Last Friday we went to a Burmese restaurant in Daly City that was just fabulous. We ordered way too much food at Little Yangon that there was little room for dessert. After a lengthy conversation with chef/owner Khinn Ma Ma, we realized that our parking meter was nearly out and hurriedly asked for the check. She promptly responded but also sent us off with a complimentary mango pudding to “sweeten our palate.” It was gelled with agar so the texture was very firm. Flavorwise, it was delicately sweet – much like the mango pudding that you get at dim sum restaurants, which I seldom order. Such mango puddings are often made with evaporated milk, which kind of deadens the fresh brightness of mango. After I had a few bites, I thought about making my own, without evaporated milk.
If you’re not familiar with mango pudding, it has British colonial roots in India but is super popular tropical Asia, though it’s not a major deal in Vietnam. Sometimes the pudding is soft like a custard but while other times it is super firm like jello. The former is generally thickened with cornstarch while the latter is gelled with agar agar or gelatine. I like the firm, jello-like texture but admit that it's not a luscious pudding per se. However in the Asian mindset, this sweet snack hails from the pudding family but got changed along the way to fit local situations.