Undeniable: Hong Kong loves Egg Tarts!January 21st, 2011 | Posted by in Recipes
These unbelievably simple egg custard pastries, better known in Gwailo slang as ‘dan tat’ are at the heart of the deepest passions…
You walk around Hong Kong or Macao and unavoidably, you’ll cross path with a good hundred places selling Egg Tarts. Everyone has its own favorite and everyone loves to chat about why the crust of that one is better or that other one has a more beautiful egg custard filling – I really like it when people get passionate about food! Hong Kong has become a true melting pot of Egg Tarts like nowhere else in the world, with the famous Egg Custard Tarts, legacy from the ex-British colony; and the acclaimed Pasteis de Nata coming straight from our neighboring ex-Portuguese colony Macao.
Today, Egg Tarts have become a classic dish in local restaurant and a must-have on dim sum menus. More commonly, the Chinese type Egg Tart have a shortcrust dough that varies from shop to shop, some are more crumbly and some are a bit flaky; and an egg filling that is set like a custard, while its Portuguese cousin has a flaky pastry shell and an egg filling that is usually baked in a darker tone with its typical burnt spots. The later has even become one of the best selling item at the fast-food chain KFC (…and in my opinion: it wasn’t hard making anything better than their chicken! :) ) to the point where the chain started selling them in the whole Asia-Pacific region.
I personally find most of the Egg Tarts pretty good, but if I had to choose, I’d go for the Portuguese version, just because of the flaky pastry! I just love eating them piping hot with their crunchy base and smooth custard…
The inconvenient truth about traditional Egg Tart is lard.
Purists and snobs alike only swear by Egg Tarts made with pure lard and its load of saturated fat. Oddly enough, I read people claiming lard is unhealthy like to replace it with (hydrogenated) shortening which happens to be worst than lard in terms of saturated fat and adverse effect on health. Go figure!…
Lastly, in the register of controversies, I swear, you can see Egg Tarts in certain shops almost glowing in the dark with ultra bright yellow color. Obviously someone is either color blind or really like funky colors when they add food coloring :)
Easy to make at home and pleasing when served to friends, here is a recipe for Portuguese Egg Tarts you should try:
The dough is basically a puff pastry made with lard – or you can simply use butter…
- 480 gm Cake Flour
- 12 gm Salt
- 280 ml Water
- 330 gm Lard (or 400 gm butter)
- Mix all the ingredients into a rough dough except for the lard.
- On a floured table, flatten the dough in a square shape.
- Flatten the lard in the middle of the square on an even layer.
- Fold the corners to enclose the lard inside the dough and flatten it a little.
- Visually divide the dough into three parts and fold it like a wallet. Allow to rest for 3 hours in the fridge and repeat the operation once again.
- Again, 3 hours later, roll the piece of dough to about 3 cm thick and fold it like a 3 parts wallet.
- Allow resting in the fridge for a few hours before rolling the dough at about 2 mm thick.
Note: Apparently, authentic Egg Tarts have sugar between layers of dough and come out a little bit caramelized (…like when you make Palmier)
Noteworthy: If you don’t want to bother with the dough, get a good puff pastry from your favorite bakery shop!
The egg filling
- 500 ml Cream
- 250 ml Milk
- 175 gm White sugar
- 4 pcs Egg yolks
- 1 pc Egg
- Mix all the ingredients from the egg filling and fill the tart to 3/4 of the height
- Bake in a oven at 230C for about 20 to 30 minutes (depending on how strong is your oven)
PS: I tried to bribe our Dim Sum Chef from our 3 Michelin Stars restaurant Lung King Heen with Macanese egg tarts to get his secret recipe of Chinese Egg Tarts, but not a chance… I won’t give up… I’ll find a way… perhaps I need to trade-in my croissant recipe :)
We can see the difference of texture between Chinese style and Portuguese style Egg Tarts.