I have to hand it to the Japanese; they really know how to make you sweat at the dinner table. From serving up awe inducing, blood red raw horsemeat to a jellied drink made with pig placenta (you’re just going to have to look that one up to believe me), Japanese experimental cuisine has invited both encouragement and nausea into my kitchen.
To those of us who tinker in the kitchen attempting to frivolously induct odd ingredients into an amorous, if not idiosyncratic, marriage, their approach of shaking up the culinary normative as not a frivolous plight, but with unencumbered inspiration, is encouraging. “It’s extremely poisonous you say?” I’d imagine a Japanese chef inquiring about a new bulk shipment, “we should market that to small children.”
Though my curiosity is waxed to the point of gross engorgement, crispy wasp crackers and a zesty, cool beverage of eel soda are not items in which I find myself most inclined to indulge. Amidst the unusual food pairings tantamount to games of I-dare-you-to-eat-THIS torture, Japanese cuisine has also introduced a few delicious oddities that have stuck with a growing American interest, including mine.
Matcha. Before Starbucks swamped the market with an induction of green-hued frappucchinos, matcha (in Japanese “ma” meaning “powdered” and “cha” being “tea”) had long been a staple in Japan, having originated in China and subsequently made popular by Japanese Zen Buddhists in the 12th century. To say then that matcha is intrinsically a metaphysical stimulant, encouraging mental alertness and an overall inclination toward “oneness” wouldn’t be very far from the truth. Unless you’re an asshole, then it doesn’t work.
Fresh off the heels of ceasing my sugar expulsion, I took to my kitchen/lair to whip up a popular matcha-based confection to appease a three-month-long sugar longing: matcha cake. And in keeping with the Japanese theme, I made up a large batch of spicy ginger ice cream to accompany it. Making homemade ice cream comes with the same ease as making your bed or killing a bum, and why anyone pays for expensive, basic ice creams anymore is beyond my reasonable comprehension.
Though the vibrant green matcha matched against the Isabelline ginger ice cream presented a nice contrast, a duo-tone dish does nothing to quell my requirement of having Technicolor courses. Thinking I was clever, I concocted a sweetly aromatic coconut adzuki bean coulis that was initially very promising and pretty delicious, but whose taste developed into something far more nefarious than I’d initially planned and ended up diarrheal at best. Like many of my aspirant ventures, it’s a work in progress. Failed coulis aside, this is a great dessert if you’re interested in testing out a safer side of Japanese palate-pleasers. Or if you like the color green. Or…if you just like dessert.
Matcha Cake with Spicy Ginger Ice Cream
[print_this]Recipe: Matcha Cake with Spicy Ginger Ice Cream
Summary: Inspired by flavors intrinsic to Japanese cuisine, this is a classic sweet and spicy dessert full of natural colors sure to wow the most easily impressed amongst your coterie. You know, the one who doesn’t get out much.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 55 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
For the Matcha Cake
- 1 cup organic, fair trade sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2.5 tbsp matcha powder
- 3/4 cup milk
For the Spicy Ginger Ice Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/3 cups organic, fair trade sugar
- 4″ knob of ginger, sliced into coins
For the Matcha Cake
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- In a stand mixer, combine sugar and butter and beat for 5 minutes when mixture is light and fluffy.
- Beat in eggs one at a time, ensuring they are fully incorporated upon each addition.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and matcha and whisk together. Add to the mixer with the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix well.
- Add milk and continue to mix for two minutes, or until mixture is smooth.
- Bake in a prepared 9″ round cake pan for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry when inserted.
For the Spicy Ginger Ice Cream
- Add ginger and milk to a medium saucepan and simmer over low for 20 minutes. Add sugar and heavy cream and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Do not let your milk mixture boil.
- Remove from heat, strain into an additional bowl and set aside until it has cooled to room temperature. Place in fridge for two to four hours, or until chilled thoroughly.
- If using an ice cream maker, add cream mixture and make according to manufacturer’s suggestions. However, if making it the manual way then add the mixture to a freezer-safe container and place into the freezer. Every forty minutes for 3 hours, stir the mixture up really well making sure to break up the large ice crystals. Allow to freeze for an additional 7 hours. Doing this will ensure a smooth, creamy consistency.[/print_this]
- Chocolate Mochi Brownies w/ Matcha (Gluten Free) by Humble Bean Blog
- Black Sesame Macarons with Black Sesame Buttercream and Adzuki Beans by uTry.It.
- Coconut Nutmeg Pudding by Pastry Affair