update 22/11/09: I just found out, through a HK chef based in Vancouver, that 1) ginger milk custard is not the same as double-skin milk 2) ginger milk custard IS made WITHOUT eggs. Apparently the ginger juice can coagulate the milk, ever slightly so and the custard is very soft, almost hardly held together but yet not totally liquid. So it looks like the recipe in the magazine was correct, just that my skills aren't there to make the milk a custard.
One of the best things I ate in Guangzhou was a custard-like dessert called 'double-skin milk' (translated from Chinese). Ooohh! It was absolutely yummy, very soft (softer than creme brulee or tofu fa) and milky. I've never come across this dessert in Malaysia, but I'm told its big in Hong Kong and China, and it originated from Panyi, where I stayed when I was in Guangzhou last December.
So yesterday I was estatic to find the recipe in a Singaporean magazine called Food & Travel, June 2007 issue. However, I tried the recipe out 3X before giving it out here. Why 3X? The first time the custard didn't set, so I tried again and it still didn't set! I then added a yolk in the next try (original recipe called for egg whites only) and reduced the amount of milk by 1/2 cup. How disappointing that they actually published a recipe that doesn't work. Luckily only four inexpensive ingredients are needed. I also reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe by half and increased the time for steaming. This recipe is not double layered: the milk custard I had in Panyi had a middle layer of red beans (azuki beans). I tried steaming half a cup, then added the cooked beans and then added another layer of milk but the beans floated to the top. Maybe I should have chilled the steamed half cup so its firmer, then add the beans and milk and steam again. But really, you can forget about the beans; the custard tastes good without it.
Try it cold, after a Chinese meal. Be surprised by how soft it is, and how its not very hard on the heart or wallet.
Ginger Milk Custard
2 T ginger (old ginger) juice*
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
2 cups fresh milk
3 T sugar
1. Whisk the egg whites, yolk and ginger juice.
2. In a small pot, heat milk and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and remove from heat when milk begins to simmer, just about to boil.
3. Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking quickly.
4. Strain into 6 or 7 ramekins or heat-proof cups.
5. Steam 4 to 5 min at high heat. Do not oversteam it, or the oil from the milk will form a layer on top. The custard will be runny when hot and more curdled when cold. Leave to cool, then chill in fridge.
* Note: Freezing the ginger will make it easier to grate and extract the juice.
The steaming time of 6 to 7 minutes is for cup size of 3"/7.5 cm across. Adjust the time according to your cup size.