We will not bake or steam. Nor do we need one single curding agent like egg, gelatin, flour, or agar-agar… to make this custard-like dessert. Said to have originated in Southern China along the Pearl River Delta, this is called Ginger Hits Milk 薑撞奶 in our place. A funny name though, it truly describes how the pudding is prepared simply with a natural coagulant.
Heat milk, grate ginger to extract juice, and then pour the first into the second, wait a couple of minutes, then you will get this feathery smooth pudding done. Sounds simple? I have a feeling that this is a recipe that ‘the devil is in the details’. But please don’t be discouraged, they are however manageable details, to be honest.
Heat the milk to the right temperature
The milk should be heated to the temperature somewhere between 75 to 80 degree C for curding with the ginger juice. One way to get to that optimum point is to heat up the milk until it starts to smoke, and then swirl it with a spoon for 20 times. I believe this was a wise endeavor when modern tools did not exist. Now, unless your kitchen thermometer has cheated you or there is a limitation, let’s go for this more reliable alternative.
Pick the right ginger
Do not get baby gingers or young gingers because it is the juice from mature or old gingers containing a starchy content that is good for curding the milk. When you crash an old ginger, you shall see beards inside its flesh.
Stir well the ginger juice before hitting the milk
If the ginger juice is rest for a while, the starchy material just mentioned will settle to the bottom. That is why we need to stir the ginger juice before pouring in the milk.
Besides, it is better to pour the milk about 10 cm above the ginger juice. Perhaps doing such is to help mix well the two ingredients because you should NOT stir them after ‘milk hits ginger’.
- 250ml fresh milk
- 2 tsp sugar, or to taste
- 4 tsp fresh ginger juice
- yields two bowls of milk custard
Wash, peel ginger. I leave some skin on one end to avoid slipping while holding it
Grate ginger and juice it by pressing it through a fine strainer until you collect 2 tea spoon of ginger juice. For the remaining end which is too small to be grated further, I would keep it, usually for stir-frying vegetables.
Stir well the ginger juice and divide it into two bowls.
Heat milk with sugar over the lowest flame in pan. Swirl to dissolve sugar. As you feel heat from the milk (or any time earlier if you find it easier), place your kitchen thermometer into the milk. As the temperature reaches 80 degree C, remove from heat.
Right before the milk is removed from heat, give the ginger juice a good stir. Then immediately pour milk from about 10cm above to fill no more than 70% of the bowl, or the milk will easily spill out. So you may need a larger bowl; if doubt, try rehearse the action with water first.
After the milk is added to the ginger juice, DO NOT move or even shake the bowl. Wait for 5 minutes, and the milk ginger mixture will be curdled. Serve immediately.
Be very careful, as the milk is heated, the thermometer gets very hot as well.
You may not want some dusts or dirts land on the pudding in that 5 minutes, so cover the bowl with a plate. It would not affect the curding process.
It has been said that all types of fresh milk can be used for this recipe, but I could only testify the two that I have tried, that is, the pure fresh milk and the high calcium low fat type. Have you got a different experience?
An update on June 24, 2011: Lena, my blogger friend at Frozen Wings, has also made her smooth milk custard too. She shared a great tip in her post on how to pour the milk at the right temperature with no hurries, ” … boiled the milk till it reaches 90C, remove from heat and let it cool down to 80C before pouring into the bowl”. Do visit Lena’s post to see her make no surrenders but overcome the problems.
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