What is Palm Sugar?
Palm Sugar (Nam Than Peep, น้ําตาลปี๊บ), is made from the sap of the coconut palm. It is darker, more caramel-tasting – and is less refined than some of the sugars we normally use as sweetener in the West.
You’ll find some palm sugar sold in solid pucks that you either cut or break apart, or in a jar that you can scoop softened semi-solid paste from. And some palm sugar is sold in granulated form.
What does Palm Sugar taste like?
Palm sugar imparts an almost dark toffee-like quality to the dishes that it is used in. Think butterscotch or caramel, minus the burned notes.
However, that doesn’t mean that it can only be used in sweets.
How to use palm sugar
Palm sugar is used in everything from desserts – to savory recipes that require a bit of sweetness around the edges. Some curries and heavier savory dishes call for a touch to be added to round out the flavor profile.
You see, many Asian recipes (and Thai in particular) have a flavor profile that doesn’t stop at simply savory or spicy. In fact, the idea behind the Thai flavor profile is that sweet, salty, sour, bitter and hot are all deftly blended together.
Since palm sugar has a deeper, caramelized flavor than typical granulated sugar – it’s the perfect way to sweeten a nuanced dish without going overboard in to cloying territory.
Recipes using palm sugar:
- Asian Broccoli Salad
- Classic Pad Thai
- Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)
- Vegetarian Laksa
- Vegetable Pad See Ew
Where to buy palm sugar
Palm sugar is usually quite east to track down in Asian supermarkets. Or you can buy palm sugar on Amazon.
Substitutes for Palm Sugar
If you have a recipe that only calls for a small amount of palm sugar, semi-dark or dark turbinado (or even granulated sugar) will fill in just fine.
I’ve also used maple syrup in a pinch. Authentic Thai flavors? No. But a decent substitute without resorting to white sugar.
How to store palm Sugar
You can store palm sugar in your pantry or cabinet provided that you seal it in a plastic bag or in an airtight container with a lid to prevent it from drying out.