Egg pudding is a sweet and smooth custard dessert made from a delicate mix between sugar, eggs, and milk. A quick search online will show you there are variations in almost every Asian culture!
This quintessential Asian dessert is simple to make at home for anyone to enjoy. In this article, we will explore the origins of this dessert, and learn how to make it using a time-tested traditional recipe.
What is egg pudding made of?
There are three key ingredients to this silky treat: milk, sugar, and eggs. Although the ingredients are the same, the sweetness levels differ between the Chinese and the Japanese version.
The Chinese version is created by steaming a mixture of eggs with milk and sugar. It has an almost watery consistency. This is a dessert that Chinese mothers feed their children for baby soft skin!
Purin is a smooth Japanese pudding served chilled and topped with a layer of caramel. Store-bought purin has gelatine for a bouncy texture. Purin is so popular that the Japanese have even created a cartoon character with the same name to celebrate this household favourite!
Crème caramel, invented by the Europeans, is a custard pudding topped with caramel. It is possible that crème caramel inspired the invention of egg pudding. It is difficult to ascertain the true origins of custard pudding, except we know the British first brought European food to Japanese shores around 1860 when a European-style hotel opened in Yokohama.
Our research traces the Chinese rendition to a grandmother during the Qing dynasty in Guangdong who wanted to use excess milk, later adding eggs to the dessert. Having researched extensively to pinpoint its Eureka moment, we slid down a fascinating rabbit’s hole of pudding history.
The British originally invented puddings from meat in the 15th century. In the late 1500s, British sailors decided to mix leftover breadcrumbs with flour, lard and egg, creating a custard egg pudding. The French then added their own touches. Et voila, crème caramel was born.
Another 16th-century historical reference traces Spanish flan, similar to crème caramel. The Spanish supposedly invented pudding, or flan after they discovered sugar through trading with the Arabs. Perhaps because of the Age of Sail, the European crème caramel travelled to Asia, and vice versa for the Chinese rendition. In turn, this gave rise to cross-cultural influences like purin (Japanese custard pudding).
How to Enjoy
We can eat egg pudding chilled or warm, with or without caramel. A really popular trend among bubble tea shops is to use a layer of egg custard as a popular boba topping choice. As the custard sinks into the drink, it results in a velvety, savoury-sweet flavour.
We find it especially enjoyable if accompanied with chewy boba!
Another popular variation is to top egg custard with boba pearls, making a custard boba pudding. If you would like to try this combination, we also have a full guide on how to make boba at home.
You will need eggs, milk, rock, sugar, and water for Chinese custard egg pudding. Eggs help the mixture to set, whilst milk adds the flavour. Rock sugar not only sweetens the dessert but determines its firmness.
These ingredients are the same for Japanese purin and crème caramel. They are readily available at any grocery shop and hence, is a simple dessert to prepare for. While shopping, we recommend choosing full-fat fresh milk for a creamy flavour in your custard pudding.
Although an easy dessert to make, there are a few things that we recommend you keep in mind when attempting this dessert. Here are some tips to ensure a perfectly silky egg pudding.
- First, straining the egg mixture before steaming helps to create a smooth texture. We can use a small spoon to remove any tiny bubbles.
- Second, heat small steaming bowls or cup-shaped moulds in a frying pan with water or a steamer over medium heat to set the mixture. When steaming, cover the mixture tightly with cling wrap so that water vapour does not drip into the custard, which will cause holes.
- To prevent a watery outcome, keep to the egg, milk/water ratios in the recipe list. Anything less or more can cause a watery or hard texture.
Egg Pudding (Custard Pudding)
- 4 egg
- 500 ml milk
- 120 g rock sugar
- 125 ml water
- Mix rock sugar and water in a saucepan. Boil on low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved, switch off the heat and pour in the fresh milk. Set this aside to cool.
- Beat the eggs gently with a whisk or fork before adding to the mixture. Stir well. Strain egg mixture through a sieve to remove bubbles.
- Once the egg mixture is ready, gently pour it into the moulds or bowls. Use a small spoon to remove any bubbles on the surface. Wrap the bowls tightly with cling wrap or tin foil.
- Place the bowls into the steamer and steam for 12 minutes. Lift it every few minutes to let steam escape. Once the egg pudding has set, it is ready to serve.
We recommend tightly wrapping the steaming bowls or moulds with cling wrap. This is to ensure that the condensed water vapour does not drip into the bowl and hence causing the desserts’ surfaces to become uneven. For a low-calorie and less sweet version, adjust the amount of rock sugar used.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
How to Make Caramel Sauce
If you prefer to drizzle caramel over the treat like the Japanese Purin version, we suggest you do the following.
Just pour some sugar and water into a heated saucepan and let the sugar dissolve without stirring. Once the mixture turns amber, turn the heat off. Your sauce is now ready for pouring.
Add boba for a modern adaptation of this Asian dessert!
Version without milk
If you would like to prepare yours without any dairy or milk, you can refer to UNIKOEY’s video on how she made steamed egg pudding.
Instead of steaming egg pudding, you could also make it using a microwave version recipe.
To make the caramel, microwave the water and sugar mixture in a microwave-safe circular bowl for 2 minutes until it reaches an amber-brown colour. When the caramel sauce has hardened, pour the custard mixture (following Steps 1-2 from the egg pudding recipe above), through a strainer into the bowl.
Microwave the mixture at 500 watts for about 3 minutes. Then, chill the custard pudding in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let it set. When ready to eat, flip the bowl upside down onto a plate. The custard should slide out and the caramel sauce should pour over the cake.
If you cook the sauce separately, microwave it for 2 minutes. Check at a 10-second interval. Once the caramel sauce is partially amber, quickly remove and add water, stirring until evenly coloured. The extra water helps to spread the caramel over the custard pudding.
If you’ve tried this custard pudding recipe and enjoyed it, why not share it on Pinterest? And if you’re craving more Asian recipes to impress your family and friends, connect with us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks to explore more gastronomical delights.