I have been having cravings for Ginger Milk Custard (姜汁撞奶) recently. I made it twice and failed both times. After 2 failed attempts at making this famous Hong Kong dessert, I decided to call it quits and try making the steamed or double-boiled version (姜汁炖奶) to stave off my cravings instead.
Well, the Steamed or Double-boiled Ginger Milk Custard (姜汁炖奶) is so much easier to prepare, since it requires the use of eggs and steaming or double-boiling to form the custard. The non-steamed version (姜汁撞奶) on the other hand (let's call it Instant Ginger Milk Curd in English to avoid any confusion), however does not depend on any artificial coagulants (no gelatin, no agar agar, no lactone or whatsoever). It only depends on the enzymes of the ginger juice which reacts with the hot milk at a certain temperature to form a layer of milk curd naturally. Note that the milk has to be stretched and poured at a certain height in a teh-tarik fashion so that the milk is cooled down to a certain temperature before it mixes with the ginger juice. And the milk has to be poured into the ginger juice and not the other way round. It all sounds pretty easy on paper, wait till you try it. The BIG question is what is the type of milk and what is the optimal temperature at which the instant milk curd will be formed? This is something that requires a lot of skills and a pinch of luck. Both of which I unfortunately do not have at the moment. :)
If you wish to read more about how the enzymes of ginger juice react with the hot milk to form the Instant Ginger Milk Curd naturally in the absence of coagulants, then check out this science experiment done by 4 Hongkong secondary students.
In the mean time, let's enjoy some Steamed Ginger Milk Custard instead. This is a very easy to prepare traditional chinese dessert which is very healthy and nourishing. There is not much sugar and it contains only egg-whites, so you can eat as much as you want without worrying about cholesterol.
Here is my improvised recipe:
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger juice
200 ml fresh milk
2 tbsp fine sugar
1. Remove the skin of a 2 inch thumb-sized piece of old ginger and grate it using a vegetable grater into a small cup. Sieve the ginger juice into another small cup and set it aside. You need to extract at least 1 tbsp of ginger juice.
2. Add milk and sugar in a bowl and mix well using a fork or egg-beater. Add in egg-whites and continue to mix thoroughly.
3. Pour the mixture into a sieve and use your finger to press it through the sieve to remove any curdles of egg-whites. What remains is a smooth milk/ginger/egg-white mixture.
4. Divide the sieved mixture into 2 tea cups or ramekins, cover it with a piece of clingwrap each, and steam or double-boil it at low-medium heat for 10-15 min. The custard is ready when the top is firm and no longer wobbly and you can put a teaspoon on top without sinking.
I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #20: Asian Dessert Buffet (June 2012), hosted by Moon of Food Playground.