Create Your Own Traditional Roadside Delight: Es Cincau With a Gastronomic Twist
As someone who has a great interest in food, I think molecular gastronomy is a lot of fun. It is like a playground for a child; you can play around with texture, colors, taste, fragrance and shape. A chef can have limitless creativity. However, this particular branch of cooking may not be for everyone.
Some people find it bizarre and over-the-top. The techniques used in molecular gastronomy are very different from those used to make everyday dishes at home or in a conventional restaurant.
Interestingly, Indonesia has experimented with the art decades before the world’s top chefs began taking an interest.
Local examples of molecular gastronomy can be found on the streets of Jakarta. Es cincau, for instance, perfectly reflects the popular technique.
The classic Indonesian dessert is made of a grass jelly ice, derived from the leaves of the cincau plant. Simply soak the leaves in water, then wring its extracts out. Strain the resulting creamy liquid into a bowl. Place it in the refrigerator for three to four hours and your grass jelly is ready.
In my opinion, grass jelly is phenomenal; it is 100 percent natural and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Indonesian desserts have also been using agar-agar — a gelling agent extracted from red algae or seaweed — for centuries.
This week I have prepared a recipe for es cincau with milk, cashew brittle, coconut ice cream and chilies. You may replace the milk with light coconut milk to make this dish 100 percent vegetarian. Enjoy!
Es cincau and coconut ice cream with cashew brittle
The ingredients below will serve four, and you will need four small ramekin or glass molds.
• For the grass jelly: 250ml of milk, 60 cincau leaves or around 30gr
• For the coconut ice cream: 3 whole young coconuts with a soft texture — not a gelatinous texture
• For the cashew brittle: 100 gr of unsalted roasted cashews, roughly ground; 100gr of sugar.
• Other ingredients: 1 papaya chili (large red chilies), remove the seeds and chop finely
• For the grass jelly: Simply wash the cincau leaves with mineral water and set aside.
• Pour 250ml of milk into a bowl and with your hand, start to squeeze the leaves in the milk for 15 minutes.
• The milk will turn green and become a little bit thick. Strain the liquid into a small jug. Then transfer the mixture into individual ramekin molds.
• Keep the molds in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
• For the coconut ice cream: simply process the coconut flesh in a blender until the mixture turns smooth.
• Transfer the mixture into a container and place it in the freezer to set.
• Remember to stir the mixture every hour for the first three hours to have a smooth texture for your ice cream.
• To make the cashew brittle: Pour the sugar into a medium sauce pan and heat over a medium flame until the sugar begins to brown and transform into caramel. Do not stir at all.
• Once the sugar begins reaches the desired caramel color, remove from the heat.
• Immediately add the ground cashews, stir quickly and mix well.
• Transfer the mixture into a parchment or baking paper; spread quickly to an even thickness, but make sure it is not too thick.
• Allow the brittle to cool completely, then break into small pieces or put into a strong food processor.
• To serve, spread the cashew brittle in the middle of each serving plate.
• Remove the cincau from the mold, discard the liquid and place on the left side of the plates.
• Place some ice cream on the other side and sprinkle the chilies around it for a splash of color and to add an interesting taste.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe