liked the ones with sweet corn better.
Thai Coconut Custard Pancakes (Khanom Khrok)
- Takoyaki pan
For the shell
For the custard filling
Make the shell batter
- Place all the ingredients for the shell in a blender and pulse several times until no large pieces remain but the mixture is still a bit chunky. Transfer to a bowl, scraping off the sides of the blender pitcher.
Make the custard filling
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the filling until smooth.
Cook the pancakes
- Heat a takoyaki pan on the stove top. Keep the temperature on medium.
- Pour a teaspoonful of the shell batter into each indentation. It is important to stir the batter before in the bowl each time you scoop out a teaspoonful to make sure that the solids do not settle at the bottom of the bowl.
- Pour a teaspoonful of the custard filling on top of the shall batter. Again, it is the better practice to stir the custard filling in the bowl each time you take a teaspoonful to prevent the rice flour from settling at the bottom.
- When the pancake is bubbly along the edges, add a pinch or two of your preferred topping.
- When the edges of the pancakes are browned, take a skewer to tilt each pancake one by one and, with your other hand, use a spoon to scoop out the pancake and move it to a cooling rack.
Serve the Thai coconut custard pancakes
- These pancakes are best while hot. But be careful because the custard can scorch your mouth. So, wait a minute or so after they are removed from the pan before popping them into your mouth.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.