Num poum are coconut waffles that are very popular in Cambodia. They are a must-try and are the king of Cambodian street food. Traditionally, Cambodian desserts are made with these ingredients: banana, coconut, or rice flour. These ingredients are very popular and widely available. Khmer cuisine makes use of them in many recipes. Num poum waffles are irresistible and their coconut flavor is to die for!
What is num poum?
Num poum are a culinary heritage of the Khmer culture. The originality of these coconut waffles is the rice flour and the coconut cream and coconut milk in the recipe. Do not try to substitute the rice flour with regular white flour: the waffles will lose their crisp, and it would be such a shame! No need for syrup to accompany these delicious waffles. In Cambodia, coconut waffles are eaten plain and warm, straight from the waffle iron! Their traditional form is rectangular or square. In Cambodia, palm sugar is traditionally used in the recipe. This sugar gives the waffles that pretty golden brown color. However, it is not uncommon to substitute palm sugar with white sugar in western countries.
National Waffle Day
I had the pleasure to taste the traditional num poum at a New York street festival in honor of National Waffle Day. In the United States, there is a day for everything! The U.S national Waffle day is celebrated each year on August 24th, which is the official date of the US patent of the waffle iron.
The date for Waffle Day varies from one country to another. This famous national waffle day originated in Sweden. In the Scandinavian country, people celebrate Waffle Day on March 25th each year. Etymologically, the name of this traditional festival comes from Vårfrudagen (“our Lady’s day” in Swedish) and is celebrated the same day as the Christian holiday Annunciation, on March 25th, although it is not related to the religious celebration. The word Vårfrudagen is close to the word Våffeldagen which, in Swedish, means waffle day. This is why people celebrate Waffle Day on March 25th. The waffles that are prepared for this event often have a heart shape. But this particular heart-shape waffle iron only appeared in the nineteenth century. In Sweden, waffles have been prepared over the fire using a rectangular waffle iron since the 17th century.
What is the origin of waffles?
The origin of waffles brings us back to medieval times around the 9th and 10th centuries! According to the Dictionnaire général de la cuisine française ancienne et moderne, and Pierre Lacam, waffles originate from the Flemish Brabant (one of the provinces of Belgium). Waffles are particularly eaten in Belgium. There are actually more than 12 varieties of waffles, including the Liège waffle and the Brussels waffle!
In France, the first waffle recipe dates back to the 14th century and appears in the Ménager de Paris. This book was written by a Parisian bourgeois. He wrote this domestic and culinary guide to the attention of his young wife to teach her how to be a good housewife and cook.
But in Asia, there are many kinds of waffles! Num poum isn’t the only waffle that includes coconut milk in its batter. Indeed, in Vietnam, pandan waffles make use of pandan, which gives them a rich flavor and a typical green color. Moreover, these pandan waffles taste like coconut as well.
In Hong Kong, you should definitely try a egg waffles, or gai daan jai (鷄蛋 仔). These waffles are flat but include bubbles of dough. They have become very trendy lately and are commonly called “bubble waffles”. But the authentic and traditional Hong Kong waffle has a round shape. It is served with fresh fruits, cut into quarters. This waffle has a pronounced taste of egg yolk, and also includes evaporated milk.
This waffle tour of Asia is over!
- Preheat the waffle iron.
- In a large bowl, combine the rice flour, palm sugar, salt, eggs, coconut cream, coconut milk, and grated coconut.
- Whisk for 5 minutes .
- Generously brush the waffle pan with coconut oil.
- Using a ladle, pour the dough into the waffle pan.
- Cook until golden and crispy, for about 3 minutes.