Sunday, 8 March 2009

Lemongrass and Chilli Creme Caramel

I was given a Wagamama Cookbook by our fabulous friends Emma and Marcus for my 40th birthday (not as recently as I hoped I realised). How appropriate it seemed to prepare a Japanese meal for them when they came to stay with us this weekend.

The two most memorable and talked about items on the menu were the agedashi tofu (from Harumi's Japanese Cooking), served as a starter, and the unexpectedly spicy creme caramel. This incredibly aromatic dessert, once experienced, is something that stays with you for good.

I bungled something in the method. The caramel was more like rock hard toffee and stuck to the ramekins when I turned them out. This was fine as Marcus just hacked away at the ramekins afterwards. Luckily they still looked good on the plate and tasted delightful. Emma's advice (a mega queen in the kitchen herself) was to make the caramel separately and spoon over when serving. Next time definitely.

Hot sake with the meal followed by red wine by the brazier afterwards. A great evening.

For 4 serves:

- 400ml milk
- 4 lemongrass stalks, slightly bashed
- 2 dried red chillies
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) sake
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 100g white sugar
- 2 eggs and 4 yolks
- 4 x 150ml ramekin dishes

For the caramel:

- 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) water
- 100g white sugar


Infuse the lemongrass, chilli, sake, star anise, and cinnamon in the milk by heating until just before boiling, stand aside, cover and leave to infuse.

Preheat the oven to 150 deg C. Whisk the sugar, eggs and yolks in a mixing bowl, then strain the infused milk, mix well and pour into the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a deep baking dish filled with boiling water to half their depth. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until set. Allow them to cool completely.

For the caramel, put the water and sugar in a small pan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and boil until golden.

To serve, turn out the ramekins onto plates, and spoon over the caramel.

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