Noilly Prattle: Cream of Thai Jade

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cream of Thai Jade

Noumea, New Caledonia
While traveling in New Caledonia a couple summers (a mild 27ºC. winter there) ago we sampled a dish at a Thai restaurant in the Anse Vata section of Noumea that used an herb called Thai Basil. It was delicious. Thai Basil has a distinct but subtle hint of anise flavor. You might remember those black pungent gummy licorice sticks you used to get out of the penny candy jars in the corner Mom & Pop store back in the 1940s and 50s—if you're old enough that is. Well, licorice has roughly the same flavor as Thai Basil, but it's far from subtle. I hated licorice when I was a kid. This is by way of background to introduce you to an interesting desert we concocted recently. 

Thai Basil
We (well she, mostly) have been growing various kinds of herbs including mint and Thai Basil. The mint is basically a weed and grows like one. The Thai Basil turned out to be relatively easy to grow and we ended up with quite a large crop that we wanted to do something with. We had tried a couple of mint sauce dishes but they turned out to taste like toothpaste. (No disrespect intended for that British favorite lamb and mint sauce.)

A Google search turned up some recipes for using mint and Thai Basil. One was a soup that used avocado and cucumber, heavy cream, red and green onions and chopped tomatoes and, of course, salt and pepper. We made the soup and it was quite smooth and tasty. In the middle of one of those jet lag induced white nights (just recently off the plane once again) I got the idea that if we added some sugar and used tropical fruit instead of onions and tomatoes it might make an interesting desert. It decidedly did. We're calling it "Cream of Thai Jade" for the color imparted to the cream by the avocado, cucumber and the herbs.

Ingredients: Makes 4 servings

1 ripe avocado (a little spongy to the touch but not too soft)
½ a cucumber (ours are small, similar to a medium carrot; for American cukes use a 1 to 2 inch cross section)
200 ml. of whipping cream (not sure of the ounce equivalence, sorry)
6 fresh Thai Basil leaves
6 fresh mint leaves
2 or 3 tablespoons sugar or to taste (you can also use gum syrup to taste)

1 small can of tropical fruit cocktail (without the juice or you can add a little to the blender but be careful not to make the cream watery)

How to make it:

blended ingredients and tropical fruit
Nothing could be easier. You just throw the first 6 ingredients into a blender and blend until you get a nice creamy smooth consistency. It doesn't have to peak or anything like that. It's more like a pudding. Taste as you go and add more sugar and/or more Thai Basil and mint if you like a more pungent flavor.

fruit added to cream (not yet
folded in) and fruit topping
If the tropical fruit are too chunky, dice them into 1 cm. (about ½ inch) cubes. Make two piles of whatever size you like. If you like a lot of fruit add more, if you prefer the cream use less. Fold one of the piles of fruit into the avocado colored cream, set the other pile aside for a topping when ready to serve. Cover and chill the blended cream and fruit. Chill the topping as well.

Cream of Thai Jade
We put our C of TJ into small Martini style glasses for a touch of class. Spoon on some of the chilled fruit cocktail and garnish with a Thai Basil leaf and flower, both of which are edible, and Voila! The jade green base and contrasting reds and yellows of the tropical fruit make a nice bit of eye candy to complement the unusual taste and texture of this desert. I think you will be quite pleasantly surprised to find that you can use avocado and cucumber as a desert, if you haven't already experienced using veggies as desert ingredients. Here in Japan it is common to do so.

tastes as great as it looks, trust me!

As Julia Child used to say: Bon appétit!


Anonymous said...

che magnificent!!! (is that proper French?) Can't wait until you come here and make it!!!!! ENJOY

Noilly Prattle said...

Not quite. I think you're trying to say: How magnificent! are you not? The French would simply say: Magnifique!
Sorry, I don't work in other people's kitchens. Why not try the recipe yourself, it's really simple, unless you can't find the herbs. If not, try growing them. NP