Thai Pumpkin Custard (Sankaya)

The holidays are quickly approaching, and that makes me one happy camper. There are a couple reasons why. First, well… do I really have to say it? All the food! It’ll be my chance to bake like crazy for all the people I love, and I’ll also be eating like crazy among the people I love. Second, this year I will be spending Christmas and New Year’s in Asia! That’s right, Tim and I are traveling east to visit all the extended family that couldn’t attend our March wedding, as well as finally taking our delayed honeymoon. I know you’re jealous, because we’ll be feasting on Taiwanese and Thai delicacies for two and a half weeks.

Lately, I’ve been honing my skills to learn to cook like both my mom and Tim’s mom. I want to carry on the recipes passed down from our grandmothers because it helps us keep them close by when they live so far away. This time I got the idea to make sankaya, a Thai custard, when we visited Bayview Farm last month. Among the gorgeous apples and pumpkins, this particular green pumpkin caught my eye. It instantly reminded me of the Thai custard, and that’s when I added it to my always-growing list of things to make.

I have a few things to note about this recipe. I didn’t bake this custard, but that would certainly work as another method to cook this. My mom said it’s usually steamed, so I was good and listened to her. Also, the recipe calls for a Japanese pumpkin, but regular pumpkins may be used. In fact, I found another blogger who just posted a similar recipe using one! There you can find a nice picture to help you visualize what it’s supposed to look like if you’ve never had it before. Lastly, the custard is put in the pumpkin because you can eat them together. Another way this custard is served is over sticky rice with more coconut milk. Delicious either way.

Thai Pumpkin Custard (Sankaya)

1 medium Japanese pumpkin (or regular pumpkin), weighing about 2 lbs.
5 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup brown sugar (or grated palm sugar)
1/2 teaspoon pandan essence
pinch of salt

1. Prepare a stacked steamer by filling bottom pan with about 3-4 cups of water. You can use a makeshift steamer (large lot with inverted bowl) or rice cooker as well.
2. Clean the pumpkin by removing its top, scraping out the seeds and membrane. Be sure to leave the flesh intact.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, coconut milk, sugar, pandan essence, and a pinch of salt. Using an electric mixer, mix until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
4. Pour the custard mixture into the prepared pumpkin, leaving about 1/4 inch of the pumpkin unfilled. Pour any remaining custard in ramekins.
5. Steam the pumpkin in a steamer for about 30-45 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the custard. Occasionally make sure there is enough water in the steamer while custard cooks. When it is done, it will still jiggle, but look set when shaken. The custard will completely firm as it cools.
6. Cut pumpkin into wedges, and serve warm or cold.

2 thoughts on “Thai Pumpkin Custard (Sankaya)

  1. Thanks for your comment! So, it *is* a Thai thing to make a custard in a pumpkin? I’ll be sure to let my roomie know that someone else thinks it’s Thai, too–and you sound like you know what’s up!


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