This creamy smooth and light custard is enlivened by the zest of preserved ginger. This is, in fact, a blend of East and West that works very well. It can be served warm or cold and is a delightful finish to any meal. Make this custard in great quantities because it retains its flavours nicely and one never tires of it. Do not use the Chinese preserved ginger sold in jars with syrup, as it is too strong for this recipe and will overpower the custard.
Split the vanilla pods in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Separate the seeds with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and set to one side.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Combine the milk, vanilla pods and ginger in a pan and leave it to heat gently. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds in a large bowl. Then, when the milk is steaming hot, discard the vanilla pods and pour the milk into the egg and sugar mixture in a slow and steady stream, whisking until thoroughly blended.
Pour the liquid into a gratin dish and place it in a large roasting tin. Transfer the tin carefully to the oven, then pour in sufficient hot water to come two-thirds up the sides of the dish. Turn the temperature down to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and bake for 45 minutes or until done. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature before chilling.
© 1995 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.