COMPLIMENTARY RECIPE: Cousin Khanh's Lemongrass & Kaffir Lime Crème Brûlée


"Cousin Khanh had worked as a chef in a Vietnamese restaurant for many years, when he realised how many similarities there were between Vietnamese and French cooking. Keen to extend his French cooking skills, he now works as an apprentice in a French kitchen. This is his recipe. as is typical for Vietnamese sweets, he steams the brûlée rather than cooking it in an oven." – Chef Luke Nguyen



750 ml pouring cream
1 vanilla bean
8 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
3 lemongrass stems, white part only, finely chopped
120 g caster sugar, plus 40 g extra, for sprinkling
12 free range egg yolks


Pour the cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add the lime leaves and lemongrass and bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Cover the pan and allow the flavours to infuse for 10 minutes.

Beat the sugar and egg yolks together in a mixing bowl until creamy. Pour the cream over the egg mixture, whisking constantly until combined. Strain the cream and egg mixture into a large jug, discarding the solids, then pour into eight 125 ml (4 fl oz / ½ cup) Asian tea cups, filling each about two-thirds full.

Bring a wok or saucepan of water to a rapid boil. Place the teacups in a metal or bamboo steamer and cover with the lid. Reduce the heat to low, then sit the steamer over the wok and steam for 25-30 minutes, or until just set; they will still be slightly wobbly in the middle. Allow to cool to room temperature. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until set.

To serve, evenly distribute a teaspoon of caster sugar over the top of each crème, and then caramelise with a kitchen blowtorch or under a hot grill (broiler) for a few minutes.

Recipe from Luke's Book - Indochine: Baguettes to Banh Mi, Finding France in Vietnam. Click here to purchase the book now.

Phuong Nguyen