sankaya phak tong (thai steamed kaya pumpkin)


Prep 1 hr        Cook 45 mins        Serves 6 - 8




1x 400 g (14 oz)  Asian pumpkin (like Kabocha) 14 cm (5 1/2 in) circumference, 12 cm (4 3/4 in) height, with stump and a level bottom

4 eggs, each weighing 45 - 50 g ( 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 oz) 

200 ml (1 cup) thick full fat coconut milk

50 g (1/3 cup) white sugar (palm sugar is traditional, but I wanted the green of the pandan to show)

6 pandan leaves, washed, cut into very short lengths

1/3 tsp salt

Extra steamed coconut milk (for drizzling) - optional





Fill steamer or some improvisation of one (like mine) and bring to the boil.


Wash skin of pumpkin thoroughly. Using a sharp small pointed knife (steak knife) at a 45 degree angle, cut out  a circle large enough to get a tablespoon through comfortably. Mark the circle out first if you're hands are less steady. Making an angled cut creates a dovetailed lid that fill fit snugly and not fall  into the pumpkin.


Scrape the inside of the pumpkin as clean a you can, making sure you get all the seeds and stringy fibres out. Fill cavity with water to the base of the opening, leaving room for the downward protusion of the lid. Pour out water into measuring jug. You should have 400 ml (2 cups). This is the perfect capacity for the amount of custard this recipe makes. Turn pumpkin upside down on a plate to drain.


In a blender, combine the eggs, coconut milk, coconut milk, sugar, pandan leaves and salt. Blitz until pandan leaves are pulverised and mixture turns green. 


Strain custard and set aside for 4 or 5 minutes for foam to subside. Strain again through a finer strainer or muslin. You will find more pandan fibres left behind. Set custard aside for foam to subside further. If foam is excessive, gently skim off and discard. Don't discard too much or amount of custard will be reduced and there will be a gap between the custard and the pumpkin lid.


Strain custard a final time into pumpkin. It should reach the top of the pumpkin cavity but still leave enough room for the lid, without causing a spill when lid is replaced. Replace lid and place on a snug fitting plate. This will retain the shape and  prevent the pumpkin from splitting should you overcook or overheat it. 


Place a clean, dry quadruple folded cloth on top of the pumpkin to prevent overheating of the custard and dripping condensation seeping past the lid and into the pumpkin. Place on steamer rack, cover and steam over medium to low heat for 45 minutes. You should have enough water in the steamer to last 45 minutes without a top up as you shouldn't open the steamer during this time. If you see gusts of steam from the steamer, and the lid rattles, reduce the heat. If the custard overheats it will form air bubbles, expand, spill out of the pumpkin and possibly cause it to crack or split.


Turn off heat after exactly 45 minutes (40 minutes if you want slightly firmer pumpkin and leave pumpkin inside for 5 minutes. Open steamer and remove pumpkin. Leave to cool at room temperature and when cool, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.


Cut out pumpkin stump neatly with steak knife and slice pumpkin into 6 or 8 wedges. Serve each wedge with a drizzle of coconut milk if desired. 

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