my friend’s birthday is coming up and I asked him what his dream cake was and he said, “my dream cake has always been Vietnamese style flan the way my mother used to make, a lot of sweet and **bitter** caramel.” WOW, the way his mom used to make it?! that’s a tall order! that’s normally a pretty intimidating thing to hear but i like a good challenge, especially one that involves me and my pots and pans.
i grew up eating homemade flan too. it almost feels like just yesterday my siblings and I as children were gathered around in the kitchen while one of my sisters flipped the big round flan onto the dish and we watched in amazement as the watery caramel oozed all over the flan. a lot of people are ok with sitting back and reminiscing while licking their lips and salivating over thoughts of the past but not me, i’m not all that interested in salivating over my food memories, i’d rather be licking the caramel off the back of my spoon.
there are many different types of flan and of course they are all a little different. the French, Japanese, Vietnamese and Spanish speaking countries all have their own versions where the ingredients, textures and colors all vary. the last time i made a flan it was for my Spanish tapas party so naturally i followed a Spanish recipe but honestly i wasn’t all too pleased with the results because i was expecting it to taste, look and feel like the version that i grew up with. after analyzing a dozen or so of bánh flan recipes, I found that this one made the most sense. in order to achieve the texture for Vietnamese flan, you must use the steaming method.
set up the steamer and turn on heat.
- 1 cup suger
- 1/4 cup water
place water and sugar in a little pot and bring to a boil , allow to bubble for 5 minutes while swirling the whole pot…DO NOT insert any utensil into the caramel or the sugar will crystallize. turn the heat down to medium for another 2-3 minutes until you obtain a golden brown color note that the darker the color, the more bitter it will be. add another ½ tbsp of water. (sugar can also be added if there is insufficient caramel.). pour into large mold and set aside.
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 eggs
- 4-1/2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
mix milk with sugar and heat up until it’s warm, ensuring that its not too hot as high heat will make the eggs curdle. beat the eggs yolks and egg together, and add to the warm milk in a slow steady stream and whisking briskly. add vanilla extract. place mold in the steamer (the water should be barely simmering). NOTE: when pouring the custard into mold, bubbles often form. I tap them lightly with a mini strainer and they disappear very quickly.
put the lid on but do not completely cover to allow some air out. the heat should be set at low. cooking slowly at a low temperature ensures a smooth consistency. cook for 30 minutes or until it is no longer watery and just slightly jiggly. cool down. run a knife around the edge to loosen and flip the custard onto a plate.
Gastronomo adapted recipe from Miss Adventure