The Sugar Palm is the national tree of Cambodia, and its treasure is the sugar extracted from its sap. This sugar is soft and brown, its texture like fudge, and it has a distinct character compared to the processed cane sugars generally used in the West. Its flavour is full of butter and caramel notes, very rich and a highly effective sweetener. A very good comparison on flavour is with that of the Latin American favourite dulce de leche
The sugar is used throughout South and Southeast Asia in a wide range of dishes, not only desserts. It has great properties as a balancing agent, tempering the heat and sourness present in many savoury dishes, notably in satay sauce and in dressings for the salad dishes popular in Southeast Asia.
One of its great qualities is that is has a low melting temperature and a high burning point, making it very versatile. It is perfect for making the toffee apples and bananas often found on Chinese menus. In Western desserts it is perfect for making caramel, when due to palm sugar’s natural flavour, the amount of butter used can be reduced.
Palm sugar is also very good when used in the marinade for Barbecue Spare Ribs, its caramel qualities giving a more rounded and deeper sweetness than cane sugar.