Sunday, May 22, 2005

IMBB: Wafuu (Japanese-style) Green Tea Parfait

Remember how I was telling you about the Japanese obsession with parfaits? The summer is parfait season in Japan with practically every cafe doing some sort of a 'Parfait Fair', featuring gorgeous glasses filled with ice cream, jello, syrups, and sugary goodness. Ice creams and parfaits rule Japan in the summer, and a recent report from my favorite Japanese blogger in Japan shows us how much more advanced the Haagen-datz in Japan is compared to the simple scoop-shops we have here in the US. Ice cream kaiseki! Amazing.

So when I saw this month's IMBB theme, "Has my blog jelled?", hosted by Elise over at Simply Recipes, I knew exactly what I was going to make. Nothing like a cool, refreshing jello/jelly/kanten parfait treat on a hot summer day! Green tea kanten jello parfait!

"Kanten?", you might ask... Kanten is agar, and agar is a seaweed-based coagulant. And yes, biologists. We eat that stuff in Japan. (For non-biologists, we, in the lab, use agar as a solid surface to grow all kinds of bacteria. It's usually mixed with yeast extract, and the stuff smells B-A-D, especially after we've grown some funky E.coli on them...) Agar itself has very little smell and hardly any detectable taste, which is why it is so great to work with in the kitchen!

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When I was back in Japan, I came home with some very nice high-quality kanten. Unlike the blocks one gets in the stores around here, my kanten was in fine threads. And it took a lot more work to prepare than the regular kanten, starting with a 8 hr soak in water!

Once the kanten (5 g) was ready, I cooked it in 1 cup of water over low heat for 15 min or so. I saw little chunks of kanten undissolved, and I probably should've followed the traditional method and strained it at this point, but I didn't. Oh well. It added an interesting texture to the final product!

While the kanten was simmering, I made extra strong green tea with my trusted cha-sen, a beater used ONLY for green tea. You see, it's all about specialization in Japanese utensils - a cup to measure rice and only rice, a beater to make tea and only tea... I combined 1 cup of the green tea with 1 cup of the kanten mixture, and let it solidify in the refrigerator for several hours.

Then, the fun part! Assembly!

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Since I still have some wonderful wasambon hand-crafted artisan sugar, I knew my sweetener was going to be kinako-sugar powder. Kinako is to soy beans as cocoa powder is to cacao beans. Kinako is a delicate powder full of condensed soy bean taste with a tender nuttiness (as in nut-like, not crazy). With the wasambon sugar, the combination is an airy, heavenly sweetness, rarely found in any other treat.

I cubed the jello and layered kinako-sugar powder, and topped the parfait with soy milk ice cream to match the kinako soy theme. Ice cream is an obligatory component of any Japanese parfait, and voila! A home-made Wafuu (Japanese-style) Green Tea Parfait!
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Materials:

Kanten mixture:
5 g kanten
1 cup water

Green tea:
2 tbs green tea powder
1 cup water

Kinako-wasambon:
1/4 cup kinako
1/4 wasambon

Soy milk ice cream

PS:
Yes, this is the same jello I made for my Kyoto-inspired dinner!

PS2:
Here's a link to the round-up!

6 comments:

Elise said...

Hi Alice - Ah, green tea. Iced green tea, green tea ice cream, green tea mochi, and now green tea parfait! I lived in Kyoto for a year and just the thought of cold green tea conjures up images of temples galore and mushi-atsui summer days, when the humidity is so dense you don't see blue sky for a month and anything cold and sweet makes the heat just a little more bearable. Thank you so much for the trip down memory lane.

Alice said...

Ah, Elise,

You speak Japanese!! Kyoto is a lovely place, although I can say that because I've never been to Kyoto during the notorious summer!

Thanks for hosting such a lovely IMBB and coming by to check out my blog!

Santos said...

hi alice! your parfait is so beautiful, and i can imagine it tastes as lovely as it looks.

btw, did you know your favourite japanese blogger has one of my favourite english-language food blogs?

sarah said...

hi alice! i loooove green tea...and it seems to be quite the rage right now, huh? hopefully i'll be inspired enough to make something as pretty as your parfait, instead of just drinking it steaming hot :)

Alice said...

Santos,

Wow, thanks so much for the info on Chika-san's English blog! I knew she lived in HI for a while, but I didn't know she had another blog in English!

Sarah,

There's nothing like a properly brewed bowl of matcha to take way stress! Your panacotta looked very lovely too!

tea said...

I must admit Im not a big fan of parfaits, but this green tea one looked quite good. Do you think they used something like this for the green tea powder - dessert matcha?