This little citrus-centered sweet treat is as easy as 1-2-3. First, peel a few oranges, using a sharp knife to slice away both ends, cutting down to expose the golden juicy pulp inside. Then cut down and around the sides of the orange, removing all the peel and pith and just enough of the very thin membrane covering the juicy heart to expose its glistening juicy essence. I work in fourths, taking a wide strip off at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock “positions”. Then I work back around, removing big strips, turning it upside down, striving to keep it even and save as much juice and orange as possible. Once I’ve got a small orange juice-bomb, looking for all the world like a petite basketball the color of the sun, I carefully slice it crosswise into rounds, turning it occasionally to keep from pressing one side in too much.
Second, make a simple syrup, a thin one, cooking it just till you have silky but not a gooey thicknessNothing wrong with gooey — just that, in this case, you want a delicate sweet embrace and not a flat-out dance number of lusciousness. You could add lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves, or mint to flavor the syrup, for an extra touch, though not a traditional one. Cool and chill the syrup. Third, combine the oranges and the syrup in a large bowl for passing or offering on a buffet, or in individual dessert bowls for serving to each guest with a small spoon.
In Thailand, this type of sweet snack comes with shaved ice showered on top, a beautiful and practical touch. This comes from a time when a home refrigerator or icebox was unknown. Serving it with a small, quick-to-melt mountain of finely crushed or shaved ice meant you got chilly sweet citrus pleasure on a blistering hot day, or a sultry evening at the night market. Since I don’t have a way to finely crush ice right now, and since I do have a big fridge, I chill the syrup and oranges and serve them cold. The word ‘som‘ means orange, the fruit, though it also means the color, as well as the qualities of sour, tangy, and vinegary. ‘loy’ means to float, and ‘gaeo‘ means jewel.