China: The Cookbook by husband and wife team Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan is a new cookbook that includes over 650 recipes covering 33 culinary regions across China. The book offers insight into China’s vast culinary history and food culture and includes notes on each region to give context to the recipes.
To celebrate, we got our hands on this recipe for Fried Milk Custards. This Cantonese dessert is from China’s Shunde District and has a really unique texture and taste. Perfect for those who want to try cooking something a bit different.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes / Setting Time: 4 hours / Cooking Time: 30 minutes / Makes 8 custards
- vegetable oil for greasing and deep frying
- 475ml milk
- 50g cornstarch
- 2 egg whites
- 100g white sugar
- 150g plain flour
- 10g baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 250ml cold water
- Grease a 10 x 15cm baking pan.
- To make the custard, beat together 120 ml milk with the cornstarch in a mixing bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the egg whites and beat again until smooth.
- Pour the remaining 350 ml milk into a medium saucepan, add the sugar, and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. When the milk begins to bubble, pour a third of it over the egg mixture and beat continuously. Gradually pour in the remaining milk and continue to beat.
- Return the custard mixture to the pan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Simmer for 2–3 minutes, beating continuously, until the mixture thickens and clings to a wooden spoon. Immediately scrape the mixture into the prepared baking pan, press a sheet of plastic wrap (clingfilm) on the surface, and smooth down. Let cool and refrigerate, covered, for at least 4 hours.
- Next, make the batter. Combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, then pour in the water, a little at a time, and beat to a pourable consistency (you may not need all the water).
- Use a butter knife to gently loosen the batter away from the baking pan and invert the pan onto a clean work surface. Cut the custard in eight 5 x 2.5cm pieces. Place about 4 tablespoons flour for dusting in a shallow bowl.
- Pour enough oil into a wok or deep saucepan to fill no more than a third. Heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Take 4 custards and dust them in the flour and then in the batter. Coat evenly, lift out, and let the excess drip off. (If the batter does not drip off, add a little more water to make it a little thinner.) Gently lower into the hot oil and deep-fry for 2–3 minutes until light golden. Using a slotted spoon, turn the custards frequently to ensure even cooking and prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the wok. Carefully remove the custards from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining custards.
- Sprinkle with sugar while hot, gently toss, and serve.
A crispy coating is key to this tasty, melt-in-your-mouth dessert. It’s best to serve each batch immediately, then fry the remaining custards as required. If left to sit, they will go soggy.