Growing up in an Asian household, I was introduced to Asian style desserts from a young age. I look back at my childhood with fondness for the exotic Asian desserts I grew up eating. Like many children of immigrants in Australia, we were privileged to grow up being exposed to more than one culture and it's food. This most definitely applied to food.
Agar-agar jelly was one of my favourites, which my mum made on special occasions or when requested. It's silky smooth texture with a hint of pandan and undeniable flavour of coconut, but slightly more dense and less wobbly, in comparison to jello or as it is referred to in Australia as "Aeroplane Jelly". Bright green jelly desserts may seem unusual and possibly not enticing to those who are not used to it. But to me, these make me nostalgic for my past, my culture, my childhood.
Agar-agar is a natural and vegetable based gelatin used to make desserts.
Pandan is a fragrant plant and it’s green extract is used extensively throughout South-East cooking. It’s use is not limited to desserts and can be used to flavour meats and seafood. It has a unique taste that has a leafy/grassy/pine/almond flavour. Pandan pairs really well with coconut.
Below is my take on my mum’s agar-agar jelly recipe combining my favourite dessert flavours – coconut and pandan.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE JELLY
1.5 litre water
400 ml coconut milk
300 g sugar
20 g agar-agar strips
1/8 tsp pandan essence
INGREDIENTS FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
400 ml coconut milk
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1. Soak agar-agar strips in cold water for 30 mins.
2. Squeeze the water from agar-agar strips and add to a saucepan of boiling water.
3. Bring the water and agar-agar to a slow boil.
4. Add the sugar and continue to boil for around 5 mins or until dissolved.
5. Meanwhile, mix the pandan essence and coconut milk together in a separate bowl
6. Add this to the boiling mixture for a a few seconds and take it off the heat.
7. Pour into any mould of choice. I poured some into these vintage moulds I have and the rest into a roasting pan.
8. The coconut will rise to the surface of the mould creating a separate and different coloured layer, which I quite like. To avoid this, you can give the mixture a good stir once poured into the moulds.
9. Set aside to cool before chilling in the fridge until set.
10. Open the coconut can and scoop out the firm layer of coconut cream that has solidified on top. Stop when you get to the liquid section in the can.
11. Whip the coconut cream for 3 to 5 minutes until the cream is light, fluffy and resembles whipped cream.
12. Add in the sugar and vanilla essence. You can add more sugar if you prefer it sweeter.
13. Serve with the agar-agar jelly.