Kaya toast with an English twist, kind of (see end of post)
The term "kaya toast" usually refers to more than just the pair of thinly sliced white bread toasted on a charcoal grill, spread with sweet kaya and a slab of salted butter; it also includes a couple of half-boiled eggs (more on that next time), and a cup of freshly made coffee. Instead of latte or mocha or cappucino or frappuncino or I-really-don't-drink-Starbucks-much, you can have:
kopi (coffee with condensed milk),
kopi c (with evaporated milk),
kopi 0 (black without milk with sugar),
kopi o kosong (black without milk or sugar),
kopi siu dai (with less sugar)
kopi po (thin), kopi gao (thick),
kopi kosong (plain).
Or you can have tea, and actually I'm more of a tea person, but that brings up another even more confusing list.
Kaya toast is considered our national breakfast, and kaya, probably our national spread of choice. Making kaya is like making curd or custard, but the Singaporean way. You only need eggs, sugar, coconut milk and pandan (screw pine leaves), oh and LOTS of patience. I just shared my lime curd, which was done directly over the stove on low heat, but this time round, I took care to do it with a double boiler, because you need to stir-cook the curd jam for close to 2 hours. Yes.
The ratios of the 4 ingredients vary but I'm using the ratios used by the boss of the Good Morning Nanyang Cafe, voted Singapore's best kaya, though I've taken some extra steps to make it greener and smoother.
Kaya (Pandan Coconut Curd Jam)
makes about 2-3 jars' worth i.e. lots of servings, so really it's not that much sugar and eggs and coconut milk ;)
12 medium (or about 10 large) free-range eggs
1 cup (250ml) thick coconut milk, fresh if possible
1 cup (250g) unrefined cane sugar
1 bunch of pandan leaves (less than half that photo)
1. Beat the eggs and sugar till egg yolks are broken up and the sugar is dissolved. Add coconut milk to the mixture and mix well.
2. Sieve into a large metal/porcelain bowl. (He skips this for a more rustic, lumpier texture)
Sieving for smooth kaya
3. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water (i.e. your double boiler. Choose a pot size that allows the bowl to balance and sit snugly on top.)
4. Tie the pandan leaves into knots and add into the mixture. Reserve one leaf and pound/blend it to get the green pandan paste.
5. Stir the mixture for 1.5 to 2 hours constantly (but taking 2 min breaks between stirs is fine, although do be more vigilant when you see it thickening up). It'll be a mucky colour. Add the pandan paste towards the end to up the colour and pandan intensity.
6. (opt) Puree with a hand blender for an even smoother texture if you like.
Let cool, store in clean jars in the fridge for about a week or so, as there aren't preservatives.
I know it's kind of a dubious green, but it's just delicious- thick and rich with all that egg and coconut milk, and with the unmistakeable fragrance of pandan. You can also try the slow-cooker method which takes longer but with no effort on your part, but I think the sweat/love contributes to the x factor of homemade kaya.
There are two versions, the Hainanese one is a toffee brown because the sugar is caramelised first, whereas the Peranakan Nonya version I'm sharing is greenish because of the pandan paste added and has a stronger pandan smell, which is perfect with the sweet full flavour of the coconut curd, and just irresistible against salted butter on fresh warm toast.
Oh and yes, those are english muffins (homemade, sourdough, recipe soon) instead of your usual commercial white bread slices. I was going to make eggs bennies with the muffins and eggs, but suddenly craved something a little more local before I went back to London (next week ahhh).