Som Chun
Thailand’s Secret Weapon Against Summer Heat

Here’s a deliciously sweet and refreshing dessert to ease the gruelling heat of long afternoons in the tropics

Words: Sarita Urupongsa 

Summer in Thailand can be a battle with the heat, but Thais have developed a delicious defence: cooling desserts. Loi Kaew, featuring sweet and sour fruits drenched in syrup with crushed ice, is one of the most powerful weapons. Its refreshing flavours and sugary hit will make any hot afternoon bearable.

Loi Kaew is often given an extra kick by adding freshly squeezed bitter orange juice and orange zest. This version is called Som Chun. The appealingly sour fragrance of the juice collides with the syrupy fruit drowned in ice shavings to offer a perfect pick-me-up after the exhausting heat.

The syrup used in the dessert is easy to make. Just pour jasmine-flavoured water over a bundle of pandan leaves in a pot, add sugar and salt, and simmer until it reaches the consistency of syrup.

To serve up a delicious bowl of Som Chun, you can opt for sweet fruits with a hint of sourness like lychee, mango plum, orange, longan, salak (snake fruit) and rambutan. The fruits need to be sliced finely and soaked in the syrup overnight for the perfect dessert.

Som Chun is ideally served with a topping of sour mango, young ginger, bitter orange zest and fried shallots.

It can be tough to find this traditional dessert – which dates back to the reign of King Rama II in the early 1800s – on restaurant menus. But we managed to track down a delicious version at Anya Authentic Thai Cuisine in Bangkok. Located close to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, this restaurant is certainly worth a visit.