Cambodian Sangkhaya Lapov Recipe — A Cambodian Holiday Favourite
Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin soup. Pumpkin tastes amazing no matter what format you eat it in. Hell, I even love carving it for Halloween. They always turn out deformed, but hey, its Halloween, deformed is good! I know it’s not Halloween, but I strongly believe Pumpkins should be enjoyed year round. Its delicate sweetness, soft texture and gorgeous green and orange colouring, what’s not to love about this fruit? Wait, is pumpkin a vegetable or fruit? Well, it doesn’t matter, it’s delicious either way.
Growing up in Canada, I always loved falls. And as October rolls near, I see it everywhere; the mall, the school, on TV, magazines, and even on the neighbour’s porch. I love pumpkin, but the only time we ate it was when my mom makes Somlaw Kor Ko, a Cambodian vegetarian stew, which she hardly makes since she was a meat lover. So it was surprising when I went to a Cambodian New Year party and saw a whole cooked pumpkin just standing in the middle of this long table surrounded by desserts. I scoffed, looked at my mom and said, “See, someone’s lazier than me, tsk, cooking a whole pumpkin, that’s not dessert!” My mom just laughed at me, and said, “You’ll see.” And surely, I did. After all, the ceremonies were over and it was time for feasting, I
ran walked over to the dessert table. Don’t judge, sometimes I enjoy my sweets first, and then my meal, and then some more desserts. As I got closer, I noticed someone was slicing the pumpkin like a cake. As it turns out, it was a pumpkin stuffed with what seems to be custard. I was shocked. My mom later explained that she never thought to make it because, in Cambodia, you only make it for special occasions, it’s not really an everyday dessert. And, for special occasions, she prefers to make Num Anksom Chek.
Lately, I’ve grown obsessed with matcha; matcha chocolate, matcha cake, matcha latte. While eating my matcha Kit Kat bar, I watched my sister in law make that same pumpkin custard dessert, and then it hits me, why not make the Cambodian Pumpkin Custard dessert with matcha? They’re both green and delicious! Why not! So here it is, my Cambodian pumpkin custard recipe with matcha or Matcha Sangkhaya. Note: No pumpkins were deformed or destroyed during my experimentation, but I think for this Halloween, I’m gonna carve some deformed Jack-O-Lanterns and stuff it with some matcha custard. Can’t wait!
Before we go on to the recipe, I first want to talk about kabocha squash. There’s many variety of squash but for this particular dessert, I believe kabocha is the best squash to use. Kabocha is a hard-skinned variety of Japanese winter squash. It is surprisingly sweet, dense but silky and smooth when cooked. I love the contrasting colour of dark green exterior and its bright-orange flesh, especially when freshly cooked. Kabocha squash is preferred in Cambodian cooking and is incorporated in soup, curry, stir-fry and dessert dishes.
Where can I buy kabocha squash?
It is sold in Asian supermarket or large North American supermarkets, however, if you can’t find this variety of squash, buttercup squash or Hubbard belongs to the same species and can be substituted for kabocha squash. If you can’t find those, acorn squash would also make an adequate substitute. When choosing which one to purchase, I look for one that is the darkest green, and when thumped with your knuckle, gives off a hollow sound. Make sure the squash is not soft or pitted, with the stem intact, and when possible, buy it locally at your farmer’s market. That way, you’re supporting the local market, while getting the freshest squash for your recipe —the kabocha squash didn’t travel thousands of miles to get to you. Once bought, it can be stored for up to 3 months in a cool dry location that has good air circulation.
I hope you give this kabocha squash recipe a try, it is simply delicious, and healthy –one cup of kabocha Squash has 93 percent of the amount of Vitamin A required for the day.
How to Make Sang Khaya Lapov, Cambodian Pumpkin Custard Recipe
- 1 small pumpkin kabocha, acorn or butternut
- 1 tablespoon matcha powder
- 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
Using a sharp knife, carve the top off the pumpkin like you would when making a Jack-O-Lantern, and remove seeds/fibres in the center. Keep the pumpkin top. Rinse off pumpkin and leave to dry.
In a sauce pan on medium low heat, heat half of the coconut milk. Just before it comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat. Pour the heated coconut milk into a mixing bowl. Add the remaining half of the coconut milk and whisk. Add green tea powder, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and mix thoroughly. Crack in the eggs. Whisk until just well mixed. Do your best to avoid creating air bubbles.
Pour mixture into pumpkin. Don’t fill all the way to the top, leave some room for the custard to rise. Place the pumpkin into a steamer along with the carved top. Steam for 30-45 minutes on medium low heat.
Leave to cool completely in the refrigerator for at least an hour, to allow the custard to set in. Serve and slice like a cake. Enjoy!
Best enjoyed cold, so prepare the day before, or in the morning and store in the fridge.
Tastes extra amazing with simple syrup dripped onto it or on the side for dipping.