This recipe is a sweet mung bean custard with a slight savory hint of shallot. Recently, I mentioned the difficulties of finding substitute ingredients with recipes from the other side of the world. This recipe is the epitome of cross-cultural substitution. With European presence in Southeast Asia, custards and flans were introduced into the region. But the vessels or baking dishes, were unavailable and thus stew pots were used as baking dishes lending it the name, kanom maw gaeng or stew pot cake. And the custard has that slight savory, onion-y hint from the stew pots.
The decadence and richness of this dessert, makes it perfect to share. But at the same time the savory shallots do also make it somewhat of an acquired taste. I like the custard just fine with the little hint of shallot oil in and on the custard and the fried shallot itself is optional.
A few notes:
• Mung beans – make sure to soak the beans at least 4 hours. Overnight is ideal. Drain the liquid and add new liquid before boiling.
• Shallots – cook it over low to medium low heat. You don’t want this to burn as that makes the shallots a little bitter. And you want it to be just golden brown and not burnt brown when you remove it from the pot. Remove those burnt ones from the batch. They’ll cook a little longer with the custard itself, so you definitely don’t want to over-cook these.
• Testing for done-ness – to ensure that custard is done (firm) before adding the shallot oil and fried shallot on top, you can move the baking dish slightly on the rack of the oven. If it’s jiggling like jello, it’s probably not done. You want the slightest movement on the top and middle of the custard, but it shouldn’t be jiggling back and forth.
• Sugar – I know some people have their preferred complexions. You know what I’m talking about. The lighter the sugar the lighter the custard and of course, dark brown sugar with added molasses will yield darker custard. If you want the lighter classic looking custard use palm sugar. For me, I had a bag of dark brown sugar open and available so I went with that. I live in Florida, it’s normal to be a little tan this season. 😉
Kanom Maw Gaeng
½ cup dried mung beans, soaked at least 4 hours
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
2 large shallots (peeled and sliced into rings)
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
4 large eggs
2/3 cup palm sugar or brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pandan or vanilla extract
9-inch tart pan or baking dish
- Drain the mung bean and boil in water until soft about 10-15 minutes. The bean should easily smash between your fingers. Drain and set aside to cool.
- In large pan or wok, heat oil over low to medium heat. Add shallots and cook shallots for 5-10 minutes, low and slow as to not burn the shallots. Remove shallots and place on plate lined with paper towel. Reserve the shallot oil.
- In a blender, add the cooked mung beans, eggs, coconut milk, sugar, salt, 1 tablespoon of reserved shallot oil and pandan/vanilla extract. Blend well until smooth.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Grease baking pan with some of the reserve shallot oil. Pour the mung bean mixture into the pan. Bake for 25-30 or until firm. Brush the top with the rest of the reserved shallot oil and sprinkle with the fried shallots. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or so.
- Enjoy warm or at room temperature.