Recipe of the Month: Vietnamese Egg Coffee

Categories Food, Recipe of the Month, Vietnam
Egg Coffee Hanoi

Egg Coffee in all its delicious glory.

I’m starting a new feature on Legal Nomads, where I share a recipe a month from my travels. I’ve been coming home to my mum or visiting my brother and cooking all sorts of new dishes experienced abroad, but I rarely share those recipes here. I’m starting with a new discovery: egg coffee from Hanoi.

It sounds fairly strange, no? I had heard of putting eggs in coffee before, mostly from Scandinavian countries where it was used to clarify the brew and generate an amber-coloured cup of coffee with a milder taste. Says Martin Lersch in his post about Norwegian egg coffee:

The addition of proteins while preparing the coffee serves two purposes: 1) it helps the coffee grounds to flocculate, allowing them to sink faster to the bottom of the pot (this effect is probably more pronounced when using eggs) and 2) the proteins bind irreversibly to astringent and bitter tasting polyphenols in coffee to form insoluble complexes that will precipitate. The end result is a clearer coffee with a pleasant and mild taste. The bitterness is only barely noticeable, but the coffee still has enough “body” so it doesn’t feel too thin!

In contrast, Vietnamese egg coffee (Cà Phê Trứng) is anything but a clearer coffee with a mild taste. As it appears in the photo above, it is essentially a Cadbury Creme Egg with a hint of mocha. So the recipe below isn’t the healthiest, but it’s most definitely a satisfying snack on a cold day.

The recipe also sounds quite strange because you are whisking an egg yolk to frothy goodness with sweetened condensed milk (not straight sugar), but it was the one given to me by my host family and more importantly I’ve tried it here at my apartment and it works. Egg coffee for all!

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons of Vietnamese coffee powder (Vietnamese coffee is available on Amazon here)
  • 2 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk
  • Boiling water

Directions

  • Brew a small cup of Vietnamese coffee. (Vietnamese coffee filters available on Amazon here. Also, for visual step-by-step of the brew process, there is a good set of photos explaining how to here.)
  • Crack an egg and discard the whites.
  • Put the yolk and the sweetened condensed milk in a small, deep bowl and whisk vigorously until you end up with a frothy, fluffy mixture like the one above. Add a tablespoon of the brewed coffee and whisk it in.
  • In a clear coffee cup (we’re going for aesthetics here), pour in your brewed coffee, then add the fluffy egg mixture on top.
  • Presto. Egg coffee.

Note: a reader, Graham, has tried this at home and says another option is to add the yolk to the coffee with the sweet milk and whisk all together. The foam will then rise to the top.

Note 2: If you don’t want to make it with Vietnamese coffee, an alternative in the USA is Cafe du Monde’s coffee with Chicory.

If you find yourself in Hanoi and want to try the egg coffee above, it is from Cafe Giang, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan street, in the Old Quarter. And it was fabulous.

-Jodi

67 comments to Recipe of the Month: Vietnamese Egg Coffee

  1. My first reaction is to cringe but that coffee DOES look very good. I think I’d need to wrap my head around uncooked egg in a coffee, but I would like to try this at home. Thank you for sharing. And I love the new recipe feature. Look forward to the next one!

    • On March 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm RI Swampyankee said:

      I’m a barista and we made this in our shop. It is SOOOOOO good. Tastes just like a good tiramisu. Were working on a way to address the egg issue–mostly it’s temp control–hitting that sweet spot of safety without the egg setting. If you want to make this at home, use pasteurized eggs.

    • I had this at Cafe Giang, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan street, in the Old Quarter. It is the best my husband had the coffee and loved it while I hate coffe so my 5 year old and I had the chocolate its just the best so I am going to try this recipe and see if its the same I hope so.

    • Thanks so much for sharing the recipe! We visited Hanoi recently and Cafe Giang was recommended to us by our student guides. Egg Cream was originated in and unique to Hanoi. It is fabulous and so decadently rich and creamy! For those of you who are concerned about the raw egg yolk, try whipping it in a bowl over simmering water (think sabayon technique).

