Today, I am sharing with you Haiku, the Japanese poetic form of 17 syllables in three lines. These are created with a food theme and there really are only 17 syllables, I counted!
If you love someone
Hold the sugar and flour,
Try kisses instead.
Joan Ifland Johnson
Reveals its succulent heart
to prying fingers.
Pop open pea pods
Set free some plump round voyeurs --
Peeping toms in green.
Jane Butkin Roth
Melting spicy -- ancient kiss,
Symbol of teachers
The repellent of doctors,
The red fruit of sin.
Food for the body
So tempting to the spirit.
The table is set.
Best shared with friends and lovers,
Touching tongues and hearts.
Boyfriends and brownies,
Two things that never last long.
I eat them both up.
Grab salsa and cheese
In queso emergency.
Come on, light my fire.
I smell your garden
Simmering in my soup bowl.
I taste your passion.
No, this is not molecular gastronomy, so stay, don't be scared. This is just agar.
It's just that I felt like creating something pretty so I tinkered in the kitchen for a while and made these sweet red globs of red dragonfruit agar. Don't you love the fruit's natural fuschia pink color? Mmm...so do I. Sometimes inspiration hits while sitting doodling in the kitchen, tired after making sure everything's shining and in its place (ready for the next culinary upheaval). Amazing what a wilting brain can come up with, really.
Agar-agar, usually abbreviated as agar, is a gelatinous substance derived from a variety of seaweed vegetation. It is normally sold in health food stores/Asian stores in both flake and powder varieties, and can be used in a variety of dairy-free and vegan recipes as a stabilizing and thickening agent for custards, puddings, sauces and even vegetarian marshmallows. Since agar is derived from plant material, it has the advantage of being vegetarian, unlike gelatin derived from animal sources.
Although pretty, these red globs alone does not a complete dessert make. So I whipped out the chocolate and double cream, mixed them with the agar liquid, and layered the two flavors. The dragonfruit agar rounds are then interspersed with the chocolate agar. My original idea was to have the red glob suspended halfway between the cream and chocolate layers, but the bottom layer had gelled too fast and I didn't have time to sink the dragonfruit pieces in it! Note to self: next time I attempt this, be more organized and work quickly.
If you've never handled agar powder before, let me assure you working with it is child's play (except that it's not, because of the heat involved). Like gelatin, agar dissolves in water in a matter of minutes, after which you can add flavoring and/or coloring to it, before pouring it into moulds. I used this brand (Rose brand) of Japanese agar, it's super easy to use and makes 1 litre of agar solution:
Here's one funky way to serve up dragonfruit!
Place dragonfruit agar on top of the cream layer, then cover over with chocolate.
How it looks like once sliced.
Dragonfruit, Chocolate and Cream Agar Dessert
1/2 of a dragonfruit, peeled and sliced
100g dark chocolate
100ml double cream
13g agar powder (1 packet)
1 cup sugar
1. Dissolve sugar in water in a pot, and put on medium heat. Add agar powder and stir frequently to prevent agar from thickening at the bottom. Once the mixture boils, switch off the heat.
2. Measure out 200ml of of the agar solution and blend with the dragonfruit slices. Pour immediately into tiny semi-circular moulds (I used tiny muffin tins). Let it cool slightly before placing in the refridgerator to harden. Remove carefully from mould and set aside.
3. Measure out 250ml of the remaining agar solution and add the cream to it. Pour immediately into the bottom of a square tin (8 x 8in). Let it cool and firm up only slightly.
4. Add the chocolate, broken up into chunks, into the remainder of the agar (250ml) and stir until combined. Now the dessert is ready to be assembled.
5. Take the dragonfruit agar rounds and arrange on top of the cream agar layer, pushing in slightly into the layer (if it is still soft. If not, don't sweat about it, just place them on top!). Pour the chocolate agar on top of the cream layer and dragonfruit, and leave to cool. Chill in the fridge before cutting into slices and serve immediately.