I was inspired by Taiwanese grass jelly when making this dessert. Grass jelly is an Asian dessert that consists of these dark brown cubes of jelly that are flavored with mesona chinensis leaves(the jelly basically tastes like a pleasant black tea with grassier notes). Usually grass jelly is topped with sweet braised peanuts and tang yuan(poached mochi), giving it this hearty yet refreshing feel. I loved the idea of taking this dessert and making it more bright and summery, using passionfruit. Now I’m sure some of you are wondering what “POG” is? POG is a Hawaiian juice that consists of passionfruit, orange, and guava. It was really delicious, and a lot of Japanese grocery stores actually sell it! You can use just passionfruit juice for this dessert if you want to, but I like the variety that POG adds, as the orange and guava provide sweetness and a pleasant zestiness to the jelly.
When it came to the technique of turning it into a “jelly”, I had to test a lot of different starches and powders. The one that I found that worked the best was kudzu starch. Kudzu is a starch from the arrowroot plant, and can be heated up with any liquid to make a jelly out of it. In Japan, they actually make mochi and wagashi using kudzu starch, one of my personal favorites being kuzukiri, or kudzu starch noodles that are served with Japanese black syrup as a dessert! For this recipe, I heated up some POG juice with kudzu starch and agar until the starch fully thickened the liquid, and poured that into some more POG juice – this causes the jelly to not only set, but also soak in the additional POG juice for a softer jellied texture, more akin to grass jelly. I finished the dessert with some fresh passionfruit pulp, just to add more tartness and some fun textures to a really straightforward and simple dessert! If you do not want to use the agar, you don’t have to – the agar is really there to be a failsafe to set up the jelly firmer, but letting the cooked kudzu sit in the POG juice long enough will do the trick as well!
For the POG jelly:
20g kudzu starch
6g agar agar
160g POG juice, in two parts
Pour half of the POG juice into a bowl and refrigerate. In a pot, mix together the kudzu starch with 1 part of the POG juice, the agar, and a pinch of salt first until the kudzu starch is fully dissolved into it. Then place the pot on medium heat and whisk for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken slightly and the kudzu starch mixture is fully melted into the POG juice – it should be completely translucent. Take the pot off heat. Pour the POG kudzu mixture into the bowl with the remaining POG juice and allow the jelly to cool down in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
1 fresh passionfruit
Garnish the top of the POG jelly with the passionfruit.