    • We also visited Cafe Giang in our recent visit to Hanoi (January 2014). I really wanted to try it but didn’t know what to expect. Well, we went 3 times there to drink our egg coffee and we couldn’t go a 4th time because we had to fly home (sadly). This is scrumptiously delicious. One of the commenters said that it tastes like Tiramisu, indeed…I even bought the little coffee maker posts to make vietnamese coffee at home…and I’m Italian, for goodness sake! enough said I think. What better praise than this! LOL.

    • Several people have wondered aboute consuming a raw egg. Fact is, most of the bacteria that cause salmonella (the very small possibility from eating raw egg) are found on the eggshells. Only a very tiny amount make it inside. So, if you’re afraid of trying this recipe because of the egg, just wash it thoroughly (use dish/washing up) liquid immediately before cracking it, and you’re much, much safer. Always works for me.

      Don’t wash them any earlier, because it removes the enzymes from the eggshell that keep the eggs fresher for longer.

  2. LOL

    As much as it sounds very yucky at first, I’m kinda intrigued to try it at home! Ermm..wonder how it taste like! :P

  3. I agree with the other commenters – it does sound sort of gross, but the photo looks so good, and your descriptions amazing – i’d love to try it! off to get VN coffee…

  4. Oh yeah! Definitely got to try this! In the Canary Islands (though I suspect this comes from South America) they make cortado “leche, leche”….which is the typical Spanish, strong but white coffee poured over a layer of condensed milk…but yours sounds even richer….can’t wait to try it.

  5. Somehow I missed these while in Vietnam. Maybe it was due to obsession with iced coffee at the time. Just another reason to go back! I love the new series idea!

  6. Sounds kind of like a coffee egg-nog combination of awesomeness. Once again, why do I visit your site when I’m already hungry?

  7. Egg coffee sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe so I can try it at home. Unfortunately, it will be a while before I make it to Vietnam for this treat.

  8. I agree with those above that I’m not sure that I could ignore the fact that I am drinking an egg..although I did just eat half a bowl of brownie batter last night, and that had two raw eggs…

    • It’s perspective, right? We are used to it in some ways, but not others. People here in Vietnam eat a lot of the fertilized duck egg, and think it’s amusing that most foreigners won’t. Same in the Philippines (though they call it balut there). It’s all what you’re brought up with, and I think many of us (myself included) were brought up to remember that raw eggs can get you sick. But they’re so TASTY! ;)

  9. My husband’s Sephardic Bulgarian grandmother used to make a sauce from raw eggs and powdered sugar for bunuelos (imagine a tilde over the “n”).No one died – at least not that they told me about. Still, I think I’d be happier about the raw egg thing if I had gone out to the chicken coop in my backyard and collected the egg myself.

  10. I have tasted the ice coffes with condensed milk, but never this one. Sounds intriguing!

  11. When I first saw you talk about this on FB, it brought back very vivid memories of my Sicilian grandfather making me egg coffee decades ago…he left the egg out to warm up, and then beat it until fluffy, both the yolk and white, and some added sugar. Slowly adding warm milk and hot coffee. It was my grown up treat when I stayed with him…I will try this and compare the two!

  12. I have to admit I hate coffee. I’ve never finished a cup of the stuff in my life. However, the egg on top sounds interesting. Like the presentation and this may be worth trying (however, knowing me and coffee I probably wouldn’t like it either).

  13. OMG bless you! I had a severe addiction to these in Hanoi. Glad I can recreate them at home now!

  14. Very strange, indeed. I love coffee, so I would like to try this sometime.

    Is Vietnamese coffee powder like instant coffee/ Nescafe? Wonder if it would be similar to use any brewed coffee.

