Soy milk custard with raspberry sauce

Perfect summer dessert

Perfect summer dessert

A rare and beautiful dessert. The recipe is from our shojin ryori cookbook The Enlightened Kitchen.

Custard ingredients:

  • 4 teaspoons powdered kanten
  • 800 ml soymilk
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup

Sauce ingredients:

  • 100 g raspberries (or strawberries, in the original)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

The key to the dish is kanten, which is generally known in English as agar-agar. Since I feel rather silly saying agar-agar, I usually just use the Japanese term (plus, Yusuke then knows what I’m talking about). Kanten is a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed. It has similar properties to gelatin when used for cooking, so it often used in desserts like this in Japan and other east Asian countries. It’s a suitable gelatin substitute for vegetarians and vegans, and it’s extra-healthy, being rich in fiber. I’m interested in vegetarian and vegan foods for reasons of taste and health rather than ethics, but I still feel better about something made from seaweed rather than ungulates’ bones and intestines.

Kanten is sold in packages as dried powder, flakes, or thin strips, which are then dissolved just like gelatin for cooking. We had a bit of a hard time finding it here in Montreal. The Japanese grocery store had some, but it was past the expiry date. We eventually bought it from a super-granola-y health food shop, but even the owner there asked us what it was and how it was used. We’ll have to watch out for other potential sources.

To make the jelly/custard (it’s really neither), the soymilk and kanten are heated in a sauce pan until the powder is dissolved, then maple syrup is added and everything is brought to a boil. It’s immediately removed from the heat, cooled, and then poured into small cups or molds. Refrigerate until set.

For the sauce, the fruit is cooked, stirred, and mashed over low heat for 5-6 minutes. After it’s cool, it is combined with the lemon juice and maple syrup and liquefied in a blender or food processor.

Yusuke served the jelly and sauce in our adorable little custard bowls (bought just for this purpose), but the one pictured above was put in a larger bowl for photography purposes.

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1 Comment

  1. Arthur said

    Easier just to call it Panna Cotta.

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