Travel to Thailand: How Sweet it Is. Maphrao Kaew Made in Loei

Strips of coconut are mixed with boiling water and sugar in Chiang Khan located in Thailand’s northeast province of Loei.
Strips of coconut are mixed with boiling water and sugar in Chiang Khan located in Thailand’s northeast province of Loei.

 

“We like sweet things,” my guide said as the group stopped at a small maphrao kaew factory in Chiang Khan located in Thailand’s northeast province of Loei, “Because coconut is not sweet enough,” she added while laughing. Maphroe kaew is coconut strips cooked in melted sugar to create a deliciously sweet treat.

Coconut in sugar is ready for sale in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.
Coconut in sugar is ready for sale in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.

Lined up on a table were plastic bags filled with sugared coconut strips in hues of pastel pink, green and natural white. The grade of sugared coconut determined the cost. Higher the grade meant softer coconut and highest price (about Thai baht 150 for an ounce).

Coconuts are split and the meat is sliced out in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.
Coconuts are split and the meat is sliced out in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.

In the back of the factory was a small pyramid of tan coconuts waiting to be sliced in half and carefully gutted. I watched maphrao kaew being made and was impressed at how the workers carefully carved out the coconut meat so it looked like a flexible bowl. It was then given to another person who dipped it in water and shaved off any evidence of brown husk with the result being a stark white bowl.

The brown husk is shaved off the coconut meat in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.
The brown husk is shaved off the coconut meat in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.

Next, it moved to another person tasked at placing the coconut meat on a cutting board, laying it as flat as possible and shaving off thin layers with a sharp, hand-held tool. The thin layers of meat are either sliced into thin strips or wide sheets.

Coconut meat is shaved into thin layers in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.
Coconut meat is shaved into thin layers in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.

Slices and sheets were then placed in large mettle woks sitting atop burners and stirred with water and sugar. The sugar does not caramelize resulting in beautifully white slices of sugared coconut, or, food coloring is added to some resulting in the colorfully sweet delight.

After the shreds and sheets are cooled, they are bagged and ready to be enjoyed.

Thin slices of coconut is cooked in boiling water and sugar in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.
Thin slices of coconut is cooked in boiling water and sugar in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand.

I purchased the highest grade (AA grade) coconut in sugar and it’s tender and light accompanied with a gentle sweet flavor.

Here’s a brief video showing the process of making maphrao kaew. Have you seen this made or have you tasted it?

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and this post has not been reviewed by the host. Opinions are my own and reflect my honest experience.

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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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