Head in the clouds: a plated dessert

The inspiration for this dessert came from me testing out a couple new techniques – using sago, which are little tapioca pearls, to make a strawberry flavored “caviar”, and using lychee juice to make a foam. I wanted to create this sort of ethereal, sea-meets-sky, summery sort of dessert, embracing fresh lychees, and pairing them with strawberries, which are honestly the best fruit to pair with lychees. Every summer, without fail, I make a strawberry-lychee sorbet. It has been a tradition of mine since 2015, when I first made it, and I have been keeping that alive for 6 years now. I wanted to highlight that sorbet with a couple of other components, so I went with a lychee gelee, inspired by lychee jelly, and a strawberry sago and lychee foam.

For sago, they are these little tapioca pearls, similar to boba. When you cook them, they go translucent, and I wanted to see if I could make fruit caviar with them in place of using agar or calcium chloride. The end result was a lot stodgier than fruit caviar, but the finished pearls did take on the color and some of the flavor of the strawberry puree that I cooked them in! For the foam, I used soy lecithin, but also (coconut) milk powder, with lychee juice. The milk powder combines with the lecithin to create a more stable foam with a lot of froth. Overall, the dessert is very dainty and cute, but 100% vegan(if using the coconut milk powder) and gluten-free, using fresh fruit as the main highlight!

For the sorbet:
12oz fresh lychees, shelled and pitted
2oz fresh strawberries, hulled
3/4 cups granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

Puree ingredients together until fully smooth and creamy. Freeze for 4 hours. Puree the frozen sorbet base again, and re-freeze for another 1 hour, minimum.

For the sago:
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
2 1/2 cups water, in 5 parts
1/2 cup sago pearls
a pinch of salt

Blend 1 cup of strawberries with 1 part of the water to create your strawberry puree. Bring 3 parts of the water, the sago, and salt to a simmer in a pot, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes. Pour into a strainer and rinse with the remaining water. Place into a pot with the strawberry puree and simmer on low heat, covered, for another 6 minutes, or until the pearls are completely clear. Pour into an airtight container and cool down before using.

For the gelee:
4oz fresh lychee, in two parts
2 tbsp water
1 tspn agar agar powder
a pinch of salt

Puree half of the lychees with water. Pour into a pot and heat up with agar and salt on low heat. Once the agar is fully dissolved into the lychee puree, pour into a shallow container and place in chopped pieces of the remaining lychees. Freeze for 10 minutes and cut into smaller pieces.

For the foam:
4oz fresh lychee
3 tbsp water
a pinch of salt
1 tspn coconut milk or milk powder
1/2 tspn soy lecithin

Puree together all of your ingredients until frothy and foamy. Do this right before serving.

To plate:
Start with some of the sago, then gelee. Quenelle on the sorbet and finish with the foam.

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