In Japan, one pudding reigns supreme!
That’s because purin (pronounced poo-reen) is the phonetically-derived Japanese version of the English word “pudding” and it’s sold everywhere in Japan.
Okay — purin to pudding might seem like a stretch to your ears, but it works if you know the rules and sound patterns for Japanese.
More examples: the Japanese, lemon-lime flavoured soft drink, ramune (pronouced rah-moo-nay), comes from the word lemonade.
Japanese also use the word furutsu (foo-root-sue) for fruit, and the word pan (pahn) from the French word pain, for bread.
Anyways, when I was in Kyoto last summer, I decided that the best use of my (very sparing) free time would be to see Fushimi-Inari shrine, home of 10,000 torii gates.
The entire torii gate-lined trail that goes over the mountain is by no mean treacherous, but, as someone who ought to get to the gym more often, I knew it would take some serious energy to do it!
So I started out on one quiet Sunday morning, stopping at the convenience store next to the Inari train station to buy a bottle of tea, a sandwich, and a purin, which would pack all the calories I could need to hike up and over the mountain.
And after slogging my way up the winding, breathtaking (literally!), torii gate-lined mountain path, you can bet that I ate dessert first when I took a break at the Yotsutsuji half-way point!
Purin • プリン
*recipe by Christine
- 4 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup half & half cream
- 1/3 cup superfine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 ~ 4 drops yellow food coloring
Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C.
Butter two 200ml capacity baking glasses or ramekins and set them in a baking dish.
Fill the baking dish with hot water until it reaches half-way up the sides of the glasses.
First, make the caramel by combining 4 tablespoons of white sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a skillet over medium heat.
Gently swirl the pan (don’t stir!) as the water boils off the sugar. Cook until the sugar becomes fragrant and amber-coloured. Remove from the heat and immediately pour the hot caramel into the bottom of the buttered glasses.
Next, lightly beat the whole egg and two egg yolks together in a large, heat-proof dish. Set aside.
Combine the milk, cream, superfine sugar, vanilla, and yellow food coloring (if you want your dessert to have that signature purin-yellow shade) in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
Stir to dissolve the sugar and heat the milk mixture until it just starts to steam. Remove from heat immediately.
While whisking gently, slowly add approximately 1/4 of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs.
Stir to combine, then slowly pour and whisk the rest of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs.
Strain the liquid purin through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl (this will remove any lumps or cooked bits of egg), then divide between the two prepared glasses.
Bake in the oven for 70 minutes, or until the middle of the purin just barely jiggles when nudged.
Remove from the oven, let cool for 15 minutes, then transfer the purin glasses to the refrigerator to set for 4 hours — make sure to use oven mitts or a tea towel to protect your hands!
Once ready to serve, you can either eat them straight out of the glass, or use a knife to loosen the purin and invert them onto a plate.
This creamy, rich pudding is very similar to crème caramel, aside from the yellowness of its custard.
Another treat I used to snack on while in and around Kyoto and Nara were purin-flavoured mochi — a slightly bitter, caramel rice dumpling encased in bright yellow milk-flavoured rice flour.
Of course, real purin isn’t quiet so handy on-the-go, but the small effort it takes to make this recipe well worth the result. Yum!