[Repost]: 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 6 Eggs Vanilla Flavouring
For Caramel 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.