Monday, 17 December 2012
These can be eaten plain with fried shallots and fish sauce, or with spring onions, minced meat and/ prawn fillings. You can add whatever you like them. Sometimes I eat them with fried aubergines and a sweet and chilli soy sauce or with lots of cured ham and basil. They are silky and delicious, one of my favourite things in the world.
I have written a recipe for it which will be published in my forth coming book.
My cousin Binh and I met when I first came back to Vietnam for the first time in 2000. He was about 8 and I was about 21. When Binh was little, he survived a tragic accident causing his head to split open. Luckily, nothing bad happened to him except everyone says he is very quiet and keeps himself to himself, except when I come back, he only ever talks to me.
This time, he showed me how he makes creme caramel because he is setting up a little street stall outside the house. We both have a strong miss and craving for the creme caramel you can get in both our mother's home town of Phan Thiet - 5 hours away from Saigon.
In Phan Thiet, there lives a poet and teacher, named, Duong (Uncle) Tran, after school every day, he would open up his garden which is at the front of his house, turns on the fairy lights hanging from a jack fruit tree, opens the gates and people flood inside for tea, coffee and creme caramel, the best creme caramel in the world! I always have to visit this place every time I go to Vietnam. Its a must!
Duong Tran doesn't talk much, especially about what goes into his famous dessert. He refuses to disclose any information on how he makes it. (I don't blame him) He lost his wife, his muse, who always loved his kem flan, and tells us that that he will make this everyday so that she can also enjoy it in the afterlife.
The Vietnamese love creme caramel, one of the things bought over by the French colony. In Vietnam, they do not really have ovens, so if you were to recreate it, it is usually steamed. Goodness knows how Duong Tran makes it to utter perfection of sweetness, egginess, lightness and delightfulness.
Here is Binh's recipe which is very close to Duong Tran's.
Binh's Ingredients (from film clip):
400ml Long Life Sweetened Milk
1/2 Can Condensed Milk
1/2 Can Hot Water
Sugar and a splash of water
Not too many people have ovens in Vietnam, so this is steamed over a bowl in a pot of water for 30 mins, but this leaves many holes in the custard.
Original Post with full pictures here:
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Thursday, 13 December 2012
|Gregg Wallace & me|
|Gregg Wallace, me & Chris|
|Left over tomatoes from shoot|
|I had to make 650 tripled fried chips, cut with an apple corer. Took me 13 hours!|
|Raymond Blanc & me|
|Fragrant Pork Noodle Salad|
|Fried Fish & Green Mango Salad|
|Monk Fish Curry|
|Grilled Pork & Tamarind|
|Part of Tommi's beautiful kitchen that her father and she built|
I am now currently styling my own cook book and working with an excellent team, my publisher Ryland Peters & Small. I am loving the photos, the outcome and can not wait to share it when the book is published in Autumn 2013!
|Gennaro Contaldo & me (still waiting to work with him)|
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
In bad company, it is hard to swallow something as mighty good as it may well taste, even if its in a top restaurant, cooked by a top rated chef because a song and dance (or should I say, a rattle and shake) which can be performed by the invitee makes it impossible to enjoy. My mother always says, its best to resolve conflicts, then eat, or do it after, never during a meal, never spoil a perfectly good meal! And to always resolve a conflict before sleep.
In good company, I can eat a steak, well done (when ordered medium rare) without even complaining about it. It sure is chewy and he doesn't look too pleased and there is that dreadful awkward and unhappy silence during which that dry piece of meat is being chomped and masticated. Those moments are when you can tell much about a person because that is when they can have a choice to act as well done as that piece of steak or remain succulent, medium rare and juicy as the steak they were meant to be. Its a good test of character. There are many times when mine was rather flawed.
On one cold chilly evening, Roche Communications sent me to eat at The Grill On The Market, Smithfields. I was very happy about it as I had been working all day and really needed a little pampering. However, the steak was over cooked but we didn't care too much, we were in good company, we talked about things and laughed about them too. Even the starters were on the safe side of bland but the wine was excellent and so was the sticky toffee pudding. Service was brilliant which made it all quite a fun date.
|sticky toffee pudding|
I always order steak. I love steak even though it is so easy for me to cook at home. I order it for the quality of meat that I can't always get when cooking at home or for the fire of the grill, a serious creed. Sometimes, I have friends whom when I am with, always reminds me that I want to eat steak, something about them. I love people who enjoy steak as much as I do. There is something very inherent about that grip of your teeth into flesh, tearing at the almost raw tissues.
Perhaps it would be cooked to my liking the next time.
2-3 West Smithfield, City of London, EC1A 9JX
NB: With thanks, we did not pay for this meal as we were kindly invited by Roche Communications.