No matter how many times I go to the Nang Loeng community market, I never get bored of the food there. And if you don’t yet know what it is, let me tell you what, how, where, when, and why!
Nang Loeng is the name of an old settlement community that dates back more than two centuries. This community has been a long-time trading hub and is rich in its own cultural treasures, such as the Salachalermthani Cinema, traditional chatree dances from the south of Thailand, and even traditional gamelan orchestras (wong pibhart). Even though the era of its glory-days has passed, the community is still breathing, and carrying on in its own way. And it is still famed for its splendid food. On my recent visit to Nang Loeng, I went to try a new (to me) old dish called Khanom Beung Yuan Ya Cham or ‘Grandmother Cham’s Crepe’. (Which is also the name of the restaurant).
Once I touched down at the market, I marched through the wonders on display, making my way towards the old wooden cinema—still standing strong yet in frail shape, like a distinguished elderly man. When I reached the left hand corner of the building I turned right into the small alley across the way, and just inside the mouth of the soi, on the left hand side, I saw the sunshine of a wok over the orange flame of a burning charcoal stove. One deep inhalation of the intoxicating aromas and my appetite was piqued!
Here I saw creamy white bean flour batter being poured into the wok by the skillful hands of chef Khun Oan, who spread it out into the shape of the satellite dishes you find on all the roofs of our Thai houses. I love, love, loved watching how the food was made as much as the taste to come. This khanom beung continues to use the same recipe from Khun Oan’s grandmother, who began by making every main ingredient from scratch. From the blanket of khanom beung to the stuffing inside, everything is carefully prepared and seasoned according to the original recipe. Her bean flour has a beautifully light and fresh fragrance and a soft yellow colour that comes from adding natural turmeric essence.
After spreading the crepe blanket into the hot work, Khun Oan layers on the seasoned stuffing of slightly salted shredded coconut with shrimp, a hint of light sweetness from pickled turnip, and the creamy taste of tofu. This secret touch in the stuffing brought a big smile to my face, as did my first bite—and that was even without adding the homemade, honey-colored, sweet and sour topping that’s made fresh everyday. Placing a little bit of everything into one bite made my day!
If you want to get khanom beung with egg, Khun Oan will layer an egg on top of the crepe while cooking it with the same stuffing—this version is wrapped in a square instead of being rolled up, and is less crispy than its sister crepe. Both versions have their own character and are equally delicious. This is a snack out of which you can make a whole meal. I’ll be back for more for sure!
Khanom Beung Yuan Ya Cham is located on Soi Nakhornsawan 4, Talad Nang Loeng. It’s open everyday from 10am to 5pm. Khun Oan can also cater for private events.