Sep 2008

Bánh Kem Flan

Flan, also known as crème caramel and caramel custard, is a egg and milk-based dessert with a layer of caramelized sugar on top. What’s particularly notable about flan is its global reach. This dessert is embraced by the French, Spanish, Mexicans, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Japanese, Argentinians and Uruguayans, to name a few.

The dish has spread across Europe and the world. Both ‘crème caramel’ and ‘flan’ are French names, but have come to have different meanings in different regions. In Spanish-speaking countries and in North America, ‘flan’ refers to crème caramel; this was originally a Spanish usage, but the dish is now best-known in the United States in a Latin American context. Elsewhere, including in France, ‘flan’ usually means a custard tart, often with a fruit topping. In Europe and many Commonwealth countries, the dish is generally known as crème caramel.

In Saigon, banh kem flan are sold in sweet shops that usually also dish up che. The flan are made in small plastic containers and refrigerated until served. Once an order is placed, the flan are inverted onto a plate and topped with crushed ice or small ice cubes. A plate of two banh kem flan goes for 4,000 VND. Once, I ate a banh kem flan that was topped with a shot of espresso in addition to ice. It was too bitter for me, but I can definitely see the appeal for a coffee lover. Banh kem flan can also be purchased from road side vendors and consumed at home. Inverting is completely optional.

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7 thoughts on “Bánh Kem Flan

  1. Jon – To get tourists sick. Ha! Just kidding, the ice just makes the flan x-tra refreshing! The sun in Saigon is brutal.

    WC – Like I said, I only deserve canned fruits in heavy syrup. Wah wah.

  2. In the Philippines, it’s commonly known as “leche flan”. It’s not sold very often in the streets, though; the ingredients cost a lot, especially when you’re not being skimpy (some people add egg whites, water and sometimes flour).

  3. weyn – I was in the Philippines earlier this year and was always too full of lechon to eat dessert. There was one meal where I saved room for sweets and my friends and I shared a halo halo. I saw flan on the menu, but wanted to try something I’d never heard of. There’s always a next time!

  4. mmm i loved eating this in vietnam, they added a scoop of coffee flavored ice cream which topped it off as one of my favorite deserts in vietnam

  5. I love it when my mom makes this!!! it’s really bitter without the ice but, it’s delicious! Sometimes my mom burns it though i have to help her make it. for people who like this deserves a smiley face ☺ ☺ ☺

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