The Citrusy Thai Dessert That Features An Iced Syrup

After you've finished enjoying a delicious Thai meal of green curry and tom yum soup — spicy enough to make your tastebuds dance and your forehead sweat — something to cool down the palate would be nice. After scanning through many dessert options, you might see something unique: loy kaew. The menu describes it as a citrusy Thai dessert with an iced syrup.

Often featuring citrus fruits like oranges and tangerines, fruit loy kaew is a refreshing medley of sweet and tart notes, composed of fruit and sweet syrup over ice. The typical preparation involves peeling and sectioning oranges and removing the pith to ensure a pure citrus experience. Then, you'd craft a syrup with boiling sugar, water or young coconut water, and orange zest until the sugar dissolves. This syrup, which often includes spices like cloves and star anise, sets this dessert apart — once it cools, it's mixed with the oranges to marinate the fruit.

What elevates loy kaew to another level is the temperature of the syrup. As it is an iced syrup, you can chill both the fruits and the syrup in the refrigerator before serving. Then, there's also the crushed ice component, adding an even frostier dimension and making the syrup even colder upon enjoying.

Loy kaew is a fun, icy symphony of flavors

Of course, you're not limited to fruit, syrup, and ice. For added depth, some variations of loy kaew incorporate ginger slivers, imparting extra spice and aroma. And if you think you've seen it all, loy kaew sometimes features unexpected savory touches like fried shallots, which may seem unconventional but create a delightful play of flavors and added texture.

And don't think the dish requires citrus fruits. Loy kaew celebrates the abundance of tropical fruits in Thailand and neighboring countries like Malaysia and Singapore. You can craft this dessert with lychees, green mangoes, marian plums, or even the sala fruit. The latter is known for its scale-like skin and a taste profile that is a harmonious blend of sweetness and tanginess, capturing the very essence of Southeast Asian flavors.

If you try making loy kaew at home, you can always tailor loy kaew to fit your palate and preferences, whether you choose sala fruit, lychee, tangerines, or a medley of fruit — and you can get equally creative with spices, or even syrups made from lime zest or infused with aromatic herbs like lavender or rosemary. In short, loy kaew is more than just a dessert; it's a dynamic combination of textures, temperatures, and flavors that refreshingly concludes any Thai meal or stands alone as a sweet treat.