Thai Ginger Soda

I’ve made a couple of trips to Thailand, a gloriously exotic place that is among the several tropical locales where ginger grows easily and everywhere. Its bright, fragrant flowers can be seen decorating most backyards, and hands of ginger are piled high in the markets. It flavors stir-fries and curries, teas and sweets.

In Thailand, as in most of Asia, tea is the most widely consumed beverage. However, because of its latitude, Thailand doesn’t get cold weather. Much of the year is, in fact, steamy, so cold drinks are welcome. In Thailand, iced coffee is very popular, and cans of iced coffee are more common (and cheaper) than Coca Cola. Sweet, locally produced sodas and fruit juices are also abundant. This sweet ginger soda from Thailand is the perfect treat for anyone who loves ginger. It has a delightfully tropical taste, along with a bit of a bite, thanks to ginger’s fiery nature. Enjoy.

Thai Ginger Soda
1/4 cup chilled khing chuam (recipe below)
1 cup (or more) chilled seltzer water or club soda

Combine the syrup and soda water and stir to blend. Add ice. Enjoy.

Note: Be aware that the 1 cup of seltzer is more a starting point than a guarantee. It’s authentic, but I find it is too sweet for my tastes, and I add seltzer until it tastes right (usually at least another 1/2 cup).

Lime and ginger make a nice flavor combination, so I sometimes use lime-flavored seltzer water with the syrup. Mint also blends well with the flavor of ginger, so a sprig of mint makes a nice garnish.

Khing Chuam
(Ginger Syrup)
2 quarts water
1 lb. fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
4 cups sugar

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring water and ginger to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove from the heat, and let cool slightly. Strain and measure the liquid. Determine how much more liquid you need to create four cups of liquid. You can just add enough water to make up the four cups, but I generally heat the needed additional water and pour it over the boiled ginger, stirring it, and then straining, so that even my topping-up liquid is gingery.

Place the 4 cups of ginger-liquid in a clean saucepan and stir in the sugar. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid is syrupy, about 30 minutes. (Cool a spoonful after 30 minutes to test.) Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Pour into a clean, dry bottle or jar, cover tightly, and refrigerate.

Notes: Khing is the Thai word for ginger.

If you like this as much as I do, it probably won’t hang around the refrigerator too long. However, if you use it slowly, don’t worry. With that much sugar, if you keep it in the fridge, it should be safe into the next century.

Ginger syrup can also be used to flavor iced tea, and I think it makes a lovely topping for ice cream.

©2010 Cynthia Clampitt


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