Thai Royal Cuisine
Chor Muang, ช่อม่วง — flower-shaped savory dumpling — is one of the most popular traditional appetizers in Thailand. It is also one of the dishes common in the restaurants that claim to be royal or traditional. Besides its unusual shape, Chor Muang is known for its beautiful blue color — rare among natural food coloring, yet natural — derived from petals of butterfly pea flowers. The beauty of these dumplings attracts the eye, and the taste captures the heart.
Yes, it’s what you think it is. The Latin name of this flower comes from its appearance similar to the female reproductive organ. It is commonly known as a Blue pea or Butterfly pea in English. In South East Asia, the flower is used as a natural food coloring. Dry flowers and leaves (often with a combination of dry lemongrass) are also used to make a caffeine-free herbal tea that changes color based on the pH level — adding lemon juice to the tea will turn it purple. For a long time, Butterfly pea flower tea was mostly known in South East Asia, but recently it has become known over the world and is available to buy online in the U.S. Its flavor is similar to earthy oolong teas with a note of fresh legumes. Many sources claim this tea has numerous medicinal properties.
The original recipe for the wrappers includes a variety of gluten-free starches, four to five, depending on the source. I’ve seen mentioned non-glutinous and glutinous rice flour, and tapioca, cassava, and arrowroot starches. They are not expensive but not readily available and needed in small amounts. Besides, I experimented with many Asian gluten-free recipes for wrappers and found most of them not tasty. That’s why I am using my bullet-proof delicious gluten-free combination of two starches — wheat starch (do not confuse with wheat flour!) and tapioca starch.
Sweet and Salty Proteins
Charmed by the way these dumplings look, I didn’t really care for the taste. I am an experienced and adventurous eater familiar with Asian cuisine and it is difficult to confuse me. Fried garlic and a cup of tea? Bring it on! Yet, when I saw the ratio of fish sauce and sugar to proteins made me uneasy. I reduced the amount three times and still hesitated to taste the result. Surprisingly, a bite-sized dumpling is pretty balanced in terms of flavor and texture and pair very well with tea! It is still exotic for beginners, but if you like Asian cuisines in general, and Thai food in particular, you’ll be pleased.
Make sure you choose chicken thigh meat (not lean). I like the combination of 2 parts of chicken and 1 part of prawns or scallops.