Flan, otherwise known as ‘banh flan’ or Vietnamese custard, is an underrated silky sweet treat and, for a lot of Vietnamese families, it’s their favourite dessert. It’s relatively easy to make and is absolutely delicious.
Flan, for those who don’t regularly splurge on it, is a type of custard made from a mix of milk, cream, egg yolks, and sugar. Baked in ramekins oftentimes lined with caramel sauce, the flan is removed from the oven once it has a soft texture. Flan requires heavy knowledge and careful detailing to make as the texture is very specific.
Vietnamese-style flan as is usually served in many Vietnamese restaurants does not pull from a pure Vietnamese background. What we mean by this is that flan did not originate in Vietnam. Flan’s origin story begins in ancient civilizations.
Egg was its main ingredient and at the time of Greeks, Romans, and ancient history, it was believed the consumption of eggs could help with preventing illnesses relating to the liver and kidneys, increase fertility, and resolve urinary tract problems among other health benefits. Although in this time period flan was never made, this philosophy as it came down through centuries of living was responsible for the development of the dessert.
During the Middle Ages, eggs rose in popularity as during Lent the obligation to fast prohibited consumption of certain foods while allowing participants to enjoy others. This further built on prestige given to eggs over centuries. It was during the Middle Ages that the first flan recipes originated – evidently having nothing to do with Vietnam. That said, flan made its way to the Vietnamese in early French colonization. As one will notice in a lot of aspects of Vietnamese cooking, French influence is evident. This is obvious in some of how pho was developed and common dishes just like it.Read More