24 March 2008

a discussion on egg tarts

those who know me know that i am an egg tart fiend (the likely culprit behind my "extra luggage" from my expeditions in the far east).

["chieu-pei" or "flaky crust" egg tart. actually this one tasted kind of gross and lardy, like eating a spoonful of tenderflake.]

egg tarts ("dan-tat") abound in hong kong and macau, where they were popularized around WWII by "cha-chaan tengs" (tea and food restaurants). in north america, you can find egg tarts in chinese bakeries and also in "cha-laus" where dim sum is served.

story goes either the british brought custard pies to hong kong (from which the chinese eggier version was adapted), and/or they were influenced by the portuguese egg tarts (see below).

the basic ingredients are simple: a buttload of eggs, milk and sugar, and sometimes food colouring. ginger, chocolate, papaya or other stuff (like bird's nest) can be added, but make them weird-flavoured.

[milk tarts, weaklings of the egg tart family.]

there are two main types of tart crusts:
- shortcrust. butter-based, more flavourful, and slightly denser.
- puff-pastry. lard-based, flakier, considered more genuine ("chieu-pei").

portuguese egg tarts ("po-tat" as my chinese kinfolk call them) are by far my favourite. called pastel de nata in their native portugal, the macanese ones delicate eggy cups of heaven, topped with slightly burned deliciousness... best. thing. ever.

(you can even get them right here in montreal, on the plateau.)

[macanese po-tart: flaky, eggy, and slightly burned... just like the way i like my boys.]

[a half dozen of po-tarts (minus one) from macau that quickly disappeared as soon as they were boxed... and no, i did not share.]

in hong kong however, the best one i had was from kfc, i kid you not. and do not judge me lest ye be judged.

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