    • It’s actually quite different in taste. The closest thing is the Cafe du monde coffee – I updated the post with the info. There are quite a few differences between Vietnamese and general (Starbucks or other) coffee, some relating to the blends of coffee used (Vietnamese coffee is multi-blend; S’bux is usually single-blend), it’s customarily sun-dried for over 3 months (most coffees are dried approx 1 month) and it is slow-roasted so that it retains sweetness. Yes, I love coffee. :)

  15. Sounds awesome and I insist you take us to find some this weekend! ;) I remember in Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley he mentions a guy he meets on the road who made coffee for them the “proper” way, with egg shells and chicory. I love adventures in coffee and aim to try digging up and drying my own chicory next summer in Wisconsin. :)

  16. I’ve never heard of this before, but it certainly sounds like it’s worth a shot. Might head into Melbourne’s “Little Saigon” on the weekend and get some Pho while I’m at it too :)

  17. mmm..definitely im going to try this! i hope it will turn out delicious. here in Philippines, we also use raw eggs to our orange soda and its yummy:)

  18. My mother used to spoon-wisk a fresh egg yolk with sugar in a coffee mug and then pour hot fresh coffee slowly over the mixed yolk and sugar while wisking gently with a spoon. It will perk you up if you are feeling ill. The origin of this health remedy is southern Italian (Calabrese) and now we see it also “originates” elsewhere as a folk coffee recipe. The taste is great and the rush from egg yolk, sugar and fresh coffee blend is a remedy for those who looking for a quick burst of energy or to recover from illness. I refrain from enjoying it on regular basis as it is, in my ethnic tradition, a pick-me-up recovery drink rather than a substitute for my daily espresso.

  19. I pride myself on being a coffee addict, but I’ve never heard of egg coffee. Trying this one morning as it combines my morning love (coffee) with my usual morning breakfast (eggs) :)

  20. Very interesting coffee. I have not heard of this egg coffee before but its certainly worth trying.

  21. YUM!! Great photos! Thanks.

  22. Really interesting this egg coffee. I do not think I have tried this but I am tempted to.

  23. Sounds delish! I’m going to try this out!

  24. My three favorite food/drinks in one. I’ll have to give this one a try – thanks for the recipe :)

  25. Never heard of Vietnamese Egg Nog, but looks delicious!

  26. On March 8, 2013 at 9:41 am MrDarlingSings said:

    Well I’ve seen it posted on some menu boards here in Da Nang, Vietnam. I am encouraged to try one now. Cảm ơn bạn! (Thank you!)

  27. I tried it this morning with Japanese drip coffee, a teaspoon of brown sugar and a raw egg yolk. It’s yummy!
    I am not coffee drinker, I love my teas but this was interesting so I tried it. It’s nice. Mellow taste, think the egg yolk does remove some bitter taste in the coffee that I really dun like.
    Thanks for this recipe!

  28. Hello!

    I just came upon your website this morning, and am so glad I did.

    A question please?

    You can slap me later for this……. I know it is vietnamese, so use vietnamese coffee.

    I hate to spend the money though if it isn’t going to be used.

    Just for experiment use …… could I use a good blend of normal coffee, until we see if we are going to like it?

    By the way I have subscribed to your blog.

    Have a Joyful Day :~D
    Charlie

    • I don’t ever slap my readers, Charlie! ;) I am sure it can be tried with regular coffee, though the way the coffee is roasted and dried means that it is quite a bit more bitter than Vietnamese coffee. I’ve never tried it myself so please do report back and let us know how it goes!

  29. Just found your website and tried the recipe using good quality Espresso, it was delicious! Great if you want to do breakfast in a hurry.

  30. Hi.. This is a totally cool recipe.. I tried it but couldnt get the fluffy froth at all.. I dont know where I went wrong.. Please help me out with it.Thanks

  31. Good thing I came across to your site. I loooooooooooooove coffee. I was surprised after reading this. I never knew that egg, milk and coffee can be mixed up. I will definitely try this recipe at home. Thanks for sharing..

  32. Pure decadence and addictive. I measure coffee at this level and the coffee in the states is sub par. If your Hanoi go to Cafe Pho co, 11 Hang Gai. Walk through a creepy alley, opens up in to a gorgeous courtyard, walk up the spiral staircase and you enjoy your coffee overlooking Hanoi. Ping me, isorunner@yahoo if you want pics.

  33. On June 7, 2013 at 7:54 am Michelle Maureen said:

    In Indian version this receipe is termed as Egg Flip. It has remedial properties for acute chest congestion caused due to cold and flem. Advisable to have it in the wee hours before dawn.

