A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Foreign food

Posted date:  January 5, 2008


It may not look like it, but these very Thai-looking sweets, photographed at a market in Samut Songkhram, are in fact Portuguese in origin. Here’s a description of how they came about, excerpted from an article I wrote a while back for Chile Pepper magazine:

Other than simply having brought new ingredients to the people and places they colonized, in some cases, by living and mixing with local populations, the Portuguese also had an impact on the way Asians cooked. This can be seen as early as the early 16th century, when after having secured the port of Melaka in present-day Malaysia, the Portuguese went abroad to nearby Thailand, then known as Siam. Establishing friendly relations with the kingdom that was based in Ayuthaya, the Portuguese influenced an unexpected aspect of Thai cuisine: its sweets. By introducing the concept of using egg yolks and flour, ingredients integral to Portuguese dessert making, the Portuguese had an impact on Thai desserts that exists until today. Remnants of this legacy can still be found Ayuthaya today. There I came across a variety of Thai sweets, probably variants of ovos moles, a Portuguese egg custard. These bright orange sweets included foy thong, ‘golden strands’, thong yot, ‘golden drops’, and thong yip, ‘pinched gold’, the names all including the Thai word for gold, thong, a reference to the color imparted by the use of duck-egg yolks.

Do I have any Portuguese readers out there? Am curious to know if these sweets still take the same form in their country of origin.

Stay tuned for more pics from Samut Songkhram’s very impressive market.

7 Comments for Foreign food

Yes, it is found all over Portugal (and Portuguese neighborhoods around the world), known as “Ovos Moles” (Oh’-vos mole’-hes), loosly translated as “Egg Paste”, It’s usually part of a pastry.


And a video of it being made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTSwJ3VGL7I

Hi. I just came across your blog through an article in New York Times and I have to say that this blog is amazing and so informative. And it is truly a pleasure to read you blog because I am Thai and it is kind of cool to get to know about Thai food that I have been eating for my entire life from a different point of view.

Here in Spain we also have many famous sweets just like the I see in the picture. The round balls look a lot like our “yemas de Santa Teresa” (St. Teresa’s yolks)and the strands look like our huevo hilado which is sweet egg yolk threads. I would love to try the Thai version!

very nice blog on thai food/desserts and cultures. and good pictures too. will drop by sometimes later for more food.

Yes, they are not originally Thai sweets.

Anyway, nice blog about Thai food.

Can I borrow your blog to discuss about the desserts? As a Thai, I’m very excited about this.

Very interesting. I checked a picture of ‘Ovos Moles'(http://www.buyinportugal.com/store/images/ovosmoles.jpg). They looked more like one Thai dessert named ‘Kanom Kai (http://thummada.com/php_upload/kanomkai.JPG
and http://img237.imageshack.us/img237/5416/dsc04232za3.jpg)’ means ‘Egg Snack/dessert’.

The ingredients are almost the same except we use all purpose flour not boiled rice broth. Now, I ‘m confident our desserts did be influenced by Portuguese’s. Good to know that.

What are the ingredients of your ‘huevo hilado’ our ‘egg strands’ are mainly made with beated yolked boiled in very thick syrup on the heat.

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