Saturday, November 7, 2009


The restaurant is undergoing a potential menu change. It’s a very exciting time. I designed the previous menu, based on guidance from the owner, and it’s an ok menu, but it has been almost two years, and I’m tired. Time to move on.

I am realizing that I really do believe in the idea that it is easier to be creative when you have restrictions. Or at least, the final result is better. At Jianken, there are a lot of things that need to be kept in mind when designing a new d

essert. First, it has to be Asian influenced. There are a few items on the menu right now that really have nothing to do with sushi, and I’m embarrassed that they are still on the menu. Secondly, any line cook has to be able to plate it. My short time at D Bar has made me long to quenelle things and make the plating really elaborate. Unfortunately, the line cooks couldn’t put the plates out the way they were supposed to look, and that’s far more upsetting than just forgoing the quenelle. It’s much better to have a simple plate than an ugly one.

So, with that in mind, I set out to revamp our current panna cotta, which is a lemon-yogurt panna cotta with yuzu curd and a ginger tuile. I love yuzu, so I wanted to keep that part, but change up the panna cotta base, and maybe change the plating as well. Enter: Black sesame.

Black Sesame Panna Cotta

Yield: 3½ Cups, or about 7 4oz ramekins

12oz Whole Milk

12oz Heavy Cream

4oz Sugar

3T Black Sesame Powder*

1T or 9g unflavored gelatin

1) bloom gelatin and milk in a mixing bowl.

2) In a pot, combine cream, sugar and black sesame powder

3) Bring to a simmer and pour into the milk and gelatin mixture

4) Wisk to combine thoroughly and strain

5) Pour into ramekins or silicone molds. Allow to set for at least 2 hours

*This can be found at asian stores. You can make your own, but definitely remember to strain the final custard.

Traditionally, I haven’t been a huge fan of sesame period, but it is a very distinctly Asian ingredient, and a lot of people love it. While browsing the interwebs, I stumbled across this recipe, from a food blogger with a lot more experience than I. I decided to give it a try. The recipe itself needed only a little tweaking in order to make it stand on its own, as opposed to being eaten out of the ramekin. The flavor is really quite beautiful; there’s just enough black sesame to be earthy and delicious without overwhelming the taste buds. Paired with the yuzu, it was awesome.

Yuzu Curd

Yield: ~1lb

3oz butter

6oz sugar

3oz Yuzu juice

2ea eggs

1) in a steel or other non-reactive pot, combine eggs and sugar. Wisk together to combine.

2) Add Yuzu and butter, and start over low heat.

3) STIRRING CONSTANTLY with a spatula, cook until thickened and bubbles start rising to the surface

4) Pour off into a bowl or container and cover the surface immediately with plastic to prevent a skin from forming

Of course, there was a problem. How to transport it? I wanted it to stand on its own, but just barely. If one were to try to pick it up on its own, it would fall apart. That’s where the Sablé Breton comes in. A thin sable crust that has been topped with a white chocolate feullatine would allow one to pick up and move the panna cotta without actually touching it, and the white chocolate also prevents the crust from getting soggy. The panna cotta is allowed to set in its mold, and then frozen solid. Once its solid, you can unmold it without worrying about damaging the custard, place it on the sablé, and let it thaw. The end result is soft, jiggly custard on top of a crispy crunchy cookie. To finish, I’ve added a little tart yuzu gelée and a honey-sesame tuile.

Honey Sesame Tuile

Yield: 10 oz

7oz Granulated sugar

3oz Honey

Sesame seeds

1) Combine sugar and honey and mix thoroughly, until a uniform paste is formed

2) Place scoops of paste onto a silpat or parchment. A tablespoon sized scoop will make roughly a 4 inch circle

3) Bake at 400° until only small bubbles appear

4) Remove from oven, and sprinkle with sesame seeds

5) While still slightly warm, remove from silpat and twist or break into organic shapes

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