  34. We have just got back to our hotel after visiting Café Giang in Ha Noi. This coffee is to die for and if your recipe is half as good as what we experienced tonight in Hanoi we will be very happy. I couldn’t wait to see if anyone out there had a recipe for it so I thank you for your contribution. We will definitely be trying it once we get home in three months time and share it with our friends.

  35. Why discard the egg whites? Why not set them aside for something else?

  36. Was floored when I tried the original at Cafe Giang. The coffee and the little old aunty who makes these are amazing.

    Tried following this recipe earlier this evening. The topping looked flatter, thicker, and more yellow than I remembered. To make it fluffier and lighter, I whisked up the left over white in a separate bowl. After it reached a meringue consistency I then gently folded half of it into the sweet yolk mixture.

    The texture and taste was great. Next time I’ll use room temp eggs to try and get a more consistent temperature.

    Had forgotten about the quirk detail at Cafe Giang where the cup is served in a saucer of warm water. Wonder if the aunty uses that to heat up the topping?

    Not sure how dangerous it is to eat raw eggs… but I probably take bigger risks everyday (e.g. not washing my hands immediately before I eat).

  37. I tried this last night and my egg and condensed milk didn’t look anything like yours :(

    • Hi Jacques, the photo was from the cafe, not mine. Another reader said that he added a bit more egg to the condensed milk after beating and it fluffed up more than prior- perhaps that would help?

  38. On July 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm Brian Hill said:

    My grandfather used to make a small pot of coffee by putting coffee grounds and water in a small pot and boiling it for two minutes. Then he would crack a whole egg in it and then a shot of whiskey and whisk it up. He had this for breakfast every day forever! He lived to be 96! He would let me have some coffee and egg but no whiskey! I think I need to do this!

  39. Nice recipe! In order to check the freshness of the egg, try the old trick of submerging it in cold water. If it sinks and stays on the bottom – it’s fresh alright. If it rises to the surface – you’d better not eat it (either cooked or raw). Another thing to check for: if the yolk simply ”melts” after you break the egg, it’s not that alright. It should stay firmly together (unless you poked it well with a finger while breaking the egg shell).

  40. I LOVED the egg coffee in Hanoi and have been dreaming about it since I left. I just ordered the coffee, condensed milk (us condensed milk doesn’t taste the same), and filter from Trung Nguyen:
    http://www.trung-nguyen-online.com/
    From my understanding, all US eggs are pastuerized to prevent food born illness so I would not be concerned about drinking the raw egg. Plus the hot coffee would help.

  41. I want to try this but I have a question. I live on a small island where I am forturnate to have access to good coffee but likely will not find Vietnamese coffee. Can one use any coffee to make this or would it not turn out using my espresso dark roast beans? Thanks!

  42. On November 3, 2013 at 8:25 pm Jane Eggleton said:

    Thank you so much for the recipe! We have just returned from Vietnam where we tried this amazing coffee whilst on a street food tour in Hanoi and they took us to Cafe Giang. We we blown away with this coffee!!

  43. I just returned from a week-long business trip to Hanoi, Vietnam. While there, I participated in a walking tour of Hanoi street food and the tour ended at Cafe Chiang. Been thinking about that coffee since! Very happy to have found your page and will be trying this SOON!

  44. Ok. I just saw this and i thought i was weird but what i do is just add (ponche de crema – trinidad&tobago/ venezuala latin america style) to my regular black coffee… delicious out of this world ……. i’m sure its same/ better effect (contains alcohol)

  45. Morroccan Jews break the Passover with a great version of this egg coffee. I don’t know exactly how to make it. I just drink it. Wow. For the recipe ask some of your Morrocan friends.

  46. This looks similar to the Italian desert zabaglione aka zabaone

    The main difference is sweet Marsala wine instead of the coffee and sweetened condensed milk.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zabaione

    This sounds like a nice alternative, I wonder how the Italians missed it : )

  47. we must have gone to the same shop but i cannot remember which one we went to … your photo is exactly the same as my photo, same cup, same saucer, same egg coffee !

    we joined a food on foot tour by the way, and the egg coffee was the last one we tried … i absolutely love it !i tried to make it just then but was disappointed at the result … not fluffy at all !

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