Home » Grandmother’s Recipe: Savory Shrimp Flan with Cardinal Sauce

Grandmother’s Recipe: Savory Shrimp Flan with Cardinal Sauce

I am back with another of my grandmother’s recipes, flan de comte aux crevettes, which kind of translates to a savory shrimp flan that she recommends be served with a side of Cardinal sauce. I say “kind of” because, well, you’ll see. It was a super easy recipe to make, once I got past the hump of not being able to understand it. One reason I had trouble with translating this recipe is because it doesn’t entirely make sense, so I asked my mom to translate it for me. And did it turn out any good? Well, YES!

My grandmother’s handwritten recipe.

So here’s what happened. I wanted to try out another of my grandmother’s recipes from her handwritten notes since I have been lagging in that department this year, so I perused the beautiful script, saw the word “flan,” went “Ooooh, flan!” and then immediately got stuck since I just couldn’t understand some of the words or the process. I sent my mom an image of the recipe and here is her response, word for word:

You see how that might be confusing? She wasn’t sure what my grandmother meant in certain parts, she suggested I ask my dad for help even though she was probably sitting next to my dad when she responded to my email (1. this grandmother is my dad’s mother, 2. he doesn’t answer email so he wouldn’t have seen this), and I had to figure out what maizena was. As it turns out, it’s just a brand that makes certain corn products, and the ingredient I needed was cornflour.

So here’s how I actually made this dish. I prepped the following ingredients for the flan:

  • 1/2 liter of milk, about 2 cups (I actually only used 1/2 a cup in total, for the flan and the sauce)
  • 4 eggs
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound of raw shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour (I guessed on this as the translation calls for a spoonful, which helps very little)

For the Cardinal sauce:

  • onion (although shallot is more often used)
  • boiled shrimp water (this is made during the process of making the flan)
  • pat of butter
  • milk (see above)

 And then, mostly following the directions, here’s what I did:

  1. Remove the shells from the raw shrimp, chop them up into small pieces, put the pieces in a small pot, cover them in water and bring to a boil. Set aside. Do NOT get rid of this water. You’ll need it later.
  2. Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks and keep both in two separate bowls.
  3. In a bowl that can act as a double boiler and be put in the oven (I used a stainless steel mixing bowl as I don’t have much fancy equipment), place the egg yolks in that bowl/pot and beat them.
  4. Add the grated cheese, as much as you want. I probably dumped in about 2 Tbsps, but didn’t measure.
This is where things got confusing and probably veered from my grandmother’s intention. Soften the cornflour in a bit of cold milk before adding hot milk. I have no idea what she meant or how much she meant so, I did the following:
  1. Take a Tbsp of cornflour, put it into a separate bowl, add 4 Tbsps of cold milk (I just happen to have a liquid measuring cup of that size, so…) and mix it up.
  2. Heat the same amount of milk (I did it in the microwave) and mix that into the cornflour. (Was this the right amount of cornflour or milk? I have no idea!)
Mixing cornflour with cold, then hot milk.

Back to the part where I believe I followed directions correctly:

  1. Add pinch of salt and black pepper to the cornflour.
  2. Add cornflour to the egg and cheese mixture. Mix well.
  3. Remove the shrimp from the boiled water and add the shrimp to the bowl of other ingredients. (Remember, don’t get rid of the water!)
  4. Mix.
  5. Beat the egg whites into a frost.
  6. Add the egg whites to the mixture one spoonful at a time, integrating it before adding another spoonful.
  1. Place the bowl/pot over a pot of boiling water, cover and cook for an hour. (Although I only cooked it this way for 40 minutes since it was looking quite cooked already at that point.)
  2. Place the almost-cooked flan into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  3. While it cooks, make the Cardinal sauce.
  4. In a saucepan, sautee half of a small onion in a pat of butter.
  5. Pour in the boiled water from the shrimp and stir.
  6. Pour in some milk (how much, I don’t know!) until it looks like a sauce, stir and cook on low until the 20 minutes are up on the oven.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then I took the flan out of the dish, served with a side of cardinal sauce and Triscuits and we ate it all up. It was so good! I think this would be good to serve as an appetizer for a small dinner party or just just eat it as is for dinner for two.
Let me know if you give it a try. To see other recipes of my grandmother’s that I’ve made, click here.


  1. Ruth says:

    Two things i think might help next time – you should boil (or simmer) the shrimp shells for your sauce. Or cook the shrimp in the shells, cool & peel. But simmer the shells longer than the cooking time of the shrimp. More time = more flavor. I believe au bain marie is when you put a custard/flan/whatever in a glass dish into a larger pan that you put water into (about 1/2 way up the contents of custard) and then bake it. This should make it more flan/custard like. One more thing, my Aunt (the master Mexican food diva always soaked part of her masa (corn flour) in cold water/milk (depending on recipe)for about ten min.

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