How to deep fry milk

Elaine Ewe

These days, you can fry literally anything and it will taste absolutely delicious. Perhaps it is the combination of oil and knowledge that you are eating something you shouldn't because it is unhealthy that helps fast food restaurants stay in business. While you may be aware of the existence of fried ice cream, did you know that you could fry milk as well?

Surprisingly, fried milk is a delicacy that has been around since forever. In China, it is called zha xian nai or chow lai; in India, gulab jamun; in Spain, leche frita and in Italy, latte dolce fritto or crema fritta. As a result, there are more than a few variations of this dessert, but its basics remain the same–milk is turned into custard with the help of flour, cornstarch, eggs and sugar. The custard or curd is then portioned, breaded and fried. The result is a delicate, crispy snack that oozes sweet, warm custard when you bite into it.

A dessert to make for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration perhaps?

Fried milk can be served with an assortment of ingredients, such as sugar glaze and cinnamon powder, ginger custard and chai ice cream or caramelized bananas and sour cream.

Unless you are lactose intolerant, follow these simple steps courtesy of to deep fry milk!

• 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour (3 1/2 tablespoons to coat the leche frita before frying)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 quart whole milk
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 eggs
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons butter
• Powdered cinnamon
1. Put the cornstarch, 3 1/2 tablespoons of the flour, and the sugar together in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of the milk and mix well with a whisk. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

2. Heat the rest of the milk in a large pan with the cinnamon stick over medium-low heat. When the milk begins to bubble, strain it little by little into the sugar and flour mixture, stirring well.

3. Pour the sugar, flour, and milk mixture back into the saucepan and put it over low heat, again stirring well, for 10 minutes.

4. Lightly oil an 11 x 7-inch ovenproof glass baking dish with olive oil (a smaller dish is recommended to obtain a depth of 3/4 inch for the leche frita or it will be unmanageable when frying. Pour in the leche frita mixture to a depth of 3/4 inch (use two molds if you have sufficient mixture). Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

5. Run a knife around the edge of the leche frita to ensure it's not sticking and very quickly turn it out. Cut it into 2 1/2-inch squares.

6. Beat the eggs. Heat olive oil in a frying pan to a depth approaching 1/4 inch over medium heat. Add the butter. Dredge each of the squares in the remaining flour, dip in the beaten egg, and fry in the hot oil for approximately 1 minute on each side, until very lightly golden.

7. Sieve powdered cinnamon over and serve hot.

Spanish leche frita.